Richard F. Mollica, M.D. ’79 M.A.R.

2023Lux et Veritas

Richard Mollica is a physician, professor of psychiatry, and for decades now a global pioneer in the health care and healing of traumatized populations. Up close—whether in Cambodia, Bosnia, Italy, Japan, or after 9/11 in the U.S.—he has faced some of the world’s deepest hurts, as well as its greatest longings for peace. 

For more than 40 years, he has focused on the needs of survivors of torture and mass violence—their physical injuries and health, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Under his direction, the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma has led efforts in clinical care and training, certificate programs, policy reforms, and research benefiting people who’ve endured horrific atrocity. 

His message is one of hope in the power of human resilience. His work has taught him that people can recover from unspeakable violence. This was something he had to teach the psychiatric field, which long assumed that victims of violent horrors could not be healed. 

His writings make the argument that we all have a role in healing our societies. In 2018 he wrote the text for a book-length manifesto on “Healing a Violent World.” There, he called on healers of every type to reduce the pain of human suffering by following a greater vision of empathy and nonviolence. He stressed the pathway of justice as a vital force for human meaning and advancement: the pursuit of justice is intense, often tragic, yet transformative. He argued too that the experience of beauty should have a role in health. “There is no healing without beauty,” he wrote.

His training has taken him all over the world. He received his medical degree from the University of New Mexico in 1973 and completed his psychiatry residency at Yale Medical School. While at Yale he also earned an M.A.R. from YDS in 1979. His life’s work reflects a passion for global healing and a respect for the human spirit. 

In his book Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths to Hope and Recovery in a Violent Worldhe writes: “The trauma survivor reminds us all of our own vulnerability to tragedy and of the potential for society to abandon us … But another way is possible, as the story of victimization becomes a story of courage and the story of damage becomes a story of recovery.”

The Lux et Veritas is awarded for excellence and distinction in applying the compassion of Christ to the diverse needs of the human condition through the wider church, ecumenical organizations, not-for-profit groups, government, or industry. We proudly give the award this year to Dr. Richard Mollica.