Carl A. Hammerschlag is a master storyteller and internationally recognized author, physician, speaker, healer, and humanitarian clown. A Yale-trained psychiatrist; he is an expert on community-based health care, how to survive in rapidly changing cultures, and a leading authority in the practical applications of Psychoneuroimmunology (mind-body-spirit medicine).
When I say I’m a healer, it’s more than being a doctor. I am a physician, and my specialty is psychiatry. I have academic credentials from prestigious institutions that attest to my training. In 1965, after medical school and internship, I joined the US Public Health Service/ Division of Indian Health to fulfill my military obligation. I was assigned to the Indian Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico; an experience that had a life-changing impact on me.
I am a storyteller. Stories are not talks (I do that too) …talks are presentations that teach, explain, convince, and call to action. Stories are about a conflict or problem, and what you (or someone or something else) helps you solve. Stories document change, they change how you think, and how you act. Stories entertain, educate, they preserve traditions, instill values; they can be told in words, music, dance, in rituals and ceremonies…all of them inspire the imagination.
In addition to being a psychiatrist I am also a Humanitarian Clown; it’s something I began 30 years ago after meeting Dr. Patch Adams (perhaps the world’s most recognized humanitarian clown). Patch opened me up to expressing my clown soul in public. He showed me how a Red Nose was a way to gain easy access to that spontaneous, playful, openhearted part of myself I like best.
I am the founder of The Healing Corps (THC). It is an innovative, preventive health initiative that is the continuation of my life’s work in promoting health in communities. THC believe that relationships are at the heart of healing, and that connecting with people at an authentic, heartfelt level promotes health. THC provides a platform that gives people an opportunity to learn how to better communicate with each other, and with themselves.
What His Colleagues Say
His words paint indelible images, stories and phrases that I continue to share with my clients, friends and grandchildren alike
In my 30+ years of providing top speaker choices for my clients’ events there has been one platform professional whose spoken word continues to profoundly impact me both professionally and personally. Dr. Carl Hammerschlag’s platform stories, much like campfire stories of our childhood, illustrate points far beyond a PowerPoint slide. His words paint indelible images, stories and phrases that I continue to share with my clients, friends and grandchildren alike. Using a phrase like “Master Storyteller” falls short in identifying Dr. H. While his visual images illustrate a point, they also calm the mind and soothe the soul. In our fear-based and ever changing environment his message is a gift that allows us to soar with strength, courage and confidence with hope of a healing community where joy and kindness abound.
— Jo Cavender, President Speakers On Healthcare; Past President, International Association of Speaker Bureaus (IASB)
He is a wise Elder, and a real mensch (a good man), and an eternal optimist
When I first joined the Indian Health Service in 1974 and reported to our post in San Carlos Az, I first met Dr Carl Hammerschlag, our consulting psychiatrist from Phoenix, a very tall unique personality with a booming, trance-inducing voice, and remarkable curiosity about human behavior.
He returned once a month to help us with some of our difficult patients with mental health issues; but he also helped us become more effective in our roles as doctors and healers. During my time there he provided a dual consulting role. An astute clinician, he drew upon knowledge of Native culture and beliefs, including the importance of rituals and ceremonies. His model was “Community Psychiatry”, he didn’t just make diagnoses and prescribe pills he worked with the community members and programs to expand their skills in working with troubled people… and it all worked.
We have continued to walk together for the last 46 years, and I continue to learn from him. He is a wise Elder, and a real mensch (a good man), and an eternal optimist about the human spirit and its resilience.
— Ron Fischler MD, FAAP
his huge heart and intuitive wisdom made him an instant master.
Friendship has been my spiritual life. I like a God I can hug. I have always sought, in my life, to have a nest of friends for comfort and exploration. They can be of all ages and talents and will remain friends through contact and memory. All kinds of things can bring friends together where previous activities are similar and welcomed and spark the intimacy. Carl Hammerschlag and I are friends. We are both; tall and thin, love our patients, and worship love and fun.
We met thirty years ago, and instantly saw… this guy is a clown! And so, when he came to visit me I put him in (no persuasion necessary) my new toilet costume and took him to a big mall and to use his expression – he loved being a “flaming banana,” was great at it, and said yes to coming on my clown trips. As he says: “I got weak from laughing!”
He quickly found his character: a 6’ 6” ballerina dressed in pink tights, tutu, a Flamingo headdress (adding another 10”). No one is safe, they can’t help laughing, and do bug-eyed double takes.
He instantly got hooked on our 1–2-week clown trips: to prisons, hospices, disaster areas, war zones, and refugee camps. Carl needed no classes; his huge heart and intuitive wisdom made him an instant master.
I love you Carl and sososo delight in clowning with you.
— Patch Adams MD, Founder, The Gesundheit! Institute
master at using the power of story to inspire an audience
Carl Hammerschlag is a master at using the power of story to inspire an audience. Over the past forty years, I have witnessed his impact on people’s lives around the world and seen him speak many times always captivating his audiences with wisdom and actionable insights.
— Daniel Burrus, New York Times bestselling Author
an exceptional healer
Carl’s wide-ranging skills and transcultural experiences have made him an exceptional healer, and he continues to be a significant positive force in promoting health the world over. I have known him for over thirty years and am proud, honored, and wiser for our relationship.
— Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH, Mayor of Jerome, Arizona
Former Health Director, State of Arizona (4 years)
Former Dean Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health Dean (15 years)
he is a relentless and talented seeker of spirit who embodies the passion and tools necessary for that path
I first came to see Carl Hammerschlag as a patient in 1981 when I was a second year Family Medicine resident and feeling like I had lost some important part of myself in the process of my clinical training. Carl did a standard psychiatric intake and then tore up my insurance forms and said I was a normal person immersed in a not-so-normal training sequence. He suggested we have coffee from time to time. Over the past 40 years, our relationship has moved from patient to mentee to co-author and fellow journeyer and adventurer. Thus, I feel I’m in a good position to provide this testimonial.
In the early days of our relationship, I crafted a wooden box as a gift for Carl. Lined with cedar and carefully designed with no metal, Carl used it to hold his “instruments” … feathers, rattles, cedar, sage, and whatever else he needed to pursue his path of service and spirit. Carl has much in common with this box in that he is a relentless and talented seeker of spirit who embodies the passion and tools necessary for that path. I was always impressed with his fluency with ‘standard’ medical care and his seemingly effortless integration of that with other techniques which were, let’s say, less standard but often equally or more effective. His generosity of spirit is palpable as he connects with and assists others on similar paths. A year ago, we met and he ceremonially returned the box to me to use and pass on when it was time. This transition reflected a deep sense of the turn of time and the realization that the box is not really the box, that age and experience had now enabled him to be completely and comfortably out of the box.
The dents, dings, and the patina of age of this box are delightful and unusual, reflecting the depth and transformation of Carl’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual capabilities … the accumulation of those ineffable qualities resulting from a life well lived and well loved.
— Howard Silverman, MD MS
Professor, Departments of Biomedical Informatics, Family & Community Medicine
Bioethics & Medical Humanism The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
Schlagbytes is Dr. H’s blog where he shares random musings that may encourage, infuriate, or make you shake your head in disbelief. This is Dr. H.’s take on the current state of the world. It’s a provocative way to start your day.
HealingDoc is the website of Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D. He is a master storyteller and internationally recognized author, physician, speaker, healer, and humanitarian clown.
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