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.

Never Been Better!

When the wind sweeps across Northern Minnesota, even the ice fisherman, snowmobile people, and cross-country skiers go indoors. From Ely to St. Paul, doors are closed tight, wood burns, and traffic is sparse. One man swore he saw a giant otter driving a van. The sad fact is that no one became alarmed.

Most hockey players at my college came from Canada, Massachusetts, or Minnesota. We all became acquainted with places like Thief River Falls, Duluth, and Mankato. The National Hockey League’s Hall of Fame is even in Minnesota.

Hugh Pates didn’t play ice hockey but scored the basket that won the State Championship for his high school fifty years ago. Even now, when he returns to St. Paul, people will approach him and talk about that game! 

One might think that Hugh went on to play college ball after high school, but no, he didn’t. He became a monk! He studied, prayed, and contemplated; he became a Catholic priest in 1963. However, his desire to serve others clashed with his wish to have more intimate and meaningful relationships, and, decisively, Hugh left the priesthood after ten years. 

In short order, Hugh departed from the land of ice, snow, and mosquitoes for graduate school in California. Hugh had classes at the United States International University with Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Viktor Frankl, and Fritz Perls. 

Continue reading “Never Been Better!”