MAKERS Profile

Ruth Westheimer

Sex Therapist

In this video

Dr. Ruth Westheimer on her journey from orphan of the Holocaust to nationally syndicated TV and radio host who continues to teach woman to take responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a beloved sex therapist whose frank talk while spreading what she’s coined as “sexual literacy” has reached millions through radio and television over the last three decades.   Born in Germany in 1928, she fled the country at the age of seven for a children’s home-turned-orphanage in Switzerland to escape the Holocaust. While there, she was trained to be a Swiss housemaid, but she had very different plans in mind.   Following the war, she took off for Israel to fight as a sniper with the Jewish Freedom Fighters for the country’s independence, and soon after, channeled that tenacity into her continuing education; she earned her Masters Degree in Sociology from the New School of Social Research, and a Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher’s College.   It was her work with Planned Parenthood and studying under mentor Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan, however, which catapulted her intrigue into human sexuality. After giving a candid lecture to New York broadcasters about the need for sex education, WYNY-FM offered her a 15-minute show Sundays after midnight. With her unique ability to communicate the science behind such a taboo subject matter as sex, her show became a huge success. It evolved into an hour-long nationally syndicated show and opened the doors for Westheimer’s multi-media platform including print and television.   A household name for decades, Westheimer’s incredible career has earned her countless accolades including multiple honorary degrees, Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Medal For Distinguished Services, a Liberty Medal from the City of New York, the International Society for Sexual and Impotence Research 20th Anniversary Award, and was even named by People Magazine one of the Most Intriguing People of the Century. She continues to educate based on her philosophy that women should take responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction.

More From Ruth

Laughing While Learning
Westheimer acknowledges that a good sense of humor is a helpful tool for teachable moments.

Love in a Digital Age
Westheimer articulates the importance for couples to communicate in a digital age.

Sexually Literate
Westheimer explains the science behind sex and the importance of being sexually literate.

Honing the Libido
Westheimer expresses concern for the provocatively dressed who do not necessarily understand the power of the libido.

"The Pill"
Westheimer on the introduction of "The Pill" in the 1960s.

Israeli Independence
Westheimer on her experience as a sniper in Israel's Haganah and the wounds that came with it.

A Fallback Plan
Westheimer talks about how her orphanage trained the girls to be housemaids so that they could earn a living.

Orphan of the War
Westheimer talks about the powerful bond she formed with the other children in the Swiss orphanage.