An Autobiographical Sketch of Tory Hoff
Tory Hoff grew up in Salinas, California, and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Davis in 1970 after having been immersed in the music and politics of that hippy era. He then spent a year in Europe, more than half the time in Villars in the French Swiss Alps. He lived a a hotel where he was hired to wash dishes. He often walked down the mountain to a Christian study centre called L'Abri. After spending a year helping his parents build their house outside Salinas, he moved to Toronto to attend the Institute for Christian Studies, which at the time was uncredited but the only graduate level school in North America with courses in psychology from a supposedly Christian perspective. He was introduced to the very complicated and cerebral but interesting philosophy of Dooyeweerd. He wrote a paper on the ancient Hebrew understanding of nephesh, and as a result started to acquire a wholistic, perspective to subjects such as mind, body, and psychopathology. He was most influenced by the phenomenologically-oriented Dutch psychiatrist, J.H. van den Berg.
In 1974, he left academics and obtained his first real job. He worked with children in residential treatment for more than two years. Interested in the historical implications of his research on nephesh, he returned to academics and went to Carleton University in Ottawa. In 1980 he completed an M.A. Thesis on the appointment of "the psychologist," James Mark Baldwin to the University of Toronto in 1889. Having already returned to Toronto to do historical research, in 1979 he was accepted into York University a year before its program in the history of psychology started. He enrolled in history and clinical courses and did two clinical practica. Toward the end of his coursework, and after having fun buying older books related to psychology including the later works of Baldwin, he realized that, through some kind of ironic serendipity, his own style of thinking was similar to that of Baldwin subsequent to leaving Toronto in 1894. In 1990 he was granted his Ph.D. in the history of psychology. His dissertation was on the demise of physiognomy and phrenology within the context of various intellectual and social changes since the Renaissance. From 1987 to 1994 he taught at the University of Saskatchewan and its on-campus Catholic affiliate, St. Thomas More College. When teaching child psychology, he discovered an affinity with Piaget, whom Baldwin influenced. He published but still perished, and then decided to return to York University in order to complete his clinical training, and get experience through unpaid internships. In 1996 he obtained his registration to practice as a counselling psychologist in Ontario.
Over the years his clinical work expanded. He has provided psychological therapy to a wide range of clients, though primarily to those suffering mental trauma and depression due to an accident. Many of his patients have been diagnosed with posttraumatic fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.
A collector of old psychology and phrenology books since the early 1980's, he began to sell used antiquarian books his last year in Saskatoon. He started to list them on his website. Sales peaked around 2000. Due to trends such as the introduction of ebooks, he has in recent years sold only 20 or 30 books a year despite maintaining an on-line collection of about 4,000 books.
He spends time with his partner, Linda McClelland, whom he met on a country western dance floor in 1996. In 2006, they bought a house in Port Hope, an hour east of Toronto, and the next year bought a house in the Beaches area of Toronto. They, however, sold the Toronto home last fall. As a result, he gave away most of his books listed on-line, and might never be in a position to sell books again. He and Linda are waiting for dance locations to reappear post pandemic. In the meantime he sometimes joins her when she swims laps.
A member of the (Tom) Longboat Running Club since 1994, he has tried to stay in shape doing various runs and races, his favourite being the Big Sur Marathon near where he grew up. But as a result of pandemic distress and the closure of ongoing physical therapy, and then the death of his mother, he "seized up" in June of 2020 and has not been able to run since. In February of 2022 he had hernia surgery, but muscular inflamation in his hip increased and then spread to his pelvis and lower back, all within a few weeks, seemingly in conjunction with increasing fears and distress. He appreciates the historical fiction in the Book of Job.
In June of 2022, he suspended his practice due to a medical leave, and necessarily closed his branch office in Mississauga. This past January, he started to resume services from his Toronto office to previous clients who had not found another psychologist during his absence.
He and Linda are grateful to have met a group of skilled and interesting neighbours and friends in Port Hope, and continue to garden and go to various local events now that more venues have re-opened. They sold their house in the Beaches last fall, but he still drives to his office in Toronto once a week. He remains in contact with his sister and brother, and maintains a few distance friendships going back to when he lived in California, and with other friends still in Saskatoon. They have resumed travelling to the Caribbean once a year, usually the Dutch Antilles, where they have fun snorkeling.
For decades, he has not had time to read books or publish academic research, but that is starting to change due to his renewed interest in writing on various topics, some of which are found in other links on this website. In particular, he is wanting to write an extended preface and epilogue to his paper on nephesh, and to do something similar regarding his dissertation.