John E. Mack, M.D. (October 4, 1929–September 27, 2004) was an American psychiatrist, writer, and professor at Harvard Medical School. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, and a leading authority on the spiritual or transformational effects of alleged alien abduction experiences.
In May 1994, the Dean of Harvard Medical School, Daniel C. Tosteson, appointed a committee of peers to confidentially review Mack's clinical care and clinical investigation of the people who had shared their alien encounters with him (some of their cases were written of in Mack's 1994 book Abduction). In the same BBC article cited above, Angela Hind wrote, "It was the first time in Harvard's history that a tenured professor was subjected to such an investigation." Mack described the investigation as "Kafkaesque": he never quite knew the status of the ongoing investigation, and the nature of his critics' complaints were not revealed to Mack until the committee had prepared a draft report eight months into the process. Because the committee was not a disciplinary committee, it was not governed by any established rules of procedure; the presentation of a defense was therefore difficult and costly for Mack.
Upon the public revelation of the existence of the committee (inadvertently revealed during the solicitation of witnesses for Mack's defense, ten months into the process), questions arose from the academic community (including Harvard Professor of Law Alan Dershowitz) regarding the validity of an investigation of a tenured professor who was not suspected of ethics violations or professional misconduct. Concluding the fourteen-month investigation, Harvard then issued a statement stating that the Dean had "reaffirmed Dr. Mack's academic freedom to study what he wishes and to state his opinions without impediment," concluding "Dr. Mack remains a member in good standing of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine."
TO: Dr. Georgopoulos
FROM: Gary Freedman
DATE: May 9, 1995
RE: Attached Letter dated May 8, 1995
On Thursday May 4, 1995 I read the attached new article concerning Harvard's investigation of Dr. John Mack. For some reason, it made me very upset. The attached letter is a product of my frame of mind after having read about Dr. Mack.