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Newsletter of the American Family Therapy Academy Issue #84
by Sheldon Z. Kramer.PhD
Jim's text,(1992), Family of Origin Therapy: An Intergenerational
Approach, (Brunner Mazel, New York), his comprehensive work on his
unique original contribution to the field of Family Psychology, he
quoted from one of his favorite movies, I Never Sang a Song for My
Father (Columbia Pictures):
"Death ends a life ,but it does not end a relationship ,which struggles on
in the survivor's mind toward some resolution, which it may never find."
Jim's death will not end his passionate relationship with the family
therapy field. Jim will continue to be important for new generations of
serious family therapy students not only for how his work provides a
framework and method for families to deeply heal but also as a reminder
of all of our own unfinished business with our own family of origins
which drove many of us to pursue the study of family therapy.
Jim's passion about family therapy not only came from him feeling of
frustration and disappointment at never having had a heart to heart
healing dialog with his father before his father died but also from his
war experiences in the army in World War II. Jim participated in over
300 days of combat with the 88th Division , 913th
Field Artillery Battalion in the Italian campaign. He never forgot the
craziness of war and the memories of the men who died in his platoon.
Thus, Jim understood death quite personally at an early age and
continued to have other personal family encounters with death which, I
believe, lit a fire in his heart for people to deal directly with others
in their lives before it was too late. In this way, Jim was an
existentialist who deeply believed in encountering life completely with
meaning and purpose especially with honoring and coming to terms with
our own histories.
Jim was a well respected theoretician in the field of family therapy.
He wrote a classic paper in 1970 entitled, "Symptoms from a
Transactional Viewpoint" which integrates Fairbairn's and Henry Dicks
object relations theory with family systems concepts. This paper has
been used as required reading in many family training programs
throughout the world. All of Jim's theoretical work can be found in his
book (1982), Explorations in Marital and Family Therapy: Selected
Papers of James L. Framo (Springer, New York).
Jim also co-edited with Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, one of the earliest
texts in family therapy (1965), Intensive Family Therapy (Brunner
Mazel, New York), which has been translated into six languages. He also
co-edited with Robert Green, (1982), Family Therapy: Major
Contributions, (International Press, New York). In 1972, he
published another classic book: Family Interaction: A Dialogue
Between Family Researcher's and Family Therapists, (Springer, New
York). He recently finished a new book along with Tim Weber and his wife
Felise Levine, A Family of Origin Consultation: One Family's Story
that will be published by Brunner/Routledge. Finally, Jim has over 60
other publications including chapters and journal articles.
Dr. James Framo was a founding member and past president (1981–1982) of the American Family Therapy Academy and a fellow and supervisor in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. In 1984, he was awarded the "Distinguished Achievement in Family Therapy." In 1992,the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy designated him as a founder in the field. In 1994, he was awarded the "Distinguished Contribution in Family Therapy. Finally, Jim holds a diploma of Clinical Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He was also a fellow of the APA. He has served as advisory editor of a variety of several journals in Marriage and Family Therapy.
On a personal note, I feel deeply honored to have known James Framo.
We both were from Philadelphia. I trained at the Family Institute of
Philadelphia where Jim was a founding member. I was thrilled when he
decided to come to San Diego to teach at USIU, where he was eventually
designated as a Distinguished Professor. I felt privileged to have been
on the full time faculty with him at USIU for several years. During the
years I directed the Family Psychology program at USIU, Jim and I
created an exciting well organized program for masters and doctoral
studies. During the mid 80s and early 90s, many visiting distinguished
professors and pioneers in Family Psychiatry, Psychology, and Social
Work including Ivan Nagy, Norman Paul, Carl Whitaker, Virginia Satir,
Israel Charney, and Maurizio Andolphi taught at USIU and conducted
continued education workshops for the San Diego community.
Jim was an unusual elder in the field of family psychology; he
treated students and colleagues as equals and facilitated personal and
professional growth with others around the world where he taught over
300 powerful workshops. He was kind, down to earth, and loved his work!
He was a wonderful role model for many colleagues. Jim has left an
important legacy to our field. His work will continue to have impact on
the field of family psychology for many students in the future who
deeply care about family life. At the core of his work are the basic
elements of compassion, love and forgiveness that is at the very heart
of healing and is the necessary glue that bonds generation to
Jim was not only my close colleague, mentor, but most importantly my friend. We shared many interests in common including the love of jazz, movies, and good food—we both loved cheese steaks from Philly. We were both able to share and comfort each other in our private lives as well as talk shop if we chose too. What I loved most about Jim was his little boy spirit that was full of curiosity and enthusiasm about life that was with him even in his later years.
My heart grieves the loss of Jim; he was truly a unique spirit! I am glad our souls intertwined in this life time. I will miss him deeply!
Sheldon Z. Kramer,PhD is in full time private practice in La Jolla, California. He is Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at UCSD Medical School, Department of Psychiatry , and the author of two books: Transforming the Inner and Outer Family: Humanistic and Spiritual Approaches to Mind- Body Systems Therapy (1995) and Hidden Faces of the Soul: Ten Secrets for Mind-Body Healing from Kabbalah's Lost Tree of Life (2000). He is an international teacher in Marital and Family Therapy and Mind-Body Medicine where he has set up on-going training programs including Israel, Turkey, and Italy.