Yukio Ishizuka was born on June 14,1938, in Hakodate-City, Hokkaido,
the northern island of Japan. He experienced World War II as a
child and grew up during the American occupation. A large department
store building facing his parents' store and residence became
living quarters for occupying American soldiers. The occupation
started many dramatic changes in Japan, including its education
system, where school textbooks were changed overnight, and teachers
suddenly started advocating democracy. It was a time of cross-fertilization
of Eastern and Western ideas.
Yukio's father instilled in him strong aspirations for creative
originality and independence, while his mother encouraged honesty,
self-discipline and self-confidence, making him feel unquestionably
loved by both parents. His father encouraged him to apply for
medical school, while his academic bias clearly favored languages,
law or a business career. The day before the deadline for applications,
his father persuaded him to tear up his completed applications
for faculties of law and economics and to apply to the top two
Japanese medical schools. Unprepared for medical school exams,
Yukio spent a year at a preparatory school before being accepted
at Keio University in Tokyo in 1960.
As a student at Keio, Ishizuka taught himself English and was
active in a campus organization to promote international student
exchange. In 1960, he was chosen to represent Japan at the Afro-Asian
Student Leaders Seminar held at University of Hawaii under the
sponsorship of U.S. State Department. Thirty student leaders from
as many nations in Asia and Africa attended the seminar. Stimulated
by the experience, as a second-year medical student, Ishizuka
represented Japanese medical students at the general assembly
of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations
(IFMSA) held in Jerusalem. On his return, he worked to organize
medical students, founding the Japan International Medical Student
Association (JIMSA) to promote international academic and professional
interest among medical students of Japan. He received generous
support from Dr. Taro Takemi, then president of the Japanese Medical
Association and a well-respected physician and nuclear physicist.
After graduating from Keio Medical School, Ishizuka informed Dr.
Takemi of his plans to pursue postgraduate training in psychiatry
in the United States. "You should not return to Japan," advised
Dr. Takemi. Ishizuka understood that he was being set free.
In 1965, the young graduate left Japan to repeat a year of rotating
internship at Jefferson Medical College Hospital in Philadelphia,
although he had already completed one at the U.S. Air Force Hospital,
Tachikawa, Japan. He wanted to make sure that he was not more
interested in other specialties and that he was choosing psychiatry
from among viable alternatives, particularly surgery and internal
During his busy year of internship, Ishizuka sought recreation
by attending Fleisher Art Memorial, a tuition-free night art school
taught by Philadelphia's leading art teachers. Three evenings
a week he joined the artists till late at night. By the end of
the year, several professors encouraged him to consider a professional
career as a painter.
By the end of the year, Ishizuka had been offered residency positions
in four specialties at Jefferson. He knew he wanted psychiatry,
and before starting his internship year at Jefferson, he went
to Boston for a day of interviews and was offered a residency
position at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center by Professor
Jack R. Ewalt, then chairman of the department of psychiatry at
Harvard Medical School. Ishizuka was the first candidate to be
accepted among 25 residents in psychiatry at the center that year.
In celebration, Ishizuka took a trip to Europe on a two-week discount
ticket, spending much of his savings in the process.
During this trip, he went to London to visit Marie-France Tourlet,
who was engaged to his old friend from prep school, Terusuke Terada,
who later became Japan's ambassador to Mexico and South Korea. It was thanks to Marie-France
that he met Colette in Paris. He was impressed by the clarity
of her thoughts, the open expressiveness of her feelings, the
integrity of her judgment and her actions grounded on her strong
Christian faith. What impressed him the most however, was her
exceptional capacity to give as well as to receive. Her generosity
taught Ishizuka to receive, and her openness and responsiveness
taught him to give. Her willingness and ability to make a strong
commitment to him reassured him and helped him to eventually overcome
his strong fear of closeness. They have been happily married for
42 years and have three grown children.
Toward the end of his residency in Boston, Harvard Professors
Elvin Semrad and David Riesman encouraged Dr. Ishizuka to undergo
further training in psychoanalysis. Dr. Ishizuka seriously considered
applying to Boston Institute of Psychoanalysis and going to Mexico
City to study under Erich Fromm. However, he was not convinced
that psychoanalysis would allow him to preserve his intellectual
freedom and independence.
Also during his psychiatric residency, he was offered to become
a third-year student at the Museum of Fine Art School by its dean
to pursue a professional career as a painter. Professor Jerome
Cohen of Harvard Law School recruited him to switch from psychiatric
residency to Harvard Law School, where a bilingual lawyer was
in high demand. Ishizuka was tempted by both offers but decided
to stick to psychiatry and spent his third (elective) year expanding
his horizons by studying at the Laboratory of Community Psychiatry
under Professor Gerald Caplan.
He managed to convince Dr. Caplan and Dr. Ewalt to allow him to
spend his third year of residency working as a management consultant
with Arthur D. Little Inc. General James Gavin, then chairman
of ADL, gave the young Japanese psychiatrist an opportunity to
learn management consulting. Ishizuka participated in several
ADL projects as a member of the organizational development team,
helping build a strong management team and a culture of creativity.
After a year at ADL, Dr. Ishizuka decided to leave psychiatry
in 1969 with the dream of helping Japanese companies globalize
their operations as a management consultant, using his psychiatric
training and understanding of cultures of the East and West.
Ishizuka was also given the opportunity to participate in some
teaching activities at organizational behavior section of Harvard
Business School. He was introduced to McKinsey & Company, an international
consulting firm, which immediately offered Dr. Ishizuka a position
in Paris. He spent the next four years working on assignments
in Paris, Amsterdam, Toronto and New York. His experience working
closely with senior executives of major corporations as a McKinsey
consultant taught him to approach a complex problem as an integrated
whole and to identify, monitor and control critical key factors
for organizational survival and success, according to carefully
defined objectives and priorities. While at McKinsey, he met among
others a legendary leader of management consulting, Marvin Bower,
who took a personal interest in him and even encouraged his pursuit
of the Lifetrack project 30 years after Ishizuka had left the
firm. Another former McKinsey partner and dear friend, Peter Sosnkowski,
has offered him valuable advice and encouragement over the years.
In 1972, Dr. Ishizuka's last McKinsey client, Mitsubishi International
Corporation, offered him a position as president and co-founder
of a subsidiary responsible for corporate acquisitions and investments.
During his fourth year in mergers and acquisitions, a friend and
CEO of an international company sought his professional help in
depression. Dr. Ishizuka's rewarding experience helping his friend
led him to return to the field of psychiatry in 1976.
While in busy merger and acquisition activities, he continued
to paint, and in 1974, was accepted as a member and resident artist
of the Salmagundi Club, the oldest American professional painters'
Dr. Yukio Ishizuka returned to psychiatry asking new questions
of his field: What is the objective of therapy? What does it mean
to be well? How can we measure and improve well-being? For more
than 30 years of full-time clinical practice, he has
developed and tested a paradigm of positive psychological health
and a corresponding method of therapy in response to these questions.
Dr. Ishizuka has applied the analytical skills he developed as
a management consultant to clinical psychiatry and integrated
concepts from both East and West to create Lifetrack.