Milton Rokeach

Milton Rokeach (1918–1988) was born in Hrubieszów, Poland, and at the age of seven moved with his family to Brooklyn. He received his BA from Brooklyn College in 1941. In the same year he began in the fledgling social psychology program at the University of California at Berkeley, but his studies were interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Army Air Forces Aviation Psychology Program. He returned to Berkeley in 1946 and received his PhD in 1947. Rokeach became a professor of psychology at Michigan State University and subsequently taught at the University of Western Ontario, Washington State University, and the University of Southern California. His famous psychological study The Three Christs of Ypsilanti (1964) has been made into a screenplay, a stage play, and two operas. His other major books are The Open and Closed Mind (1960), Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values (1968), and The Nature of Human Values (1973). Rokeach received the Kurt Lewin Memorial Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues in 1984 and the Harold Lasswell Award from the International Society of Political Psychology in 1988.

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    The Three Christs of Ypsilanti

    In 1959 Milton Rokeach had a radical notion of how to treat three patients in his care—each of whom believed without a doubt that he was Jesus Christ—he would make them live together. In this novelistic case study, we see the three Christs argue, proclaim, and soliloquize about the nature of their divinity. “It represents, in an unpretentious but remarkably vivid way, what institutionalized madness is like.” —Steven Marcus, The New York Review of Books