I learned a lot from Vietnam veterans, especially as some of them turned against their own war.— Robert Jay Lifton
The most charming Robert Jay Lifton quotes that are easy to memorize and remember
And I managed to arrange to get some research support and to stay in Hong Kong for another year and a half, interviewing people coming out of China, both Westerners and Chinese. And that was my first real research study on thought reform or so-called brainwashing.
When I was still in my psychiatric residency training in New York City, I was subjected to the doctor draft of that time, during the early fifties, at the time of the Korean War.
One reason that I embarked on a study of Nazi doctors was that in this personal journey, I had the feeling increasingly that I did want to do a Holocaust study and that increasingly I wanted it to be of perpetrators, which I thought was more needed.
The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis.
Sometimes its said that psychiatrists are doctors who are frightened by the sight of blood. I might have fallen into that category.
I never quite envisioned myself a proper doctor under that white coat, but I was interested in the idea of healing and in the psychological dimension rather early on.
Every adult in the world has some sense that he or she might be obliterated at any time by these weapons that we have created.
And I thought about the psychic numbing involved in strategic projections of using hydrogen bombs or nuclear weapons of any kind. And I also thought about ways in which all of us undergo what could be called the numbing of everyday life.
The other thing that happened was my last military assignment - this was in the air force; I had enlisted in order to avoid being drafted as a private, and of course I only practiced medicine or psychiatry in the air force so I was never in any kind of violent combat.
But I spent just two calendar years at Cornell University, though it was covering more than three years of work, and then went to medical school and did become interested in psychiatry, and even helped form a kind of psychiatry club in medical school.
I did the first study because I had been exposed to something that I took to be important and interesting - this thought reform process - in the military.
I'm a Brooklyn boy. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised there, and spent most of my childhood there.
But when I went to Hiroshima and began to study or just listen to people's descriptions of their work, it was quite clear they were talking about death all the time, about people dying all around them, about their own fear of death.
With the nuclear threat we know that if sufficient weapons are used, human civilization - all of humankind - could be extinguished literally by "nuclear winter." So we have to see ourselves as part of the ultimate human group, just as we have to do with global warming.
The one-sided exploitation of existential guilt is thought reform's trump card, and perhaps its most important source of emotional influence over its participants. Revolving around it are issues most decisive to thought reform's outcome.
It may sound terrible, but I often say that the military saved me from a conventional life in the United States and I've never really thanked them for it, because I haven't exactly been pro-military in my work.
The American president has particular power.
This makes Trump the most dangerous man in the world. He's equally dangerous because of his finger on the nuclear trigger and because of his mind ensconced in solipsistic reality. The two are a dreadful combination.
The scientists who made the atomic bomb are, in my sense, people with a tragic destiny. You know, there was the US race with Nazi Germany and good evidence that the Germans were more advanced in nuclear physics, and we had to get the bomb first. But then there was the use of that dreadful weapon, or instrument of genocide, and many of the more sensitive scientists turned quickly into anti - nuclear people - and very effective ones.
There is a movement of more people recognizing global warming as a danger, recognizing the human contribution to global warming, recognizing the necessity for doing something about it. So there's a trend in that direction, and that trend is consistent with what a climate swerve - which is, as we're both saying, a mindset.
Again, I was influenced by my father, who was very much an atheist and took pride in combating the traditional or orthodox forms of Judaism, which his parents and which my mother's parents were very steeped in.
David Frankfurter's valuable, well-written study takes us to the far reaches of demonology. In documenting the harm done by labeling others evil, he poses a challenge to those of us who believe, however regretfully, in the necessity of the concept.
Trump has a mind that in many ways is always under duress, because he's always seeking to be accepted, loved. He sees himself as constantly victimized by others and by the society, from which he sees himself as fighting back. So there's always an intensity to his destructive behavior that could contribute to his false beliefs.
I don't have the feeling that as a very young person I read books that absolutely made their mark on my mind.
We have a duty to warn on an individual basis if we are treating someone who may be dangerous to herself or to others - a duty to warn people who are in danger from that person. We feel it's our duty to warn the country about the danger of this president. If we think we have learned something about Donald Trump and his psychology that is dangerous to the country, yes, we have an obligation to say so.
As a kid I was fascinated with sports, and I loved sports more than anything else. The first books I read were about sports, like books about Baseball Joe, as one baseball hero was called.
People with what we call mental illness can indeed serve well, and people who have no discernible mental illness - and that may be true of Trump - may not be able to serve, may be quite unfit. So it isn't always the question of a psychiatric diagnosis. It's really a question of what psychological and other traits render one unfit or dangerous.
Yes, I've been very preoccupied with the survivor all through my work.
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.
And I was troubled by the heavy-handed prose of so much psychoanalytic writing, which seemed drowned in its own concepts.
There's more and more recognition that a carbon economy is dangerous to us economically. And there is increasing recognition that renewable fuels have economic value as well as obvious value for our health and our well-being and our survival. In fact, as you know, the economic revolution in renewable fuels has been impressive. It really had not been anticipated.