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 the 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 9 years. It was during these early years at Harvard Medical School that he began his groundbreaking research on aggression, autism and 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 2 million copies in print, and 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 Users’ 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 re-engineer 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 at 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 non-profit before school fitness program, BOKS, where he was named Ambassador for Active Kids. In addition, he has a non-profit, Sparking Life, with a mission to promote exercise in the treatment of mental health challenges.
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, in 2016 he was honored as “Outstanding Psychiatrist of the Year for Advancing the Field” 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.