The Riggs Blog
The Riggs Blog is a mix of news about clinical work, research and educational activities from the Austen Riggs Center, as well as a source for information beyond our walls that we find interesting and thought-provoking.
Dame Gillian Lynne is Broadway Royalty. She choreographed Cats and Phantom of the Opera, and at 88 is still dancing, but the story of the start of her career, told on NPR in a story on Weekend Edition Saturday, is a cautionary tale about the danger of viewing problems in psychiatry through the lens of vulnerability rather than plasticity. By the time Gillian was 7, her mother and her teachers were at their wits end with little “wriggle bottom,” who could not sit still and had no attention span.
The Austen Riggs Center has a long history of treating patients who have tried and failed to respond to previous treatment efforts. Early on, Riggs clinicians recognized the importance of so-called “treatment resistant” psychiatric disorders and their associated societal, financial and personal burdens – including death by suicide.
It has been a year since the last National Suicide Prevention week, a year in which, according to the American Association of Suicidology, an estimated one million more individuals worldwide have taken their own lives.
We focus on the whole person, including the trauma. “We try to learn from a person’s relationships—past and present. We try to understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that come up in relationships, some of which otherwise might sabotage treatment,” she says. People with complex trauma histories often become reactive to relationships in ways they don’t understand. We try to help them understand and organize themselves so they can stay in treatment and approach their trauma in a safe way.