Dr. Bruce Hyman was a long-standing professional member of the IOCDF, served on the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board, was a faculty member for the Behavior Therapy Training Institute, and was a staple at our Annual OCD Conference. Dr. Hyman was a nationally recognized expert in OCD and related disorders, a field in which he dedicated his career to as a primary focus. We were saddened to hear that he passed away last month. I reached out to Dr. Fred Penzel, who wrote the following to acknowledge Dr. Hyman’s decades-long contributions to the OCD and related disorders community. Dr. Hyman will be missed.
I would like to start by thanking the IOCDF for allowing me to say a few words on behalf of my friend Dr. Bruce Hyman, who recently passed away. Let me begin by saying that Bruce was a good friend and colleague of mine; someone I became acquainted with many years ago through the Foundation. My last memory of him was of our having lunch with a small group in Boston during a break at the 2015 Annual OCD Conference. Then, as always, Bruce was good company, funny, and good-natured. We always identified ourselves as the two guys from Long Island and would often swap stories of our early days there. We were both Nassau County boys — he grew up in Elmont, and I came from Plainview. He eventually wound up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I somehow strayed only a short distance to a town near to where I started out. We also shared a great love of different types of music, although I am only a collector while Bruce was an honest-to-God musician, playing the guitar and bass. I have subsequently learned he freelanced with quite a few different symphony orchestras. Not being one to brag, he never mentioned it. We also shared a love of good food and had quite a few meals together over the years at numerous conferences. I remember sharing my treasured Manhattan clam chowder recipe with him, and was happy to hear it made the grade.
We also both liked to write. In particular, we liked to write about OCD. Bruce was especially prolific and wrote a number of books, including, The OCD Workbook, Anxiety Disorders, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (all three with co-author Cherlene Pedrick), as well as Coping with OCD (together with co-author Troy Dufrene). These are all good books that have helped many people, and I have recommended them many times over the years. The workbook in particular came at a time when there were still very few books on the subject, and was very much needed.
In addition to writing about OCD, Bruce was a real professional when it came to treating it. He was one of the first in Florida to specialize in treating OCD, beginning private practice there in 1984. He named his practice the OCD Resource Center of Florida and managed to maintain two offices. I was always impressed at his ability to manage such a large practice. He was always my main referral source in south Florida, and over the years, I directed quite a few people his way, knowing that they would be well treated. I never had any doubts about this. He always spoke warmly about his patients and really seemed to care. This, too, always impressed me.
Over the years at IOCDF Conferences, Bruce and I got to do some presentations together. Our styles were somewhat different and unique, but he was easy to work with. We always got the job done and also managed to have fun doing it. My own presentation style can be a bit more theatrical and freewheeling. I got the feeling made Bruce a bit uncertain at times, but if it made him a bit edgy, he never really let on. As a performing musician, I think he was well equipped to handle it.
One other thing Bruce never let on about was the cancer he was contending with. I knew he was having some type of digestive problems over the years, and that he had surgery performed as well. I think I remember his missing one OCD Conference due to his health, but then he came back the following year. When asked, he would respond vaguely, and act like it was no big deal. The ‘C’ word never came up. Looking back, I can honestly say from my perspective that he never seemed weighed down by it, nor did he ever seem to let it get in his way as a professional. I guess that is, at least partly, what it means to be a professional. I figured that whatever it was, although inconvenient to him at times, was under control. Thus, when I received an email that he was suddenly going into hospice, I have to say I was genuinely shocked. It seemed beyond belief at that moment. How could this be happening to him? I had just spent time with him the previous summer and he seemed so well. I guess that’s the way these things happen sometimes. The news of his subsequent passing, though not unexpected at that point, saddened me even further. Even now, I can’t really believe he’s not around. I try to concentrate on being thankful for having known and worked with him. It helps somewhat.
I can only close by saying that I will truly miss Bruce and can say that for me, there will always be an empty place in the world of OCD treatment.
The IOCDF has received many requests to establish a memorial campaign in Bruce’s memory. You may donate to that campaign here.