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Thompson, M.G. (2008). Murray Bilmes in Memoriam (1927-2007). Fort Da, 14(1):10-16.
(2008). Fort Da, 14(1):10-16
Murray Bilmes in Memoriam (1927-2007)
Michael Guy Thompson, Ph.D., MTF
On July 18, 2007, Murray Bilmes, a legend in the Bay Area psychoanalytic and graduate psychology communities, passed away following a sudden heart attack. His wife and son were at his side. Murray was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Anna and Isador Bilmes, immigrants from the Ukrainian city of Odessa. His father was a playwright and later wrote for the Yiddish socialist newspaper, The Forward.
After serving in Yokohama, Japan, in the U.S. Army during World War II, Murray received an undergraduate degree in mathematics, and, in 1955, a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University. He became a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, and his subsequent career spanned more than half a century, which included work in the psychiatric wards of several hospitals and prisons. Murray also taught at the New York School of Psychiatry and the New York Postdoctoral Center for Mental Health, where he completed his psychoanalytic training. Although he was conversant with the tenets of Jung, Maslow, Jaspers, Nietzsche, and behavioral psychologists, he remained a lifelong advocate of Freud, and a strong proponent of existential analysis.
In 1970, he moved to California, where he founded the Peninsula Hospital Adolescent Service in Burlingame. He continued conversations with his mentors and friends, Rollo May and Bruno Bettelheim, and became a clinical adjunct professor at Stanford University. He was a founding professor at the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP, which later merged with United States International University [USIU] to become Alliant University). He authored numerous research journal articles, and authored and narrated the popular audiotape, Freud, Interpreting Your Dreams. After the death of his son Dan in 1992, Murray developed a strong interest in the subject of loss and mourning, and began lecturing, teaching, and writing a book on this topic, the last of which, sadly, was unfinished at the time of his death.
I first met Murray more than 35 years ago, in the fall of 1971, when I entered CSPP in San Francisco as a student in its inaugural year.
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