Robert Ornstein, PhD, an internationally renowned psychologist and author of more than 20 books on the brain, mind, and health, died on December 20, 2018. He was 76.
Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, NY and winner of two city-wide high school math competitions, he traded math and physics for a distinguished career as a psychologist and brain scientist. He received his PhD in psychology from Stanford (1968) where his doctoral thesis won the American Institutes for Research Creative Talent Award. But no single discipline could restrain his inquiring and creative mind as he fearlessly explored anthropology, brain science, religious studies, genetics, medical science, and much more.
Considered one of the foremost experts on the brain, he taught at Stanford University, Harvard University and UCSF and was founder and president of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing important discoveries concerning human nature to the general public. Working along with his wife, Sally Mallam, he created The Human Journey website to provide a continually updated resource on the journey of the human mind, how it developed, the world it made, and how we can be equipped to fully adapt and solve the problems facing the world today.
No ivory-tower theorist or academic, Dr. Ornstein carefully chose his areas of endeavor for their overall usefulness to solve the unprecedented challenges facing humanity. His fundamental optimism was always rooted in real possibilities and tempered by a tough-minded scientific rigor. Not that everything was dull and serious. Ornstein possessed a sharp wit and clever sense of humor which he regularly exercised and infused into his writing.
His singular gift was the ability to absorb massive amount of information, think across broad disciplines, synthesize the disparate findings, and write with amazing clarity. His books provide an ongoing legacy inviting readers to rethink our origins, human nature, and the necessity of extending human capacities toward “conscious evolution.” His groundbreaking books The Psychology of Consciousness and The Evolution of Consciousness introduced the two modes of consciousness of the left and right brain hemispheres, and a critical understanding how the brain evolved. His writings are infused with a reconsideration of ancient religious and spiritual traditions in light of contemporary needs and modern psychology.
God 4.0 is Robert Ornstein’s forthcoming book, completed just before his death. It offers a fresh understanding of how the brain can produce a transcendent shift in consciousness that some have called “seeing God.” The book points toward a new unity of science and spirituality concerning a reality that people have sought forever. This higher consciousness is not something “out there,” but something in the brain that we can develop. Once unlocked it allows us to see and use vital connections that can help us unite around a common higher perspective.