H.B. Danesh

A Journey to Peace

Our academic and professional interests and insights have their roots in our background, education, areas of research and expertise, life experiences and observations, and personal beliefs and commitments. All of these issues have contributed to my intense interest in peace. The quest for peace is an intrinsic human quality. I became particularly aware of this fact when I began my work as a psychiatrist, which I practiced for some 30 years. During these three decades I had the privilege of being a confidant to many individuals, families, and groups who shared their inmost thoughts, feelings, hopes, aspirations, worries, and sentiments. And all of them, in the final analysis, were seeking peace—intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, and peace with life, destiny, and God. It was in the constant search for peace on the part of my clients, that I saw the same process in my own life.

I was born and raised as a member of a religious minority—the Baha’i Faith (www.bahai.org)—in an authoritarian, fanatical, and oppressive society—Iran. I received my training as a psychiatrist in a highly individualistic and competitive society promoting unbridled freedom—the United States of America. I have lived on three continents—Asia, North America, and Europe—and have travelled to over 60 countries around the globe. Together, these experiences and opportunities have given me insights into various aspects of the multi-faceted expressions of collective human life, both in its micro-institutions such as marriage and family and in its macro-organizations such as religious groups, ethnic communities, and national and international entities.

My professional life as a psychiatrist, professor, and peace educator is divided into two distinct but interrelated periods. During the first period of thirty years (1963-1992) I taught and practiced psychiatry in the United States and Canada with a focus on marriage and family, violence and its prevention, death and dying, and the psychology of spirituality. The second period of 17 years thus far (1993-2010) has been devoted to education for peace, leadership for peace, and peaceful conflict resolution.

These two broad areas of experience—the psychological wellbeing and development of individuals and families and the welfare and peace of communities and nations—are interrelated and complementary. They both deal with the phenomenon of human relationships in their most intimate and personal dimension, particularly in the context of marriage and family, and in their social and universal expressions with respect to issues of unity-based governance, conflict resolution and peace creation.

My books and articles are informed by my research, field work, and life experience, all revolving around issues of personal, interpersonal, and social peace on the one hand and psychological and spiritual human development on the other.

H.B. Danesh