In Memoriam - Sandra Seagal

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In Memoriam – Sandra Seagal

Born on November 5th, 1928, Sandra Seagal died on September 14th, 2019, at the age of 90, after a 6 ½ year battle against the gradual encroachments of Alzheimer’s Disease.   She is survived by her husband of 35 years, David Horne; her two daughters Eve Seagal and Debra Ollivier; her son Ronald Seagal; as well as her sister Marcia Tull; her brother Richard Kerner; and her nieces Caryn and Julie Goldsmith.  She was also the proud grandmother of two grandchildren, Max and Celeste Ollivier.   All will continue to carry Sandra in their hearts as a constantly caring and inspirational presence in their lives.

Sandra was born and raised in upper New York State.   Her parents, Irving and Genevieve Kerner, were of Russian and English immigrant backgrounds respectively.   Sandra proved to be an outstanding student in high school, and went on to graduate from New York City College in 1950 with a degree in Education.  She moved to the Los Angeles area soon afterwards where, always interested in human development, she earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Southern California (1954).   For the next 7 years (1955 – 1962) she was a teacher at an elementary school.  During this time she met and married her first husband, Dr. Harry Seagal, and started her family.  From 1963 – 1964 she was a mental health consultant to Operation Head Start; and from 1965 – 1968 she served as a Guidance Consultant at University Elementary School, an experimental school on the campus of UCLA. 

Sandra subsequently became a notably successful psychotherapist in private practice, ahead of her time in that a number of her clients were independent-minded women who she encouraged along their career paths.  Sandra always offered to others empathic communication, illuminating insight, and a gift for inspiring them to seek to achieve their deepest potential.  She also devoted time to pursuing practices for her own spiritual development. 

In 1979 Sandra had an experience that took her work to another level.  As she describes the event, while listening to a client’s daughter talk to her during a therapy consultation requested by the mother, Sandra’s consciousness shifted, and instead of hearing the words the girl was saying, she was conscious only of the sound of her voice, in which she could clearly discern 3 different sound-frequencies being expressed – a high frequency, a low frequency and a variable frequency in between.   She could clearly discern these 3 sound-frequencies, even though they were being expressed simultaneously in a continuous flow of sound.  

After the session she was left with the certainty that the experience was of the profoundest significance, although she no idea what the meaning was.  She subsequently found that she could hear the three sound-frequencies being expressed in everyone’s voice – even in the cries and babbles of babies.  Determined to explore the implications of her experience, she enrolled with a group of six other women in a doctoral program being conducted in Los Angeles at the time by International College, an experimental college “without walls” but with a distinguished faculty.  Sandra also conducted weekly meetings with a group of individuals who had in common both an interest in realizing human potential and enthusiasm for exploring the meaning of Sandra’s experience.

Over time, as a consequence of these initiatives, Sandra gradually built the new body of knowledge about how human beings are “designed” that she eventually named “Human Dynamics”.   She came to recognize that the sound-frequencies she discerned represented mental, emotional, and physical (i.e. sensory/operational) functioning respectively, and that these were expressed in different patterns of interplay in people’s voices.   Eventually, she realized that these different voice patterns were reflections of differences in the functioning of people as distinct whole systems of mental, physical and emotional interplay, which she termed “personality dynamics”.  She identified nine such personality dynamic systems, each characterized by its own specific inner processes of, taking in information, thinking, learning and planning (mental) experiencing feelings, and communicating and relating with others (emotional); and taking action and doing and making things (sensory/operational).   

She discovered over time that six of these personality dynamics were by far the most prevalent.  She termed them: mental-physical, mental-emotional, emotional-mental, emotional-physical, physical-mental, and physical-emotional.  The fact that Sandra was unable to teach others to hear the subtle distinctions in voices that she was able to discern, seemed initially to present a big difficulty, until she and the group realized that the personality dynamic distinctions are in fact showing in many ways that people can be more readily trained to recognize.   

She came to understand that when the personality dynamic distinctions among people are not known and understood, they are naturally the cause of much misunderstanding and even conflict among people as they attempt to live, work, and learn successfully together.  On the other hand, when these distinctions in people’s inner processes are recognized and understood, then the way becomes open for people to learn to both value the differences and be able to consciously accommodate them.  This results in much more successful teaching and learning, more understanding and loving relationship-building, more informed and empathic parenting, and greater ability to collaborate and work together productively with others, whether in one’s personal life or in the workplace.  Understanding the personality dynamic distinctions also enables people to more readily discern and follow their own particular developmental paths, and also, if they are in an advisory role, to help others to recognize and follow theirs. 

Sandra always emphasized that rather than being naturally disharmonious, the different personality dynamics in fact naturally complement one another. As she often said, though different in function, they are equal in value, and all contribute their particular gifts and capacities in service to the whole. 

This requires training, however, so Human Dynamics International was born, with the mission of creating and disseminating training programs based on her discoveries about the personality dynamics’ distinctions.  Sandra and her colleagues put much effort into creating unique training programs that have evolved over time and been widely used internationally in the fields of personal development, organizational development (with an emphasis on developing outstanding teamwork), education (training teachers), healthcare (in the broadest sense, including well-being), more enlightened parenting, the personal development of youth and at-risk youth, and cross-cultural bridge-building. 

Recognizing the implications of Sandra’s work for the enlightenment and well-being of people everywhere, both individually and in their collective interactions, the eminent scientist and inventor, Buckminster Fuller, was moved to nominate her for a MacArthur Prize Fellowship.

In 1997 Sandra, in conjunction with her husband David, wrote her groundbreaking book “Human Dynamics”, which was well received and published in Swedish, Dutch and Portuguese editions as well as English. 

For many years, Sandra travelled with David in the United States and to many other countries in order to conduct the various Human Dynamics based programs and to train others to become Human Dynamics Program Facilitators.   Their destinations included, for example, Canada, Sweden, The Netherlands, Spain, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Israel, Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil.    

After 28 years dedicated to touching, often transforming, lives with the light of her discoveries, she retired in 2012, at the age of 83.  It was at this point that Sandra and David, passed leadership of Human Dynamics International to Sandra’s daughter, psychologist Eve Seagal, who had served as a Human Dynamics Program Facilitator and Trainer for many years. 

Sandra’s loving and profoundly illuminating influence will continue to live on in the memories of those whose lives she touched in person as a mother, wife and family member; and as a teacher, trainer, counselor and psychotherapist.  Her legacy will endure more widely through the ongoing work of those associated with Human Dynamics International.    

Sandra also founded a non-profit organization the “Human Dynamics Foundation”, which has three aims:  1) to provide scholarships to enable people who could not otherwise afford to do so, to participate in one or more Human Dynamics seminars or Facilitator Training Programs; 2) to continue to conduct basic research – for example, to use fMRI technology to investigate whether the different personality dynamics that Sandra’s work identifies are characterized by distinctive patterns of brain function; and 3) to document, and meticulously and objectively evaluate, the results of conducting any of the Human Dynamics based programs.

For those of you who are moved to make a practical gesture in recognition of Sandra’s inspiring life and seminal work, we suggest that you make a donation to the Human Dynamics Foundation.