The Riggs Blog

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.

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    Eric M. Plakun, MD, DLFAPA, FACPsych, Associate Medical Director and Director of Admissions

    A Commentary by Toronto based historian of psychiatry, Edward Shorter, PhD has just been published in Psychiatric Times. Dr. Shorter’s provocative comments often but not always miss the mark, but nowhere are they more offensive, misinformed and misguided than in his attack on the biopsychosocial model and on psychoanalysis, which he compares to witchcraft. He asserts that the mental health system would benefit if both of these were dropped.

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    Mariel Hemingway

    There is an important and necessary conversation happening about mental illness in the US and around the world. We are talking about mental illness and suicide more than we have in the past, studying it more than we have in the past and, in some senses, understanding it more than we have in the past. And it is not just researchers or psychologists and psychiatrists who are talking. 

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    Therapeutic Relationship

    All patients begin in an evaluation and treatment phase for the first six weeks of their treatment at a residential or hospital level of care. This time is used to better understand whatever brings them to the Austen Riggs Center.

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    Community meeting

    It may be hard to imagine patients having a say in the way a hospital is run – not just an opinion about the care they received, but a real partnership with staff in engaging a range of clinical and administrative issues.  Yet this is just what happens at Riggs, where the core of the clinical program is the recognition that patients come with significant strengths as well as difficulties, and that the exercise of these strengths is as important for the patient’s prognosis as it is for the community’s daily life.  

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    Baby laughing

    The Erikson Institute for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center along with the Yale Child Study Center are jointly sponsoring an Infant & Family Mental Health Training Program. The first session will be held at the Austen Riggs Center Friday through Sunday, April 10-12, 2015, with the second session to follow, November 6-8, 2015.

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    Infographic: suicide statistics

    Mental health advocate Mariel Hemingway is coming to Berkshire County to speak about suicide, stigma and mental health and to show the documentary film Running From Crazy. The event will take place on March 28, from 2:00 to 5:00pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. 

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    Austen Riggs library

    The Austen Fox Riggs Library houses a vital and robust collection of literature, journals and history related to psychoanalytic thought, practice and research. It is available as a resource to Riggs staff and mental health professionals. Through a recent acquisition, an exploration of online cataloging and the utilization of the Work Program at Riggs, the library continues to grow and evolve to better meet the needs of library users and also to provide a space where patients can learn and develop skills.

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    Psychotherapy

    It is harmful to leave bipolar disorder untreated. Not only are there the acute risks of untreated mania (interpersonal chaos, financial and occupational problems, health consequences, and the risk of suicide), but there is also evidence that each manic episode increases the likelihood of successive manic episodes, leading to a long-term worsening of the illness. Optimal treatment of bipolar disorder most often involves certain lifestyle changes, consistent use of mood-stabilizing medications, and psychotherapy.

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    Austen Riggs Online CME/CE courses

    We are pleased to announce an online continuing education platform, available on our website, where psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers can obtain continuing medical education/continuing education credit.  If you are not a member of one of these guilds, you are still welcome to take any of the course offerings.

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    Psychiatric testing

    Treatment of bipolar disorder begins with careful diagnosis. Because bipolar disorder frequently presents first with depression, or because patients with manic or hypomanic states frequently do not recognize themselves as having a problem, accurate diagnosis is frequently delayed. Though historically under-diagnosed, recent research suggests that bipolar disorder is currently over-diagnosed almost half of the time. There are no laboratory tests for bipolar disorder. Diagnosis is made by a detailed appraisal of symptoms and of family history, and by ruling out other conditions that present in similar ways.

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