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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    In admissions we are often asked by referrers, prospective patients and their families what the “waiting list” for admission to Riggs is all about, so it occurred to me it might make sense to explain what it is in a blog post.

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    One of the hidden problems of poverty is diaper need. Earlier this month, the Erikson Institute and the Berkshire Psychoanalytic Institute sponsored a talk detailing the need for diapers. This video features Megan V. Smith, DrPH. of the Yale Department of Psychiatry, Child Study, and Public Health at the Yale University School of Medicine.

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    Margaret Parish, PhD, director of patient care at the Austen Riggs Center, discusses the role of psychotherapy in treatment.

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    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.

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    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. 

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    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. 

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    This Saturday, 9/6, from 9:30 to 11:00, The Austen Riggs Center will be hosting a CME/CEU talk by Megan V. Smith, Dr.PH, on "Diaper Need and its Impact on Families."

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    “He would remember feeling how impossible it was. He would remember the heat, the voltage in his arms and wrists. Why? He thought, but he didn’t know. All he knew was fury.”

    - Lake in the Woods, by Tim O’Brien

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    Erik Erikson famously wrote about identity. He indicated that a central negotiation required developing an increasing congruence between your views of yourself and the views others have of you. Learning to ‘see yourself as others see you’, as the poet Robert Burns put it, is a major developmental achievement not easily accomplished. A recognizable and accepted identity allows us to live more freely in the social world.

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    It is not uncommon to find people who have spent a decade or two working at the Austen Riggs Center. There are even some who have spent 30 years tending to the mission and work. But Richard Q. Ford, PhD, who recently retired as the coordinator of psychological testing at Riggs, cultivated a 43-year relationship with Riggs as a fellow, a staff psychologist, a researcher and, for the last 20 years, as the coordinator of psychological testing. 

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