Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist who helped pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually Speaking. It began in September 1980 as a fifteen-minute, taped show that aired Sundays after midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. One year later it became a live, one-hour show airing at 10 P.M. on which Dr. Ruth, as she became known, answered call-in questions from listeners. Soon it became part of a communications network to distribute her expertise that includes television, books, newspapers, games, home videos, computer software, and a Web site.
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Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Ruth was sent at age ten to a school in Switzerland that became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students sent there to escape the Holocaust. At sixteen she went to Israel where she fought for the country’s independence as a member of the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters. Dr. Ruth then moved to Paris where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 where she obtained her master’s degree in sociology from the graduate faculty of the New School of Social Research and a Doctorate of Education (Ed. D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University.
She worked for Planned Parenthood for a time, prompting her to further her education of human sexuality by studying under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. She later participated in the program for five years as an adjunct associate professor. She has also taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, Columbia University and West Point.
Dr. Ruth is currently an adjunct associate professor at New York University. A fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine, she has her own private practice, and leads regular seminars for residents and interns in pediatrics on adolescent sexuality at Brookdale Hospital, which is affiliated with Downstate Medical Center. She lectures frequently at universities across the country and has been twice named “College Lecturer of the Year.”
Dr. Ruth has made wide use of the mass media to help spread what she has labeled “sexual literacy.” In addition to radio, her television career has spanned both broadcast and cable. In print, she circles the globe with her column, Ask Dr. Ruth, syndicated by King Features. She is the author of fifteen books, the most recent of which, Dr. Ruth Talks About Grandparents: Advice for Kids On Making the Most of a Special Relationship (co-authored with Pierre Lehu), was published in 1997. This book prompted by her importance of her three grandchildren from her own two children.
Dr. Ruth is currently at work on several projects. She is producing two documentaries: the first, No Missing Link, is about how grandparents transmitted values, particularly religious values, during the seventy years of communism in Russia; and the second is about her visit to the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea. Her most recent works include: Dr. Ruth’s Couple’s Guide to Pregnancy (1998); Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Grandparenting (1998); Dr. Ruth's Good Sex Night-to-Night Calendar; and a board game titled Dr. Ruth's Game of Good Sex, which also has a computer version.
The National Mother’s Day Committee has honored Dr. Ruth as “Mother of the Year” and she received a Liberty Medal from the City of New York. She has been nominated for an Ace Award and her program, The All-New Dr. Ruth Show, won an Ace Award (1988) for excellence in cable television. What’s Up, Dr. Ruth was awarded the Gold Medal from the International Film and TV Festival for excellence in educational television.
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