• Lee Watroba and Bertha Connelley are leading efforts to engage Riggs staff with suicide prevention.

    Whether working locally with suicide prevention organizations, presenting at conferences, or contributing to the larger field of suicidology through research and scholarship, the Austen Riggs Center and its staff are committed to better understanding and preventing suicide.

  • Austen Riggs Center staff members Dr. Donna Elmendorf and Dr. Claudia Gold respond to a recent New York Times article, “The Birth of a Mother.” 

  • In making the diagnosis of a personality disorder, a clinician takes into account a full, thoughtful assessment not just of symptoms, but also of all the relevant psychological, social, and relational information.

    In thinking about borderline personality disorder, it's important to think about the individuality of the person carrying the diagnosis. A person with BPD isn't "a borderline," but is a person first and foremost. In making the diagnosis of a personality disorder, a clinician takes into account a full, thoughtful assessment not just of symptoms, but also of all the relevant psychological, social, and relational information.

  • Andrew J. Gerber, MD, PhD, is the CEO/Medical Director of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA.

    Psychiatry has long utilized symptom clusters to classify mental illness, and today the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which outlines specific conditions as independent entities, remains the standard tool in the field. However, in the past decade or so, there has been growing interest in new ways to characterize mental illness, such as through gene mutations or physiological recordings, which have the potential of adding depth and dimensionality to the understanding of mental illness, and of informing the treatment trajectory.

  • The Austen Riggs Center offers a unique therapeutic approach in an voluntary and open setting.

    It was a busy year for the Riggs Blog, with more than 100 pieces published – from commentary and current events to our treatment approach and our values. 

  • Austen Riggs uses a biopsychosocial approach to treating complex psychiatric disorders.

    Over the last several decades, the mainstream psychiatric understanding and treatment of major depression has increasingly been seen through the lens of neurobiology:  a problem of chemical imbalance, for which the first line treatment is often the correction of the chemical imbalance with antidepressant medications.

  • 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 treatment approach is based on four-times weekly psychotherapy.

    The field is learning that psychiatric diagnosis is not as straightforward as in the rest of medicine and surgery, where making the single right diagnosis points toward the likely effective treatment.

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

    I’m grateful to Psychiatric Times for this opportunity to offer periodic columns about psychodynamic therapy. Not only is psychodynamic therapy a useful evidence-based treatment, but a psychodynamic perspective offers such a valuable set of skills to integrate overall treatment plans that every psychiatrist would benefit from some degree of mastery. I thought I’d begin this series with a lesson I learned about countertransference in my first therapy case. 

  • Therapeutic Relationship

    A recent article in the New York Times reports on a study published in the journal PLOS One which, according to the newspaper, concludes that “Medical literature has overstated the benefits of talk therapy for depression, in part because studies with poor results have rarely made it into journals.” 



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