The Riggs Blog

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.

  • Todd Phillips’ Joker is, indeed, a farce, as suggested by Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” that plays over the closing credits. Not in the sense that the movie is silly; its emotional intensity is almost unrelenting over the course of two hours, notwithstanding classic slapstick allusions (like a scene where they watch Charlie Chaplin) and chase scenes (including the one that closes the film). The main character’s uncontrollable laugh-cry that gets vaguely chalked up to a “neurological condition” is probably the best illustration of this unrelenting quality – even the moments of levity, when we would normally laugh with the main character, are suffused with the uncanny and with sadness.

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

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

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

    Psychiatric News Senior Reporter Mark Moran attended the recent Austen Riggs Center Centennial Conference and has authored three pieces related to the conference in their October 18 issue. 

  • Austen Riggs Center’s Centennial Conference and Inspired! Norman Rockwell and Erik Erikson Exhibition Featured in Psychiatric News

    Psychiatric News Senior Reporter Mark Moran attended the recent Austen Riggs Center Centennial Conference and has authored three pieces about the conference and the Norman Rockwell Museum’s “Inspired! Norman Rockwell and Erik Erikson” exhibition (open through October 27, 2019) in their October 18 issue. 

  • Dr. Katie Lewis is a research psychologist at the Austen Riggs Center.

    A joint team of researchers from the Austen Riggs Center, Long Island University, and Rutgers University hypothesize that for certain psychiatric patients, disturbed sleep negatively impacts daily interactions with others, and those negative interactions can in turn increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

  • Family relationships, even going back several generations, are almost always a crucial aspect of treatment in the open setting at Austen Riggs.

    Freedom from Dehumanizing Treatment is one of the Four Freedoms that is a foundation of mental health. Dehumanizing treatment is different from stigma, which is another of the Four Freedoms of Mental Health, as it refers to treatment itself as opposed to more general beliefs, attitudes, and actions related to stigma in the larger world. 

    Dehumanizing treatment includes: unnecessary restriction, seclusion, or restraint of those struggling with mental disorders; treating mentally ill individuals as merely a diagnosis rather than full people; or treatment that regards patients as mouths to swallow pills instead of people with stories that are meaningful. Underfunding mental health treatment generally is the result of stigma, but this results in dehumanizing treatment. 

  • Image provided by the World Federation for Mental Health.

    World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is today, Thursday, October 10, and the focus this year is suicide prevention. Organized by the World Federation for Mental Health, WMHD helps to raise global awareness about mental health topics and issues. 

    On the WMHD website, we are all invited to join in “‘40 seconds of action’ to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it.”

  • Eric M. Plakun, MD is the Medical Director/CEO at the Austen Riggs Center.

    Austen Riggs Center Medical Director/CEO Eric M. Plakun, MD, outlines four tools to help maximize appeal success when insurance claims are denied.

  • Medical Office Building

    America is facing a growing crisis in mental health treatment, and one of the greatest forces to fight that crisis is raising public awareness through the media. On Friday, November 1, two outstanding works will be honored with the 2019 Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media.

  • Suicide Awareness Month

    Austen Riggs Center staff members Katie Lewis, PhD, and Lee Watroba spoke on local radio programs about suicide prevention awareness. 



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