The Mind, Body and Soul in Healing podcast

The Mind, Body and Soul in Healing

Harvey Schwartz MD

A conversation with experts in cutting-edge fields related to mental health, physical wellbeing, and spiritual sustenance. A look at what our future holds for us.

19 Episodes

  • The Mind, Body and Soul in Healing podcast

    The Psychology of Magic and its Use in Wellbeing with Gustav Kuhn, PhD


    "As cognitive psychologists we are very much interested in these unconscious processes. Most of the processes that are involved to create your reality you are not consciously aware of. There are more computations that happen in our unconscious minds to allow us to solve a lot of these problems. As within psychoanalysis we are often unaware of a lot of these processes, and as magicians this is very useful because it allows us to manipulate your experiences without you necessarily being aware of this."     Episode Description: Professor Kuhn utilizes his expertise as a cognitive psychologist to deepen our understanding of the psychological processes that operate when we observe magic. We discuss the power and persuasiveness of misdirection and what's called the 'magician's force'. These are both techniques designed to distract for the purpose of disguise. In addition to being used for entertainment, these maneuvers need to be understood as they can be part of legal and political manipulation. Gustav showed me a sleight hand trick and then explained what the trick was. We also discussed how both observing and learning magic has application in settings to improve an individual's sense of wellbeing.    Our Guest: Gustav Kuhn, Ph.D. is a cognitive psychologist with a background as a semi-professional magician. Gustav now directs the MAGIC (Mind Attention and General Illusory Cognition) lab at Goldsmith, University of London, where they use magic to uncover the functioning of the human mind. Gustav is one of the leading researchers in the Science of Magic, and his research team spans a wide range of disciplines. For example, Alice Pailhès is currently studying different types of forcing techniques to learn more about how magicians covertly influence people’s choices. Other researchers in his team are using eye-tracking technologies to examine how magicians misdirect their audience’s attention. Steve Bagienski is exploring different ways in which magic can be used to enhance people’s well-being. This research shows that magic offers a unique tool to enhance different aspects of our mental health and wellbeing.  Gustav has published more than 80 scientific papers and his work often appears on Radio, TV, and the press, and he has also written a book on the psychology of magic, entitled Experiencing The Impossible. Gustav is a member of the Magic Circle and the President of the Science of Magic Association. 
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    Listening and Prozac: Integrating Psychotherapy and Medications with Peter Kramer, MD


    "I write a lot about stuckness - it’s not just how bad the thing is but whether it’s changeable and flexible - whether the patient is at least occasionally able to get out of that perspective and see things differently. For patients who are really stuck, sometimes I would give them medicine and continue psychotherapy. After six or seven months of having a different perspective, if the medicine worked, we will often be able to taper the medicine and the patient could reach at least some awareness that that fixed perspective wasn’t simply the way things were."       Episode Description: We begin by describing severely afflicted patients for whom the use of medications is a vital part of their overall treatment. We then discuss individuals for whom medications can address psychological 'stuckness' that is not otherwise life-threatening. These are patients who are struggling with impulsiveness and ruminations that have led them to be withdrawn from a full life of interests, intimacy, and pleasures. Listening to Prozac published in 1993 drew attention to the usefulness of these new medicines to make a difference in the lives of such individuals. We review the challenges of 'having medicine as a co-therapist’ which can often involve split treatments with other providers. We close with Dr. Kramer's reflections on his many years of practice.    Our Guest: Peter D. Kramer, MD is the author of seven books, including Ordinarily Well, Against Depression, Should You Leave?, the novel Spectacular Happiness, and the international bestseller Listening to Prozac. Dr. Kramer hosted the nationally syndicated public radio program, The Infinite Mind, and has appeared on the major broadcast news and talk shows, including Today, Good Morning America, Oprah, Charlie Rose, and Fresh Air. His essays, op-eds, and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Slate, Times Literary Supplement, and elsewhere. Dr. Kramer divides his time between Chilmark, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island, where he is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University. 
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    What is the Placebo Effect and How Can it be Harnessed? with Joe Kossowsky, Ph.D.


    "We used [open-label placebo] in kids with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the interesting thing about these patients is that they were only allowed to enroll in our study at Boston Children’s if all other treatments had failed. Basically. we had a population that had undergone numerous treatments with all of them not helping much. These are patients that didn’t have a positive classical conditioning that you would be hoping for - they came in with negative expectations about whether this would work. Yet, we were able to elicit in many, not all, a clinical change that they were never able to achieve with any other medication."     Episode Description: We begin with recounting the etymology of the word placebo and then describe two dramatic instances where 'mind over matter' determines the body's physical responses. Joe elucidates the impact of culture and setting on the psychology of the subject and then the impact of their psychology on neuro-biologic mechanisms. His research emphasizes the power of the provider-patient relationship, and we discuss this similarity with the psychotherapeutic relationship. We consider open-label placebos where the individual is told that what they are receiving is an inert substance. Nevertheless, in a number of medical conditions, this proves to be an effective intervention. We conclude with Joe sharing his genealogy of 40 generations of rabbis and of his continuing their healing tradition.    Our Guest: Joe Kossowsky, Ph.D. is a clinical investigator in the Division of Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. Following his graduate studies in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience, Dr. Kossowsky obtained his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and a Master's degree in Biomedical Informatics from Harvard Medical School. He completed postdoctoral fellowships in the areas of pediatric pain, placebo research, and biomedical informatics at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Kossowsky's research revolves around the evaluation of the progression of acute, chronic pain and comorbid psychiatric conditions, including the benefits of interventions. 
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    History and Culture Matter for Depression with Jonathan Sadowsky, PhD


    “[Springsteen's book] is about rock and roll; it’s about the joy of music; and it’s about clinical depression. He weaves these together and Springsteen is not only a great example of how someone can live a creative life while enduring this kind of suffering, but he also shows how invisible depression can be to others. Who would have ever equated that the man who is just briming with life and vitality on stage was the same person who had periods in life where he found it very difficult to get out of bed. He felt nothing but futility and hopelessness in his life amid all of the riches, celebration, and fame that he experiences."   Episode Description: We discuss the history of sadness and depression - how they are seen as similar and different from each other throughout history and across cultures. Professor Sadowsky is wary of reductionism in understanding the origins of depression and values both biologic and psychoanalytic treatment approaches. We consider the concept of "chemical imbalance." We discuss famous individuals who have struggled with depression and how they demonstrate that one can live a vital life alongside this terrible condition. We conclude with a few words about the origin of his interest in this subject.   Our Guest: Jonathan Sadowsky, Ph.D. is the Theodore J. Castele Professor of the History of Medicine and Associate Director of the Program in Medicine, Society, and Culture in the Department of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Case Western Reserve University. He holds secondary appointments in Bioethics and Psychiatry. He holds degrees in History from Wesleyan (BA), Stanford (MA), and The Johns Hopkins University (Ph. D.) and studied psychiatric epidemiology at Columbia. He is the author of Imperial Bedlam: Institutions of Madness and Colonialism in Southwest Nigeria; Electroconvulsive Therapy in America: The Anatomy of a Medical Controversy; and The Empire of Depression: A New History.
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    Varieties of Attunement and the Spectrum with Edward Brodkin, MD and Ashley Pallathra, MA


    "The first pillar is relaxed awareness - we talk about it as the fundamental state of mind and body that is the basis of attunement. Listening is the taking in of cues and information from the other person. Understanding is cognitively processing and understanding that information that you’ve taken in. The final pillar is mutual responsiveness. It is in essence the active component of attunement - what you do towards the other person once you’ve taken in and understood that information."   Episode Description: We begin by describing what emotional attunement is and how we 'know it when we see it.' We are most familiar with it in the creative and athletic arts but in fact we have access to it in our daily lives. Ted and Ashley break it down for us and describe the four pillars that they see as constituting rich interpersonal attunement. We also discuss what the autistic spectrum is and how its various presentations reflect neurodiversity. They each describe clinical presentations of these conditions and the approaches that can be useful in engaging those who struggle in this area. We close our conversation by their sharing their personal journeys that have led them to this field.   Our Guests: Edward S. ("Ted") Brodkin, M.D. is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Founder and Director of the Adult Autism Spectrum Program at Penn Medicine. He received his A.B. Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He did his residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in neuroscience research at the Yale University School of Medicine, as well as a fellowship in genetics research at Princeton University. His research lab and clinical program at the University of Pennsylvania focus on social neuroscience and the autism spectrum in adults.   Ashley A. Pallathra, M.A. is a clinical researcher and therapist. After graduating with a bachelor's degree with Distinction in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, she received a Master's degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She is the author of numerous published research articles and a book chapter in the fields of resilience and social-emotional functioning in youth, autism research, and social neuroscience. Her current research and clinical work center around strengthening social competence and building resilience in children and adolescents from diverse community settings.
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    Breathing, the Vagus Nerve, and Compassion with Patricia Gerbarg, MD


    "In infancy and childhood the autonomic nervous system is going through developmental stages just as with any other aspect of development. The quality of the engagement and the closeness with the caretaker has a big effect on how the autonomic system develops. When we have conditions where we feel safe, then we tend to have dominance of the activity of the parasympathetic system."     Episode Description: Dr. Gerbarg brings her psychiatric and psychoanalytic training to her work as an integrative psychiatrist with a special focus on breathing techniques. We begin by reviewing the anatomical connections between the lungs, the vagus nerve, and the brain. The balance between the enervating sympathetic system and the calming parasympathetic system can be powerfully influenced by different breathing practices. The balance between these two parts of the autonomic system can be negatively influenced by traumas both in early childhood and in adult life. Dr. Gerbarg presents case examples of individuals who have had their psychotherapeutic treatments helpfully augmented by breathing instruction.    Our Guest: Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD is an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry, New York Medical College, graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, practices Integrative Psychiatry, and serves on the American Psychiatric Association CAIM caucus and Global Mental Health caucus. In addition to 40 years in clinical practice, Dr. Gerbarg does research on mind-body practices for stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress-related medical conditions, and mass disasters. She and Dr. Richard Brown teach Breath-Body-Mind courses and co-author award-winning books, including The Healing Power of the Breath, Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD, How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health (with Dr. Phillip Muskin), and Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice (with Dr. Philip Muskin) published by the American Psychiatric Association. 
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    Therapeutic Approaches to Chronic Pain with Michele Cohen, LCS


    I play [piano] regularly with a violinist every Wednesday night - my violinist comes with her student to my house and we play two violin and piano duets first. Right now, we are working on the Franck Sonata and it is so much fun! It is so great and I am so happy I can do that! When I am playing and I am passionate, the pain stays in the background enough for me to feel that I am in another world.   Episode Description: We begin by outlining the nature of chronic pain - how pervasive it is and its association with depression, sleep disorders, obesity, and smoking. We also referenced its link to childhood traumatic events. We review the challenges of finding physicians with expertise in both the medical and the emotional aspects of living with chronic pain. Michele describes her work leading support groups for pain sufferers and the patience needed to allow for the uncovering of internal emotional distress. We end with Michele outlining her recommendations for those with pain, for those who are their caregivers, and finally for those health care providers who care for them. In conclusion Michele shares, with a broad smile, her pain-relieving passion for playing music.   Our Guest: Michele Cohen, LCSW, FIPA, is a psychotherapist/psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City, with an interest in group work as well as in individual adult treatment. She is a graduate of the Psychoanalytic Training Institute of the Contemporary Freudian Society (CFS), and a Fellow of the International Psychoanalytic Association. She is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Contemporary Freudian Society, and has taught in CFS' Psychoanalytic Training Program, as well as in their 2-year Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program. She has also supervised and taught at the Metropolitan Institute for Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (MITPP).   Mrs. Cohen also has an ongoing interest in understanding the mind/body duality as it interfaces with patients suffering from physical pain conditions. She has presented her work in this area at Nefesh International (2018) and at the Facial Pain Association's (FPA) National Conference in 2019. She currently facilitates two online support groups for people suffering from Neuropathic Facial Pain and advises volunteer support group leaders for the FPA.
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    Hoarding and Psychotherapy with Stelios Kiosses


    "If you discard an item that a compulsive hoarder is attached to - it could be an empty box, a tin, or something like that. If you throw that particular item that they are attached to away, the grief that a compulsive hoarder will experience is the same amount of grief that one would experience with the loss of a loved one. The same intensity of grieve and mourning will be displayed as if you have lost a real person."   Episode Description: We begin our conversation by outlining the differences between collecting, clutter, and hoarding. Stelios describes the hoarder's fortress of material items that parallels their emotional defenses that keep them from experiencing internal vulnerability and loss. He sees the goal of treatment as helping individuals transform from an intolerable to a tolerable interplay with the world and with others. We review the subject of behavioral cleaning of their homes which if not done sensitively can overwhelm the hoarder. He has found that it must be done in conjunction with psychotherapy if it is to aid the person's capacity to mourn. We close with his describing his difficult personal journey and how powerful psychotherapy has been in his life.   Our Guest: Stelios Kiosses is a psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice. He studied psychodynamic counseling and clinical supervision at the University of Oxford and was previously trained in psychotherapy and experimental psychology at Sussex University. Stelios currently teaches at Harvard University Extension School. In his public role, he has acted as a UK TV psychologist and presenter for Channel 4's hit series The Hoarder Next Door narrated by Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman and currently is patron of the Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts one of HRH Prince of Wales core charities. His book The Power of Talking: Stories From The Therapy Room has just been published by Phoenix Publishing House.
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    Zen and Psychotherapy with Robert Waldinger, MD


    "It's not a good meditation when you are having fewer thoughts, it is not a bad meditation when you are having more thoughts or wilder thoughts. Really what Zen talks about is the limitation of just focusing on thoughts.  Most of the time we are lost in our thoughts - we focus exclusively on our thoughts with much less attention to sensations, to perceptions of the world."    Episode Description: Dr. Waldinger is a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst and a Zen teacher and priest. We begin by distinguishing between an Eastern and Western way of approaching the mind. Dr. Waldinger describes his journey of becoming both a Zen Priest and a Zen instructor and the differing tasks involved with each. He compares his psychodynamic approach with his Zen approach to individuals who are suffering. He explains the Buddhist approach to thoughts, sensations and worries with particular reference to the relationship between a Zen teacher and student. We close by reviewing his personal path that has led him to be attuned to the transience of life.    Our Guest: Robert Waldinger, MD is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, Zen priest, and Zen teacher. He is a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and directs the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life ever done. The Study tracked the lives of 724 men for over 80 years and now studies their Baby Boomer children to understand how childhood experience reaches across decades to affect health and wellbeing in middle age. He writes about what science can teach us about healthy human development, and he is the Founding Director of the Lifespan Research Foundation, dedicated to bringing the insights of lifespan research to the general public. His TED talk about this research, titled “What Makes a Good Life?”, is one of the 10 most viewed TED talks of all time. Dr. Waldinger directs the teaching program in psychodynamic psychotherapy at the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Residency in Boston.    Recommended Readings:  John Daishin Buksbazen, Zen Meditation in Plain English  Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice  Barry Magid, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide  Jeremy Safran, Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue  Norman Fischer and Susan Moon, What Is Zen?: Plain Talk for a Beginner’s Mind    Episode 19: A Psychoanalyst Studies the Good Life- The Harvard Study of Adult Development 
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    Managing Separations from Your Young Child with Erica Komisar


    "Any separation, no matter how short the separation, requires a moment of reunion and repair. If you disregard the importance of that reunion and repair, collectively that starts to do great injury to that baby. Every time we have those missteps it is really important to repair them."      Episode Description: We begin by discussing the centrality of the newborn's experience of attachment and how that connection comes to serve as a foundation for all later attachments. Attachment includes managing separations and Erica describes the parents' vital function of recognizing the ruptures in their infant's sense of safe attachment. She makes common-sense and wise recommendations for how one can facilitate the repair of these ruptures. Central to these repairs is the parents' ability to recognize and tolerate their baby's experiences of loss, sadness, and anger. We discuss the neurochemistry of attachment and how it differs between mothers and fathers. We conclude with Erica sharing with us something of her own growing-up experience and how that has contributed to her devotion to this work.      Our Guest: Erica Komisar, LCSW  is a clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, and parent guidance expert who has been in private practice in New York City for over 30 years. A graduate of Georgetown and Columbia Universities and The New York Freudian Society, Ms. Komisar is a psychological consultant bringing parenting and work/life workshops to clinics, schools, corporations, and childcare settings.  She is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Daily News.   She is a Contributing Editor to The Institute of Family Studies and appears regularly on Fox and Friends and Fox 5 News.   Erica is the author of Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, and her second book, Chicken Little the Sky Isn't Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety will be released in October 2021  to listen, subscribe and to receive Erica Komisar's Recommended Readings, visit    Upcoming Episode: Zen and Psychotherapy with Robert Waldinger, MD 

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