Dick Price

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Richard Price
RichardPrice68.jpg
Born (1930-10-12)October 12, 1930
Chicago, Illinois
Died November 25, 1985(1985-11-25)
Big Sur, California
Occupation Gestalt Practice
Known for Esalen Institute

Richard “Dick” Price (October 12, 1930 – November 25, 1985) was the co-founder of the Esalen Institute in 1962.

Price was a veteran of the Beat Generation.[1] He ran Esalen in Big Sur for many years, sometimes virtually single-handed.[2] He was an explorer of the Santa Lucia Mountains that define the Big Sur coast. He developed a new form of personal integration and growth that he called Gestalt Practice,[3] [4] partly based upon Gestalt therapy and Buddhist practice.[5]

Price worked with his awareness, and helped many people work with their own. His memory remains at the core of the Esalen experience.[6]

Biography[edit]

Dick Price was born October 12, 1930, to Herman and Audrey Price in Chicago, Illinois.[7] He died while hiking near Esalen on November 25, 1985, and was survived by his wife, Christine Stewart Price, and two children, David Price and Jennifer Price.

Price had a sister, Joan, born in 1929, and a twin brother, Bobby, who died in 1933.[8] Bobby's death was traumatic for the family, and especially for Dick.

Price's father,[9] Herman Price (anglicised from Preuss) was born into an Eastern European Jewish family in 1895. He emigrated from Lithuania in 1911 (at that time a part of Russia), first to New York and finally to Chicago. During World War I he served in the United States Coast Guard, and then in the United States Navy. Herman was a refrigeration expert. He headed appliance manufacturing and design at Sears for Coldspot, working extensively with Raymond Loewy, who was a close family friend. With the onset of World War II, Herman was loaned by Sears to the Douglas Aircraft Company where he applied his assembly line experience to organizing the mass production of aircraft, including the B-17 in particular. Although Herman was a charismatic businessman, he was an emotionally withdrawn and distant father for Dick.

Price's mother,[10] Audrey (Meyers) Price was born in Indiana in 1895, and grew up in Auburn, Illinois. She was of Dutch, Irish and English heritage. Audrey was a domineering figure in the family, and a problematic and intrusive mother for Dick.

When Price was born, his family lived in Rogers Park. In 1936, the family moved into the two-floor penthouse apartment in a building at 707 W. Junior Terrace, just off Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Education[edit]

In 1941, the Price family moved to Kenilworth on the North Shore of Chicago. Dick graduated from New Trier High School in 1948.[11] He joined New Trier’s wrestling team and placed second in his weight class in the state of Illinois.

Price graduated from Stanford University in 1952, with a major in psychology.[12] He went on to do graduate work in the social relations department at Harvard University, although he left because of his frustration with the conservative, research-oriented faculty.[13]

While at Stanford, Price studied with both Gregory Bateson and Frederic Spiegelberg. They would later prove to be pivotal influences in the founding and development of Esalen.[14]

San Francisco[edit]

After leaving Harvard in 1955, Price joined the Air Force and was given an assignment in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area).[15] He took a room in San Francisco at Alan Watts’ and Frederic Spiegelberg’s newly founded American Academy of Asian Studies (the precursor to the California Institute of Integral Studies; though it was to close in late 1956). This placed him at the hub of the emerging North Beach Beat scene. Dick knew most of the primary figures involved with the group (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, etc.) and Gary Snyder in particular.[16] During this time Dick married his first wife, Bonnie, in a Zen ceremony.[17]

Psychosis[edit]

In 1956, in San Francisco, Price experienced an episode of manic psychosis,[18] which he later described as simply "a state" referring to a mental break that he believed to be transitory and which he needed to go through and experience rather than repress or manage. He was hospitalized, returned to Chicago and discharged from the Air Force.[19]

On December 7, 1956, Price was committed by his parents to the Institute of Living, an exclusive mental treatment facility in Connecticut,[20] until he was released on Thanksgiving Day 1957.[21] He was misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic, then subjected to physical confinement and major tranquilizers, along with numerous electroconvulsive and insulin shock treatments. While committed, his mother had his marriage annulled.[22] He never forgave his parents for their actions during this episode.[23]

These are Price’s own words about the hospitalization experience:

There was a fundamental mistake being made and that mistake was supposing that the healing process was the disease, rather than the process whereby the disease is healed. The disease, if any, was the state previous to the “psychosis.”
The so called “psychosis” was an attempt towards spontaneous healing, and it was a movement towards health, not a movement towards disease.
In some categories it would be called mystical, really a re-owning and discovery of parts of myself.[24]

After his release, Price went back to the Chicago area, where he worked for his uncles' sign company, Price Brothers, the originators of many innovative American lighted signage designs of the early 20th century. However, the work did not engage his imagination.[25]

Founding Esalen[edit]

In May 1960, Price returned to San Francisco and took up residence at the East-West House with Gia-Fu Feng. That year he met a fellow Stanford University graduate, Michael Murphy, at Haridas Chaudhuri’s Cultural Integration Fellowship where Murphy was in residence.[26] Dick moved into the Cultural Integration Fellowship as well. In 1961, Murphy and Price visited the oceanside property in Big Sur, California, that was owned by Murphy's family.[27] The property included a natural hot springs.

In 1962, using the Murphy property and capital that Dick had accumulated,[28] along with assistance from Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, Laura Huxley, Gerald Heard, Gregory Bateson and Frederic Spiegelberg (with whom both had studied at Stanford),[29] Price and Murphy founded the Esalen Institute. Among other objectives, Price saw Esalen as an alternative to then current mental health practice, especially the practices of mental hospitals.[30] Esalen was to be a place where inner process could move forward safely and without interruption.

Previously, the natural hot springs baths on the Murphy property were part of a run-down resort (known as Slate's Hot Springs). The security guard was a young Hunter S. Thompson. Joan Baez was also in residence. Thompson was soon fired by Murphy's grandmother, although Baez remained in residence through the beginnings of Esalen.[31] Henry Miller regularly visited the hot springs during this early period of Esalen's history.[32]

In the middle of 1962, Abraham Maslow happened to drive onto the Esalen grounds and soon became an important influence on the development of the institute.[33] Julian Silverman[34] came to Esalen in 1965, in order to work on the schizophrenia project at Agnews State Hospital,[35] and ended up serving as Esalen's general manager. Will Schutz came to Esalen in the 1960s and worked on aspects of his "encounter group" process.[36] George Leonard, Joseph Campbell and Ida Rolf were among the many people who had an impact upon Esalen's development. In 1974, Price married his second wife, Christine Stewart Price, a Gestalt practitioner who became his primary collaborator at Esalen.[37]

Altered state research[edit]

Price's interest in the expansion of human potentials led him to investigate many avenues of research, including the exploration of altered states of consciousness with psychotropic substances.[38] In the early 1960s he experimented with LSD administered by a psychiatrist. Later he discovered that empathogens, such as MDMA, facilitated self-exploration and were helpful in psychological healing when used in conjunction with therapy.

In 1973, Price was instrumental in bringing Stanislav Grof to Esalen in the capacity of Scholar in Residence.[39] Grof was interested in the enhancement of human potentials through the induction of non-ordinary states of consciousness. He had conducted research with LSD at the Psychiatric Research Center in Prague, followed by similar research at Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center.[40] At Esalen, Price encouraged Grof to develop the therapeutic technique of Holotropic Breathwork, which functioned as a substitute for psychedelic drugs.[41]

Gestalt Practice[edit]

In 1964, Fritz Perls, the psychiatrist who developed Gestalt therapy together with his wife Laura Perls, arrived at Esalen.[42] During Perls' time at Esalen, Price became one of his primary students. He was also influenced by the work of Wilhelm Reich, who had been Perls' analyst.[43] Price worked with Perls for approximately four years, from 1966 to 1970. During this period Price experienced a second brief manic break, arising from the unresolved trauma of his commitment. Perls declared this episode fully resolved and then told Price that it was time for him to start teaching Gestalt on his own.[44]

During the time that Price ran Esalen, he educated himself widely in Western psychology and Eastern religions, including Buddhism and Taoism.[45] He drew from the work of many teachers who came to Esalen over the years. Gestalt Practice provided a humane approach that pulled together all these strands of ancient and modern knowledge into a coherent technique, similar to shamanistic methods of healing.[46] This practice allowed Price to work with other people as real people, not as objects that needed to be “fixed” in some way.[47] [48] Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Price continued practicing, modifying, and teaching Gestalt at Esalen, until his death in a hiking accident on November 25, 1985, when he was struck by a falling boulder.[49] The method of Gestalt Practice[50] that Dick Price developed remains one of his most important achievements.[51]

Hiking practice[edit]

Price would frequently hike the trails of the Santa Lucia Range, both for pleasure and for relief from the pressures of running Esalen Institute. This became a part of his process. Hiking was often a solitary practice for him, although he regularly took other people along. Sometimes he worked with them while hiking, doing Gestalt sessions that would turn out to be quite moving.[52]

Steven Harper was one of Price's close friends[53] and hiking partners at Esalen. Harper became a permanent resident of Big Sur and a leader of wilderness process groups at Esalen. After Price's death, Harper was also able to secure the official naming of two geographic features for Price. A very prominent ridge behind Esalen is now called Price Ridge, and a trail is named Price-Gagarin Trail after Price and his friend Andrew Gagarin.[54]

Legacy[edit]

In the time since his death, Price's work has remained influential.[55] October 2010 marked 80 years since his birth, and November 2010 was the 25th anniversary of his death. Along with personal commemorations of his life, there were two public workshops at Esalen dedicated to his legacy:[56]

"Stepping in, Stepping Out: Gestalt and Hiking Practice"[57] October 3–8, and

"Following the Way, Returning to the Source: A Celebration of the Life and Work of Richard Price"[58] November 14–19

Besides the general role that Price played in a prominent episode of American history, he affected the lives of many people individually by his work in Gestalt Practice groups.[59] Moreover, Price will be remembered for Esalen Institute - the place he built along with friends, the venture he ran for many years, and the model he left behind.

In 2013, Christine Stewart Price voluntarily withdrew from teaching at Esalen Institute, in order to start a new training facility called Tribal Ground Circle,[60] intended to perpetuate Dick Price’s legacy.[61]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.139-40
  2. ^ “Dick’s life in the late 1960s was incredibly intense. Murphy had left Big Sur to live in San Francisco in 1967, leaving Dick to run the growing complexity of Esalen’s Big Sur operations largely by himself.” from: The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) at p.152
  3. ^ Click here for Professor Kripal's explanation of Gestalt Practice in Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
  4. ^ "Foreword" Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price - The Gestalt Legacy Project (2009)
  5. ^ Goldman, Marion S. The American Soul Rush: Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege. New York University Press. (2012) p. 35
  6. ^ Anderson, Walter Truett. The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the American Awakening, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (1983, 2004) p.320-21; "Differences in temperament would take the cofounders in very different directions as Esalen developed. Mike was always restless and sometimes a little uncomfortable in Big Sur. ... Dick, on the other hand, felt completely at home in Big Sur." from: The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) at p.149
  7. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.134
  8. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.134
  9. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.135
  10. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.135 et seq.
  11. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.136
  12. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.137
  13. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.137-8
  14. ^ Anderson, Walter Truett. The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the American Awakening, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (1983, 2004) p.70-72; Kripal, Jeffrey. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press (2007) p.47-53
  15. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.139
  16. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.139-40
  17. ^ Anderson, Walter Truett. The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the American Awakening, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (1983, 2004) p.38
  18. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.142
  19. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.143
  20. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.145
  21. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.134
  22. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.145
  23. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.146
  24. ^ Transcript of an Interview with Dick Price conducted by Wade Hudson at Esalen Institute, April 1985
  25. ^ "The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price" by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.146
  26. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.147
  27. ^ See: Excerpts from an interview with Price conducted by Wade Hudson
  28. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.148
  29. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.147
  30. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.150-52,
  31. ^ "Totally on Fire: The Experience of Founding Esalen" excerpted from Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal
  32. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press (2007) p.35-9; Anderson, Walter Truett. The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the American Awakening, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (1983, 2004) p.46-7
  33. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.2
  34. ^ http://www.esalen.org/page/julian-silverman
  35. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.150-51
  36. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.152
  37. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press (2007) p.359-60; Anderson, Walter Truett. The Upstart Spring: Esalen and the American Awakening, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (1983, 2004) p.299; The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.156
  38. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.152
  39. ^ Stanislav Grof biography at GTT
  40. ^ Stanislav Grof, "Realms Of The Human Unconscious: Observations From LSD Research"
  41. ^ Stanislav Grof, "Physical Manifestations of Emotional disorders:Observations from the study of non-ordinary states of consciousness" in Exploring Holotropic breathwork: Selected Articles from a Decade of the Inner Door. Taylor, K [Ed.] Hanford Mead (2003)
  42. ^ Fritz Perls, In and Out the Garbage Pail, Real People Press, Lafayette, CA (1969)
  43. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press (2007) p.360
  44. ^ "A History of Gestalt Practice" & "Notes on Gestalt Practice" Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price - The Gestalt Legacy Project (2009) Sections 14 & 17
  45. ^ Goldman, Marion S. The American Soul Rush: Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege. New York University Press. (2012) p. 35
  46. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press (2007) p. 172
  47. ^ Goldman, Marion S. The American Soul Rush: Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege. New York University Press. (2012) p. 35
  48. ^ ”Notes on Gestalt Practice” Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price - The Gestalt Legacy Project (2009) Section 17
  49. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.158-59
  50. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.157; Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price - The Gestalt Legacy Project (2009)
  51. ^ The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) p.157-8; Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price - The Gestalt Legacy Project (2009)
  52. ^ "Hiking, Wilderness Practice and Pilgrimage" Manual of Gestalt Practice in the tradition of Dick Price - The Gestalt Legacy Project (2009) Section 6
  53. ^ See reference to Steve Harper's connection with Dick, in Kripal, J. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion. p. 172
  54. ^ Monterey County Place Names, published by Monterey County, California, p. 422.
  55. ^ Kripal, Jeffrey. Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, University of Chicago Press (2007) p.358-61
  56. ^ "Esalen Legacy Spotlight" The Esalen Institute Catalog, July-December 2010, p.7
  57. ^ The Esalen Institute Catalog, July-December 2010
  58. ^ The Esalen Institute Catalog, July-December 2010
  59. ^ “Dick’s real legacy, however, was his gestalt work. In that work, he was able to help alleviate the suffering of countless others. Through his pain and suffering, Dick learned how to function as a powerful validating other in the lives of many people.” from: The Only Way Out Is In: The Life Of Richard Price by Barclay James Erickson, in Kripal, Jeffrey and Glenn W. Shuck (editors), On The Edge Of The Future: Esalen And The Evolution Of American Culture, Indiana University Press (2005) at p.160
  60. ^ http://www.tribalground.com/welcome-tribal-ground-christine-price/tribal-ground-circle/
  61. ^ http://www.ithou.org/node/6315

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]