Robert Klitzman


The Ethics Police?: The Struggle to Make Human Research Safe
In this intelligent, rigorous book, Robert Kiltzman looks at the morality of morality—at how the bodies set up to protect research subjects can end up injuring us all. This examination of our confused notions of safety, honesty, and transparency demonstrates that none of these is simple, and that in striving toward any one, we easily betray the others. It is a book about how seeking to do the right thing can lead to justice, and about how equally often it fails to do so.

- Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree (National Book Critics Circle Award winner), and Noonday Demon ( National Book Award winner)

In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist
"EXCELLENT . . . I recommend [Klitzman's] book as a valuable account of one particular kind of training that goes into becoming a psychiatrist."
--The Washington Post

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Am I My Genes? Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing
"Blending compassion and good science, Robert Klitzman proposes new guidelines for the morally complex questions of how we understand our genetics, and what we choose to do with the destiny they imply. His sensitive, humanist approach converts information into knowledge."
--Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

In New York Times
On September 11...

When Doctors Become Patients
"Dr. Klitzman has captured masterfully what 'sick' doctors hide not only from others but from themselves--their fears, hopes, practical strategies of survival in their jobs and families, and--most powerfully, their 'unscientific' approach to the world of the spirit. The descriptions are rich, deep, sad, funny, and powerful. Klitzman has done a marvelous job in painting the portrait of 'the wounded healer'--the person within each of us doctors. To learn that the suffering of illness can lead a doctor toward more mutual, compassionate connection with patients is an affirming, even redeeming moment."
--Dr. Samuel Shem, author of The House of God, Mount Misery, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob

Mortal Secrets: Truth and Lies in the Age of AIDS
"It is an aim that succeeds to an extraordinary degree... So well thought-out is this study, and so well presented are the accounts of the participants, that I put the book down with a real -- and rare -- sense that my understanding had grown and my thinking about the ethics of HIV -- in particular the responsibilities of those infected -- had shifted... The examples given here put such bald statements into a new context, and make the social and cultural factors that shape the pandemic seem vivid and emotionally real. Such vividness serves powerfully to enhance understanding."
--Tamsin Wilton, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

The Trembling Mountain: A Personal Account of Kuru, Cannibals and Mad Cow Disease
"Between his undergraduate years at Princeton and medical school at Yale, Klitzman spent a year conducting basic epidemiological research in Papua, New Guinea. Here, as in his books covering his medical internship (A Year-Long Night) and psychiatric training (In a House of Dreams and Glass), he presents an engaging autobiographical account of his experiences. Working for Nobel Prize-winner (Physiology/Medicine, 1976) Carleton Gajdusek in 1981, Klitzman lived amid the Fore, a previously cannibalistic tribe in some of the most remote parts of the country. Their community had been devastated by kuru, a deadly and heartbreaking neurological disease, spread by the ritual consumption of deceased relatives (including brain matter). Over the course of the narrative, the young Klitzman interviews stricken individuals, comes to grips with hugely divergent cultures and comes of age himself. What gives kuru additional and timely import, and makes it more than just an odd tropical malady, is that it appears to be closely related to Mad Cow disease...a briskly engaging and informative work."
--Publishers Weekly

Being Positive: The Lives of Men and Women with HIV
"An unforgettable picture of what extremity looks like...intense."
--Clifford Geertz, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

"I know of no higher praise than to name a book necessary. Being Positive is that and more.
--Fenton Johnson, author of Geography of the Heart

In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist
"Having described his first-year medical residency in A Year-Long Night, Klitzman continues with this account of his three-year psychiatric internship in a New York City university teaching hospital. Assigned rotations in short-term in-patient wards, emergency rooms, and out-patient clinics, Klitzman learned to diagnose mental disorders and administer treatment ranging from psychodynamic therapy to electric shock. He is a deft observer of the interactions between patients, residents, supervisors, and hospital staff, Klitzman makes us equally aware of his personal struggles to deal with the pressures to conform to training that discourages questioning and to understand an institutional system that appears to benefit staff rather than patients."
--Library Journal

A Year-long Night: Tales of a Medical Internship
"A Yale Medical School graduate, Klitzman joins the ranks of young doctors whose emotionally charged first year of internship impels them to record their initial experiences of suffering, healing and death. Each of his medical rotations is represented by short episodes, usually centered around a single patient. Indeed, what distinguishes this account from others of its kind is not only literary promise, but the author's interest in patients as human beings with distinct personalities whose identities and wishes he respectsqualities that should serve him well in his present residency in psychiatry at a New York hospital. A particularly interesting chapter is devoted to a year spent in a New Guinea village researching a disease linked with cannibalism."
--Publishers Weekly

Selected works

Non-fiction book
"This is a detailed first look at a critical aspect of U.S. medicine that may not mesmerize causal readers, but should prove indispensable for reform." - Publishers Weekly
Fresh from medical school, Robert Klitzman began his residency in psychiatry with excitement and a sense of mission. But he was not prepared for what he found inside the city psychiatric center where he was to spend three grueling years. In truth, as Dr. Klitzman's absorbing account of his apprenticeship reveals, he never ceased to be surprised--by his patients, by the senior psychiatrists' conflicting advice on how to help them, and by the unpredictable results of the therapies, both psychoanalytic and biologic, that he and his fellow residents practiced. Nights in the emergency room, professional controversy, the minefield of hospital politics, the stress of his own therapy--everything is here, in a passionate and illuminating analysis of a doctor's struggle against tremendous odds to banish his patients' demons. [AN] INSIGHTFUL MEMOIR . . . RECOMMENDED." --Library Journal
"[Klitzman's] sensitive, humanist approach converts information into knowledge."
--Andrew Solomon, author of Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
"Klitzman's work is an important contribution to physical training and patient care. The wisdom shared in When Doctors Become Patients holds potential to make all physicians better caregivers."--JAMA
"...a book for anyone desiring to move forward in the fight against the illness, not the people."
--Erica Prigg, Health Communication
New York Times article
Op-Ed essay on the death of Osama Bin Laden
".. a briskly engaging and informative work."
--Publishers Weekly
"There are extraordinary moments...[The book] describe[s] the tension between the endless stress and the fantastic learning curve of his Year-long Night.
--Washington Post