NYMC > School of Medicine (SOM) > SOM Alumni Profiles > Robert J. Lifton

Robert J. Lifton, M.D. ’1948

Robert Jay LiftonCredited with helping establish psychohistory as a separate field of study

Robert J. Lifton, M.D. ’1948
School of Medicine

Robert J. Lifton graduated from New York Medical College in 1948. Dr. Lifton is credited with helping to establish a new field in medicine called psychohistory, the field of inquiry that explores the psychological motives of individuals and groups of historical actors, as well as the psychological impact of historical events. His work includes research and writing about Japanese survivors in Hiroshima, Vietnam veterans, Nazi doctors and members of terrorist cults, among other individuals in extreme situations.

After completing his studies at NYMC, Dr. Lifton interned at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital and had his psychiatric residence training at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York. He attended Cornell University as an undergraduate.

Dr. Lifton later served as an Air Force psychiatrist in Japan and Korea, 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 is a recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award, the Holocaust Memorial Award, and numerous other national and international awards, as well as many honorary degrees.  Among his many books are Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (winner of a National Book Award), The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, and most recently, Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir.

In 1970, New York Medical College awarded him its Medal of Honor in recognition of his research and prolific writing.