The Life & Works of Ron Leifer, MD


«The Search for Sin Semilla» (2015) is now available…

«The Search for Sin Semilla» a novel by Ron Leifer (2015)


«In The Name of Mental Health» (1969) is now available again—as a FREE eBook…

Ron Leifer «In The Name of Mental Health» (1969) free ebook

Ron Leifer’s Writings

Books by Ron Leifer

In this area of the website you’ll find reviews of Ron Leifer’s books, link to online stores where you might purchase the paperback or digital edition, and also some full books by Ron in eBook format—some are reprints of out-of-catalogue paperbacks, others are new unpublished before works.

The books are sometimes presented through the words of the author — therefore, the “I” within the presentation of each book refers to Ron Leifer — and others using words of someone else’s review — in which case, it will be clear by the third person reference to the author.

Copyright Notice on The Free eBooks

The Free eBooks available on this website are published with the explicit authorization of the author, Ron Leifer, M.D..

Ron Leifer is the holder of copyright for these books, he has entrusted Tristano Ajmone (webmaster of this website and President of OISM) to publish these books in digital format (here referred to as the eBooks) to be released on the following conditions:

  • You are free to download and redistribute these eBooks (even on your website) on conditions that (1) you do not alter them in any way—ie: you redistribute them as they are found on this website; (2) you do not sell them, nor charge any costs nor gain direct profits from their download.

This website is the site of reference for obtaining original, authorized and up-to-date versions of these eBooks. Tristano was also entrusted to publish them on other websites dedicated to mass-distribution of eBooks (Scribd, Lulu, Smashwords, and others), which required adaptations of the ebooks in order to the be therein published. The same conditions apply to them as to the ones found on this website.

You do not need to seek authorization to redistribute these eBooks on your website as long as the above conditions are met.

Books List

The Happiness Trilogy

Ron Leifer authored the following books, which constitute a trilogy of self-helf books:

Upcoming Books

Here a list of books by Ron Leifer which are ready and waiting to be published:

In The Name of Mental Health: The Social Functions of Psychiatry, a critique of coercive-medical psychiatry

Out of The Box

«In The Name of Mental Health» free eBook by Ron Leifer

  Free eBook!   

Published by Jason Aronson Inc, 1969

Hardcover Edition:
ISBN-10: 0876680090
ISBN-13: 978-0876680094
Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
Pages: 288

Digital Edition: Republished by OISM Editions, 2015

«In The Name of Mental Health» offers an indepth look into the social functions that psychiatry carries out on behalf of the state. Inspired by his teacher and mentor, Thomas Szasz, the author unravels the complex semantics that masquerad psychiatry’s true role, exposing step by step the founding myths of mental illness and psychiatry’s claim of being a branch of medicine, demonstrating that its sole purpose is exerting social control disguised as medical care—thus allowing governments based on the Rule of Law to repress dissent and social deviancy without overtly infrindging their constitution, and circumventing civil and human rights.

Ron Leifer guides the reader through the history of psychiatry, its terminology and core beliefs, analyzing each building block of the psychiatric enterprise and its ideology under the lenses of medicine, sociology and philosophy, showing the various historical forces, conflicts and interests that led to the medicalization of human behaviour and the institution of psychiatric social control—thus allowing the reader to fully understand the huge gap and contradictions between what psychiatrists claim to be doing and the reality of psychiatric practices outcome on everyday life.

«In The Name of Mental Health» is a book written for the benefit of all those who believe in mental health and psychiatric dogmas, it’s an eye-opener to the entangled outlook on life that psychiatry brought about, and a chance to set us free from its mystifying spell and regain insight into the real nature of existential problems, on how to deal with them and how to free psychology and psychoanalysis from the fallacy of the medical model.

Purchase This Book

Even though the book is out of print, you might find some second hand copies for purchase at these websites:

Out of The Box

«Out of The Box» free eBook by Ron Leifer

  Free eBook!   

«Out of the Box» is Ron Leifer’s autobiography (2013), published for the first time by this website for online reading and as a free eBook.

In this precious testimony, Ron walks us through his life experience—from early childhood to the present day—narrating the challenges of his life as a dissenting psychiatrist who opposed coercive psychiatry and the medical model of mental illness. From his years as a student of Thomas Szasz, the renown critic of psychiatry, to his friendship with Ernst Becker, and all the significant people who influenced his life choices, through the embracing of the Buddhist path, Ron has devoted his life to understanding human nature, the nature of suffering, and how to fulfil his vow as a psychiatrist to help the suffering and, at the same time, honour his physician vow «not to harm»—which, in a society that promotes the use of force and mind-numbing drugs in psychiatric care, became a great and lasting personal challange for him.

This autobiography offers us the valuable inisight into Ron Leifer’s personal struggle with the social, political and cultural forces that determine the status quo of what Szasz rightly named the «Therapeutic State»—a struggle that shaped him and the course of his life, the choices that drove him out of the mainstream into the barren land of the exiles. It’s a story of utter determination in refusing to succumb to blind mainstream mediocrity, of the courage by which Ron accepted his exile from mainstream psychiatry as a price to pay for his honesty, of how he created something new into the barren land of his exile by cultivating his ideas and ideals, by forging a new approach to mental suffering that would not rely on force or sedation of mind and thoughts, but on compassion.

Where others would have given up in going counter to the mainstrean, Ron has managed to resist, explore, survive and build new paths for others to follow. «Out of the Box» provides us the chance to see the world through the eyes of someone who succesfully challenged mental health’s monolithic political and academic powers, who sustained the harshness of this choice, but most of all that didn’t give up hoping that one day new and more humane ways of dealing with mental sufferance might replace the current state of affairs.


«Behemoth, The Structure and Practice of Psychiatry» free eBook by Ron Leifer, MD

  Free eBook!   

«Behemoth, The Structure and Practice of Psychiatry » was written by Ron Leifer in 2014 and given especially to this website to be published as a free eBook.

In this book Ron Leifer, MD presents his critique of psychiatry in a series of concise chapters, each one directing a single aspect of his critique of the mental health system and his proposals to overcome its flaws.

You can download the ebook choosing between ePub and Mobipocket format—and read it offline in your eReader, smartphone, tablet or PC.

The «Happiness Trilogy»

Three books that constitute a trilogy of self-help for understanding our emotional life through a compassionate and enlightening approach.

The Happiness Project: Transforming the Three Poisons that Cause the Suffering We Inflict on Ourselves and Others

Ron Leifer «The Happiness Project» (1997)

  Free eBook!   

Published by Snow Lion, 1997

Paperback Edition:
ISBN-10: 1559390794
ISBN-13: 978-1559390798
Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
Pages : 313

When I started studying Buddhism, the lamas were teaching basic Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths. The First Truth is the truth of suffering. Buddha taught that everyone suffers. It became evident to me that the common ground of Buddhism and psychotherapy is their concern with emotional suffering and the means of its relief. The significance of the First Noble Truth is that our painful emotions are the obstacles on the path to happiness. The Second Noble Truth teaches the causes of suffering, which are very simple, very specific, and very profound. These causes are popularly known as the Three Poisons, usually known as passion, aggression, and ignorance.

In my studies it became clear that the Three Poisons can be understood in simple Western terms as desire, aversion, and ego or sense of self. As I integrated the paradigm of the Three Poisons into my practice of psychotherapy, I posed three questions to myself. Can my patient’s “symptoms,” their distress and suffering, be understood as caused by unrealistic desires that cannot be satisfied, by aversions to the unwanted that cannot be avoided, and by failed efforts to create, sustain, and expand a sense of self? Can the relief from painful emotions and the attainment of peace of mind be achieved by mindfully countering the Three Poisons by moderating our desires, by courageously opening to what we don’t want but can’t avoid, and by taming our selfishness with humility and compassion for others?As time went on and I learned how to more skillfully apply this new paradigm in therapy, it became evident to me, based on the responses of my patients, that the answer to my questions is yes.

To apply Buddhist teachings in psychotherapy requires purging them of any religious dogma or questionable doctrines and translating them into ordinary language that people can understand and test for themselves. I published the results of this inquiry in The Happiness Project: Transforming the Three Poisons That Cause the Suffering We Inflict on Ourselves and Others.

Download This eBook

Due to its being out-of-catalogue, Ron Leifer has authorized this website to reprint «The Happiness Project» as a free eBook, so that the Happiness Trilogy will not suffer from unavailability of its first and corner-stone volume.

Purchase This Book

Even though the book is out of print, you might find some second hand copies for purchase at these websites:

Vinegar into Honey: Seven Steps to Understanding and Transforming Anger, Aggression, and Violence

Ron Leifer «Vinegar into Honey»(2008)Published by Snow Lion/Shambhala, 2008

Paperback Edition:
ISBN: 978-1-55939-293-8
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 
Pages: 144

Digital Edition:
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Our desires and our fears are woven into a tangled web of conflicts. We want both to eat dessert and to be thin. We want money but don’t want to work. Anything that threatens our sense of self and its striving for happiness is perceived as a threat to our very lives—the response to which is defensiveness, anger, aggression, and violence.Vinegar into Honey proposes a new paradigm for understanding the relationship between stress, anxiety, anger, and depression.

Dr. Leifer provides detailed instructions for working with anger and other painful emotions. The process of transforming suffering into equanimity and compassion is central in Buddhist psychology and practice. Each of the steps in Vinegar into Honey reflects views and methods drawn from Buddhist tradition. Leifer’s work holds promise for psychotherapists and their patients individuals seeking to understand and work with their anger and people interested in the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy.

Purchase This Book

Paperback Edition

You can buy this book in paperback edition at the following websites:

eBook Edition

You may also purchase the digital edition at the following websites:

Engagements With The World: Emotions And Human Nature

Ron Leifer «Engagements With The World» (2013)Published by Xlibris, 2013

Paperback/Hardcover Edition:
ISBN: 978-1-48361-998-9
Size: 6.0x9.0 Print Type: B&W
Pages: 156

Digital Edition:
ISBN: 978-1-48362-000-8
Formats: PDF / ePub / Mobi

After fifty years of futile research on mind and behavior, trying to find their causes in the brain, without success, psychiatrists and psychologists are turning their attention to the emotions, also looking for their causes in the brain, also without success. The problem is that there is no generally accepted theory or paradigm for understanding the emotions.

William James suggested that such a paradigm must meet two criteria: (1) it must explain each individual emotion (i.e., anxiety, anger, depression, etc.), and (2) it must relate all the emotions to each other. This book presents such a paradigm. It is based on the accepted biological principle that all organisms from the lowest to the highest function in two biological motives, which I call bipolar reactivity.

All organisms seek pleasure and/or that which sustains and promotes life, and all organisms seek to avoid pain and/or that which threatens or disables life. Interestingly, this biological principle corresponds to a basic principle of Buddhist psychology that the pain we cause to ourselves and to each other is caused by the Three Poisons: desire, aversion, and ego. Desire and aversion link humans to the great chain of being, and ego distinguishes humans from all other beings and recognizes our unique capacity for symbolic reactivity. I have used this paradigm for fi fty years in my practice of psychotherapy and have found it very useful for understanding my patients’ mental and emotional pain and helping them to understand and heal themselves.

Read a Free Preview

A free preview of this book is availabe at:

Purchase This Book

Paperback/Hardcover Edition

You can buy this book in paperback or hardcover edition at the following websites:

eBook Edition

You may also purchase the digital edition at the following websites:

  • Xlibris (ePub and Mobi editions)
  • SCRIBD (PDF edition)
  • kobo (Adobe DRM ePub edition)

Elegant Stories And Sayings That Turn The Mind Inward

Ron Leifer «Elegant Stories And Sayings That Turn The Mind Inward» (2013)Not Yet Published! (coming soon)

This book is a collection of stories that I have heard or read about in the course of my study of religions, particularly Hinduism, Sufism, Judaism and BUDDHISM. These stories represent major points in the teachings of these religions. Most of them I have known for so long that I cannot remember their source. Except that for the teachings from Hinduism I owe a debt to my dear, late, first teacher of meditation, the monk, Agehananda Bharati, who was a rowdy story teller and jokester, to Rajneesh, who illustrated each of his Talks with stories and jokes, and of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Abbot of karma Triyana dharmachakra, a Tibetan Karma Kagyu monastery in Woodstock, NY, with whom I studied who didn’t tell jokes, but made pithy metaphorical points in his lectures and private instructions. I have meditated on these stories over the years for my own edification and have used them when relevant in my forty years as a psychotherapist to illustrate interpretations and advice to patients.

The stories are presented in a sequence that roughly follows the development of the mind of a person on a spiritual path, Khenpo Rinpoche often used the word spiritual in his talks, and we often hear it used today by preachers who are referring to an exalted state of mind. I asked Rinpoche to define the word. His answer was surprising, but on reflection made more sense tan the usual use one hears. His answer? “Spiritual refers to anything having to do with mind,” not only exalted states but also to mistakes, delusions, and negative emotions on which one must meditate to reduce suffering.

I suggest the reader read one story at a time and meditate on it before proceeding to the next. In 1986, when I was helping to organize the First Karma Kagyu conference on Buddhism and psychotherapy at the request of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, I asked Khenpo Rinpoche for his advice which also applied to how to live one’s life He Gave me three INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Rely on your meditation and your own experience for understanding your mind and the course of life; 2. Act with good intentions and 3. Respect the lineage. He taught me how to see my mind for myself.