Revisioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience, and Global Mental Health

The concept of mental illness in the West is largely shaped by the DSM diagnostic model. The DSM categorization of psychiatric disorders has been useful in driving research, and psychiatric neuroscience has made enormous strides in identifying some of the brain-based factors that contribute to mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, as well as suggesting possible drug therapies. Continue reading

Stress and the Social Brain

This is just a quick post to mention that our Formative Experiences co-editor – child psychiatrist Daniel S. Schechter of University of Geneva and Columbia University – is giving a talk on “Traumatic stress and mothers’ capacity to engage in mutual regulation of emotion with their very young children” as part of a symposium on “Stress, the Social Brain, and Psychopathology,” which will take place on March 14–15, 2011, in Lausanne, Switzerland. The meeting is hosted by Carmen Sandi’s group, the Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics, which is part of the Brain Mind Institute (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne).

For all of us who can’t make the conference, Dan has a terrific, comprehensive  essay featured in the February edition of  Cerebrum, a Dana Foundation publication, on “Forecasting aggression: Toward a new interdisciplinary understanding of what makes some troubled youth turn violent.”

Finally, a video of Bruce McEwen’s more general talk, “Neuroscience perspectives of stress and brain and body health: Importance of the social environment,” which he gave at the inaugural conference of the Society for Social Neuroscience, is available at the site.

FE Co-Editor and Swiss Colleagues Awarded Grant on Synaptic Bases of Psychiatric Disorders

We are very pleased to announce that child psychiatrist Daniel Schechter, co-editor of our recent volume Formative Experiences, is one of a group of principal investigators (PI) in Geneva, Switzerland, whose research will benefit from the largest Swiss National Science Foundation biomedical center grant ever awarded. The inter-institutional center is focusing on the Synaptic Bases of Psychiatric Disorders.

Dan is PI of the Infancy and Early Childhood Stress and Development Lab at the University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, which is studying the impact of maternal interpersonal violence (IPV)-related traumatic stress on the mother-child relationship during formative development of emotional regulation in the following domains (with attention to phenotypes that cut across these domains): psychological, behavioral, physiologic, and maternal neural activation.

The project also aims via a longitudinal design over 2–3 years to identify predictors related to children’s development of a greater tendency toward aggressive versus avoidance/withdrawal behavior by examining individual differences in the following domains: psychological, behavioral, physiologic, genetic/epigenetic.

Dan’s project is part of a 4-year, CHF 17.5 million (US$ 10 million) National Centre of Competence for Research (NCCR) grant awarded to the Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) and the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne (Pierre Magistretti, EPFL, is the Center’s Director). The Swiss federal government has been supporting NCCR research networks since 2000. The program places particular emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches and new, innovative angles within the individual disciplines.

Link to the Swiss government press release: