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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    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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    Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 poster

    Accepting an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 87th Academy Awards,  for their film, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Ellen Goosenberg Kent (director) and Dana Perry (producer) highlight how important awareness and discussion about suicide are in helping counter associated stigma and loss.  After receiving the Oscar on Sunday night for their HBO documentary detailing the emotional strain faced by trained hotline responders as they work to provide support and intervention for troubled veterans calling the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 24- hour call center, Ms. Perry states, "We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying to sweep it under the rug."

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    Bipolar disorder

    Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is a serious mood disorder characterized by wide swings in mood, energy and activity levels.  Though most patients with bipolar disorder experience depressions as a part of their illness, a manic, hypomanic, or mixed-manic episode is required to make the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. 

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    Austen Riggs Center

    Austen Riggs held a blog competition among staff members where we asked them to answer the question: “What does the open setting mean to you?” Elizabeth Weinberg, MD, Staff Psychiatrist, wrote the blog entry below. 

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    Therapeutic Community Program Manager at the Austen Riggs Center, Cornelia Kalisher, LSW

    In this six-part series exploring trauma, we will present excerpts from a longer interview with E. Virginia Demos, EdD, a member of the clinical staff at the Austen Riggs Center and an authority on trauma. At the end of the series, we will make the interview, in its entirety, available in our Resource Center. 

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    Building a relationship

    Over the last two decades, there have been considerable pressures across American mental health care, to close and lock psychiatric facilities.  This has been driven by reimbursement models that hold hospital treatment to be unnecessary, unless the patient requires incarceration.  Further pressure to close treatment settings derive from a litigious culture which promotes a defensive practice of medicine.  In the face of these pressures, however, we at Riggs have maintained the highest commitment to the preservation of a completely open setting.  Why take these risks?

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    Consultation

    The final stage is a very cautious, slow, opening up of hope for something different, namely to come out of hiding, and trusting that maybe, just maybe they can be safe in the world beyond the therapy. That can be a terrifying moment, because they have spent years protecting themselves, by not allowing themselves to hope for something, or to trust someone in an intimate relationship.

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