2015 Erikson Institute Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media Recipients Named



Stockbridge, MA – June 8, 2015 -  Every day, the public’s understanding of mental health issues is shaped by print, online press and broadcast media, as well as by the arts. The purpose of the Erikson Institute Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media colloquy, curated by essayist and author Joshua Wolf Shenk, is to recognize and encourage writers, journalists, and media experts who have produced sophisticated and accessible work on mental health issues and to learn about various aspects of carrying out this work. This year’s colloquy will be held at the Austen Riggs Center on Saturday, June 27, beginning at 1:00 in the afternoon. 

The colloquy will feature a presentation by each of the 2015 recipients of the Erikson Institute Prize for Excellence in Mental Media – who, according to Director of the Erikson Institute Jane G. Tillman, PhD, “have brought nuance, compassion and rigor to their writing and reporting on issues related to mental health.” 

The 2015 recipients are: 

  • Alison Bechdel: Eisner Award winner, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and author of the graphic memoir, Fun Home, the Broadway adaptation of which was shortlisted for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and earned 12 Tony nominations. 
  • Stephanie McCrummen: reporter at The Washington Post whose features on mental illness and other subjects have included a profile of a Virginia state senator whose son attacked him with a knife and then committed suicide.
  • William Todd Schultz, PhD: psychologist and scholar who is a leading writer and editor of psychobiography. He has written about photographer Diane Arbus, writer Truman Capote and musician Elliot Smith among others. 

“This year’s Erikson Prize winners are astonishing in their breadth and depth,” says Shenk. "Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoirs are an entirely new and stunning thing—devastating stories alongside penetrating insight into literature and psychology. Stephanie McCrummen is a master of old-school immersion journalism, with great empathy and style. And Todd Schultz is the model of the psychologist-scholar, who has not only written a handful of brilliant psychobiographies but has helped spark a renaissance of the form itself.”

Continuing education credits offered to MDs, PhDs, PsyDs and Social Workers. This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited; advance registration is recommended. 

About the Erikson Institute Prize Recipients

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and memoirist, best known for her landmark comic Dykes to Watch Out For and for her two illustrated memoirs. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic focuses on the author’s complex relationship with her father, who died in an accident that was probably suicide. The book is a riveting and clear-eyed account of a gifted and troubled man—and the way that an emotionally cold but aesthetically rich environment shaped the artist herself. Like psychotherapy, the book directs its attention to the truth of the past with an effort to channel it into a creative present. This resonance between psychotherapy and Bechdel’s techniques became explicit in her second book, Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama, in which she tells of her conflicted relationship with her mother alongside two courses of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. http://dykestowatchoutfor.com  

Stephanie McCrummen is a reporter on the national enterprise team at The Washington Post, where she writes on mental illness among other subjects. Her features have included a profile of a Virginia state senator whose son attacked him with a knife and then committed suicide. She also chronicled the nearly three-year journey of a man with severe mental illness who sequestered himself in his house and would not leave, to the agony of his family. Previously, she was The Washington Post’s East Africa bureau chief, based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also reported from Iraq, Egypt, Mexico and the Virginia suburbs. http://www.washingtonpost.com/people/stephanie-mccrummen  

William Todd Schultz, PhD, is a psychologist and scholar who is a leading writer and editor of psychobiography, which has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, owing largely to the work of Dr. Schultz. His own books—including An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus, Tiny Terror: Why Truman Capote (Almost) Wrote Answered Prayers—deftly blend psychology and narrative. A professor at Pacific University in Portland, Oregon, Schultz is also general editor of an Oxford University Press series called “Inner Lives,” the first and only book series devoted to the subject of psychobiography. Each title in the series focuses on a paradigmatic historical figure—subjects have included George W. Bush and John Lennon—using psychological theory and research to illuminate his/her life and work. Schultz’s most recent book is Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith. https://williamtoddschultz.wordpress.com/ 

About the Erikson Institute

The Erikson Institute at the Austen Riggs Center promotes education and research in psychodynamic thought and treatment, often in partnership with a range of disciplines, and brings a clinically informed, psychosocial perspective to societal problems. www.austenriggs.org/erikson-institute

About the Austen Riggs Center

Austen Riggs Center, a leading psychiatric hospital and residential treatment program, has been serving adults since 1919.  Within a completely open setting, patients are provided immersion in an intensive treatment milieu that emphasizes respectful engagement.  Individual, four times/weekly, psychodynamic psychotherapy is provided by doctors on staff. www.austenriggs.org

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