007

Though a big man, he walked softly with a light step. Dressed in black, I said, “Well, Bond is here.” Carrying himself with a quiet but authoritative presence, he walked to the straight-backed chair and sat down. Was 007 really in my house? No, but clinical psychologist Richard Levak, Ph.D. was.

Born in Czechoslovakia and raised in London, Richard graduated from CSPP and quickly established himself as an authority on the MMPI. Over the years, he has written several books and numerous articles and taught many of us about this important and fundamental test of personality and psychopathology. He has been very generous with his time, as many members of SDPA know.

I have always liked “Bond’s” lifestyle. He surfs or plays volleyball most days on the beach at Del Mar, a few blocks from his office. Many locals know him. I have been in Del Mar dining spots several times when Richard and his wife entered. “Rock star” is probably too strong, but Richard seems to know many locals as he moves from table to table, greeting people. 

Richard consulted the producers of the “Survivor” show for many years. He helped the producers pick out contestants through the use of the MMPI. He opened doors for psychologists, as others followed suit and became reality show consultants. 

Some years ago, Richard, an expert skier, inadvertently dashed through a gate at Mammoth Mountain that led him away from the ski area into the backcountry. Lost for three days, he made a large SOS sign out of tree boughs. On a final pass, a helicopter spotted him, and Richard was safe. He later wrote a sizeable check to the rescue service.

Richard Levak, a man of the mountains and oceans, has enormously contributed to the field of psychology, SDPA and the community beyond. Every once in a while, I listen closely and hear the sound of an Aston Martin climbing the steep grade up Del Mar Heights Road. For a moment, I imagine Bond is in town once more.

Richard Levak, Ph.D. continues to practice psychology and to provide consultation to other professionals. His MMPI interpretation books are de rigueur for practitioners. He has been a member of SDPA since 1988. For many years he was chair of the Public, Education and Media Committee and was known as “The Face of SDPA” to the public media. Dr. Levak is dedicated to training other psychologists to make presentations of psychological information to the public, particularly in times of crisis. He currently leads a Case Conference Dinner Series at Sbicca Del Mar for SDPA members.