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Mental Health


Mental Health

Encouraging productive interaction among people from diverse perspectives, promoting new and continual exploration of issues relating to mental health and broader issues relating to the body/brain/mind/self, and facilitating the new openings which emerge from the sharing of perspectives.

Mental health is an increasingly significant intellectual and practical concern of people in both academic and social/ cultural/political contexts. In recognition of this, Serendip, the Center for Science in Society, the School of Social Work and Social Research, and other groups at Bryn Mawr College are working together to encourage productive conversation and scholarship about issues of mental health, both general and specific. This, like other Serendip sections, is a work in progress, expected to evolve in response to interests and contributions of visitors. Comments, suggestions, and contributions can be sent to Serendip, to Laura Cyckowski, or to Paul Grobstein.



What's new

February 2007 - These pages originated in 2001 with the objective of providing a broad base of resources for all aspects of mental health (click here for access to prior materials). We have reorganized materials to focus on four areas:

  • "From the inside" ... materials needed to supplement traditional medical and clinical perspectives by providing accounts of relevant internal experiences
  • "Neurobiology" ... materials that help to clarify the relationship between the brain and behavior, including internal experiences
  • "Culture and Behavior" ... materials directed at exploring the relationship between social and cultural organization and individual behavior/internal experiences
  • "Intersections" ... materials aimed at developing broader perspectives that incorporate different insights reached from each of a variety of viewpoints

Some starting points...

Individuals and Culture - The relationship between cultures and individuals and the tensions that arise between the two is emerging as a focus of exploration in various contexts on Serendip. The materials found here address and attempt to focus these issues.
Models of Mental Health - "...People argue about the relative merits of the various perspectives ... Such critiques can be productive but are only a step in a larger task: to develop broader perspectives that can productively incorporate the different useful insights reached from each of a variety of different points of view..."
Making the Unconscious Conscious, and Vice Versa: A Bi-directional Bridge Between Neuroscience/Cognitive Science and Psychotherapy? - "Just as the unconscious and the conscious are engaged in a process of evolving stories for separate reasons and using separate styles, so too have been and will continue to be neuroscience/cognitive science and psychotherapy..."
Diversity and Deviance: A Biological Perspective - "... if we look around and try to describe life as we actually see it, its most obvious characteristic is not order. It is instead diversity..."
Culture as Disability- "...Everyone in any culture is subject to being labeled and disabled... A disability may be a better display board for the weaknesses of a cultural system than it is an account of real persons... [T]his paper is not about disabled persons. It is about the powers of culture to disable..."
Mind and Body: Rene Descartes to William James -"Much of the intellectual history of psychology as both a scientific and a clinical enterprise has involved the attempt to come to grips with these two problems of mind and body..."
  Feingold Gallery - a virtual gallery of digital artwork exploring human diversity, brain and behavior, mental health, and disabilities and cultural evolution
Making Sense of Depression - Depression... what is it? A neurochemical imbalance? An illness? A sad feeling? A loss of will? A creative state of being? Something else? Is it reducible to any one of these? Perhaps it is irreducibly all of these and and more?
Measure for Measure: An Artistic Exploration of Eating Disorders, Body Image, and the Self by Janna Stern - a gallery of images and on-line forum exploring the Mythology of Eating Disorders.

The "Nature" of Desire - a research project by Rachel Berman '01. "...The way we conceptualize, say 'the urge to love' is ...beautiful? Sad? Uplifting? All these are human constructs of the brain. So what's left to say about the 'nature' of the 'urge to love'?"

Time to Think? - The question in a larger context: Brain=behavior? "...the finding that thinking 'takes time' had a significant impact, suggesting that thinking, like other aspects of behavior/human experience, actually had a material basis..."
Ambiguous Figures - "...'ambiguity' is not only the province of the artist or the enjoyer of novelty..."

Individuals and Cultures - a synthesis of materials that attempt to focus the issues that arise between cultures and invidiuals, and promote new ways of thinking about the relationship between the two.



Mental Health and the Brain Working Group, Spring 2009

Genes, Brains, and Being Social: The Gregarious Brain

Depression: From the Inside

NBS Seminar Spring 08: Psychotherapy and the Brain

NBS Seminar Spring 08: Psychosomatics

The Psychoanalyst and the Neurobiologist: A Conversation About Healing the Soul and Telling Stories of the Mind, Brain, Self, and Culture

The Novelist and the Neurobiologist: A Conversation About Story Telling

The Art Historian and the Neurobiologist: A Conversation About Proprioception, the "I-function", Body Art, and ... Story Telling?

Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience: Enemies, Acquaintances, Bedfellows? A conversation

Working Group on Exploring Mental Health (06-07)

Bipolar Disorder and the Creative Genius

On-line Mental Health Forum (archived)



Essays, notes for talks, & misc.

Thinking more about depression as "adaptive"

Cultures of ability

Mental Health and The Brain Fall 08

The Story Hour: The Use of Narrative Therapy with Families

David Hume: A Letter to a Physician

Exploring depression: drugs, psychotherapy, stories, conflicts, a conscious/unconscious dissociation?

The mind-body problem: in theory, in life, in politics and related forum discussion

The Continuing Evolution of (My) Mind: An Engagement with Dan Gottlieb including on-line forum.

Writing Decartes: I Am, and I Can Think, Therefore... including on-line forum.

Mind and Body: Rene Descartes to William James

Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain: Becoming Conscious in an Unconscious World

The Relevance of the Brain for Psychotherapy (and Vice Versa), With Particular Reference to Human Development

A New Relapse Prevention Program

The Gift of Saturn: Creativity and Psychopathology

Buddhist Meditation and Personal Construct Psychology

Praxis III: Mental Health - A BioPsychoSocial Perspective

Depression... or (better?) Thinking About Mood

Making Sense of Diversity: Conversations at Bryn Mawr College

Women Living Well Seminar: Mind and Body Connection



Book reviews from Serendip's Bookshelves
Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism

This quicksilver illness: Moods, Stigma, and Creativity - A review of An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

Myth or Madness? Mania and the Artistic Genius - A review of Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison

T.M. Luhrmann's Of Two Minds: An Antrhopologist Looks at American Psychiatry

Christopher Wills' The Runaway Brain: The Evolution of Human Uniqueness

Antonio Damasio's Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain

Antonio Damasio's Looking for Spinzoa: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain

Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac

Peter Kramer's Against Depression

Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child

Jeffery M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley's: The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force



Elsewhere on the web

Current Materials relating to mental health

Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical

Developmental Topographical Disorientation

Matter Over Mind by David Karp



guest's picture

Nice and helpful! Glad that

Nice and helpful! Glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date. Thanks for sharing!

war gold 's picture


Thanks for your nice article.

There are two main classifications of MH issues. ICD-10 and DSM-IV. ICD is a taxonomy of all health related conditions and diagnostic criteria and is varied from country to country (which kinda makes the ‘International’ nomenclature redundant). DSM is MH specific and has developed into a multi-axial tool to aide in a brief summary of clinical presentation. It is praised and criticised in equal measures.

This post is about exploring the DSM and how the axes are currently used with a proposal for a new way of using the DSM in determining need for health care interventions. I may be out of sync with other places internationally that have already taken this pathway - or similar - but I’ve not seen anything thus far to lead me to think so. Let me know.

avnish's picture

hi,guys I think about this

hi,guys I think about this is a term used to describe either a level of cognitive or emotional wellbeing or an absence of a mental disorder.and perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.Mental health can be seen as a continuum, where an individual's mental health may have many different possible values. Mental wellness is generally viewed as a positive attribute, such that a person can reach enhanced levels of mental health, even if they do not have any diagnosable mental health condition.


Addiction Recovery Washington

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