Early this month the U.S. Department of Defense made a momentous decision: soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are not entitled to receive Purple Hearts.
That the DOD even reviewed the proposal shows how far acceptance of PTSD as a psychologically real – and devastating – condition has come.
Saybrook Psychology faculty member Stanley Krippner, author of “Haunted by Combat,” says that however good the idea, it was unrealistic to expect the military to extend the Purple Heart to PTSD victims.
“There is no question that PTSD victims can be as badly affected by enemy actions as personnel wounded by weapons or bombs. But that is not the issue,” Krippner said. To decide that a psychological wound meets a criterion set up for physical wounds is to think metaphorically. “But the military is not given to using metaphors when it comes to following regulations.”
Daniel Pitchford, a Saybrook student who works with veterans suffering from traumatic stress, still disagrees strongly with the decision.
Sometimes history happens – and nobody notices.
Two weeks ago the governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota challenged 200 years of precedent by announcing that, to cope with the financial crisis, they are directing their states to look for ways to share and consolidate services with each other.
It is virtually unheard of in the American system for states to look for ways to share services without a federal mandate. Also extraordinary is the fact that Wisconsin’s governor, Jim Doyle, is a Democrat while Minnesota’s governor, Tim Pawlenty, is a Republican – meaning that the effort crosses party lines.
Some of the services they’re looking at sharing, like pooling prison food and road salt purchases, or consolidating, like call centers and licensing functions, are so simple as to be almost no-brainers … but no two states have ever attempted this before.
What’s so exciting, says Nancy Southern, director of Saybrook’s Organizational Systems program, is that this is more than just a way to help weather a national crisis: it’s a first step in thinking about how the entire country functions.
Academia may not have a future, according to Stanley Fish.
Fish, a distinguished academic and New York Times blogger, wrote an article last week that landed like a bomb in every faculty lounge in America.
Soon, Fish said, there will no longer be a place for teachers who want to enliven their students’ minds rather than cramming them full of job-related skills.
We all know that American academia has become dominated by big money, big corporate partnerships, and an assembly-line mentality that treats students as “customers” rather than agents of learning. But we’ve all assumed this was an aberration – and that at some point we’d right this ship of fools.
But Fish, reviewing the book The Last Professor by Frank Donoghue, says those days are never coming back: the academy, as a place to nurture the mind, is dying out and won’t return.
The scene shocked the world. On New Year’s day, a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer shot and killed an unarmed black man who was, according to videos, already on the ground and being restrained.
There was an outcry of outrage across the Bay Area: in Oakland, San Francisco, and other cities groups of protestors jammed the streets and destroyed businesses, cars, and property belonging to people who had nothing to do with the tragedy.
The officer has since been charged with murder, but the question still looms large for residents, often poor and black themselves, who suffered at the hands of demonstrators: why did they do that? And what, exactly, did they want?
Certainly they wanted Oscar Grant’s killer to be charged with murder, but there were a shopping list of other demands ranging from more training of BART police to the immediate end to racism and an Israeli pullout from Gaza.
How does that make sense, observers wondered? Even if people agreed with the protestors, how could they possibly give them what they wanted?
Saybrook faculty member Benina Gould, who has studied the causes of conflict around the world, suggests that the question arises because the protestors themselves don’t fully know – at least not on a conscious level.
As the first class of LIOS/Saybrook students – 41 in all – is getting to work learning how to change the world, the opportunities of each institution are now being presented to each other.
LIOS, which offers Master’s degrees, is reporting a strong interest among its students in Saybrook’s PhD programs, while Saybrook has now added LIOS’ degree in Systems Counseling to its roster of Psychology programs, and its degree in Organization to its Organizational Systems program.
There were any number of practical reasons for the two organizations to come together –LIOS needed a new accrediting affiliation, Saybrook had just begun planning a full university structure – but what really made the connection possible, and the implementation so smooth, are deeply held, deeply compatible, philosophical visions not shared by every graduate school. In fact, as LIOS president Shelly Drogin noted recently in Linkage, the LIOS newsletter, Saybrook was one of LIOS’ first choices for affiliation the last time it needed one, in the 1980s. The fact that this time, LIOS was looking for affiliation at the same time that Saybrook was expanding to a university was, as Drogin calls it, “synchronicity at play.”
Too often, discussions that the world should be having take place only in the classroom.
As part of its mission to both foster community and reach out to the world around it, Saybrook is pleased to announce a new series, “Saybrook Dialogues,” beginning in March.
Held at Saybrook’s San Francisco offices, the first dialogues in the series will focus on the topic of “Leadership, Wisdom, and Making a Difference.”
Organizer Marc Lesser, the founder and president of coaching and facilitation company ZBA Associates and the former director of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, will focus the conversations on making meaning of our personal and professional lives during uncertain and challenging times.
The Saybrook Dialogues are free, but a $25 donation is requested from those who can give. More information will be forthcoming. To RSVP please contact Terry Hopper at: 415-394-5220.
The Saybrook Forum represents an initiative designed specifically to enhance communication among the constituents of our community. Our dispersed environment presents several challenges to sustaining community and the spirit of this newsletter – as is the case with the several programmatic newsletters already in publication -- is to support a more cohesive and coherent Saybrook.
You will be receiving this communication on a regular basis – every other week to start. In it you will be able to read about developments at Saybrook in a variety of areas – student and alumni achievement, faculty publications, lectures, accomplishments, strategic planning development, events and public programs, etc. I also hope the newsletter will be a forum for exploration of issues and world events pertinent to graduate education in the disciplines we teach, thoughts on pressing issues in our various fields of study and research, editorials on institutional challenges and issues, creative writing, and so forth. We can make this newsletter whatever we want it to be, from a forum that publishes abstracts of (and links to) substantive essays to routine announcements of events and personnel developments -- and everything in between. It will be exciting, to be sure, to witness its evolution.
There’s good news for San Franciscans who are sick or injured – ambulance response times have increased noticeably after years of effort.
But it could have been great news.
That’s according to David Williams, a Saybrook PhD student in Organizational Systems, who is one of the nation’s leading experts in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system. A consultant with Fitch & Associates, he works with communities to assess their emergency systems and advises them on improvements. He is also the research and author of two of the industry’s leading studies of operational and workplace practices and helped develop the leading EMS Leadership Forum called “Pinnacle.”
While stressing that he has not independently reviewed San Francisco’s EMS system, Williams says media reports indicate there’s still room for improvement – and that a more systemic, patient-centered, approach could be the answer in SF and across the country.
What do you hate about yourself? What is it about your personality that makes you squirm?
And what does that mean?
According to James Hollis, one of the America’s leading Jungian psychologists, distrusting and disliking something about yourself is a fundamental part of the human experience: but one that we rarely understand.
Hollis will be in the Bay Area on Saturday, January 17, giving a public presentation about what legendary psychologist Carl Jung called “the Shadow” – the energies, motives, and agendas in every person which operate outside of our conscious control and are sometimes contrary to our professed values.
Homosexuality used to be a mental disorder. Shyness still is. So is not being shy.
The Diagnostics and Statistical Manual - the "Bible of Mental Illness" consulted by psychiatrists - is no stranger to controversy. What gets classified as a mental illness differs every decade, and impacts millions of lives.
But a new kind of controversy is surrounding the newest version of the DSM - before it's even been written. A group of prominent psychiatrists, including previous DSM authors, are saying that the new edition is being written under a cloud of secrecy - which is unscientific, inadvisable, and possibly immoral.
Without full disclosure of who's writing what, and why, they say, everything from personal prejudice to conflicts of interest could be codified as "best practice."
"(T)his unprecedented attempt to revise DSM in secrecy indicates a failure to understand that revising a diagnostic manual—as a scientific process—benefits from the very exchange of information that is prohibited by the confidentiality agreement," wrote Dr. Robert Spitzer, who chaired the writing of the DSM II in 1980, in a letter to his colleagues.