Slain Kensington Psychologist James Durkin, Advocate for Parkinson's Sufferers

James Durkin, the 81-year-old retired psychologist found slain in his Kensington apartment Monday, lectured at Saybrook University, wrote poetry and advocated for patients with Parkinson's disease, which he suffered from himself.

James E. Durkin—the 81-year-old retired psychologist whom —was a devoted advocate for Parkinson's disease patients, a university lecturer and poet.

He's also remembered by neighbors as a nice man.

Rita Brown, another Coventry Road resident, said she didn't know Durkin very well, but that she did occasionally run into him on the street.

"The few times we talked to him he was very interesting," Brown said. "He was really into philosophy, studies, things like that."

One man who did work on Durkin's residence described the 81-year-old as a "nice old guy" who spent a lot of time on the computer.

A profile on the website of Saybrook University—a school based in San Francisco—lists Durkin as a lecturer and PhD researcher. The site also listed Stanley Krippner, a well-known researcher in the field of parapsychology, as his advisor. 

According to the California Board of Psychology website, Durkin was a registered psychologist from 1990 until 2010, when his license expired.

Durkin's ex-wife, Irene Nystrom, said he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about eight years ago and had been helping other patients with the illness, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

A blog post from December 2010 that is attributed to Durkin explains what it is like to be a Parkinson's patient.

"You owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about the disorder that afflicts you, and you owe it to yourself to seek and secure the best professional help for your PD you can afford," he wrote.

The blog post also suggests how patients and researchers can better work together to advance the research being done about the disease and possible cures, alluding to an effort called the Story Findings Project.

Saybrook University lists "The Story Findings Project: From Patients' Lived Experience to Useful Biomedical Knowledge" as the title of Durkin's thesis.

"He believed patients could have a voice, and in the process of finding new treatments, he felt he could do a better job of organizing people's thinking and their stories in a way that would yield much more useful data to the clinical researchers," said Durkin's son, Larry, according to the Chronicle.

According to the blog post, Durkin was a part of PDActive, a locally-based group of people impacted by Parkinson's Disease.

The description on a Twitter account listed for James E. Durkin says "Princeton BA, Rutgers PhD, Psych License,Group Therapy Particpative Inquiry, Communitarian Medical models Poet."

A couple of Durkin's 20 tweets contain poem verses, which also show up in the "About Me" section of his Facebook page.

Durkin is survived by his ex-wife and his two children, Larry and Carla.


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