The realm of science has lost a truly great man and pioneer, and someone who I considered a friend and inspiration.
Karl H. Pribram, MD: Neuropsychologist and neurophysicist. He passed away on January 19 at the age of 95 from cancer. We have collectively truly lost one of the greatest scientific and inspirational minds of our time.
Karl is not someone I knew more than casually, though we have many, many hugs to show for our heartfelt mutual regard and our shared association with the (now former annual) Winter Brain Conference—an event near and dear to both our hearts. There was always an almost childlike exuberance about him and enthusiasm radiating his presence wherever he went. Karl never failed to attend this conference (to the notable exclusion of other, more academically-oriented ones) as it once stood alone in embracing the open-hearted and pioneering spirit he so embodied. His presentations at this conference were always standing-room only and deeply inspiring. To say that he was beyond staggeringly brilliant and unique within the field of neuroscience is understating what is more than obvious. He was also far more than “just” a pioneer—Many literally referred to him as “the Magellan of the mind.” To him the human mind was not simply some biochemical or bioelectric construct generated by or solely contained within the confines of the physical human brain, but rather he saw the brain itself as a merely a receiver (like a radio receiver) of holographic quantum data through which a holographic (or, as he referred to it, holonomic) process of Mind found its expression. He advanced what he referred to as The Holonomic Brain Theory of cognitive function and together with his friend, physicist David Bohm they constructed a viable theory of the nature of consciousness, as well as emotion, cognition and memory function. He was a prolific writer/researcher and authored an untold number of books and literally hundreds upon hundreds of research papers.
His work was featured in the wonderful best-selling book written by journalist, author, publisher and lecturer, Lynne McTaggart titled “The Field”.
My favorite personal recollection of Karl involved an afternoon where he, myself, and my incredibly dear friends, Dr. Siegfried Othmer and Thom Hartmann sat in a small circle, knees almost touching with all of us leaned over in an intimate huddle, where we each simply shared our hearts and thoughts. It was a greatly moving, touching and enriching experience for us all. It is a most cherished memory. I felt forever meaningfully connected with Karl after that.
I did not know him well enough at all to know whether his life was a truly happy one (though he always seemed filled with that almost innocent and joyous exuberance to me and I suspect so), but it is clear that his life was more than worthwhile and filled with extraordinary meaning. I also happen to know he was greatly loved as a deeply kind and humanistic soul by many. Thanks to him and his extraordinary body of work, the nature of the human mind is that much more tangible and life itself has a greater, richer and deeper meaning for me.
Rest in peace, Karl. You will be forever missed…