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Doctors discover the power of touch

03/08/2010

It sounds amazing when we first hear about it.  Students who receive a supporting touch  from a teacher on the back or arm are nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class;  a kind touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that their visit has lasted twice as long;  a massage from a loved on can not only ease pain but also sooth depression. 

It goes on.  According to an article in the New York Times on the power of touch, high fives can actually enhance performance – and the  professional basketball teams that score most tend to the be teams that touch most. 

But it’s real.  It’s also not a surprise to scholars of complementary medicine, like Don Moss, who chairs the degree program of Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine.

In mind-body medicine, the idea that people respond well to contact with human beings is basic … something we all experience on a daily basis.  It’s also been shown for some time by research – but too often ignored since it doesn’t fit in to the “medical model” of clinical practice.

“Touch is the tactile dimension of love, and love and connectedness are key needs for human beings to thrive and actualize their potential,” Moss says.  “Since the early work of psychologist Harry Harlow, who showed that monkeys raised with artificial mothers wrapped in soft fabric thrived much more than monkeys raised with wire cage mothers, psychology has slowly discovered the value of touch for human beings.”

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Saybrook to participate in this month's Psychotherapy Networker Conference

03/08/2010

Saybrook University and the Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine are pleased to announce that they will participate as sponsors in the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, hosted by the publication Psychotherapy Networker, from March 25 - 28 in Washington D.C..

Held on the theme of “When times say pull back, we say break through,” the symposium will feature speakers including Dan Goleman San Siegel, Tara Brach, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Natalie Goldberg.  Jim Gordon, the Dean of Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, will present twice:  one morning workshop entitled “A Mind-Body Approach for Traumatized Vets,” and an all day workshop entitled “Heal – and Celebrate – Thyself.” 

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Save the date: Saybrook to hold open house on March 18

03/08/2010

Faculty and staff from all of Saybrook University’s graduate colleges will be on hand to describe programs, answer questions, and make connections at the San Francisco office of Saybrook University, 747 Front Street, on March 18 from 5:30 - 8 p.m..

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Mind-Body Medicine Chair Don Moss travels to support develoment of biofeedback

03/08/2010

Don Moss, the editor of Biofeedback Magazine and the chair of Saybrook’s Graduate college of Mind-Body Medicine, has a busy travel schedule late this month in support of efforts to improve the knowledge and implementation of biofeedback techniques. 

From March 24-27, Moss will attend the annual meeting of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, in San Diego.  He will present two clinical workshops at that meeting:  first, “Pathways to Illness, Pathways to Health” with colleague Angele McGrady, and second, “Breath Training and Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback in the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders” with Saybrook faculty member Fredric Shaffer.

On March 28, Moss will attend the annual board meeting of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America, also in San Diego. He is a Board member, and serves as the officer in charge of promoting the certification process for biofeedback professionals internationally.

 

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Mental Illness is the new colonialism

02/09/2010

In the early 1990s, Dr. Sing Lee began to see mental illnesses behave the way they’re not supposed to.

 A practicing psychiatrist and researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lee was studying anorexia in China – where it displayed virtually none of the symptoms of the disease in the West.  His patients didn’t diet, or fear becoming fat:  instead, they said their stomachs felt constantly bloated.

 Then, in 1994, an anorexic teenage girl collapsed and died on a Hong Kong street.  The death caught big media attention, and the Chinese language newspapers and TV covered it.  They went to western experts to describe the illness, and naturally those experts quoted from the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, now in its fourth edition):  they said anorexia involves deliberate dieting and fear of obesity. 

 Almost immediately, people around Hong Kong began exhibiting those symptoms – symptoms that had never before existed in a Chinese country – instead of the symptoms of anorexia that Dr. Lee had previously seen.  Those symptoms had been indigenous to the culture, but not as well known – and almost overnight they disappeared to be replaced by the same “mental illness” made famous by American teenagers and celebrities.

 By the late 1990s, three in ten women in Hong Kong reported symptoms of an American style eating disorder.

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From health care to the environment, fixing complicated problems isn't impossible in America ... yet

02/09/2010

Citizens of all 50 states are reeling from the budget cuts caused by the financial crisis.  Our nation’s fiscal nightmare is literally breaking state governments.

Or is it the other way around?

In a penetrating article for Governing Magazine, author Rob Gurwitt puts forward evidence that we have it exactly backwards.  A budget crisis isn’t wrecking state governments;  state governments are so broken that it’s creating a perpetual budget crisis.
 
“The realization has started to dawn — and not just in the hardest-hit places — that fundamental assumptions about how state government operates need rewiring,” he writes.  “The little budget tricks that states have tended to rely on in order to keep the electorate happy have mostly run their course.”

But we don’t need mazagine articles to tell us that govenments, from state to federal, are having trouble turning the ship of state around. 

But is that even doable?  Some say no:  a recent Wall street Journal article said the reason President Obama’s attempt to reform health care is failing is that you literally can’t reform health care:  at 16% of the economy, it’s too big.  Can’t be done.  Government is simply too large to transform.  End of story. 

Gary Metcalf disagrees.  It can be done, and thre’s even reason to hope. 

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A totalitarian regime's enemy number 1: Human Science

02/09/2010

As Iranian civil society reels from the impact of illegitimate elections, the Chronicle of Higher Education noticed a fascinating, if disturbing, trend:  a disproportionate number of dissidents put on public trial have been students of the human sciences … and they have been forced to denounce their field.

“The number of social scientists in Iranian prisons has multiplied,” the Chronicle says (where the Iranians use the European term “Human Sciences,” the Chronicle prefers the Americanized – and more limited – “Social Sciences”).  Meanwhile, members of the regime’s senior leadership, including the “supreme ruler” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have publicly called for human science to be discussed only among trained elites … or not taught at all … lest ordinary people be encouraged to doubt the legitimacy of the theocratic government. 

The Chronicle quotes from the forced confession of Saeed Hajjarian, a leading advocate for reform and a political scientist by training:  “Theories of the human sciences contain ideological weapons that can be converted into strategies and tactics and mustered against the country’s official ideology.”

At Saybrook University, the only university in America to offer graduate degrees in Human Science, the response has been “absolutely right.”

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Shaping the University's response to the crisis in Haiti, students led the way

02/09/2010

 On February 2, Saybrook Interim President Bob Schmitt issued a statement expressing Saybrook’s solidarity with the people of Haiti and describing the steps that members of our community are taking to address their suffering. 

 At many institutions statements like these are drafted only at the highest levels, with the people they purport to represent not finding out about them until long after the fact.  In this case, however, the statement was conceived of by students, and a diverse spectrum of the community was instrumental in its development.

 The Haiti earthquake took place on January 12, just as students and faculty were beginning to travel to the Residential Conference of the Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies.  The idea of issuing a statement about  earthquake was first brought forward not in the boardroom, but in a classroom, by Janine Ray, a PhD student in Human Science with a concentration in Social Transformation.  She walked into the January 2010 Residential Conference intensive on Global Citizen Activism, Theory, and Research (co-sponsored by the Social Transformation Concentration and the Human Science degree program), knowing that she couldn’t pretend the earthquake hadn’t happened.

 “It turns out we were all feeling that way,” Ray says.  “We’re the Social Transformation concentration:  we all thought we should be doing something.”

 So the participants in the session began to ask themselves:  what realistically could be done? 

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Saybrook co-sponsors this month's ATP conference

02/09/2010

Saybrook University is proud to co-sponsor this month's Association of Transpersonal Psychology Conference, entitled "Spirituality In Action:  Bringing Transpersonal Psychology to a World in Crisis."

Held from Feb. 12 - 14 at Menlo College, in Atherton, CA, the conference features speakers including Charles Tart, Fred Luskin, Jenny Wade, Olga Louchakova, Ed Bruce Bynum, Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Dean Radin, and Donald Rothberg.

For more information call 650-424-8764,or email info@atpweb.org

 

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We've got a new plan for sustainability

02/09/2010

Sustainability means more than new technology to save the environment.  It’s about communities, about culture, about people making big changes and thriving as they adapt. 

While there are dozens of masters degree programs around the country that focus on sustainability as a business decision, or a new technological response, there’s no place to go to learn practical tools to tap into the human side of sustainability.

 No place except Saybrook.  The Organizational Systems masters degree specializing in sustainability leadership that’s offered by the Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies is a unique program that goes where other programs don’t:  it looks beyond new technology to address human systems, how people adapt effectively to change, and how organizations can creatively bring out the best in people.

 That program is now set to grow and expand, and has new co-directors who will focus on its development.

 Kathia Laszlo, a Saybrook human science alumna who co-founded the international think-tank Syntony Quest, is joined by new faculty member Erica Kohl-Arenas, who received her PhD in education from UC Berkeley and her MA in community development from UC Davis.  

 They say Saybrook’s MA in sustainability is poised to play an instrumental role in helping the world transition – in big ways and small – to new models of sustainable practice.

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