Saturday, December 21, 2013

Double Haiku for Winter Solstice 2013

After Scotland's long
dark, California gloaming
wakes me at seven,

Echoes old song with
extravagance of light on
such a winter's day,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Notes from a Journey, plus Thorgall, the Story so Far

17 Oct 2013:

Trip to Belgium to start another year of EFT training.  I arrive at Glasgow airport to find my flight has been cancelled.  Some 20 of us get booked onto an afternoon flight out of Edinburgh airport.  There follows a shambolic shamble around Glasgow airport in search of the bus that is to take us there.  

Eventually, the bus finds us & we're on our way.  It's interesting to compare the two airports: Edinburgh is newer, feels more like a modern European airport but is also more crowded and lacks the grungy character of Glasgow. (Why should this surprise me?). 

Finally, many hours later than planned we are in the air.  I start volume 22 of Thorgall, the Dutch language graphic novel series I've been working on for most 10 years now.  Hmm... I thought Jolan had rescued his dad Thorgall and his mom Aricia from the clutches of the conscienceless Kris van Valnor at the end of the volume 21. What's going on here?  I know that the time-travel device Jolan had stolen from the Watchers from the far future in order to save his parents might have messed with the time-lines, but here we are back with Thorgall & Kris hanging out in that big forbidding castle on the sea where they were in the previous volume.  Is this some kind of flashback?  Did I mention that (a) Thorgall is really a space alien adopted by Vikings as a baby when his spaceship crashed on medieval Earth, (b) the Gods erased his memory a couple of volumes ago as part of a deal for them to leave his family alone, and (c) Kris then took advantage of the situation to shack up with him and to convince him that he's really Shaigan the Merciless, scourge of the Great Fjord, which (d) by the way is not sitting particularly well with him?  Sounds like a soap opera, but it's just my Dutch language training program, an amusingly incongruous mix of high fantasy and science fiction that has kept me practicing Dutch for almost a decade.

After that, on the plane,  it is easy for me to step into the role of translator between the Dutch flight attendant and the Scots lad seated next to me: they can barely understand a word of what the other says, but I can understand everything they say, including her Dutch. (She thinks I'm Dutch because I said when she said, "Do you want a sweet or a savoury snack", I said "Zout", meaning salty, as opposed to zoet, which means sweet.)

Another Conversation with My Mother

13 October 2013

A vivid dream-vision wakes me:
I am working at my computer
When you come to me, thin, in your nightgown,
As you were in your final  illness last year.

I turn awkwardly; you hug me and
I feel your bony shoulders poking through.
“I love you”, you say, more than once,
Making sure I understand.
                                                   “I love you, too.”
I say, and do  know this is true.

Then you say: “I want you to understand this too:
You are the culmination”.
                                                   Then you’re gone.
I awake in the dark; it’s not even one am.

What does this mean?, I ask your absence:
Was that Culmination with a capital C?
Or some commonplace, lower case culmination?
How each of us carries all who have gone before;
How the self I am now culminates my earlier selves.

I think again of my father, seven years gone:
Wise, caring peace-maker, with ready humor.

As I wend my way through the many complexities
Of friends, family, colleagues and clients;
Impossible work-loads and interpersonal tangles,
I pray for courage, love and wisdom.

For most of my life, I’ve been brash and direct,
More clever than wise, defensive, jealous,
Moved by fear more than love.

Now, however, there’s something emerging
That’s more and more like my father.
And you of all people, living or dead,
Can see the full moon behind the clouds.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sallochy Forest Adventure

Lovely day for a drive up the east side of Loch Lomond, to Sallochy Forest, where we walked up through the crumbling stone ruins of a little village called Wester Sallochy. From there we followed a logging road and then climbed up Dun Maoil, a hill with majestic views over Loch Lomond. It was mostly cloudy but bits of sun shone through the clouds reflecting off wind-scudded waves on the Loch. The walk back took us down along a little burn filled with fast flowing but clear water from the recent rains. We followed this with a wee walk up the West Highland Way to the University of Glasgow field station. A lovely day!

Emotion-Focused Therapy: Masterclasses

--> Fridays, 9:30-17.30, Nov 2013 – Sept 2014
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

Facilitated by Professor Robert Elliott

The new Emotion-Focused Therapy Masterclass Series is open to counsellors and psychotherapists (Diploma level or above) who have completed Level Two or Level Three training in EFT.  If it’s been a while since you did EFT training, it can serve as a refresher course and enable you to catch up on more recent developments in EFT theory, practice and training.

Each day will feature a mix of EFT Practice Check-in (mini supervisions), brief presentations of specialist material on EFT; video or live demonstrations; in-depth supervision of client work; small group skill practice; and group processing. Emphasis will be on putting EFT into practice and examining blocks to effective practice.  Participants are expected to bring client case material to each session, in the form of either session recordings or process notes.

Sessions can be signed up for either individually or as a six-day package.  All six masterclasses will be day-long Friday sessions, from November 2013 to September 2014, and held in the main city centre campus of the University of Strathclyde. This course allows participants the opportunity to work toward the expert-supervision-own-work criterion for EFT-Individual Certification Level A (Completion of Training, 5 hrs) or Level B (Completion of Supervision, 15 hrs) and can also be taken in place of EFT Level 3.

29 November
EFT Case monitoring and formulation:  Case formulation is a rapidly developing topic within EFT. This session will focus on (a) methods for systematically tracking your clients’ progress and experience of therapy; and (b) formulation of key emotion processes and tasks for your clients.  Participants are required to bring client material for case formulation work.

31 January
EFT Open Marker Work: After EFT Practice Check-in and a review of the main EFT tasks, much of the rest of this session will consist of small group skill practice, as well as supervision.  Bring in material from clients who puzzle you regarding what task to work on!
28 March
EFT for Depression: EFT has been shown to be highly effective for helping clients with depression.  In this session I will provide an overview of experiential processes in depression and key EFT tasks in depression, including self-criticism splits, self-interruption, and unfinished business.  The session will include videos or live demonstration, supervision of client work, and small group skill practice.  Bring in material from your depressed clients.
2 May
EFT for Anxiety: There is now an integrated EFT for working with social anxiety and other forms of anxiety difficulty.  In this session I will provide an overview of anxiety difficulties, a review of different person-centred-experiential theories of anxiety difficulties, and the EFT approach to working with anxiety, featuring videos or live demonstration, supervision of client work, and small group skill practice, emphasising anxiety split work and self-soothing.  Bring in material from your anxious clients.
20 June
Therapeutic Difficulties in EFT:  As with all approaches to therapy, relational problems occur in EFT, including ruptures between client and therapist.  In this session, I present an overview of the different types of therapeutic difficulty; a model for processing therapist negative reactions; and key therapist strategies for addressing these difficulties, including both personal work and relational dialogue with clients.  Bring your therapeutic difficulties and dilemmas with clients!
12 Sept
EFT for Trauma:  Research indicates that EFT is a highly effective treatment for post-trauma difficulties, including both single episode traumas and complex trauma.  In this session, I present an overview of EFT trauma theory and the application of EFT to trauma, emphasising Narrative Retelling, emotional regulation work and Meaning Protest.  The session will feature video or live demonstration, supervision of client work, and small group skill practice.  Bring in material from your trauma clients.

·      Enrolment is set for a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15.  The balance between supervision and skill practice will depend of number of participants.
·      Course fee: Regular price: Three weeks before each session: Sign up for individual sessions at £100 each or get a discount by registering for the whole series at £550 by 8 November.  Late registration (less than 3 weeks before each session): £120.
·      The course could be taken for continuing professional education credit.

Contact: or 0141-444 8415 for further information on this training, the facilitators, ways of applying for this course or other APT events



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Forty Years

Entry for August 18/19 2013: Wedding Anniversary poem for Diane.  This is the 500th entry of this 7-year old blog.

Part 1: Scenes from a Wedding

We did not know what we were
Getting ourselves into
On that sticky August night
In that little white church.

There we were:
Two families, ten kids
Recipe for chaos.

I thought it a brilliant idea
To borrow my sister anna’s
Giant inflatable hand
For the receiving line.
But in the confusion it disappeared
Never to be seen again.
Forty years later it lives on,
A piece of unfinished business
Her half-birthday un-present
Binding us together.

At least one former girlfriend
Entertained my little brother
Providing suitable distraction
For both of them.

Our LA friends were at first hurt
When they thought
They hadn’t been invited
Then greatly puzzled
By the idea of a dry Presbyterian wedding
With no alcohol, dancing
Or embarrassing speeches.
Eventually they forgave us.

We spent our first night in Livermore
Stressed and exhausted by the
Immensity of what we’d done.

Part 2: The Journey

Forty years is a long time:
Moses led his people through the wilderness
For that long.

Together, we’ve crossed
Four decades
Two generations:
LA to Glasgow
Nixon to Obama
Our 20’s to our 60’s
V-8’s to electric cars
Typewriters to iPads
Watergate to Wikileaks
Carly Simon to Lady Gaga
Fear of Flying to Life After Life
The Human Sexual Response to gay marriage.
The insecurities of youth
to the emerging infirmities of age

One year of marital therapy
Two children
Three countries
Seven houses or apartments
Eight cars
We are still together

Although we did not know
Exactly where we were going
And generally felt unprepared
For each new phase
And piece of brokenness
Unlike Moses
We have never stopped entering
The promised land.

Part 3: The Adventure Continues

Of course there are no guarantees and
Everything is temporary
But it seems that we are still
Determined to make
The most of the time we have.

Our covenant has become
A commitment to continuing
As if we were on some Star Trek-like mission.

We now recognize most
Of each other’s foibles,
Blind spots, and vulnerabilities.

Just as we continue to find
And finding, recognize
Each other’s strengths, gifts,
Moments of brilliance.

It’s true
We can still drive each other crazy
With a piece of oft-endured
But these knots are more likely
To bring a smile of recognition.
Like another Federation starship
Off course but also welcome.

At the same time
We are still capable of being
Surprised by each other
Each still finding in the other
An undiscovered country.

In each other’s finitude
A single look
A single touch
A single kiss
A single laugh
Feedback loop closed
Reflected each to each
Pointed toward infinity.

In so many shared singularities
We continue to find eternity
Compressed into a series
Of timeless moments

                                    -18/19 August 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lines for a Friend

(For my long-time friend and colleague Les Greenberg, in memory of Brenda Greenberg.  I wrote this in a restaurant in Antwerp on the day Brenda died after a tragic traffic accident.  It’s only now that I feel I can post this, with Les’ permission.)

My mind reels with the senselessness 
of this death too soon
My heart aches for you and your family 
And the place where she is missing now
I weep for our fragile hearts and minds 
so easily torn by happenstance 

Perhaps it is the gift of people like her 
with their solidity and groundedness
to make us forget this for a time
But it’s all the more painful when we wake 
to the desolation of their passing

Still I think you would not trade away this pain
Which points the way to mind's profoundest sense
Of what she brought, gave and left behind
In all deepest places of your heart.

-25 April 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Person-Centered/Experiential Psychotherapy for Anxiety Difficulties: Theory, Research and Practice

Entry for 17 May 2013:

Last July, about a week after my return from California after the two months I spent helping care for my mother, I gave my first keynote presentation to a conference of the World Association for Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies.  The talk, given in Antwerp, Belgium, was the basis for an article just published in Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies.  It combines selected results from two studies: the 2008 humanistic-experiential psychotherapy outcome meta-analysis that Beth  Freire and I carried out with support from British Association for the Person-Centre Approach; and the First Strathclyde Social Anxiety Project, largely funded by grants from the New Professors Fund by the University of Strathclyde and by Counselling Unit internal funds. 

I am deeply appreciative of the help I received in carrying out the research on which this article is based, including the clients, volunteer therapists, students, research associates, and members of the Social Anxiety Study Group, University of Strathclyde, 2006-2012, especially my colleagues Brian Rodgers, Beth Freire, Susan Stephen, Lorna Carrick, Lucia Berdondini, and Mick Cooper.   In addition, Les Greenberg and Ann Weiser Cornell made helpful contributions to the theory sections of this article.  Finally, I have dedicated this article to the memory of my mother, Ann Helena Kearney Elliott, 7 April 1929 – 22 June 2012.

Although the article has been available on the publisher’s website since March, it was very nice to receive the hard copy of it the other day.

Elliott, R. (2013). Person-Centered-Experiential Psychotherapy for Anxiety Difficulties: Theory, Research and Practice.  Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, 12, 14-30. DOI:10.1080/14779757.2013.767750

Abstract: Anxiety difficulties are an increasingly important focus for person-centered-experiential (PCE) psychotherapies.  I begin by reviewing person-centered, focusing-oriented, and emotion-focused therapy (EFT) theories of anxiety.  Next, I summarize a meta-analysis of 19 outcome studies of PCE therapies for adults with anxiety, most commonly supportive or person-centered therapies (PCT) carried out by cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) researchers.  The results indicate large pre-post change but a clear inferiority to CBT.  I then summarize promising early results from an ongoing study of PCT and EFT for social anxiety, which show large amounts of pre-post change for both forms of PCE therapy but substantially more change for clients in the EFT condition.  I conclude with a discussion of the implications for PCE therapy practice, including the value of process differentiation and the possibility of developing more effective PCE approaches for anxiety.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Render unto CCESA

Entry for 20 April 2013:

The draft NICE guidelines for Social Anxiety (SA) were issued last December.  Anxiety difficulties in general, and social anxiety in particular, has been a bastion for behaviour therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy since the 1960’s and even 1950’s.  In 1976 I was learning an early form of CBT, working with a client with social anxiety.  Over several weeks, I had taken her through progressive relaxation and we had constructed a hierarchy of social-interpersonal fears.  One day, about halfway through the hierarchy, she suddenly became overwhelmed, burst into tears, and ran out of room.  I followed her out into the hallway, where she stood, crying.  I asked her if she would be willing to come back in and tell me what had happened.  She said that she would if we stopped with the hierarchy.  I was happy to do so, and we then worked for many months in a broadly psychodynamic manner, including exploring her fear of abandonment as a child. I can no longer remember whether her social anxiety had improved much by the end of our work, but I do remember that she was less depressed and felt better about herself.  Up to this point, I had been somewhat enamoured with behaviour therapy and had even received training in cognitive therapy (this was before Beck’s 1979 book). This however was the beginning of the end for me and CBT. 

I thought of this last December when the draft guidelines came out.  Two years earlier, I had applied to serve on the Guideline Development Group for Social Anxiety.  I was offered a place; however, after several exchanges with the person organising it, it became clear to me that they weren’t willing to look beyond what they considered to be “good quality RCT evidence”.  “Why wouldn’t we want to look at all the evidence? “ I asked.  “There’s no need”, was the answer.  “What about emerging treatments?  Wouldn’t practitioners want to know about this?”, I wanted to know.  “That’s not the mandate”, they said.  Actually, I’d read the guidelines for guideline development groups, and had been briefed previously, so I knew that this wasn’t accurate.  Instead, it meant that they had no intention of allowing any other kind of evidence to be considered.  I said I’d think about it. 

Eventually, after further reflection and consultation, I decided to resign from the NICE Social Anxiety Guideline Development Group before it even started.  At the time, it was not that long since my cancer surgery, and I really had to ask myself whether, given my limited energy, I wanted to spend the next 18 months of my life banging heads with the various hard-science folks on the committee.  In the end, I realised that I could do more good by using that time to carry on with my own research on social anxiety. The result of my efforts was the integrated EFT model of SA that emerged with our last wave of clients.

So now I was seeing the result of the committee’s work and my decision not to take part.  Reading the draft guideline, I was not at all surprised to see CBT proclaimed as the pre-eminent psychosocial treatment for social anxiety.  This has long been clear from the existing literature, with the Heimberg and Clark-Wells models being given equal weight in the draft guidelines.  What did surprise me was that Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and psychodynamic psychotherapy were listed as second-line treatments, on the strength of only two RCTs each.  Hmm…. I thought… I’ve got half of an RCT already:  Our recent treatment development study was partially randomised between EFT and Person-Centred Therapy.  I began to feel somehow obligated to at least try for an RCT on EFT for SA.

As a result I started talking to people about a possible RCT comparing the version of EFT I’d developed for SA over the past 5 years, with one of the standard versions of CBT for SA.  One thing led to another, and eventually Richard Golsworthy and Tania Saninno (from Glasgow Caledonian University) and Rachel McLeod (from the NHS and University of Glasgow) agreed to work with me, Lorna Carrick and Susan Stephen to put together such as study, focusing on early career psychotherapists/counsellors within 5 years of their main professional training.  It was a lot of work; it has eaten up large amount of my time over the past month in particular, not to mention the anxiety about whether we’d actually be able to pull this together in time for the 12 April deadline.

Finally, about 8pm on the 10th of April, I clicked on the Send button and submitted the proposal.  It turns out that RCTs today have to have a cute acronym-based title, so ours is called “Comparison of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and Emotion-Focused Therapy for Social Anxiety”, abbreviated CCESA, as in “Render unto Caesar”.  I have no idea whether this will be funded or not.  Frankly, given that only about 10% of submitted grants are funded today in most countries, it’s not terribly likely.  However, to quote T.S. Eliot, “But perhaps neither gain nor loss./ For us, there is only the trying.  The rest of not our business.”

At any rate, here’s the abstract from our proposal:

Social Anxiety (SA) is a common, chronic psychiatric problem characterized by social withdrawal, significant psychological distress, and educational/employment difficulties. In NHS settings, resources and choices for effective treatment for SA are currently limited.  In a pilot partially randomised study we developed a promising SA-specific form of Person-centred/humanistic psychotherapy called Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), aimed at reducing SA by enhancing client self-compassion; we found large amounts of client pre-post change, superior to a comparison treatment and equivalent to comparable studies of CBT and medication. We are seeking funding for a pilot RCT study comparing this new treatment to a NICE-recommended Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) based on the Heimberg model. Two groups of early career psychotherapists will be trained in the use of these specialist models for SA, with 52 clients assigned randomly either to CBT or EFT for up to 20 sessions.  Target outcome measures will assess SA symptoms and individualised presenting problems.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My Mother’s 84th Birthday/Science My Mom Taught Me

Entry to 7 April 2013:

I’ve been working late to finish a grant proposal, so it’s well after midnight in Scotland, Monday, the 8th of April.  In California, however, it’s still Sunday, 7 April, my mother’s birthday.  Last year, my siblings and I gathered at Anna’s house on this day to celebrate our mom’s 83rd birthday.  We knew something was wrong then, and we also knew at the time that she believed that she had reached her last year, her 84th, the completion of her 3rd Saturn Return.  What neither she nor we knew then was that she would be dead by the end of June, a few days past the summer solstice.  So tonight her children are marking what would have been our mother’s 84th birthday by reflecting on her passing.   A little while ago, my brother Conal and sister Louisa checked with poignant reflections about both of our parents.  This is my contribution to the process.

A year ago, on her birthday, I read her 75th birthday poem to her again and gave her a mobile of multi-coloured butterflies made from bird feathers to represent the final image in the poem.  After she died I brought this mobile back with me to Scotland to remember her by, and it’s in my living room now, a bit of her. 

I know that she and my dad are in my head and heart, a part of me.  They are my psychological and spiritual DNA and of course their actual DNA is in every cell of my body. (And my mitochondrial DNA?  That’s all my mom’s, matrilineal descent, you know?)  Nevertheless, I still miss her physical presence and the opportunity to experience the unpredictability of her continuing evolution.  So tonight it’s a kind of intermediate stop on the way to her year’s mind, an interim Kaddish at which I, along with my siblings, remember fondly, longingly, and with deep gratitude and joy for what she gave us.  Bittersweet, like the strong chocolate that she loved.

I can’t think of a better way for me to remember her than by offering again the poem I wrote 9 years ago for her 75th birthday:

Science My Mom Taught Me
(For her 75th birthday, April 7, 2004)

1. Science as Love and Relationship

A good place to start is that ancient photograph,
Recently rediscovered, from 1950:

There the two of you are, the same age
As the youngest of my grad students. 
Both of you are tall, almost toothpick thin.
He is looking at the camera, tight jeans and shirt,
Like a rebel with cause to smile.

But you are looking down, through large glasses,
Your face framed by billowing hair,
With toothy grin, and your arms
Awkwardly but carefully wrapped round
A very small bundle.

The two of you look like nothing
So much as a couple of computer nerds
From half a century in the future.
Code geeks, rolling out your first promising program,
Ready for beta-testing.

But the code is genetic,
The language is life,
And the program is … me.


2. True Science is Risky

Although I learned magic from my dad,
It now seems clear to me that it was you
From whom I first learned science,
To which I have now devoted so much of my life.

But yours was never the normal, safe kind,
Digging away at the coal face
In the mines of knowledge,
Like Disney’s happy dwarves.

No, not that kind, but instead
The one that goes off to Far Tortuga,
Toward distant Galapagos unknown,
In search of the evolution of the human soul.

For you, big ideas have never been too big:
The nature of reality; the journey of the soul;
Jung’s famous paper on flying saucers;
The archetype of the Mandala: As without, so within.

Instead of Aristotle … Plato’s forms;
Instead of Archimedes … Pythagorus’s numbers;
Instead of Moses’ law … the Kabbalah’s secrets;
Instead of chemistry …alchemy’s transformations.

Oh, you did chemistry, too, at least early on:
You would disappear for hours,
Into your laboratory at the back of the house,
Full of strange smells and odd bits:

Broken glass, mosaic pieces,
Rolls of wallpaper, bolts of cloth,
Cans of precursors and catalysts,
When plastics was new technology.

And you would emerge from your lair,
To confront your family with some new concoction,
Sometimes lovely, or quirky, or primitive;
At times, a disaster, but always something new.

No, for you, science has always been risky:
Working at the edge, making something new,
You have become an expert in the peril of experiment,
And I have followed you, where I could.

3. Science as Inspiration and Passion

Your mother (my grandmother) taught me many things:
How to travel and how to be in a new place;
The importance of hard work and getting up early;
The ninety-nine percent of sweat that makes up genius.

But you taught me a far more valuable lesson:
The one percent of inspiration that redeems all the rest,
The moment of epiphany, the pattern opening,
The intensity of the new connection breaking through,

The science of cutting to the center of the world,
Of seeing what others don’t choose to see,
Of waking to awareness when others sleep,
And the flow of following the spirit far into the night.

When I see these things in myself, I recognize you.
The passion of discovery is too powerful to resist,
Even if we wanted to; the daemon must be honored;
It is ours, and we must let it speak through us or die.

4. Science as Always Starting Anew

I find it odd that I describe my dad in a series of narratives,
But you as a set of ideas, a paradigm, a model.
There is, however, one story that is always you,
The story in which you are always re-inventing yourself:

Child of the Depression with a single mom;
Big city girl; prep school party-er;
Young, anxious mother and seamstress;
Small town society woman in a flat land.

But your life makes a strange turn: You take up philosophy;
You quit smoking just because you feel like it;
You return to religion and start teaching Sunday school;
You become a small business owner and a writer.

Years pass: You’re CEO of a large and raucous family,
With the habit of taking in strays (both human and animal);
And you’ve gradually evolved into a spiritual leader
Of a small but loyal group of friends.

Then, your life turns again:  Warned in a vision
Of the impending end of civilization, you become
A gentle survivalist and take your family
Into the mountains, like Noah waiting for her flood

You seal several tons of wheat into cans,
Which are still there after twenty-five years.
Well, we can’t get everything right, but now you live
In a beautiful little valley: Murray Creek.

Now you are matriarch to three generations and 60 acres.
A combination of Ariadne, Daedalus and Theseus,
You become a labyrinth designer and unwinder
Of ritual journey spaces of stones, words and image.

Reading widely and deeply, you map the interweaving
Stories of your own and humanity’s spiritual development,
Join a religious order, become a spritual director,
And finally, start a Crone Circle of wise women.

Curiously, all these things somehow fit together:
Clearly, you’ve never stopped starting over;
For you, science is leaving behind what no longer works,
A selfsame process of adding on, differentiating, elaborating,

Just as you are always the same person,
The passionate, intellectual adventurer, the one
Who keeps transforming herself, like an endless succession
Of butterflies, emerging one from the other. 

Photo by Conal Elliott, Upper House, Murray Creek, 27 March 2013, by permission.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

“No New Meds”: Article in Science News

Entry for 30 March 2013:

I didn't think I'd live long enough to see the psychopharmacology movement begin to run out of steam! While drug companies defund research on new psychopharm drugs, others in the field continue to search desperately for ways to save the paradigm, such as cutting corners in the drug development process. What is bracing and unexpected here is the range of scientists admitting that there are real problems with the field, including the fact that no new classes of psychiatric drugs have been introduced in the past 30 years. What they seem to be missing in all of this is the idea that psychotherapy/counselling is a much more refined and differentiated psychopharmacological agent for helping people change their brains by changing their experiences and behavior. Let's hear it for neuroplasticity!

No New Meds | Humans | Science News

Web edition: February 7, 2013 Print edition: February 23, 2013; Vol.183 #4, (p. 26)
With drug firms in retreat, the pipeline for new psychiatric medications dries up
Psychiatry seemed poised on the edge of a breakthrough. In early 2011, after decades of no radically new drugs, a fundamentally different schizophrenia treatment promised relief from the psychotic hallucinations and delusions plaguing people with the disease. The new compound, devised by chemists at Eli Lilly and Co., hit a ...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Music for Good Friday

Entry for 29 March 2013:

I think George Crumb's Black Angels (Thirteen Images from the Dark Land), written during the Vietnam war for amplified string quartet, captures the battle between the forces of light and darkness in the Passion story, and speaks to the horror of the crucifixion, going beyond the mood of sadness say at the end of Bach's St Mark Passion, played live tonight on BBC Radio 3.  

I thought of Crumb's dramatic and eerie music tonight during our Good Friday evening service, when Jesus' last words were shouted out,  but it could also be a sound track also for the rest of the story: the arrest in the garden, the trial, the scourging etc.  It has a similar modernist starkness to Gwyneth Leach's Stations of the Cross paintings, used in the service tonight (see with their depiction of soldiers carrying automatic weapons, guard dogs, and barbed wire.  If you don't know Black Angels and are curious (it's definitely not going to be to many people's tastes), you can find live performances of it on You Tube for example: .  (Yes, they really are playing musical water glasses with their violin bows.)