Phyllis Chesler is a Jewish American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women's studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY). She is known as a feminist psychologist, and is the author of thirteen books including the best-seller Women and Madness, and the recent publications The Death of Feminism and The New Anti-Semitism.
Chesler was born in New York to Jewish immigrants. She attended Bard College, where for two years she had a relationship with a fellow student from Afghanistan. She was briefly married to him in 1961, during which time the couple lived in Afghanistan, in the capital city of Kabul, in the large, polygamous household of her father-in-law. She credits this experience with inspiring her to become an ardent feminist. After a traumatic marriage and divorce in Afghanistan, Chesler returned to the United States to graduate from Bard College. In 1969, she earned a Ph.D. in psychology at the New School for Social Research and embarked on her career as a professor and a psychotherapist in private practice.
In 1969, she cofounded the Association for Women in Psychology. In 1972, she published Women and Madness.
Chesler taught one of the first Women's Studies classes at Richmond College in New York City during the 1969-1970 school year. During her time at Richmond College, she established many services for female students, including self-defense classes, a rape crisis center, and a child care center. She is one of five cofounders of The National Women's Health Network and is a charter member of the Women's Forum. She was an editor at large and columnist for the magazine On The Issues.
Chesler has recently become known for her campaign against what she considers to be a “new anti-Semitism”. She has written about this concept in her book The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It (2003).