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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. Senior clinical experts, researchers, and editors review all clinical content on this blog before it is published.

  • A prominent theme in the second 4x4@4 “Talking It Through” conversation–noted by Colleen Holmes, President/CEO of 18 Degrees–was fragility.” Anxiety and depression associated with the pandemic meet the fragility of families already suffering chronic stress, the fragility of marginal youth tenuously tethered to sources of help, and the fragility of children trying to hold on to hard-won developmental achievements. In many cases, this fragility was already there–a pre-existing condition–but now it is exposed for all to see. 

  • M. Gerard Fromm, PhD, ABPP, Senior Consultant, Erikson Institute for Education and Research

    For nearly two months the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how we relate to each other.  Work life and social life have changed. We are farther apart and have to find new ways to be together.  In that process, emotional challenges and stresses face everyone, and take their toll on the more vulnerable.  The 4X4@4 “Talking It Through” series creates an online forum on select Monday afternoons for panelists and members of the general public to explore the psychological impact of what we’re going through and to make new connections, both with each other and in our understanding of these challenges. 

  • Austen Riggs Center Erikson Council of Scholars founder Dorothy Zinberg dies at age 103.

    As a Harvard teaching fellow in the 1960s, Dorothy Zinberg approached the famed psychoanalyst Erik Erikson after one of his renowned lectures on human development and challenged the fact that his perspective didn’t include women. His response: “So you do it.” 

  • You are invited to participate in a research study on experiences of loneliness and boredom in response to social distancing related to the novel COVID-19 virus pandemic, entitled “Loneliness and Social Distancing.”

    In this video blog, Austen Riggs Research Psychologist Dr. Katie Lewis gives an overview of the Loneliness and Social Distancing Research Study that she is conducting. 

  • Samar Habl, MD is the associate medical director and director of admissions at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA.

    The Austen Riggs Center is pleased to announce the appointment of Samar Habl, MD, to the role of Associate Medical Director. During her nearly 15 years at Riggs, Dr. Habl has been a staff psychiatrist, a Team Leader, and, for the last four years, Director of Admissions.  

  • On April 21, 2020, the Austen Riggs Center lost a leader, donor, a dear friend, and neighbor. Former Trustee Aso O. Tavitian died last Tuesday, after a battle with cancer, with his devoted wife, Isabella Meisinger, at his side. 

    On April 21, 2020, the Austen Riggs Center lost a leader, donor, a dear friend, and neighbor. Former Trustee Aso O. Tavitian died last Tuesday, after a battle with cancer, with his devoted wife, Isabella Meisinger, at his side.   

  • Austen Riggs Center Research Psychologist Dr. Katie Lewis Writes About the Psychological Impact of Social Distancing in the COVID-19 Era.

    Right now, the physical health and well-being of the country depend on our adherence to the recent and ongoing implementation of social distancing (SD) in communities across the globe to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). However, the current scale of SD is unprecedented and may lead to significant and lasting negative psychological effects.

  • Can Wearable technology answer questions about the links among social interactions, the quality of our sleep, and suicide risk?

    Wearable technology is providing us with an unprecedented amount of information about our health, activity, and our habits. Now they may help answer some pressing questions about the links among social interactions, the quality of our sleep, and suicide risk. Austen Riggs Center Research Assistant Fiona Brown explains some of what may be possible and what it is like to wear one particular device being used in a newly-funded NIMH study. 

  • Dr. Eric Plakun spoke at the Austen Riggs Center Centennial Conference: The Mental Health Crisis in America.

    This video series is taken from our Centennial Conference and features excerpts from many of the presentations – check back often or bookmark the Riggs Blog to see new videos.

    “There is an excessive focus on the biomedical at the expense of the biopsychosocial. . . . there are false assumptions that genes equal disease, that patients have single disorders that respond to single evidence-based treatments, that pills are the best treatment that we have.” states Dr. Plakun.

  • Dr. Jane Tillman’s presentation at Austen Riggs Center Centennial Conference Featured in Psychiatric News article by Mark Moran .

    This video series is taken from our Centennial Conference and features excerpts from many of the presentations – check back often or bookmark the Riggs Blog to see new videos.  

    “At Riggs, in our Therapeutic Community Program, and in individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy, we emphasize the importance of relationships, connection, responsibility for oneself in connection to others, and engage the crucial cycle of rupture and repair that may over time create the conditions for increased resilience and reasons for living,” states Dr. Tillman. 

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