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  • Meaning Matters is an online community, hosted by the Austen Riggs Center, that provides a place for mental health professionals and those in related disciplines to share information and thinking about a variety of topics.

    Meaning Matters is an online community, hosted by the Austen Riggs Center, that provides a place for mental health professionals and those in related disciplines to share information and thinking about a variety of topics. These include: human behavior and how it is impacted by conscious and unconscious processes, personality and motivational factors, relational dynamics, and the meaning of symptoms.

  • Medication

    Though the theory of “chemical imbalance” has long been discredited within psychiatry and among the educated public, it continues to be a story that is told over and over to explain to depressed patients why they should take an antidepressant. Part of the problem is that there is not really a better story to tell. Despite significant advances in the basic neurosciences over the last several decades, we still do not know how antidepressants actually work. New research presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology offers some intriguing clues about how antidepressants might work, and also why they work for some people and not others.

  • Austen Riggs Center Medical Director/CEO Andrew J. Gerber, MD, PhD, reflects on recent research findings related to loneliness.

    It is known that being lonely, or on the social perimeter, impacts the way a person behaves and interfaces with the world, and is detrimental to health. People who feel isolated from the world come to dread social interaction opportunities, and unfortunately, this leads to a tendency to spiral even further into loneliness. Now, researchers at the University of Chicago have demonstrated that lonely people process external information differently, and that there are observable neural correlates of the subjective report of loneliness. In particular, lonely people anticipate and are highly sensitive to the negative social interactions and cues that will likely serve to worsen their loneliness.

  • Nancy McWilliams is the Current Erikson Scholar at the Erikson Institution for Education and Research of the Austen Riggs Center.

    During her time at Riggs, Erikson Scholar Nancy McWilliams, PhD, ABPP, focused on two projects: completing the editing of a revised edition of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM), and working on a book of clinical experience and research that aims, as she explains, “to expand the public conversation about mental health treatment beyond simple symptom reduction.”

  • The Austen Riggs Center is focusing some of our research efforts on the issue of suicide.

    “Suicide is the worst possible outcome,” says Director of the Erikson Institute Jane G. Tillman, PhD. Finding new ways to learn and to help people at risk occupies both her clinical work and her research. Therefore, she is encouraged by a renewed focus on and resources directed toward finding answers to nagging questions: How can we help suicidal patients? What can we learn? Are there things we could do differently?

  • The Austen Riggs Center treatment approach is based on four-times weekly individual psychotherapy.

    This is a good time for American psychiatry. After nearly a quarter century of a reductionistic focus on biology and medications as mutative factors in mental health, psychiatry is rediscovering what it had already known. New studies are regularly demonstrating the crucial importance of psychosocial factors in the treatment of a range of mental conditions.

  • The Austen Riggs Center is an open psychiatric treatment setting located in Stockbridge, MA.

    Locked psychiatric units are no better than open units at preventing suicide, according to a large 15-year observational study published this month in the British medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry. In addition, the results of the study suggest that patients in open units are less likely to attempt suicide or to run away from the hospital (with or without returning) than patients in locked units.

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

    Despite advances in research methodology and efforts in the mental health and addictions fields to move toward evidence based treatment, large numbers of patients fail to respond to our best evidence based treatments. This has led to growing recognition of the phenomenon of treatment resistance.

  • David Mintz, MD, Team Leader/Staff Psychiatrist at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Despite advances in neurobiology and drug development, and increasing pressure to deliver “evidence-based” psychiatric care, studies show many patients living with psychiatric illness remain resistant to psychiatric treatments. 

  • Dr Eric Plakun and Dr. Jane Tillman presented "Responding to the Impact of Suicide on Clinicians" at the 2016 APA Annual Meeting.

    What are the effects on the clinician when his/her patient dies by suicide? How to respond? Drs Plakun and Tillman have been offering a workshop on responding to the impact of suicide on clinicians as part of the APA Annual Meeting since 2004. 

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