Photos from 2014 and 2015
Write-up and photo from
Born: November 16, 1942,
Abington, PA. Colleges: Wabash College (BA) 1964, University of West
Florida (MA Candidacy) 1972-3, University of Toronto, [Ontario Institute for
Studies in Education] (Ph.D. Candidacy) 1977-81. Certificates:
Interamerican University, Saltillo, Mexico (1961), Universidad Central del
Ecuador (Quito) (1962-63), Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (Quito)
(1962-63), Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, Quito, Ecuador (1962-63) Married:
Cynthia Lennox Sargent, Mexico City MEXICO (1969-1973), Evelyn Nichols Weis,
Jenkintown PA (1975-1984) Children: Evelyn Wilder Scott (McDonald)
(b. 1976). Stepchildren: Christopher Balcomb, Hillary Riggs, Peter
Lennox Riggs, Stephanie Riggs de Stelly. StepGrandchildren: Zachary
Stelly Riggs, Alexander Nugent Riggs, Lore Stelly Riggs, Hugo Riggs Platas,
Steven Stelly Riggs. Occupations (Chronologically): Teacher
(Ecuador), Pilot (Western Hemisphere), Saloonkeeper (Old San Juan PR),
Seafood Executive (Ecuador), Textile Executive (Mexico), Psychologist
(Canada & USA), Researcher, Writer & Research Director (Canada &
USA), Inveterate Traveler (the World), Commodities Trader (the World). Favorite
Places: London, Rio, Buenos Aires, Paris, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Prague,
Dublin, Stuttgart, Berlin, Zurich, Mexico City & St. Petersburg.
Observations on Life and Times
The Scott chronology is like massively parallel
processing: sometimes frenzied and sometimes calm overlapping and
interconnected life streams (a mix of hard work, driven adventure, uncanny
patience, thoughtful reflection and a pinch of domestic and foreign
intrigue) in the USA, Latin America, Canada, Western Europe and Eastern
My family surround, Philadelphia upbringing, and a halcyon
Meadowbrook and Beach Haven first decade anchored an early Anglo-Saxon sense
of self, place and time -- then there were a lot of deaths of those near and
dear. Penn Charter nurtured an already established love of English, History
and Languages (as well as Art, Music and Drama). Early trips to Cuba
inspired a fascination with the Spanish language, and Latin American
Culture, Literature and Politics. I started flying in ninth grade and got my
private pilot's license in twelfth grade. I have flown extensively over the
Americas, the Caribbean and Europe for more than 40 years and have always
found the perspective from above to offer important insight into my
experiences on the ground.
While at Wabash (click to see my
vitae), I studied abroad in Mexico, then, as a Fulbright Fellow,
taught in Quito, Ecuador -- becoming bi-lingual in Spanish. After Wabash
(and a body-crippling plane crash on Long Island in 1964), I spend most of
the next eight years in Latin America, principally in Ecuador (and Colombia
and Panama) and Mexico along with some serious roaming throughout the
Caribbean (click to see a summary of my travels).
I added language skills along the way and was fortunate over the years to
have visited virtually every country in Latin America (click to see more
about my passion for Latin
In the late sixties, I built a shrimp trawler fleet and
freezer plant near Guayaquil Ecuador, and, commuting on weekends, lived in
Mexico City and Cuernavaca, Mexico with my first wife, Cynthia Sargent
(Boston textile designer, craftswoman, painter, dancer, Grove Press founder
and niece of John Singer Sargent) and her four children. Despite a 3000-mile
commute every fortnight, Mexico in the sixties (pre-pollution) was an
interesting and cosmopolitan place. We were fortunate during these years to
belong to the Mexican Arts and Letters community as well as participate in
World Crafts Council activities in the Americas and Europe.
After a serious business reversal in Ecuador in 1971 (a
most complicated tale), I regrouped in Cuernavaca for a year, then decided
("good instruction is better than riches") to return to the US to
enter graduate school in psychology -- in Pensacola, Florida (at UWF) --
and, like Woody Allen, begin psychoanalysis. Cynthia and I divorced
amicably, and I then married Evelyn Weis, a Pensacola psychologist who had
grown up in Central America.
After my UWF program, Evelyn and I moved to Toronto, the
most convivial of three places (along with New York and LA) where
psychoanalytically oriented, abreactive and regressive psychotherapy -- of
particular interest to us -- was being practiced. Over the next decade,
Evelyn and I formed part of several international groups engaged in a range
of innovative treatment methods (think Reich, Esalen, Primal Scream and
Ronnie Laing), and we eventually established our own therapy center in
Toronto, primarily treating severely disturbed children, adolescents and
Evelyn had particular gifts in treating childhood
schizophrenia and severe learning disabilities. As a protégé of Henry
Fenigstein (one of a handful of Jewish physicians who survived the camps), I
gravitated to clinical work with Holocaust survivors, then with their
adolescent and young adult children. I also began work with adolescent
victims of torture from places like Chile, Argentina, Salvador, Cambodia and
Northern Ireland, who had emigrated to Canada.
During our early Toronto years, Evelyn and I helped
establish clinical services for a number of previously disenfranchised
groups. But most important, our daughter Wilder was born and brought great
joy to our lives. On the heels of a catastrophic railway chemical spill in
downtown Toronto, I became active in what Canadians term
"ratepayer" politics, and in environmental issues (especially
improved HAZMAT response) locally and nationally. I went on to become a
serious participant in municipal and provincial politics (running thrice
unsuccessfully for Toronto City Council).
Because of our clinical work with survivors of torture in
post-Allende Chile, and victims of the 1970's military regime in Argentina
("los desaparecidos"), Evelyn and I were asked to help, in the
mid-seventies, with the resettlement of ethnic Chinese refugees ("boat
people") escaping Pol Pot's Cambodia and postwar Communist Vietnam.
Later, at Toronto Monthly Meeting, with our language and clinical skills, we
were asked to help with counseling and resettlement of refugees escaping El
Salvador's brutal civil war.
In our final Toronto years, Evelyn succumbed to long-term
diabetes after a valiant, even heroic struggle over the span of more than
one-hundred hospitalizations. As our practice diminished with caretaking
considerations, Metro Toronto Chairman Paul Godfrey appointed me to a series
of Task Force committees on violence against women and children (following a
series of brutal rape murders). My work included the design of a
comprehensive study on the impact of media violence and perversion.
Consequent to the release of my study and the Task Force
report in late 1983, I organized (with the help of fellow Philadelphian,
Surgeon General C. Everett Koop), a paradigm-shifting Symposium on Media
Violence in Toronto, in early 1984, that received international media
attention. The edited transcript of the Symposium, combined with a widely
disseminated monograph I wrote in the fall and winter of 1984, helped
trigger Pornography and Obscenity Commissions in 1985-86 in the US (the
Meese Commission and the Koop Panel) and in Canada (the Frazier Committee).
Nineteen eighty-four was a year of important life changes.
Following Evelyn's death, related financial pressures, and a difficult year
in Toronto as a single parent, Wilder and I decided that the support and
nurture of a Quaker educational environment, and Quaker Meeting would be
best for her. We moved back to Philadelphia. Wilder found Penn Charter to
have "too many boys", so we settled in at Abington Friends School
and Abington Monthly Meeting (Wilder graduated from AFS in 1995).
Building on my research, involvement and knowledge of the
findings of the Meese and Frazier Commissions (which had both, for disparate
political reasons, engaged in massive, dismissive cover-ups of the actual
and complexly deleterious impacts of exposure to media violence and media
pornography), I forged a 501(c)(3) to enable me to spend the next 5 years
(albeit constantly struggling for funding) seeking out physicians,
psychiatrists and psychologists worldwide who best understood the underlying
causes of addiction, perversion and violence, and the continuum of
compulsive disorders of which they are part.
Many of the most penetrating minds in this field resided
and practiced in Western Europe, and some of the most interesting and
challenging research was being done in London, Paris and Stockholm. I was
rewarded with the opportunity to meet, know, observe, review the research of
and collaborate with some of the most facile minds in clinical practice
today. My "core group" (twelve of the some two hundred clinicians
collaborating in the project) would meet regularly in the US and London to
review our findings.
As time went on, we discovered that systematic research on
the effects of Soviet bloc institutional childcare had quietly, even
surreptitiously taken place in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Russia from 1949
through 1972. Yet recognition, appreciation and understanding of the
horrific effects of this institutional care process -- psychological,
physical and immunological -- are still massively resisted in the
politically-charged US daycare community, and public debate. These
"politically inconvenient" effects are best-described in to-date
unpublished or suppressed Czech, Hungarian and Swedish research studies.
Simply stated, children develop better in stable, intact families. Simply
stated, they fail to thrive across many measures in institutional
I traveled half a million miles in the last five years of
the eighties to discover that the best and the brightest did understand the
etiology of the core conflicts leading to addiction, perversion and
violence. I found they believed that what they knew could be parsimoniously
described to the average person, and to the least-intelligent public policy
maker. They agreed that thoughtful explication of our findings could
influence public policymakers and change public policy, but continually
warned me that such understanding would be resisted by an army of special
interest groups that benefit financially from the present status quo. That
army, they said, would range from mental health professionals and physicians
to people at every level of criminal justice system, an army of what one of
my Cuernavaca acquaintances, Ivan Illych, called "the disabling
To change these professionals' understanding, my
colleagues said, would challenge their prejudices, rock their compensations,
and require complex re-education. Nations, especially their professionals,
would have to go back to school. They would resist understanding tooth and
nail. They recalled Pogo's admonition: "I have seen the enemy, and it
is us." They said, "David, you are putting society on the couch as
an unwilling patient." The project peaked in 1990 with a series of
highly regarded teaching trips to Russia, and research trips to Latin
America. Sadly, however, resistance overcame momentum and our findings, once
funding evaporated, were shelved (another long tale).
While traveling and writing in the late eighties, my
colleagues and I wanted to write quickly. We tried to cobble together a
pre-Internet e-mail and file attachment mechanism to exchange drafts of
professional articles. While trying to network colleagues in the UK, France,
Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Mexico, I visited the local PTTs
and (pathetically underestimating the cost), tried to get fledgling data
circuits up and running.
The resistance I met from major US Telecoms (who, at the
time, had special interest in resisting deployment of inexpensive data
circuits) was astounding (while, ironically, the so-called "third
world" PTTs -- especially in Brazil, Argentina and Russia -- were eager
to participate). Ahead of my time again; the story of my life. Sad to say,
everything I tried to do (in communications) a decade ago, while resisted
then, has been done in the last 5 years by someone else. Alas!
Frustrated again, and my research project stalled, I
focused on potential income-generating niches: marketing St. Petersburg's
Hermitage Museum in the USA through the innovative use of high-resolution
graphics images of paintings and objects (like Catherine's Carriage) and
museum quality printing. Again, ahead of my time. Automating Soviet Customs
and Immigration. Again, ahead of my time.
So I have switched to less emotionally charged projects,
in Brazil, West Africa and India, all accessible by phone, fax and Internet
from downtown Philadelphia. No more encounters with alcohol poisoning and
death threats in the former Soviet Union (though I do have a great photo of
myself standing on the barricades in front of the "White House"
during the "so-called" coup in Moscow in August 1991); no more
rendezvous with the Sendero Luminosa and Tupac Amaru in Peru to discuss the
politics, morality and health effects of widespread Agent Orange-type
defoliant ("Spike") dispersion.
Just simple attempts to trade mundane commodities like
sugar, coffee, fruit salad, cachaça (rum) and red wine from Brazil;
mahogany from Ghana; cashews and rice to India; vanilla beans from
Madagascar; and crude oil and petroleum products from West Africa (and
occasionally the Black Sea). But every one of these is a terribly long tale
that tends to drift into ponderous tirades about misguided US policy in the
Andean countries, the Balkans, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet
Republics and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, my daughter Wilder is a talented photographer,
evolving writer and photojournalist in San Francisco, where she is
sojourning through art and design school (CCAC & SFAI). Moreover, I was
lucky to have had her as a companion on more than half of my travels in the
last 15 years (thank God for frequent flyer miles).
I still haven't done many of the things I wanted to do. I
still haven't gone to many of the places I wanted to go (either anew or
again). When I have the time, I don't have the money, and when I have the
money I don't have the time. Evelyn, however, always said, "thank God
for what you have, not what you don't have." I have met hundreds if not
thousands of intriguing people, most of whom I consider friends, and only a
handful of whom I consider to be enemies. I have still not resolved the
conundrum of what a Quaker does in the presence of evil.
En fin, I try to be a good father. I try to contribute to
society. I am proud of much I have done. I regret other things I have done.
Like Cassandra or Pandora, I sometimes feel that I know a bit too much and
hold my tongue. Mostly, I am aware of how little I know about so many
things. Certainly education is better than riches. And success, as the PC
yearbook said, still eludes me. Like Camus' Sisyphus, however, I constantly
re-administer my shoulder to the rock, and take fleeting pleasure watching
it, yet again, roll back down the mountain.
There are more chapters, but this is a Sunday afternoon
start. There will be ample time Reunion Week to share lies, truths, hopes
and fears enabled by magical realism and a toast or two to surviving intact.