Lives to Remember
As summer came to a close, and within a seventy-two-hour span, we lost three brilliant individuals who made extraordinary contributions to our understanding of the human condition. All of us interested in enlightenment and personal growth—which most often includes those of us in directly involved in mental health treatment and addiction recovery—owe our gratitude to:
- Oliver Sacks (1933–2015)
- Garrett O’Connor (1937–2015)
- Wayne Dyer (1940–2015)
Oliver Sacks, MD, was a great storyteller who spent his life bridging science and the human spirit. A renowned neurologist and writer, Dr. Sacks explored the mysteries of the human brain in a series of best-selling books including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat, Awakenings, and The Island of the Color Blind—all about unusual medical conditions. London-born, Dr. Sacks worked in recent years as professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine. The New York Times called him the “Poet Laureate of Medicine.”
Garrett O’Connor, MD, a leading Irish psychiatrist, was in personal recovery from alcoholism for over thirty-five years and is widely known for using his own life story as a tool for teaching patients, medical students, and fellow physicians about recovery. Dr. O’Connor, former president and first CEO of The Betty Ford Institute, received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 from the California Society of Alcoholism. The inscription read, “Garrett O’Connor, who speaks for the ‘invisible people’ and inspires us to do the same.” Dr. O’Connor’s expertise and background in addiction treatment and psychiatry are unparalleled.
Wayne Dyer, a self-help pioneer and spiritual teacher, is known to millions of fans as the “Father of Motivation.” He spent part of his childhood in orphanages and foster homes before serving in the US Navy and then earning his doctorate in educational counseling. His first book, Your Erroneous Zone, is one of the best-selling books of all time. After publishing a string of best-selling books and ten PBS specials on the practical psychology of self-improvement, Dyer focused on the spiritual aspects of human experience. “My purpose,” he said, “is to help people look at themselves and begin to shift their concepts. Remember, we are not our country, our race or our religion. We are eternal spirits. Seeing ourselves as spiritual beings without label is a way to transform the world and reach a sacred place for all of humanity.”
This holiday season, as we spend time with friends and family, think about loved ones who have passed, and continue on our journey of helping those who suffer from addiction and behavioral health disorders, we remember these influential members of the field and share their messages of hope and service.