“Being with him at small meetings would be like watching Picasso begin with a white canvas and quickly stroke some lines, add a few colors, and now there would be a face, a mood, a message, and something truly novel,’’ wrote Kazdin, who also noted Azrin’s sly sense of humor.
He recalled using the Azrin method to toilet train his own daughter, when Azrin visited his home.
Azrin said: "Just keep the door open when you and your wife go to the bathroom and that should take care of it."
David Azrin said he and his three siblings were long past potty-training age when their dad developed his in-a-day method, but it worked with the grandkids.
Nathan and his wife, Colombian-born psychologist Victoria Besalel Azrin, whom he met at Boston University and married in 1953, “did apply his behavioral principles to everything [their offspring] did,’’ said David. “They always looked at the positive side of things...My father was always 110 percent encouraging about our interests,’’ and never got angry.
Two went into their parents’ line of work. Daughter Rachel Azrin is an Aventura psychologist. Son Richard is an Alabama neuropshycologist. Son Michael became a Conneticut cardiolgist.
In 2009, Azrin made a video autobiography for his family that reveals the roots of his theories. In it he talks about how he and five siblings grew up above the grocery store that his Russian-immigrant parents ran.
His parents had “high standards of conduct,’’ and “never relied on punishment not even the threat of it, not even the removal of priviledges [and] everything was just fine,’’ he said.
Late in life, Azrin and his wife took up ballroom-style dancing, and became regulars at an outdoor venue in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. What they did, Azrin said in the video, “doesn’t look anything like ballroom dancing. We’re all over the place.’’
They even gave their free-spirited style a name: Lib Vicky, which is based on psychological principles like communication, eye contact and creativity.
“You know that you have succeeded when you have made your partner smile,’’ says the text over the couple’s Lib Vicky demonstration on YouTube.
“We have a great time,’’ Azrin in his video. “No matter where we go, nobody ever says ‘You dance well,’ but ‘we have more fun watching you. You’re awesome.’ It’s a psychological high.’’
Even after he could barely feel his legs because of his cancer treatment, his dad would fling himself about doing the Lib Vicky, said David, “just to show the world he was still alive and kicking.’’
In addition to his wife and children, Azrin is survived by siblings Violet Baker, of Clinton, N.Y.; Dorothy Marden, of Minneapolis; Gertrude Drobnis and Morris Azrin, both of Massachusetts.
To see Nathan Azrin’s video autobiography, and for information about donations to his scholarship foundation, visit nathanazrin.com. To see the Azrins perform the Lib Vicky, go to YouTube.