Tell me about your childhood. I didn’t realize I was dyslexic because it hadn’t yet been
named as a learning disability. I was clumsy
and bumped into things. I flunked kindergarten. In first grade I’d raise my hand and give
the wrong answer, so I learned not to raise
my hand. I was very shy. I was unable to learn
to read or write, and rote memory was all but
impossible. Meanwhile, I had two older brothers who were very bright and accomplished.
What was high school like for you? I began
to know that I wanted to go to medical school
and then into psychiatry to find out what
made my time as a child so difficult, and try to
heal myself and help other kids.
What was college like? It was so long ago that
How many books have you written? Twenty.
you could get into University of California
with a D-minus average, so that’s how I got
in. But I had to take an English test, which
I flunked. I had to take a dumbbell English
course and got a D-minus-minus. The profes-
sor said, “Jampolsky, I don’t know what you
are going to do in life, but for God’s sake, don’t
ever try to write a book.” Of course, I believed
him and gave my power away. I didn’t write my
first book until I was 50.
And how many books have you sold? A little
more than 10 million.
How did you do in medical school? My grades
were so poor that I graduated on probation.
But during my internship, a doctor believed
that I could make a good doctor rather than
a doctor who just got by and barely passed.
I didn’t know this at the time, but they were
grading the internships. I came out at the top.
Jerry and Diane Jampolsky
How a shy kid with a learning disability went on to help
many others as a successful author and psychiatrist.
BY PAIGE PETERSON • PHOTO BY LENNY GONZALEZ
GERALD “JERRY” JAMPOLSKY’S life story reads like the ultimate self-help book. The boy who was a shy underachiever with a learning disability grew up to be a world-renowned, Stanford-educated child and adult psychiatrist. His Center for Attitudinal Healing (with local centers in the North Bay and Oakland), where he worked with children who had life-threatening illnesses, once merited a visit
from Morley Safer of 60 Minutes. When Jampolsky extended this groundbreaking therapy to
parents and siblings, his model went global. Mother Teresa applied his principles to her teachings. He even gave Oprah an “aha” moment. Jerry and Diane Cirincione-Jampolsky, his wife
and partner, now live on a houseboat in Sausalito. At 92, he’s still writing, still looking forward.
Looking back, he sees a story of persistence, destiny — and luck.
Attitudinal Healing is based on the premise that
ultimately it is not other people, events or experiences in the past
that are causing us to be upset or stressed out.