The Way of the Image – The Orientational Approach to the Psyche


Yoram Kaufmann was born on October 3, 1939 in Tel-Aviv, the only child of Lina and Herbert Kaufmann. Lina and Herbert, lifelong Zionists, fled Leipzig, Germany in 1936, narrowly escaping the horrors of the Holocaust and settling in Tel-Aviv. Yoram always joked that he was a Palestinian. In fact, he was; the state of Israel was established when he was a boy of 9 years.

His early years were spent much as any child of that place and time – struggling with shortages of material goods, food, and a deep sense of physical danger and instability. This was balanced by a strong sense of purpose and dedication to the creation of a Jewish Homeland in Israel.

His father died suddenly of a heart attack when Yoram was 12-years-old, leaving him and his mother destitute. In that moment, he was catapulted from a carefree childhood into premature adulthood and became the emotional and financial support for his mother and himself.

Despite these huge burdens, he excelled at school and earned a Masters Degree in Theoretical Physics from Bar-Ilan University. Nevertheless, he realized that his true vocation lay in psychology. Accordingly, he decided to move to New York where he earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from New York University at the same time as pursuing his analytic training at the C.G. Jung Institute.

He met his future wife, Rise Jacobson, in 1969. She was a Clinical Psychology doctoral student at Columbia University and an accomplished pianist. They married in 1972 and lived together in great happiness and mutual devotion until his death.

Along with his great accomplishments as an analyst and teacher, Yoram was a lifelong lover of music and  studied voice for many years with the renowned vocal coach, Joseph Ruff. Ruff was also a serious student of psychology and the two spent many hours discussing Yoram’s Orientational Approach and honing Yoram’s ideas which culminated in his book, “The Way of the Image,” which was published shortly before his death.

The day before he died, Yoram said to a friend, “With the publication of my book, my professional mission is done; I have lived for 40 years with the woman I love. Who ever is given more? I am ready and at peace.”

Yoram Kaufmann / 1939-2009

Memorial by Polly Armstrong

Memorial by David Rottman