Robert Jay Lifton


Robert Jay LiftonRobert Jay Lifton is Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Psychology, The City University of New York. He was formerly Director of the Center on Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He held the Foundations’ Fund Research Professorship of Psychiatry at Yale University for more than two decades. The recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, Dr. Lifton has sought always to combine scholarship and social activism.

The overall themes of his work have been holocaust and transformation. He has developed a general psychological perspective around the paradigm of death and the continuity of life, with emphasis on symbolization and the “formative process,” and on the malleability of the contemporary self. He has studied many of the most destructive events of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and has played an important role in the development of the field of psychohistory.

His many publications include: Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (winner of a National Book Award),Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (with Greg Mitchell); Six Lives/Six Deaths: Portraits from Modern Japan (with Shuichi Kato and Michael Reich); The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide(awarded a Los Angeles Times book prize), Home from the War: Learning from Vietnam Veterans (finalist for a National Book Award, and reissued with a new introduction on the war in Iraq), Destroying the World to Save It(about the fanatical Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo), and The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation. From September 11, 2001, he has been studying Islamic apocalyptic violence and American responses to 9/11, including their own apocalyptic tendencies. His book Superpower Syndromw: America’s Apocalypic Confration with the World was published by Nation Book in 2003. Most recently, Crimes of War: Iraq(Nation Books 2006), coedited with Irene Gendzier and Richard Falk and included a number of Dr. Lifton’s essays, exploring the complex legal, historial, political and psychological dimensinos of America’s military response to 9/11.

Selected Publications:

Lifton RJ. Death in life: survivors of Hiroshima. New York: Random House,1968; Vintage Books, 1969. Reissued by Touchstone Books, 1976; Basic Books, 1982; The University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Lifton RJ, Mitchell G. Hiroshima in America: Fifty years of denial, New York: GrossetIPutnam Books, July 1995.

Lifton RJ. The Nazi Doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide.New York: Basic Books, 1986. (Winner of the 1987 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history; recipient of the 1987 National Jewish Book Award-Holocaust; awarded the Lisl and Leo Eitinger Award for 1988, Oslo Norway.)

Lifton RJ. Home from the War: Vietnam Veterans – Neither Victims nor Executioners. New York: Simon &Schuster, Touchstone Books, 1973. Reissued by Basic Books, 1985; Beacon Press, 1992; as Home from the War: Learning from Vietnam Veterans. New York: Other Press, 2005.

Lifton, RJ. The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Lifton, RJ. Superpower Syndrome: America’s Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World. New York: Nation Books, 2003.