Here are 32 retirement messages from some of your personal friends and family members:

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Dear Phil:

Now that you're retiring and finally have time to relax, we're guessing that you'll work on twice as many projects as you have currently. To get things off to a good start, here are some suggestions:

-Open Café Philippe, featuring SF's best French toast
-Create ZTV, the Psychology & Life Cable Network
-Oust a lesser celebrity to become Governor of Calif.
-Conduct a sequel: The Stanford Frisson Experiment
-Use hypnosis to deprogram "Cult of the Z" members
-Reduce shyness by giving out capes and faux goatees

Whatever you choose, we have no doubt it will be as unique and creative as ever. We love you and cherish our friendship with you.

Happy retirement!

Allison, Fijare, and Scott Plous
United States

Hi Uncle Phil,

Aloha from sunny Hawaii!

So you finally decided to retire.

Congratulations--you deserve a very long vacation... Maybe Hawaii??? I love and admire you so much. You have really proven what hard work and dedication means.

When people find out that Dr. Phil Zimbardo is my uncle, I very proudly say, "YES HE IS!"

I know Nanny and Poppi and even Mommy are looking down from Heaven and have a tear in their eye and are smiling because they are so proud of you for all that you have accomplished over the years.

You truly are a remarkable person. Even though the miles separate us, I always keep you close to my heart. I will always cherish all the times we have spent together, be it in NY, CT, or even when Anthony and I celebrated our 5th anniversary in San Francisco. Most recently, our visit together at Jonathan's for Christmas during a snow blizzard. Did you know that it took us over 3 hours to get back to CT?

Well, all I can say, my dear uncle, is that I love you, I miss you, and congratulate you on your years of giving to so many people. Your knowledge and accomplishments will last forever in the eyes, minds, and hearts of all those that you have encountered around the world.

Anthony sends his love.

Antonio sends you lots of hugs and kisses.

Kisses to Aunt Chris, Zara and Tanya.

See you in Hawaii next year.

Love Always,

Neva Romano
United States

Dear Philip,

Oh, those wonderful years of psychology and drama ... the incredible Madness Show ... our team-taught class, Psychology and Drama ... our cameo performances in Discovering Psychology ... your private lessons in speech. And who can forget those beautiful parties at your magical home?

Ah, divine moments. Knowing you, Phil, has been an enriching part of my life. Thanks for cheering me on when I took my trip around the world. Thanks for those letters and the supporting words. You are the best of the best.

Always your friend and colleague,

Patricia Ryan Madson
Stanford University
United States

Phil and I came to the Psychology Department at Yale in the mid-1950s. I was an Assistant Professor with a contract limited to two three-year appointments. So I felt I had to produce as much high quality research and writing as possible to prepare for my future in the academic marketplace. Besides, I shared teaching a graduate course in research design with Carl Hovland, whose extraordinary intellect and memory were so formidable that the junior faculty joked he could keep all the data in his head. Fortunately, Carl was as benevolent as his mental prowess was intimidating; his genuine acceptance of me did much to reduce my apprehension.

Similarly challenged as a new graduate student, Phil was implicitly under pressure to prove himself in contention with such fellow students – and subsequent luminaries in the field – as Gordon Bower and David Sears. He impressed me so much that, while at Yale, I asked him to collaborate in designing and conducting an experimental study on anxiety, fear, and social affiliation.

When the experiment was completed, we wrote a paper together, which sprouted a fresh branch of research on social affiliation that is still cited today in texts on social psychology.

Meanwhile, Phil and I became and have remained good friends. For some time, we were also colleagues in the psych department at NYU, when he taught at the uptown campus and I taught downtown at Washington Square.

After he went to Stanford, our separation did not diminish the quality of our friendship. As he gained prominence in the field, we consulted each other on various issues, giving mutual support. In fact, I asked him for endorsements on three books – one written solely by myself and two co-authored with my wife, Suzanne. And he responded with enthusiastic comments, which no doubt helped to publicize them.

In becoming President of the APA, he sought my opinion on several ideas for advancing the cause of psychology. I was very glad to comply, as I have since on a number of topics related to issues about how the government is dealing with terrorism.

I have taken great pride in following Phil’s professional development. He made important and lasting scholarly contributions to the psychology of shyness, dehumanization, and obedience to authority. Remarkably successful as a lecturer on introductory psychology, he wrote a masterful and widely adopted book on that subject. In addition, he organized and appeared as host for PBS’s exceedingly popular TV series on psychology. Finally, as President of the APA, he continued to be a compelling public spokesman for the entire field.

Still, what warms my heart most about Phil is his empathy and reliability as a friend. I can always count on him for understanding and support. And I know he feels the same way about me. So here’s to you, Mr. Psychology! May your retirement years bring you new sources of fulfillment, which you richly deserve.

Irving Sarnoff
New York University
United States

I have always admired Phil’s infinite energy, diligence, and innate flair for showmanship. Familiar with these qualities from his research with Irv at Yale and his outstanding reputation as a teacher at NYU, it was no surprise that he wanted to deliver a "bang-up" lecture when making his presentation on self hypnosis at the 1968-69 International Congress of Psychology held in London. Irv was spending a sabbtical at the Tavistock that year, and Phil had come to visit the night before the meetings.

Enthusiastically, he regaled us with stories about how he had hypnotized himself to overcome fear, fatigue, and creative blocks. At the convention, he wanted to demonstrate that under self-hypnosis, he could pierce and insert a sharp object into his own skin without experiencing any signs of pain, bleeding, or physical damage. But he needed an object that would be suitable and prominent enough to be seen by a large audience.

Did I have something he could use? As a jeweler’s daughter, I had a selection of attractive pins. What caught Phil’s eye was a very large antique silver broach – a 4 inch long spray of buds and leaves. The sturdy pin-bar attached to it was 3 inches long and almost 1/16th of an inch in diameter. And the piece was of considerable weight.

The thought of that thick pin-bar going through someone’s flesh was horrific to contemplate. But before I had a chance to clean off the tarnish, Phil was pushing the pin through a section of skin he had pulled up from the top surface of his hand. Miraculously, the experiment was a complete success – no blood or moaning and groaning. We were flabbergasted.

Polishing the broach before he left, I tried to make sure the bar that would penetrate his skin the next day was as clean as possible. But it was far from sterile. And we wondered if he could pull off the same stunt in front of a group of skeptical fellow professionals.

From the podium facing a huge crowd of onlookers – with even more aplomb than he had shown the night before – Phil did "his thing." This time, he also raised his arm, slowly turning the upper side of his hand downward so everyone could see the extreme size and weight of the glistening broach that he was able to tolerate dangling in the air from the long pin-bar wedged through his flesh – without feeling a trace of distress.

For me, this incident symbolizes all the daring and "chutzpah" that Phil courageously brings to his involvement in every aspect of psychology. If he believes something is worthwhile, he is willing to take whatever risks are necessary to enhance knowledge and understanding of that phenomenon. Even now, as a partially retired professor and past president of the APA – while retaining his position as impressario extraordinaire – he continues to promote the positive potentials of human behavior in his new role as "private citizen for peace."

Suzanne Sarnoff
United States

I laugh when people think you are "retiring." Since I know you better, I want to wish you many years of more traveling, more time with your family and friends, excellent health, less time in the air, and more time just to reflect and hopefully write a great book someday.

It has been so fun working with you -- you always make me laugh. I will always think fondly of you for your extremely humorous communiques from abroad.

Working for you has given me an insight about what it takes to be a great human being -- you are great! You are so generous to all with your time and a listening ear.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Phil, for six years of fun, friendship, (some) frustrations, and all your generosity towards me.


Jackie Wagner
Stanford University
United States

From an early age I knew psychology was the life for me. I cannot now remember a time when you were not part of that world. I heard of your work and personality from excited high school teachers, read about you in "Psychology Today," and studied your contributions at the behest of admiring college professors. I was a fan long before I dreamed of becoming a colleague, much less a coauthor -- never mind a friend! I do know how fortunate I have been to enjoy not only your inspiration to my profession, but your presence in my own life. So generous, kind, FUNNY, and dynamic as you are, how immeasurable is the gift of your friendship. Thank goodness, I can respond in kind for the rest of our lives. With love always from your longtime fan, your coauthor and co-conspirator, your e-pal and fellow raider of the dessert buffet...

Ann Weber
UNC at Asheville
United States

Dear Phil,

It is hard to think of psychology and not to think of you at the very center of things...and I don't expect that retirement will change that.

One of the things I have always valued was the way you chose issues that were important in the world. Even as a sociologist I would always find your work important to include in my classes.

My strongest memories of you, however, will always be of you as an Italian father (and of how similar Italian fathers can be to Jewish mothers). The warmth, interest,...and food you provided were so much a part of Robyn's life and so valued by all of us.

How wonderful that you will now have a little more time to do whatever you want.


Judie Wexler
California Institute of Integral Studies
United States

Hey there, D.O.D.

Congratulations on having survived all of these years at the Farm. Heck, after surviving your kids, something as simple as establishing and completing such a brilliant career must have seemed like a walk in the park...

Adam Zimbardo
San Francisco State University
Other Nation Not Listed

Daddy –

I am so proud of you and all you've done. I don't believe you are retiring by any normal standards – you are still on fire and doing so much amazing work.

I can't begin to write down all that you've meant to me as a loving father – but for someone as busy as you – you were always there and supportive of us. No one has a father like me. I've seen how you have touched so many lives, and people I've encountered – from my childhood camp counselors to friends in psych 1 classes. I've benefitted from meeting your interesting colleagues, students, and friends, from traveling around the world with you on conferences, and from our wonderful conversations. As I've grown up, I've gained a better understanding of all that you've accomplished. I have learnt so much about your areas of focus in social psychology which enriches my writing and curatorial practice. I am so glad that you have put your time and energy into work that you love and into people that need and value your presence. You cannot be replaced.


Tanya Zimbardo
United States

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