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John Firman (1945–2008)


John Firman became a licensed psychotherapist in California in 1976, and until his death he had taught psychosynthesis for more than 35 years. In 1973, he spent two-and-a-half months studying psychosynthesis with Roberto Assagioli, both in Florence and in Capolona, Italy.  


John was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and he did his service as a licensed psychiatric technician at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. He later went on to work in the California state hospital system as well as in a county rehabilitation program for alcoholism.


John was a director of the Psychosynthesis Institute in Palo Alto and San Francisco until its closure in 1980, and during this time he led groups and presented workshops, trained professionals, and wrote for the journal Synthesis.


In the mid-1980s, John became a long-haul truck driver and drove an 18-wheeler back and forth across the nation. He took this time to reflect, to read, and to write, as well as to sometimes counsel, by way of a CB radio, other drivers on the road.


For three years in the late 1980s, John was a psychotherapist and spiritual director on the staff of St. Dominic’s Church in Los Angeles. Beginning in 1990, in addition  to his private practice and writing, he and his wife Ann Gila (formerly Ann Russell) were on the training staff at the Institute of Psychosynthesis in London, presented workshops in Italy, were faculty members at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and conducted a psychosynthesis training program in Palo Alto.


John rode a Harley, and he loved mentoring Ann on her own bike. His favorite rides, however, were the long distance ones—for example, round trips between Palo Alto and Salt Lake City, and between Palo Alto and Seattle, in 24 hours. He loved the road. John was also an accomplished guitar player and co-founded the blues band, the Bornia Boys. The band played in local clubs on the San Francisco peninsula.


With Ann, he is the co-author of three books published by SUNY Press: The Primal Wound: A Transpersonal View of Trauma, Addiction, and Growth (1997); Psychosynthesis: A Psychology of the Spirit (2002); and A Psychotherapy of Love: Psychosynthesis in Practice (2010). In addition, John is the author of the recently reprinted “I” and Self: Re-visioning Psychosynthesis (2020). He is the author and co-author of numerous articles, including one written with James Vargiu, “Personal and Transpersonal Growth: The Perspective of Psychosynthesis,” which appeared in the book Transpersonal Psychotherapy edited by Seymour Boorstein.

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