Robert J. Waldinger (born 1951) is an American psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen priest. He is Professor of Psychiatry (part time) at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of 724 men for over 80 years and now studies their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age. He writes about what science can teach us about healthy human development, and he is Founding Director of the Lifespan Research Foundation, dedicated to bringing the insights of lifespan research to the general public.
He is the author of numerous scientific papers as well as two books, and he directs a teaching program in psychodynamic psychotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He has won awards for teaching and research from the American Psychiatric Association, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Psychiatric Society.
Waldinger is also a Zen priest and sensei (transmitted teacher) in both Soto and Rinzai lineages, and teaches Zen in New England and internationally. His TED talk on lessons from the longest study of happiness has had over 40 million views and is the fastest spreading talk in the history of TEDx events.
Waldinger grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1973. He completed his M.D. at Harvard Medical School in 1978.
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