Born in Texas, Thomas A Harris took his science degree in 1938 from the University of Arkansas Medical School. In 1942 he began his psychiatry training in Washington DC at St. Elizabeth Hospital. He was a Navy psychiatrist for several years, becoming chief of the Psychiatry Branch and leaving the service as a commander. This was followed by a teaching post back at the University of Arkansas, and then a period as a senior mental health bureaucrat. He died in Sacramento, California, in 1995.