The Saybrook Forum



A year after Haiti's earthquake, here's what we've learned about trauma relief


Haiti earthquake picture January 12th will mark the year anniversary since the devastating earthquake in Haiti brought down its city, communities and people. Immediately after the earthquake, aid from all over the world rushed in to pull potential survivors from the rubble and to help with the physically and emotionally wounded. Medical response teams were usually followed by teams of mental health workers with the mission to ease psychological caused by the disaster.

There has been a good amount of recent research about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and disasters. But an article published in the December issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest offers another viewpoint: the field may be able to be far more effective if there is a shift in how mental health workers see their roles in helping after a disaster.

Researchers Bonanno, Brewin, Kaniasty and La Greca argue that the chaotic nature of disasters make it difficult to know what if any psychological affects people may suffer and what is the best way to help them recover. In order to gain perspective on what is being done for mental health in disaster relief, the researchers reviewed multiple research studies on disaster response they drew five conclusions:

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Is there a psychological treament for autism?


A parent’s worst nightmare can a diagnosis of Autism for their child.

Also known as ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder effects one out of every one hundred and ten children. ASD is characterized by an array of neurodevelopment disorders; which result in impaired social functioning, communication impediments, repetitious behaviors and overall restricted development.

The terrifying part? The number of children diagnosed with ASD is growing—some sixty percent between 2002 and 2006.

The growth in ASD cases has become a pandemic of sorts in families and the medical community. All are looking for answers—to both prevent and treat.

Without a clear and concise understanding of autism, its causes and triggers, psychiatry and the medical community as a whole are left with psychotropic medications—to treat the symptoms, not the causes—coupled with horrendous medication side effects.

Take Hope. Psychology is making so much headway that The Autism Research Institute purports that “Autism is Treatable.”

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Alumni Messenger

Saybrook Alumna Summer Watson, M.H.S., Ph.D. Seeking Employment in Camp Lejeune Area (Jacksonville, NC)

Saybrook Alumna Summer Watson, M.H.S., Ph.D. will be moving close to Camp Lejeune (Jacksonville, NC) in mid-Feb. She would like to speak with anyone regarding employment opportunities.... Thank you! Summer Watson, M.H.S., Ph.D. Phone: 760-213-1177 Website:</strong>

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Alumni Messenger

Announcing: 6th ANNUAL SPRING/SUMMER: Internship, Trainingship and Fellowship Programs in Applied Evidence-Based Sport Psychology

The American Board of Sport Psychology is pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of tuition-based positions in its 6th ANNUAL SPRING/SUMMER: Internship, Trainingship and Fellowship programs in Applied Evidence-Based Sport Psychology SEE: YOU TUBE: ABSP: Venue: New York City (activities throughout greater New York City area) Dates...

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Alumni Messenger

Call for Papers:

Call for Papers: Psychology Dear Researcher, Greetings from the Psychology (PSYCH), which is published by Scientific Research Publishing (SRP, USA. The Journal dedicates to the latest advancement of psychology and the goal is to keep a record of the state-of-the-art research and promote the research work in these fast moving areas. Topics: Cognitive Psychology...

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Ron Kurtz, who combined Buddhism and psychotherapy into a remarkable method, has died


Ron Kurtz picture We've lost a  scholar, visionary, hero and prominent psychologist.

Ron Kurtz, a revolutionary clinician, author and human, passed away Wednesday morning from a massive heart attack in Ashland, Oregon.

Kurtz, known for his work as a body-centered psychologist, developed what is known as the Hakomi method of psychotherapy. Congruent with humanism and existentialism, the Hakomi Method is often described by scholars as “applied Buddhist psychotherapy.” The method, developed from over forty years worth of clinical know-how, works by way of nonviolence, gentle mindfulness, honesty and openness within the psychological framework of the mind-body connection.

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What America can learn from Brazil about fighting poverty


US_states_by_poverty_rate_svg It may seem counter intuitive to give poor families money just for sending their kids to school,  keeping a full time job, and buying healthy foods.  But what if that’s what works?                    

Programs in the United States have long been providing financial assistance to families in the form of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Federal level food stamp programs, to name a few.  Some good has been done, but all too often the result has been a continuation of poverty and its many problems. 

Now New York is reviewing an approach with a better track record:  giving assistance to mothers who commit to keeping their kids in school and healthy. 

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The placebo strikes again! Here's how we can harness it for better medicine


Four Placebos The trouble with placebos is that they work.  They shouldn’t.

Placebos ... a harmless sugar pill given that patients are told it is an actual drug ... have a long track record of curing, healing, and improving the lives of patients.  Often a bigger track record than the actual drugs themselves. 

Placebos work.  They shouldn’t.  We don’t know why they do. 

We have a better idea, however, of how they don’t work. 

Much previous research with placebos was based on the idea of deception – that doctors were lying to patients to convince them that the placebo was a real drug. 

Recent research suggests that’s not the case. 

A team of leading placebo researchers from the Harvard Medical School’s Osher Research Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center looked at the effectiveness of placebos pills on patients who knew they were taking placebos. The study was published in the December 22 issue of PLoS ONE.

It turns out that letting patients in on the “secret” had very little impact on the effectiveness of the placebo. 

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Pretending to be happy makes other people miserable


466px-Depression-loss_of_loved_one When you’re having a lousy day and someone asks “How are you?” ... what do you do?

If you’re like most people, you lie.  You decide that the truth won’t go over well and push down your negative emotions. 

But just because it’s common doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.  What does publicly denying our unhappiness do to our well being, and what effect does it have on others?

Researchers from the University of California Berkeley, Stanford University, and Syracuse University recently answered those questions in a study called “Misery Has More Company Than People Think: Underestimating the Prevalence of Others’ Negative Emotions”

Their conclusion:  People think that others are happy even when they may not be. Believing that others are happier than them can lead to rumination, loneliness and feeling less satisfied with life.

In other words, we’ve got to stop doing this.  Sure, sometimes it’s not appropriate to say “I’m miserable, actually” – but when we put on a happy face, people believe us, and it causes problems.

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2011 is the year to fight psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry for your mind


DelacroixTasso According to epidemiologists 30% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness in 2011. That’s disturbing enough, but this is also the year when the definition of what a so-called “mental illness” is could change.  You could be mentally ill right now - and if the pharmaceutical companies get their way, you certainly will be.

The DSM-5, the very newest “Bible of psychiatry” is scheduled to come out, and as the publication date nears the battle is raging. 

Accoding to many critics, the DSM-5 will go out of its way to make many of the ordinary issues of life "treateable" by expensive medication.  They won't make your life any better, but they will pump you full of drugs.  Allen Frances, lead editor of the DSM-4, calls what’s happening now a “hoax.”  If it is, it will have a drastic impact on that 30% of Americans who get diagnosed – along with their families, friends, and loved ones. 

So, lets look at some of the hard and fast facts on this elusive and tenuous publication – and then examine why so many psychologists think the new DSM will give drug companies a license to medicate everyone for anything:

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