Books by Richard Heckler

Released: June 1, 1998

Pushing the envelope, a psychotherapist explores a world where psychology, the supernatural, and spirituality intersect. Heckler (Waking Up Alive, 1994), a director of the Hakomi Institute of San Francisco and a professor of counseling and psychology at John F. Kennedy University, interviewed and recorded the stories of people whose lives were transformed by an unexpected happening. He asked his subjects to characterize their lives before the event, to detail the event itself, and then to describe the changes, both internal and external, that followed. Nine of these stories are reported here, told in large part by the subjects (identified by first names only) in their own words. The unexpected happenings range from the drama of Rebecca's survival of a storm at sea and Ben's brush with death in a car crash to the subtlety of Christopher's glimpse of a church against a night sky and Brooke's visualization of musical notation in a French cafÇ. Many involve visions and voices: A grandfather figure appears before Tara as she's cleaning house in Washington, telling her to come to Taos, and Jesus confronts Charlotte in her gym, telling her to exercise an hour a day. What to make of all this? Heckler sees a six-step pattern of personal evolution: the slumber of everyday life, the call of the unexpected event, an incubation period in which the event is assimilated, followed by a search for its meaning, a leap, i.e., life-altering decision, and finally an integration phase in which the individual enters a new life with a greater sense of purpose, control, and a profound awareness of life's possibilities. Heckler expresses no skepticism about his interviewees— stories and even accepts the idea that time and space can be altered by human intervention. Those who find shamanic flights on the backs of eagles credible may find value in Heckler's interpretations; those requiring more rigorous science will not be persuaded.(Book-of the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection) Read full book review >