The Saybrook Forum



The search for meaning is NOT a mental illness!


Something is wrong in the world of psychiatry. DSM 4

It’s not just that the new edition of the medical profession’s Bible, the DSM 5, was originally due to be released in 2012, but has now been delayed to 2013. 

It’s that the whole reason a new DSM is deemed necessary is that we’ve made recent advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and brain imagining.  You CAN’T have a diagnostic manual that doesn’t represent brain imaging! 

The trouble with this rational is:  there is not a single biological test that will be included in the diagnostic criteria sets of the DSM-V. So we need a manual about mental illness that includes our knowledge of biology and neuroscience, but we’re not actually going to include these things in the final result.

It seems the methodology of the psychiatric Bible is not as seamless as its proponents would like us to believe.

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Do parents know that antibiotics for kids sometimes do more harm than good?


The last thing parents want to see is their child in pain – and the pain and discomfort of an ear infection is a time of sadness, sleeplessness nights and worry for everyone.  But it is possible to make a bad thing worse. 

Most of the time, the parents’ immediate response is to see a physician who will then make the make their own “immediate” decision for treatment – usually antibiotics.  For many years the first line of treatment for ear infections in children has been a full regimen of pills for 7-14 days. Children usually get better, but at what cost?  

A recent research study published in the November 17th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) explores the cost/benefit of using this traditional treatment method, and what the researchers found reinforced previous studies on antibiotic use for treating ear infections:  don’t do it.

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Your energy drink is not a revolution


569px-TNT_LIquid_Dynamite Red Bull…Energy Star…Starbucks Shots…o yes and in a bind--don’t forget Five Hour Energy. Welcome to American Society. Do more, with less and do it better! It seems plausible that in the near future, some pharmaceutical company or corporation will find a way to give caffeine by IV ... FDA approved, of course!

There’s one hitch:  recently the food gurus in the Food and Drug Administration are clipping the wings of energy drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine.  This is none too soon.

While promoted for their beneficial aspects, many such energy drinks are said to cause severe health concerns, including sudden death (yikes!), unexpected illness, and conditions that mirror heart attacks. Medical officials have spoken out about the dangerous effects of the drink saying that the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, keeping the consumer from adequately gauging their blood alcohol level while providing increased energy to continue alcohol consumption. Additionally, no studies have yet adequately measured what amounts of these drinks should be considered safe or dangerous.

The New York Times suggests that after a year of study the FDA is likely to decide the fate of such energy/alcohol drinks in the coming week, perhaps as early as Wednesday. If the FDA finds the drinks are dangerous, expect a challenge.  The most popular alcoholic energy drink, Four Loko, has reported sales of over $144 million each year. 

Is this really all about energy and focused attention, or is it about mood enhancement? 

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Guided imaging comes out of the wilderness


Alaska_locator Complementary medicine has taken some big steps in America’s biggest state. 

A program of guided imagery for those who have undergone cancer treatments will be utilized at Alaska Regional Hospital – and the State of Alaska’s insurance carrier, Wells Fargo Alaska Care, will pay for state employees and retirees to go through it. 

The Commissioner of Administration for Alaska, Annette Kreitzer, has also asked Lyn Freeman, the Saybrook alumna who created and runs the guided imagery program, to develop similar mind-body based programs for state employees and retirees with hypertension, diabetes, and stress. 

Much to Freeman’s surprise it’s being most embraced by oncologists, who have reputations as the most by-the-book, no nonsense doctors there are.

“I’d been expecting resistance,” says Freeman. “But in fact most oncologists I talked to said ‘it’s about time.’”

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Tweet 911!!!


Fire emergency vehicle Sometimes the hardest part of an emergency is knowing where to turn. When something goes wrong, what do you do? Calling “911” is an option that most of us know by rote, and it’s a great choice – help is often just a phone call away.

But the 911 system, like most of our Emergency Management (EM) systems, was designed for the analog age, and according to a recent article in governing magazine, emergency services organizations around the country are asking if the social networking tools of the digital age might set the next standard for emergency communication in the 21st century.

According to the article:

It's been almost a decade since 9/11, but our multi-billion-dollar efforts to improve public safety departments' communication have yielded very few results. In fact, during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina relief work, some emergency personnel had to resort to communicating by running handwritten notes back and forth. While the feds continue to try and figure out a way to utilize public safety radio for emergencies, some states and localities have come up with solutions of their own.

Saybrook Organizational Systems alumnus David Williams, PhD is a leading consultant to emergency service organizations and health care systems around the globe. He was also responsible for publishing the leading comparative data survey of the nation’s largest EMS services, and helped design and develop the national EMS conference for operational leaders.

From this vantage point, Williams says that what’s most noticeable about social media and is not that it’s replacing traditional forms of EMS service …. you still want to call 911 … but how effectively it’s doing what social media is supposed to do:  better connecting one group of people, like emergency service providers, with the people they want to stay in touch with ... the public and their patients.

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Saybrook introduces certificate program in Existential-Humanistic therapy


Saybrook University was founded on the premise that the human element is crucial to human Saybrook logo interactions ... like therapy.  The therapeutic encounter is at its best when the therapist and patient have a strong and vital connection, and weakest when it reduces the patient's humanity to a check-list of symptoms. 

Mainstream therapy may finally be catching up.  In a review for the APA of Saybrook alumnus and faculty member Kirk Schneider's recent book Existential-Integrative Therapy, leading researcher Bruce Wampold noted that:  

“an understanding of the principles of existential therapy is needed by all therapists, as it adds a perspective that might …form the basis for all effective treatments” (PsycCritiques, February 6, 2008, p.6).

Wampold’s findings along with others place E-H therapy squarely at the center of psychological theory and practice. Now Saybrook, long the leader in humanistic graduate programs, is partnering with the Existential Humanistic Institute, EHI, to offer a new and unprecedented certificate program in existential-humanistic therapy. 

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LIOS alumna directs documentary on gender roles in suburbia


Local film award Put This On The (Map) is a new documentary training film that features 26 young people from East King County re-teaching traditional notions of gender and sexuality. The film was co-produced/directed by Megan Kennedy (LIOS 2004) and Sid Jordan Peterson (University of Victoria - 2004). Kennedy is the Outreach Supervisor at Youth Eastside Services where she provides individual and group counseling for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning youth. Peterson was the Director of the Kirkland Teen Union Building in 2008, when Kennedy and Peterson embarked collaboratively on their mission to create a local community where all people have the opportunity of success regardless of their sexuality and gender.

Put This On The (Map) documents young people who challenge their suburban community to do more than sweep their existence under the rug. Fed up with a lack of queer visibility, youth provide an honest evaluation of their schools and families. Professing expertise over their own lives - from getting beat-up in a schoolyard to being picked up as a runaway - we learn that queer youth in the suburbs exercise courage daily.

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Alumni Messenger

Save the Date, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011: Saybrook's 40th Anniversary Celebration and Presidential Inauguration

Save the Date, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011: Saybrook University's 40th Anniversary Celebration and Presidential Inauguration Click Here to See the Save the Date Announcement:

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WARNING: daydreaming may be hazardous to your (mental) health


Uel_de_Cervantes_-_Don_Quixote_-_Part_1_-_Chapter_1_-_Plate_1_%22A_world_of_disorderly_notions%2C_picked_out_of_his_books%2C_crowded_into_his_imagination%22 Do you suddenly find yourself thinking about that argument you had last night or dreaming about leaving your job to live in Belize?

We think of daydreaming as a pleasant pastime, but research suggests that letting your mind wander may actually be a downer.  According to Harvard researchers Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, bringing your mind back to the present moment will make you happier. 

Killingsworth and Gilbert’s research method was novel:  they reached out to participants via a digital application that was accessible online at and an Iphone app, getting about 5,000 research subjects involved. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 88 years and represented diverse income and occupational backgrounds. About 70 percent of the participants were Americans.

The project was simple but revealing. At random times during the day the app would chime in and ask three questions:

  • How do you feel right now? Participants could then respond on a scale ranging from very bad to very good.
  • What are you doing? Participants could select from a list of 22 different activities, such as exercising, making love, sleeping etc.
  • Are you thinking about something other than what you are doing at the moment? They could answer either no or yes and if what they were thinking about was pleasant, neutral or unpleasant.

Overall 46.9 percent respondents reported they were basically daydreaming! 

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Sometimes the annoying hipster parents are right


Baby in sling White picket fences….suburban windy roads…..and two Pamper smelling Gerber babies;  add two parents and you have a family of four. Mom stays at home, practices attachment parenting and Dad leaves at eight each morning in his suit and returns promptly at five. Welcome to the modern idealized family:  a figment of the imagination.

An estimated six-percent of families in the United States come from two parent single income households.  Yet this is held as the gold standard for raising healthy, competent, and successful children. If, God forbid, a child struggles during his teenage years, poor mom’s “choice” to work is blamed.

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the illusions inherent in the idealized version of the modern family. Poignantly coining the term Motherphillia, the article speaks to the delusion of motherhood and family life displayed on television, in the tabloids, and in society’s psyche. For all we think family life should be like a 21st century version of Ozzie and Harriet, the demands on mothers and fathers only seem to be growing, with the latest hip expectations of cloth diapers, homemade baby foods, and – the newest fad – attachment parenting.

Actually, though, that last one may not be so bad.  Attachment parenting is new, but its roots go deep into efective, and humanistic, approaches to parenting.    

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