Robert Jay Lifton (born May 16, 1926) is an American psychiatrist and author, chiefly known for his studies of the psychological causes and effects of war and political violence and for his theory of thought reform. He was an early proponent of the techniques of psychohistory.
Lifton was born in 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Harold A. (a businessman) and Ciel (Roth) Lifton. He was fifteen when the United States declared war on Japan and Nazi Germany (December 1941). He studied medicine at Cornell University and New York Medical College in 1948. He interned at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn in 1948-49, and had his psychiatric residence training at the Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York in 1949-51. From 1951 to 1953 he served as an Air Force psychiatrist in Japan and Korea, to which he later attributed his interest in war and politics. He has since worked as a teacher and researcher at the Washington School of Psychiatry, Harvard University, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he helped to found the Center for the Study of Human Violence.
He married the children's writer Betty Jean Kirschner in 1952 and has two children. She died in Boston on November 19, 2010, from complications of pneumonia.
Lifton calls cartooning his avocation; he has published two books of humorous cartoons about birds.
He is a member of Collegium International, an organization of leaders with political, scientific, and ethical expertise whose goal is to provide new approaches in overcoming the obstacles in the way of a peaceful, socially just and an economically sustainable world...
Quotes by Robert Jay Lifton
In sum, doubling is the psychological means by which one invokes the evil potential of the self. That evil is neither inherent in the self nor foreign to it. To live out the doubling and call forth the evil is a moral choice for which one is responsible, whatever the level of consciousness involved.
More Quotes by Robert Jay Lifton