The Saybrook Forum



Studying "place" - and all its powers


Retreat Center Where you are can effect what you do.  We just don’t know why.

A University of Georgia study (PDF) of more than 10,000 fifth-graders in 71 elementary schools showed that students who could see gardens, mountains and other natural elements from their classrooms scored significantly higher on tests in vocabulary and math than students whose classrooms had views of roads and parking lots.

We just don’t know why.

According to a different study (PDF), students who have access to classrooms with more natural light advance 20 percent faster in math, and score 7 to 18 percent higher, than students with little daylight in their classes.

We’re just not sure why.

The nature of the places we work, live, and play have a significant impact on the way we go about our lives and what we want to accomplish.  So much so that international negotiator William Ury (author of Getting to Yes) deliberately chooses places that have histories of successful peace negotiations as the settings for mediations he leads.  He says it helps. 

In fact, there are many different occupations that work with “place” and “settings”:  architects, urban planners, farmers, eco-psychologists, to name just a few, and all of them have sets of evolving “best practices” about how to make places come alive for the people who live and work there. 

As Saybrook alumna Renee Levi discovered, each professional and academic field knows a great deal about the relationship between people and place, but they rarely have opportunities to share what they know and learn from each other.  

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Understanding "desire" - what do we really want?


Psyche in love As an analyst, James Hollis has had many clients struggling to come to terms with sexless marriages. 

If they were coming to him with trouble sleeping, or an eating disorder, or a drug habit, they’d have no trouble saying “I have a problem, how do I solve it?”  But in the case of an unfulfilling sex life, or a low libido, he says, they’re much more likely to ask “how do I come to terms with it?”

Writing the lead article in the Fall issue of the journal Parabola, Hollis calls this a “disorder of desire,” and points out that our ability to express and experience desire is a key element of mental health.  To be cut off from one’s own desire is to be cut off from one’s own life. 

 “While levels of desire vary from person to person,” he writes, “the absence or diminution of desire is psychologically and spiritually significant for it is desire which most expresses the life force.”

This is not a casual problem, or something to shrug off with a resigned “oh well.” 

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Time to RSVP for Saybrook University’s Inaugural Festivities


Saybrook logo Saybrook University’s 40th anniversary year will officially begin with the inauguration of Saybrook President Mark Schulman on Friday, January 14, 2011.

All Saybrook students, faculty, staff,trustees,  and alumni are invited to the inaugural ceremony, the luncheon immediately following, and the academic colloquium. .

Please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to join us with your RSVP here.

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Mind-Body Medicine dean James Gordon leads mental health delegation to Haiti


Saybrook logo In the last decade James Gordon, MD, has helped train thousands of healthcare providers from around the world to tend to the psychological damage of war and conflict.  He’s trained healthcare practiciones in Kosovo, Israel, and Palestine. 

In December Gordon, who directs The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and serves as Dean of Saybrook’s Graduate College of Mind-Body Medicine, led an international delegation with representatives from all of those places to Haiti. 

Together they are laying the foundation for Haiti’s first-ever nationwide program of primary mental healthcare. 

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Saybrook University names full professors


Appointments Recognize an Extraordinary Legacy of Accomplishment and Contribution Saybrook logoto a Broad Range of Disciplines



Mark Schulman, president of Saybrook University, announced this month the appointment of twelve faculty members to the rank of full professor. These appointments represent the first time that Saybrook University has chosen to bestow this rank, and recognizes the outstanding professional achievements of its senior faculty. 

These 12 faculty members represent an impressive record of scholarship, practice, and research in the fields of clinical psychology, creativity studies, humanistic and transpersonal psychology, human science, integrative health studies, organizational systems, and social transformation. Among the honors bestowed upon them are awards by national and international professional associations, foreign governments, and their peers. Many of these faculty have been honored by divisions of the American Psychological Association and have served as chairs of these divisions. All of them have presented and published extensively.

The Saybrook University colleges in which they teach and a brief summary of their professional backgrounds is provided below.

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Saybrook President Mark Schulamn interview with Natural Medicine


Saybrook logo Saybrook President Mark Schulman spoke this month with the journal National Medicine, recording an interview that covers everything from Saybrook’s history to how mind-body medicine is changing the medical paradigm.

If you’ve ever wondered about the connection between humanistic psychology and mind-body medicine, or wondered about how to tell the legitimate science of integrative health from the pseudoscience that often surrounds it, you’ll want to listen to this interview.


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Eugene Taylor to be given 2011 Abraham Maslow award


Eugene Taylor, PhD, Historian and Philosopher of Psychology, Saybrook Faculty Member, and Director of the Concentration in Humanisic and Transpersonal Psychology, has been honored by the Society for Humanisic Psychology (Division 32) within the American Psychological Association with the Abraham Maslow Award for 2011, given to an individual for an outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of the human spirit.  

Prof. Taylor will receive the award in August, at the 119th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington, DC. His address to the Division will be on "Self-Knowledge as a Legitimate Method in Experimental Psychology."

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Are antidepressants accomplices to school shootings?


Cho image 2 Do you know that the perpetrators of some of the most notorious school shootings in the world were on antidepressants?

No?  I din’t think so.  Most people don’t.  It doesn’t get talked about very often. 

But in fact Cho Seung Hui, the shooter in the Virginia Tech massacre in Blacksburg, Virginia was on antidepressant medications. He killed thirty three people and wounded countless others, before taking his own life.

Eric Harris, one of the shooters at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado was on antidepressant medications at the time of his shooting rampage with fellow classmate, Dylan Klebold.

Matti Juhani Saari, the shooter of ten at a Finnish College in Europe was on antidepressant medications at the time of his shooting spree when he later took his own life.

Kip Kinkel, the fifteen year old shooter at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, had been on anti-depressants in the weeks before his shooting spree that killed and injured nearly two dozen people.

So, what is the connection between anti-depressants and shooting sprees? Could antidepressantmedications be “accomplices” in some of the worlds most senseless and horrifying school shoot sprees. What are the implications and what is being done?

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You are not your brain


Brain_-_Lobes Where is your brain?

Well, of course it’s in your head.

Your mind is in the same place, right? Well, not so fast…

As a recent article in the New York Times asks, “Is it possible that, sometimes at least, some of the activity that enables us to be the thinking, knowing, agents that we are occurs outside the brain?”

The article isn’t claiming that your mind is a separate, immaterial, thing – but it does point out that according to the theory of “embodied cognition” or “the extended mind,” much of what makes up your mind actually happens outside your brain ... in your body.

If this is true then the mind, unlike the brain is really not all about neuroscience..neuroimages…and neurologists…after all.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why, despite the recent neurological advances, science still has great difficulty describing consciousness and cognition—some of the most vital activities in daily living.

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How insightful breakthroughs happen, and why


Lightning_animation_-_NOAA Think back to the last brilliant moment you had.  You know the one:  first you were racking your brain trying to figure out a solution to a difficult problem, and the next moment it was like a bolt of lightning hit, and suddenly you were a genius. 

Problem solved.

These wonderful “Aha” moments often happen when we least expect it and when we need them the most.

Researchers Sascha Topolinski from the University of Würzburg, Germany, and Rolf Reber from the University of Bergen, Norway have proposed a new hypothesis that could explain the phenomenology of the ‘Aha’ moment.

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