Alice Lombardo Maher, M.D.

Dr. Alice Lombardo Maher is a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and the author of
Catalysis: A Recipe to Slow Down or Abort Humankind’s Leap to War

Alice Lombardo Maher, M.D.

Dr. Alice Lombardo Maher is a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and the author of
Catalysis: A Recipe to Slow Down or Abort Humankind’s Leap to War

About Dr. Maher

Alice Lombardo Maher, M.D. is an American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She is the founder of Changing Our Consciousness, a non-profit organization that develops theoretical, methodological and educational tools to understand and mitigate intergroup conflict. Dr Maher is best known for her work on identifying methods for bridging social divides stemming from prejudice and stigma through the development of emotional literacy.

Education and Early Research

Dr Maher is a graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education Affiliated with NYU School of Medicine. She was a faculty member of the institute and medical school for 15 years, and remains a PANY Affiliate. Dr Maher maintains a private practice in New York City. In 2004 Dr. Maher created a Listserv for a group of colleagues to discuss ways in which the psychoanalytic model could be applied to society at large. She observed that the conflicts emerging in anonymous online communities paralleled aggressive/regressive dynamics that arise on the world stage. She presented these findings at the 2005 Conference on Prejudice and Conflict in Salt Lake City. Considering ways to harness those dynamics, she developed the Waging Dialogue forums. These moderated forums brought people with different worldviews together to struggle to bridge the divide between self and other over specific issues such as Antisemitism and Islamophobia, Masculinity and Femininity, and Psychoanalytic Theory and Methodology.

Changing Our Consciousness

In 2008, Dr Maher founded Changing Our Consciousness to fund and incubate projects that facilitate understanding and dialogue between and among people of different thoughts, beliefs and communication styles, as individuals and as large groups. Changing Our Consciousness has evolved into a non-profit, mission-driven organization committed to the development of emotional literacy.

Online Dialogue Projects

Dr. Maher has been an innovator in the use of online and social media as laboratories for observing the dynamics of conflict. The Waging Dialogue model, first created in 2004, has been adapted to many different mediums over the years to reflect changing technologies and trends. It has been used on social media sites such as Facebook.

The New Waging Dialogue Project focuses on Zoom dialogues carried out in group and 2-person settings. Our goal is to discover a methodology for communicating across divides using experience sharing and meta-dialogue techniques. To get involved, visit the Waging Dialogue Website.

Educational Programs

Identifying and responding appropriately and effectively to the emotional experience of the other is a very complex problem. Dr. Maher developed Emotional Imprint as a K-12 curriculum that teaches human understanding as a language analogous to the languages of math, music, and computers. Emotional Imprint differs from other social-emotional school programs by its use of academic learning, rigorous thought experiments, and integration into the core academic curriculum.

Dr. Maher has partnered with Professor June Klees of Bay College in Michigan to bring Waging Dialogue to the Bay College Civics Corps Program. Students participate in intergenerational, veteran/civilian, and other dialogues followed by group meta-dialogue analysis. The Civics Corps program is now expanding to other colleges nationwide.

The Hot Stove Project

With Lois Oppenheim, PhD, Dr. Maher is co-creator of The Hot Stove Project, a project dedicated to understanding thought process differences and talking across mental health divides, including multiple competing paradigms. In 2013 the Hot Stove Project released a documentary, “How to Touch a Hot Stove” directed by Sheryll Franko, narrated by actor John Turturro, and featuring Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks, MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Dr. Elyn Saks, autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin, former APA President Dr. Jeffrey Liberman, and others.

“How To Touch A Hot Stove” has been screened at educational institutions, mental health organizations and film festivals, and it received Honorable Mention at the 2014 SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) Voice Awards. Actor John Turturro, the film’s narrator, serves as spokesperson for the Hot Stove Project.

The Hot Stove Project has recieved the following awards and recognitions:


Dr. Maher is committed to bringing her mission to the next generation. In 2016, she facilitated a collaboration between students from Hunter College High School and the Street Squash enrichment program. Two seniors, Kaley Pillinger and Sydney Allard, compiled and edited original writings reflecting on the students' understanding of the Volkan/Alderdice model.

The result of this effort is Divides, an E-Book by and for students, richly illustrated by Hunter student Nina Potischman. Divides makes complex ideas relateable to those who stand to benefit the most from them. The authors range from 5th through 12th graders and the works range from well-researched essays to powerful personal narratives.