Our People

John Ratey, MD

John Ratey, MD

John J. Ratey, MD, is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in neuropsychiatry. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and 11 books published in 15 languages, including the groundbreaking series on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Driven to Distraction with Ned Hallowell, MD. With the publication of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey has established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection. His latest book, Go Wild, explores how we can “re-wild” our lives and achieve optimal physical and mental health by getting in touch with our caveman roots.

John grew up in the steel-working town of Beaver, Pennsylvania, where an unlikely love of tennis led to competing in the US National Juniors and being offered an athletic scholarship to college. He attended Colgate University, where he was a Washburn scholar, receiving his BA in philosophy before moving to Boston. Finding work at Harvard’s Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) as an attendant, John was often assigned with caring for some of the most difficult patients, inspiring him to learn more about how to help those with mental health challenges. Seeing a career in psychiatry as his path, he completed his science requirements at Harvard before returning to Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, where he won multiple awards for scholastic achievement in psychiatry. Returning to Harvard for his psychiatric training, John was eventually named inpatient chief resident. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Elvin Semrad teaching fellowship at Harvard Medical School and was appointed Harvard’s assistant director of residency and medical student training, a position he held for nine years. It was during these early years at Harvard Medical School that he began his groundbreaking research on aggression, autism, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), leading to a career of speaking and teaching around the world.

Dr. Ratey’s work in attention deficit disorder came after he and his former student, Ned Hallowell, recognized and diagnosed their own ADD, prompting them to write a book to raise awareness and an understanding of the diagnosis to a lay audience. Published in 1994, Driven to Distraction became a bestseller, with over two million copies in print, and it is still considered one of the bibles of ADD today. Dr. Ratey and Dr. Hallowell went on to write Delivered to Distraction and Answers to Distraction, and have become recognized around the world as authorities on the subject. They continue to collaborate and are currently working on a new book.

As an author, Dr. Ratey’s other groundbreaking work includes A User’s Guide to the Brain and Shadow Syndromes. With the publication of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey has embarked on a world-wide mission to reengineer schools, corporations, and individual lifestyle practices by incorporating exercise to achieve peak performance and optimum mental health. A highly sought after speaker, Dr. Ratey has lectured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Asia, Australia, and Europe. His work is frequently profiled in the media, where he’s been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and NPR, as well as in the New York Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, US News and World Report, Men’s Health, and other national publications.

Dr. Ratey has functioned as an adjunct professor of sport science at the National Taiwan Sport University and as a consultant to the president of Taiwan and the minister of education in South Korea. He has served as co-head of the advisory board of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport, a consultant to ANTA Kids in China, and on Reebok’s nonprofit before-school fitness program, BOKS, where he was named Ambassador for Active Kids. In addition, he has a nonprofit, Sparking Life, with a mission to promote exercise in the treatment of mental health problems.

While he enjoys writing and lecturing, first and foremost, John is a psychiatrist who cares deeply about his patients. Recognized by his peers as one of the Best Doctors in America since 1997, he was recently named Outstanding Psychiatrist of 2016 by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. Married with two children and two grandchildren, Dr. Ratey maintains a private practice in both Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California.