There are a lot of things Alison Shapiro never thought she’d be, starting with “stroke survivor.”
But after she had two strokes in 24 hours, she found she had the tools to recover fully – and that changed her life. Since then she’s become many other things she’d never expected: an author, a leader in the movement to help others understand their own power to heal, and now a blogger for Psychology Today.
The name of her blog, “Healing into Possibility” is also the name of her book, and Alison – who is the chair of Saybrook’s Board of Trustees – was offered the blog after a Psychology Today editor received a copy of the work. It chronicles the lessons Alison learned about the power of intention to transform a life in crisis.
By being present, by focusing on the current moment, by being engaged in your struggles rather than going on auto-pilot, we are capable of tremendous acts of healing and recovery. Her book covers just how the process can work – and her blog will expand that idea in new ways.
The newly combined Saybrook University welcomes its first incoming class this fall, 2009, and a robust new student enrollment of between 170 - 175 is anticipated. This total - the combined total fall '09 enrollment for all colleges - represents significant growth over enrollment for fall 2008.
The exact total has yet to be determined, since several new students were in the process of making final enrollment decisions as of the time the figures were developed, and won’t officially be counted until they have completed the process. Final enrollment figures for LIOS Graduate College, whose programs start at the end of September, are also still being tabulated.
“Ultimately, Saybrook’s new enrollment goals were realized by offering diverse, multi-disciplinary programs, building upon our existing programs that provide both personal and career opportunities, and promoting new programs that complement our humanistic missions and core values," said Annie McGeady, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management and Admissions. "Our faculty members have been central in this development, and we’re realizing that positive impact”.
It’s official: On August 5, 2009, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the federally recognized accrediting association for public and private schools and colleges California, officially approved Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program, allowing it to offer MS and PhD degrees that will be recognized anywhere in the U.S., and likely the world.
With this approval, Saybrook is making a substantial contribution to the training of healthcare professionals in what James Gordon, MD, the College’s Dean, calls the “new medicine,” that recognizes the role of mind and body in healing.
The program will be headed by Dr. Gordon, a Harvard educated psychiatrist and a world renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety, and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and recently served as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. He also served as the first Chair of the Program Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine and is a former member of the Cancer Advisory Panel on Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health.
For more information, visit the Saybrook homepage for Mind-Body Medicine.
In a major move away from paper and towards instant access to information, Saybrook has released its fall 2009 university catalog this month – online.
Only new students will receive a print copy of the catalog: returning students can peruse the new content in its digital, searchable, form on the Saybrook website. Additionally, by making the digital catalog the “primary” catalog, new policies and procedures can be updated in real time.
Whatever form they prefer, however, students should familiarize themselves with the catalog – as the rules and policies it outlines serve as a kind of contract between the university and its students.
To see the new catalog, click here.
Recently Robert Faris, research director at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, made a distressing prediction to the National Endowment for Democracy: international diplomacy is going to get harder than it used to be.
The reason? Not terrorism (though sure) or fighting over increasingly scarce resources (though yet): but rather, social media like Facebook.
As more people in different countries get on social media, Faris said, more people in different countries talk directly to each other, and this virtual citizen diplomacy makes it very difficult for diplomats to control the conversation.
"The role of diplomacy given social media is going to be more complicated than it used to be," Faris said.
Nor are diplomats the only ones trying to figure the implications of the new technology out. Gail Ervin, a Saybrook PhD student in Human Science who works as an environmental mediator, says that “at this point, most mediators are just learning the basics of social media, and we are far from experiencing the promise of it regarding reducing conflicts.”
“I think we are at the dawn of a grand global experiment regarding these questions,” Ervin added, “and there are only inquiries at this point, no answers.”
However, according to Joel Federman, who directs Saybrook’s concentration in Social Transformation, there is reason for optimism. More people talking to each other directly means more people reacting to actual human beings, instead of crude stereotypes and propaganda. Diplomacy might get harder, but more human relationships across borders means it might get better.
Let’s admit it: we’ve all had some really bad impulses.
Shouting at a lecturer, running in traffic, stealing an inadvisable kiss … who hasn’t had a sudden, mad, urge to do the unthinkable?
It’s a basic fact of human life, and once again evolutionary psychology is claiming to have explained it. Turns out, it’s a survival mechanism. Who would have guessed?
In a recent paper published in Science, Harvard researches say these urges are “ironic processes of control” that help us tame our anti-social impulses.
“These monitoring processes keep us watchful for errors of thought, speech, and action and enable us to avoid the worst thing in most situations,” the authors write.
In a post on the New York Times’ “Mind” blog, author Benedict Carey expanded on the idea that these self-destructive impulses evolved as a way of helping us manage our anti-social tendencies.
Perverse impulses seem to arise when people focus intensely on avoiding specific errors or taboos. The theory is straightforward: to avoid blurting out that a colleague is a raging hypocrite, the brain must first imagine just that; the very presence of that catastrophic insult, in turn, increases the odds that the brain will spit it out.
“We know that what’s accessible in our minds can exert an influence on judgment and behavior simply because it’s there, it’s floating on the surface of consciousness,” said Jamie Arndt, a psychologist at the University of Missouri.
So there you go, question answered, problem solved, right?
Maybe – unless you actually want to actually understand what’s going on in your mind, with your thoughts, and your impulses. Then this theory has absolutely nothing to tell you.
In fact, says Saybrook faculty member Kirk Schneider, it’s a classic example of what Rollo May, in his book Psychology and the Human Dilemma, called "turning mountains into mole hills."
Don Moss, Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program director, has been elected President of Division 30 of the American Psychological Association for the term of 2010 – 2011.
Division 30 is the Society of Psychological Hypnosis.
The election is one more example of Saybrook’s long leadership in the American Psychological Association’s divisions as well as in the field of mind-body medicine and hypnosis.
The current President of Division 30 is Saybrook faculty member Eric Willmarth, whose term expires in 2010. Willmarth also received the American Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis’ Presidential Recognition Award this year.
From spiritual questions to daunting medical challenges: alumni scholarship support student research07/28/2009
Saybrook PhD student Erica Hamilton wants to create a multi-dimensional model for addressing a painful women’s medical condition. PhD student Les Ernst wants to interview spiritual directors across the U.S. to study how they teach people to discern an authentic spiritual experience.
Both of them will be able to complete these ambitious dissertations, thanks to support from the Saybrook Alumni Association.
This month the Alumni Association named Ernst and Hamilton its 2009 scholarship winners.
The $8,000 scholarships, begun last year, are awarded annually to two PhD students, in any Saybrook program, who have completed their coursework and are looking for funding to help complete their dissertation.
Saybrook Alumni Director George Aiken says there were nearly 20 essay and candidacy level doctoral students who applied, and that all of them were highly qualified.
If the scientific establishment didn’t have ADHD, this is the sort of thing they would be paying attention to: a long-term study recently completed by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) showed that there are few-to-no long term benefits for treating children with ADHD with Ritalin.
According to the NIMH report:
The eight-year follow-up revealed no differences in symptoms or functioning among the youths assigned to the different treatment groups as children. This result suggests that the type or intensity of a one-year treatment for ADHD in childhood does not predict future functioning.
A majority (61.5 percent) of the children who were medicated at the end of the 14-month trial had stopped taking medication by the eight-year follow-up, suggesting that medication treatment may lose appeal with families over time. The reasons for this decline are under investigation, but they nevertheless signal the need for alternative treatments.
And, perhaps most importantly:
Children who were no longer taking medication at the eight-year follow-up were generally functioning as well as children who were still medicated.
These are the kind of results that humanistic psychologists have been predicting for some time, and humanistic psychology can be excused an exasperated sigh when it reads that the NIMH now thinks that the actual symptoms of individual children might be the most important factor they present with, as noted below:
The researchers also speculate that a child’s initial clinical presentation, including ADHD symptom severity, behavior problems, social skills and family resources, may predict how they will function as teens more so than the type of treatment they received.
For a generation of new college graduates, the future is not what they expected.
It had seemed so easy: get a BA, go get a job at an investment bank or a big company, make lots of money and the rest would take care of itself.
But “the rest” didn’t take care of itself – and as industry after industry has been roiled by social and technological change, there is an increasing drumbeat that “there has to be a better way” to handle work. “The future of work” is big news in the media, even a Time Magazine cover story last week.
Meanwhile, the easy future is no longer an option. According to a terrifying report from ABC News, only 20% of new BA’s are finding a full-time job right after college. As these students try to piece together a healthy economic life with the tools they have, they are the unwilling vanguard into the new economy.
But what will the future of work look like? What trends will be most important, what skills will be valued, and what will a “day at the office” look like?
Kathia Laszlo, a Saybrook faculty member in Organizational Systems, says that much of the current chaos in the economy comes from the fact that “We have created an artificial separation between work, learning and life.”