The John E. Mack Institute began in 1982 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the Center for Psychological Studies in the Nuclear Age. Its original mission was to “study the psychological, historical and political complexities that maintain and perpetuate nuclear weapons as instruments of policy.”
Founded by Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author and Harvard Psychiatrist Dr. John E. Mack and his colleague Dr. Robert J. Lifton, the Center grew out of the activities of a group of physicians, academics and educators who were studying the psychological aspects of the arms race.
The Center was, at the time of its inception, an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, and the work took the form of research projects and conferences. As its activities expanded it became an independent 501c3 organization, the Center for Psychology and Social Change.
In 1988, the Center began working in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECSOC). There, the Center’s representative Nancy Roof, Ph.D., created the UN Values Caucus to bring discussion of spiritual values to global issues. It sensitively challenged restrictions on the use of the language of religion and values in UN debate, and led to the formation of the UN Spiritual Caucus. Since their inception, these caucuses have raised the level of spiritual discourse and helped the UN honor the cultural values of people who are affected by its policies and actions. (Dr. Roof’s efforts have since become an independent 501c3 organization; click to visit their website).
In 1992, with funding from Laurence Rockefeller, the Center formed the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research (PEER) to explore how people’s worldviews were affected by reported “alien encounters”. The “reality” of alien beings was secondary to PEER’s primary interest in how such experiences may lead to a sense of identification with the world as a whole rather than with a particular nation or group.
The findings of PEER underscored the organization’s belief that personal and societal growth result from life experiences that challenge our worldviews and, at the conclusion of the PEER program in 2002, the Center shifted its focus to helping individuals expand their understanding of the human experience in order to benefit all humankind.
The organization is now known as the John E. Mack Institute.