Erikson Institute


This program studies the psychodynamic and psychosocial aspects of patients’ lives, emotional difficulties and treatments.  Research at the Center includes empirical, phenomenological and clinical studies and inter-institutional collaborations.  A Follow-Along Study on more than 200 patients during and ten years after their time at Riggs, along with medical record and psychological testing data, form an extremely rich data bank.  Research labs on Self-Destructiveness, Psychosis and Structural Change are underway, some of which are in collaboration with other institutions and partially funded by grants.

Ongoing Empirical Research Projects 

Study of Intense Emotions and Daily Functioning
Multi-site study looking at the relationship between feelings, functioning, and suicidality.
Christina Biederman, Psy.D., and others. 

States of Mind Study
Mixed methods study aiming to better understand the cognitive and interpersonal states of mind of patients, who make near-lethal suicide attempts.
Jane Tillman, Ph.D., and others.  

Metacognition and Resilience Study
Study examining the relationship between metacognition (a person’s ability to think about his or her own and others’ thoughts and feelings) and psychological resilience, as well as change in metacognition with treatment.
Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., and others

Assessment of Creativity using the Rorschach
Study aiming to develop a Rorschach Creativity Index and to test the ways that creativity is associated with psychosocial resilience and adaptive change in the context of psychodynamic treatment.
Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., and others.

Psychosis and Narrative
Inter-disciplinary project examining how psychosis is understood by psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and patients themselves.
Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., and others.

Study of Treatment-Resistant Depression
Study addressing the nature of treatment-resistant depression, the proportion of Riggs patients with that diagnosis, the most common co-occuring psychiatric disorders, and defenses, conflicts, symptoms, and overall level of functioning after discharge.
Eric Plakun, M.D., and others 

Nature Of Therapeutic Change in the Intensive Psychodynamic Treatment of Individuals with Severe Personality Disturbance
Study using archival data to examine the link between anaclitic vs. introjective personality functioning and therapeutic outcome.
Steve Ackerman, Ph.D., and others. 

Mutuality of Autonomy Scale & Suicide/Self-Injury
Study examining whether the Mutuality of Autonomy Scale adds to the predictive value of the Implicit Risk for Suicide Index on the Rorschach.
Lee Damsky, Ph.D., and others.

A Psychological Testing Autopsy of 12 Cases of Suicide
Clinical project examining intrapsychic factors and internal processes in cases of suicide and ways in which these processes appear in projective testing. 
Lee Damsky, Ph.D., and others.

Personality Organization, Object Relations, Impulsivity, and Suicidal Behavior
Study examining the role of object relational functioning and impulsivity in the suicidal behavior of patients with anaclitic and introjective personality organizations. 
Katie Lewis, M.A., in collaboration with Jane Tillman, Ph.D., and others. 

Psychodynamic Psychopharmacology
Set of studies investigating the range of ways medication compliance and effectiveness is affected by dynamic factors.
David Mintz, M.D., and others.

Research Consultants

David Reiss, M.D., former Erikson Scholar and currently on the staff of the Yale Child Study Center provides ongoing consultation to the research program.  Recent consultants to research projects include:

Jill Clemence, Ph.D., Albany Medical College
Jennifer Durham-Fowler, Ph.D., Albany Medical College
Christopher Fowler, Ph.D., The Menninger Foundation
Andrew Gerber, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University 
Carol Gilligan, Ph.D., New York University
Horst Kaechele, M.D., International Psychoanalytic University, Berlin
Linda Mayes, M.D., Yale Child Study Center
Craig Piers, Ph.D., Williams College 

For information about our research programs contact Kim Hunter-Schaedle, Ph.D., Manager of Institutional Research, the Austen Riggs Center:  or call (413) 931-5820.