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 2018-2019

Psychology

Neurodiversity and Clinical Psychology

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? —Harvey Blume, The Atlantic, 1998

Defects, disorders, diseases can play a paradoxical role by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence. —Oliver Sacks

This seminar focuses on the concept of neurodiversity and the potential impact of this concept in understanding certain clinical concerns. To some authors, the concept of neurodiversity is of simple relation to the concepts of biodiversity or genetic diversity, with the focus on different ways in which brains might develop. To other authors, the term describes a social/political stance in viewing difference. This is the concept of neurodiversity that will be explored in the course, as it relates to current and developing ways of understanding difference related to several ways of presenting traditionally-termed “disorders” within mental-health treatment. Definitions of the term “neurodiversity” vary, with one conference defining it as: “A concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. (National Symposium on Neurodiversity, 2011). From this point of view, such differences are not necessarily pathology but, rather, differences to be celebrated and respected. This is in stark contrast to deficit models of taxonomy of mental illness, such as catalogued in the DSM 5. The course will provide an overview of this form of disorder description in order to frame those points of view, which contain distinctly different and sometimes opposed assumptions. We will explore ways in which those views have influence regarding the spirit of intervention (i.e., correction versus accommodation). Readings will explore important related continuums of essentialist versus contextualist understandings of those presentations that help us understand how focus of interventions vary based on underlying assumptions. The course begins with a focus on those points of view regarding autism, as that is the area where the neurodiversity movement first gained the powerful momentum of self-advocacy and framed the larger debate regarding challenges to the deficit model. Since that initial momentum, the neurodiversity concept has also been applied to other areas of difference: dyslexia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and others. The course also incorporates an older literature regarding the sometimes assumed link between mental illness and creativity, which is complex, as well as literature focused on potential overlooked strengths and abilities that may exist within those populations. We will consider work in this domain such as Kay Jamison, Oliver Sacks, Naoki Higashida, and others. Most of all, the course aims to increase student understanding regarding potential heightened abilities, as well as challenges, in neurodiverse populations.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Anxiety, Stress, and Health

Open , Lecture—Fall

This lecture is a super-lecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

This course is a multidisciplinary overview of anxiety. What exactly is anxiety? How is the concept of stress related? There are countless articles warning of 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? We will trace the progression of related conditions, from post-traumatic stress disorder to substance abuse, psychosis, and other conditions. The class will explore anxiety and stress as concepts, with special attention to what is known of the related neuroscience.

Faculty
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Graduate Courses

Child Development 2018-2019

Neurodiversity and Clinical Psychology

Graduate Seminar—Spring

Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? —Harvey Blume, The Atlantic, 1998

Defects, disorders, diseases can play a paradoxical role by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence. —Oliver Sacks

This seminar focuses on the concept of neurodiversity and the potential impact of this concept in understanding certain clinical concerns. To some authors, the concept of neurodiversity is of simple relation to the concepts of biodiversity or genetic diversity, with the focus on different ways in which brains might develop. To other authors, the term describes a social/political stance in viewing difference. This is the concept of neurodiversity that will be explored in the course, as it relates to current and developing ways of understanding difference related to several ways of presenting traditionally-termed “disorders” within mental-health treatment. Definitions of the term “neurodiversity” vary, with one conference defining it as: “A concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. (National Symposium on Neurodiversity, 2011). From this point of view, such differences are not necessarily pathology but, rather, differences to be celebrated and respected. This is in stark contrast to deficit models of taxonomy of mental illness, such as catalogued in the DSM 5. The course will provide an overview of this form of disorder description in order to frame those points of view, which contain distinctly different and sometimes opposed assumptions. We will explore ways in which those views have influence regarding the spirit of intervention (i.e., correction versus accommodation). Readings will explore important related continuums of essentialist versus contextualist understandings of those presentations that help us understand how focus of interventions vary based on underlying assumptions. The course begins with a focus on those points of view regarding autism, as that is the area where the neurodiversity movement first gained the powerful momentum of self-advocacy and framed the larger debate regarding challenges to the deficit model. Since that initial momentum, the neurodiversity concept has also been applied to other areas of difference: dyslexia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and others. The course also incorporates an older literature regarding the sometimes assumed link between mental illness and creativity, which is complex, as well as literature focused on potential overlooked strengths and abilities that may exist within those populations. We will consider work in this domain such as Kay Jamison, Oliver Sacks, Naoki Higashida, and others. Most of all, the course aims to increase student understanding regarding potential heightened abilities, as well as challenges, in neurodiverse populations.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

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.

Faculty

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.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

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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