David Sivesind

BA, University of Northern Iowa. Addiction Studies Graduate Certificate, University of Minnesota. MA, PhD, New School for Social Research. Assistant professor of psychology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Clinical psychologist with special interests in addiction, HIV treatment, chronic health condition identity adjustment, LGBT issues, and integrated psychology practice in health-care settings. SLC, 2013–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Psychology

Psychological Illness, Neurodiversity, and Human Creativity: Perspectives From Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar considers that difficult-to-identify dividing line between psychological illness and human variation that contributes to our creative leaps (artistic or other creativity) from the vantage point of clinical psychology. A quick Internet search will reveal historical creative luminaries proposed to have suffered from some form of psychological illness. We will consider that slippery clinical evaluation of “normal limits” that is often evoked as an ill-defined and subjective comparative standard in taxonomies of psychological illness. We will consider the notions/movement of neurodiversity. We will incorporate views from the anti-psychiatry/anti-psychology movements while also not losing sight of the suffering involved for many who are identified with various psychological disorders. To understand these movements against the current format of diagnosis, we will also have the class objective of understanding the use, usefulness, scientific backing, and aim of current taxonomies of those diagnoses that we explore for the class. We will consider work in this domain by experts such as Kay Jamison, Oliver Sacks, John Elder Robinson, and others. We will explore historical views regarding the connection between “madness and genius,” as well as contemporary psychology explorations of the topics involved in this proposed connection.

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Who am I? Clinical Perspectives of Psychology of the Self

Open , Lecture—Fall

What do any of us mean when we say our ”self”? What is the self? Multiple perspectives on this topic have emerged in the literature of psychology, psychotherapy, and beyond. Self-concept, self-esteem, self-worth, real-self, false-self, self-control, self-estrangement, among other terms and concepts, will be considered here. And what of the loss of self, as noted by the above statement? What was lost? (Has something been lost?) Is the person’s brain different? Is that where the self is? The person notes that “things” are different. Perhaps that’s some change with relation to the environment, some new development in emotion, habits, or perhaps relationships? Is “the self” a stable concept? We will consider both clinical cases regarding perceived loss of self and cases from neuroscience where some authors have perceived a change in a person’s concept of “self.” We will consider readings that stem from a primarily Western, individuality-oriented, self perspective, as well as non-Western and other challenges to these notions of self. This is an open lecture course format; however, students in the course will be expected to engage actively in discussions as part of every lecture. We will consider writings from a variety of perspectives: Heinz Kohut, Donald Winnicott, Eric Berne, Karen Horney, Martin Seligman, Joseph Ledoux, Oliver Sacks, and others.

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Previous Courses

Who am I? Clinical Perspectives on Psychology of the Self

Open , Lecture—Spring

“I don’t feel like myself anymore. Things are different with me.”

“I think I lost myself”

“That’s just who I am”

“I think I found myself”

What do any of us mean when we say our ”self”? What is the self? Multiple perspectives on this topic have emerged in the literature of psychology, psychotherapy, and beyond. Self-concept, self-esteem, self-worth, real-self, false-self, self-control, and self-estrangement, among other terms and concepts, will be considered here. And what of the loss of self, as noted by the above statement? What was lost? (Has something been lost?) Is the person’s brain different? Is that where the self is? The person notes that “things” are different. Perhaps that’s some change with relation to the environment or some new development in emotion, habits, or perhaps relationships? Is “the self” a stable concept? We will consider both clinical cases regarding perceived loss of self, as well as cases from neuroscience where some authors have perceived a change in a person’s concept of “self.” We will consider readings that stem from a primarily Western, individuality oriented, self-perspective, as well as non-Western and other challenges to these notions of self. This is an open lecture course format; however, students in the course will be expected to engage actively in discussions as part of every lecture. We will consider writings from a variety of perspectives: Heinz Kohut, Donald Winnicott, Eric Berne, Karen Horney, Martin Seligman, Joseph Ledoux, Oliver Sacks, and others.

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Anxiety, Stress, and Health

Open , Lecture—Fall

What exactly is anxiety? How is the concept of stress related? Countless articles warn about the dangers of stress for human physical and psychological health. This class aims to start slightly earlier and examine the topic in depth. Are we talking about an emotional condition? A body process gone awry? Are we in the “age of anxiety,” as some have suggested? Can you feel your own anxiety reading this? The class will explore anxiety and stress as concepts, with special attention to what is known of the related neuroscience.

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The Psychology and Neuroscience of Addictions

Open , Lecture—Year

This course is a multidisciplinary overview of addiction. Although the primary focus of the course is substance-related addictions and use, the emerging literature regarding nonsubstance addictive behaviors will also be discussed (food, gambling, internet, gaming). Explanations for addiction—spiritual, emotional, biological—have spanned the ages and remain controversial today. This course will explore the study of addiction from historical roots to contemporary theory. Competing theories of substance abuse/addiction will be examined, focusing on the individual with regard to cultural and societal concerns. This course presents a framework for understanding models of substance use and addiction, including neuropsychological advances, with a critical review of the evidence and controversies regarding each. Students will be asked to think critically and constructively about the topic, eschewing dogma of any one approach to the treatment and understanding of substance abuse. Readings will include literature from psychology and medicine to the arts, ethics, and the press. As this is a yearlong course, adequate time will be spent introducing basic social and brain science as it pertains to a later, more advanced examination of exciting neurological research.

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Related Disciplines

Understanding Addiction: Psychological and Neuropsychological Approaches

Open , Seminar—Fall

Addiction: (Roman Law) a formal award by a magistrate of a thing or person to another person (as the award of a debtor to his creditor); a surrender to a master.

Evidence of addiction has been present throughout history. Explanations for addiction—spiritual, emotional, biological—have spanned the ages and remain controversial today. This course will explore the study of addiction from historical roots to contemporary theory. Competing theories of substance abuse/addiction will be examined, with a focus on the individual with regard to cultural and societal concerns. This course presents a framework for understanding models of substance use and addiction, including neuropsychological advances, with a critical review of the evidence and controversies regarding each. Students will be asked to think critically and constructively about the topic, eschewing dogma of any one approach to the treatment and understanding of substance abuse. Readings will include literature from psychology and medicine to the arts, ethics, and the press. Conference work may range from an academic exploration of substance use theory (moral, developmental, dynamic, motivational) to a broader conceptualization of cultural, ethical, and cross-discipline understandings.

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