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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.

5 Comments

  • Bruce was a valued colleague and friend, a fine psychologist and a talented and wonderful human being. He is irreplaceable, and it saddens me deeply to know that he is gone.

    Reply
  • Wendy Mueller

    Bruce was a wonderful friend to me and a tremendous blessing to the OCD community. His book “The OCD Workbook” has helped tens of thousands of people with OCD. He was a very kind and humble person, and I feel very honored and blessed that he was my good friend.

    Reply
  • Bruce was a dear friend, having met him when we were both grad students at FSU, and running into him later at a conference after we both had become interested in treating OCD. He was very supportive of me specializing in treating it, and was always encouraging in our professional work. We began presenting together at conferences several years ago, and some of my favorite memories were of skyping and discussing our presentations, or tweaking one we had given before to give it more life or an updated presentation. He is so bright, thoughtful, and it was an intellectual feast creating things with him. In addition, he always included empathy along with academics. Mostly I enjoyed hanging out with him at conferences, having meals, sharing our lives, or doing things in groups, and occasionally taking in the sites. He loved our work, loved people, loved life, was an accomplished musician, a champion of his patients and other professionals, and successful in his practice as an author and clinician. He embraced new treatments and I think used mindfulness to help manage his 8 year bout with cancer. The end came suddently, though it was had been looming for years. I attended his Celebration of Life in Ft. Lauderdale in January, and heard a parade of life long friends, his siblings, a patient, his colleagues, fellow symphony musicians, and others acknowledge him. It rounded out the picture of someone who was well loved and loved well. He leaves behind a beautiful fiance who made him happy. They had attended my wedding celebration in June along with a couple of other grad school buddies, which made for a happy reunion. IOCDF will not be the same without my dear friend who gave so much to the population we treat with his books, his presentations, his compassion, and his wisdom. We will miss you dear friend!

    Reply
  • Robert Ackerman

    I will miss Bruce, a valued colleague and friend.His thinking and planning of treatment for his patients was deeply creative . He recognized the unique needs of each patient within the particular diagnosis of OCD.This was a great benefit to those sufferers who were treated
    by him. Bruce was also a superior teacher of clinical topics which was of great value to other practitioners and their patients. A loss indeed for us all.
    Robert Ackerman MSW
    Brooklyn N. Y.

    Reply
  • Marc J. Cohen

    I just now found out about the passing of Bruce Hyman….my cherished doctor for 15 years. I’m so sorry that I had not taken the time to see him since 2013. I knew he was ill from when we spoke on the phone last year, about him taking me for an appointment; whereas he said he was no longer seeing new patients, but would certainly see me. Now I wish I had not procrastinated by never making that appointment. He was such a kind man with a good sense of humor. I’m totally blown away that he is gone, and I never got a chance to say farewell to someone who I thought the world of. I don’t think that there is OCD in Heaven, so Bruce will now finally have the vacation he has earned. I’ll miss you, Dr. H….you alleviated suffering in so many people. May GOD rest your beautiful soul.
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    Reply

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