James Gilligan is a psychiatrist who has been on the faculty of New York University since 2002. From 1966 to 2000 he was on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. During most of that time, in addition to maintaining a private practice in general adult psychiatry, he has specialized in research on the causes, consequences and prevention of violent behavior.
In 1977 he became Director of Harvard’s Institute of Law and Psychiatry. From then until 1992 he led a team of colleagues from Harvard teaching hospitals in providing mental health and violence prevention services to the Massachusetts prison system, after two U.S. District Courts, reacting to an epidemic of suicides, homicides and other violence throughout the prison system, ordered the state to bring the level of psychiatric services in the prisons up to community standards. As Medical Director of the Massachusetts prison mental hospital for the “criminally insane” at Bridgewater, MA, and Clinical Director of the Prison Mental Health Service, he supervised the training and clinical practice of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers in the understanding and treatment of violent offenders.
In 1991 Dr. Gilligan gave the Erikson Lectures at Harvard on "The Roots of Violence." During 1993 and 1994 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University (England), where he expanded those lectures into the book Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and Its Causes (1996), also published in paperback as Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic (1997), and in translations around the world. He is also the author of Preventing Violence: Prospects for Tomorrow (2001). He is an editor and co-author of Youth Violence: Scientific Approaches to Prevention, a volume in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2004) that contained the proceedings of a three-day symposium which the Academy sponsored and organized around his conceptualization of violence prevention. He is a contributing author of Forensic Psychotherapy: Crime, Psychodynamics and the Offender Patient (London, 1995, two volumes). He is on the Editorial Boards of, and has contributed to, a number of journals and books, including the Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, and Violence in America: An Encyclopedia (1999, three volumes).
Since 1997 he has been President of the Center for the Study of Violence, a private non-profit research and consulting firm. From 1999 to 2001 he was President of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy, an organization of mental health professionals from around the world who are devoted to the treatment of violent offenders and the prevention of violent behavior. From 2003 to 2006 he was a Visiting Professor of Psychiatry and Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.