Cavalli, Thom F(rank) 1947-

views updated

CAVALLI, Thom F(rank) 1947-

PERSONAL: Born August 15, 1947, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Mary (maiden name, Amoroso; present surname, Pittorino) Cavalli; married Michelle Roseman, 1980 (divorced, 1987); married Cynthia Chedalawada (a project engineer), June 18, 2000; children: (first marriage) Ananda. Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A. (fine arts, psychology), 1969; California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, M.A. (clinical psychology), 1976, Ph.D., 1979. Politics: Liberal Democrat. Religion: "Unity." Hobbies and other interests: Travel, art, sailing.

ADDRESSES: Home—Tustin, CA. Offıce—161 Fashion Lane, Suite 101, Tustin, CA 92780. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: S.S. France, children's recreation director, 1969-70; Nassau Center for Emotionally Disturbed Children, Woodbury, NY, residential counselor, 1972-75; Veterans Administration Hospital, La Jolla, CA, research assistant, 1975-76; Community Resources and Self-Help, Inc., outpatient counselor, 1976-78; University of CaliforniaSan Diego, La Jolla, staff intern counselor with Counseling and Psychological Services, 1978-79; Pacific Center, San Diego, psychologist, 1980; Metropolitan State Hospital, Norwalk, CT, program psychology coordinator, 1980-84; Santa Ana Psychiatric Hospital, Santa Ana, CA, adult program director, 1982-87, chair of psychology department, 1990-91; private practice of psychology, 1987—. Bershire Farm for Boys, residential counselor, 1973; California Psychological Health Plan, vice chair of board of directors, 1991-93; consulting psychologist to Private Healthcare Systems, 1992-94, Senior Behavioral Services, Beverly Hills, CA, 1994-96, Senior Psychology Service, San Diego, 1994-96, MCC Health Management, 1997-99, and Pacificare Behavioral Health, 2001. Elementary school art teacher, 1969-70; Chapman University, clinical instructor and supervisor, 1988; presenter of public lectures, seminars, and workshops; guest on television and radio programs.

MEMBER: American Psychological Association, Friends of Jung, Orange County Psychological Association (board member and chair of hospital practices, 1988-90).

AWARDS, HONORS: Orange County Psychological Association, Orange Psi Award, 1989, Service Award, 1992; Recognition Award, California chapter, American Psychological Association, 1992.


Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in aNew World, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to the periodical ARCHE.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Royal Marriage of the Solar King and the Lunar Queen, completion expected in 2005; research on alchemical symbolism and interpretation—a Jungian analysis of the Trickster archetype.

SIDELIGHTS: Thom F. Cavalli told CA: "August 15, 1947 was a remarkable day. It is gratifying to know that I share my birthday with some very special people and significant events. This is the day that, after many years of reluctance, the Catholic Church elected to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, as an annual reminder of the feminine aspect of the Holy Trinity. The Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung took particular notice and wrote of the significance this doctrinal change would have for a great many people. Jung, like myself, was born under the sign of Leo, symbolic of the masculine, solar energy. Having Mary added to my natal astrology is therefore a very welcome addition. Throughout my life I have devoted myself to bringing the feminine into full conscious realization.

"The day is remarkable for another reason. It was in that year that India declared independence from Britain. The specific day was chosen to honor the birthday of Sri Aurobindu, who had championed the cause and who, along with Mahatma Gandhi, led a successful, bloodless revolution. Here the feminine power is displayed on the political stage, showing what the might of words and ideology can achieve. India figures into my life in many ways.

"I should also add a somewhat odd feature of my birth. I was born with a caul covering my face. For centuries sailors believed that this thin membrane covering the face at birth is a magic talisman that guards against drowning. In fact, there were two times in my life when I very nearly drowned. Sigmund Freud was also born with his face enshrouded in this magical wrap. In my idealistic fantasy, I allow myself to think that my principal occupation as a psychologist came to me through this unusual connection with the great man. I started my professional career as a Freudian and over the course of twenty years matured into an ardent Jungian psychologist.

"I was born in Brooklyn, New York, of rather poor circumstances. My father was a flamboyant type of person, much given to repeating war stories. Only his death some ten years ago stopped him from reminding us of his heroism. My father's mother was an avid astrologer. As best as I can tell, she came from a Middle Eastern background, not Italian as my surname might suggest. By contrast my mother is thoroughly Italian. She is still very much alive and has outlived three husbands. Just when we'd achieved solid middle-class status and I was ready to leave home, my parents divorced and I took on paternal responsibilities at the ripe old age of nineteen.

"It was a bitter divorce from which no one was left unscathed. In each of our own ways we all scattered. The times heralded a coming dissonance at home and abroad. It wasn't long before the Vietnam war reached a feverish pitch. I was tossed about by my old memories of abuse suffered during elementary school days, beaten by nuns and Jesuit brothers, and now a war I didn't agree with and had no intention of joining. I buried myself in art. At the time conceptual art was having its heyday on the New York art scene, and I embraced this new art of the mind. It led me to study psychology and adopt it as a second major. Art and psychology make a good recipe for the kind of work I have pursued in various forms for most of my adult life.

"I went from an unconscious scattering of my life to one that was very deliberate. My journeys took me to Japan, Europe, South America, and, of course, India. On returning from a 'pilgrimage' throughout Nepal and the subcontinent, I moved to the golden shores of California and began a graduate education in psychology.

"My years at the California School of Professional Psychology were intense. There was great pressure on students to insure that this new form of professional education would succeed. In fact, two of my fellow classmates either committed suicide or murdered others. Despite my own determination to overcome all obstacles, fate stopped me in my tracks when a sailor, asleep at the wheel, drove into my car. Perhaps these forces led me to discover Bhagwan Shree Rajneesch, for some years my guru. He looked into my soul through a photograph sent across the globe to his ashram in Puna and accurately renamed me Anand Vichara (blissful thoughts). I certainly needed such poise to see me through a very difficult doctoral dissertation that approached the problem of chemical dependency by relating it to the crazy antics of the trickster and the lofty pursuits of alchemy.

"[Since then,] one major event has followed another. Having survived many near-death encounters by tornado, drowning, mugging, car accidents, and most recently almost being buried alive at the Sacred Pools in Hawaii, I remain undaunted by life's challenges. By the grace of god I manage to fuse these elements into a rich tapestry that adds something of value to my life and hopefully to others. I am surrounded by loving people—my wife Cynthia (Suvasini), my daughter Nandi, and my friend, analyst, and confidante Pan—wonderful friends and good family."



Library Journal, April 15, 2002, Lisa Liquori, review of Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World, p. 111.


Alchemical Psychology Web site, (January 8, 2003).

About this article

Cavalli, Thom F(rank) 1947-

Updated About content Print Article