Robert Jay Lifton

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Robert Jay Lifton (1926-) is an academic psychiatrist and author specializing in the interactions of social psychology and history, especially violence and genocide. He is distinguished professor emeritus from the City University of New York, where he director of the Center on Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College (New York City) (1985). He and now visiting professor at Harvard Medical School.

In many of his writings, he uses the techniques of psychohistory. According to the Wellfleet Psychohistory Group, "His main interest throughout his career was to understand and write about how disturbing historical events and processes affect the individual. His best-known writings are in the form of psychohistories. For example, he wrote Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (1968) as a way of understanding the coping mechanisms and psychoses of survivors, the way we experience and think about death, possibilities for the future, or our very place in the world - which, he argued, has been irrevocably changed by Hiroshima."[1]

The Nazi Doctors is a detailed study of Nazi atrocities enabled by medicine, including sterilization, euthanasia, and extermination camps.[2]


  1. Robert Jay Lifton - Biography, The Wellfleet Psychohistory Group
  2. Robert Jay Lifton (1986), The Nazi Doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide, Basic Books