About Muir Beach

Charlotte Selver (1901 - 2003)

NY Times obit.  Note: She married her third husband at 98.

Charlotte Selver, 102, a Guide to Sensory Awareness, Dies

Charlotte Selver, a teacher of sensory awareness who helped inspire the school of psychology that came to be known as the human potential movement, died on Aug. 22 at her home in Muir Beach, Calif., near San Francisco. She was 102.

In classes and individual sessions held as recently as this March, Ms. Selver taught students exercises focusing on breathing, movement and touch. She believed that these exercises, which she described as a kind of meditation in action, helped students shed social conditioning and recover an innate awareness.

Ms. Selver offered some of her first sensory-awareness classes in 1950 at the New School for Social Research in New York City. Later in the decade, she held seminars in California with Alan Watts, the theologian and author
of popular books about Zen Buddhism.

In 1963, she taught one of the first seminars at the Esalen Institute, the retreat in Big Sur, Calif. Known for its uninhibited atmosphere, Esalen was the birthplace of the human potential movement, which combined experimental techniques, like group encounters and primal therapy, with spiritual seeking.

Two of the movement's leading thinkers, the psychoanalysts Erich Fromm and Fritz Perls, received sensory awareness training from Ms. Selver.

In 1971, Ms. Selver established the Sensory Awareness Foundation in Muir Beach. Traveling frequently, she conducted workshops throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe with her second husband, Charles Brooks, who died in 1991.

Charlotte Selver was born Charlotte Wittgenstein on April 4, 1901, in Ruhrort, Germany. She taught physical education at Leipzig University until being fired in the Nazis' purge of Jewish faculty members. In 1938, she emigrated to New York City with her former husband, Heinrich Selver, whom she had divorced seven years earlier.

She is survived by her third husband, Peter Gracey, whom she married in 1999.



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