Dear SSPC Colleague,
I hope you are planning to attend our 2015 conference. The theme this year, global mental health (GMH), is on the minds of many cultural psychiatrists right now. Look over this year’s program which can be found on the SSPC Annual Meeting page. You will see the people and issues you definitely will want to hear, Right now you can get a head start on these issues by looking at the special issue of Transcultural Psychiatry (December 2014) which is largely devoted to GMH. It is available to members online at no cost. If you haven’t accessed your copy of the Journal until now here’s how to get there: On the website under Membership, go to the “For Members Only” section and once on your profile scroll down to “Transcultural Psychiatry Online.” Board member and TCP editor, Laurence Kirmayer, opens the issue with a very helpful framework for understanding GMH. This is followed by five articles covering important issues in the GMH discussion: why mental health matters to global health; research ethics in global mental health; creating synergy between global mental health and cultural psychiatry; ritual healing and mental health in India; and, the making of global and local scale.
In addition to our theme, there’s more good news about the 2015 meeting. With our increased membership and careful budgeting we have been able, for the first time, to reduce the registration fee for trainees. We also have been able to hold our general members’ registration fees at the same very reasonable rate we have had for the past three or four years. You won’t find another meeting where you get more for your money than SSPC, with a three day program filled with interesting sessions; meals and receptions; and most important, numerous opportunities to meet your colleagues and share interests in a small, casual and friendly setting.
I want to mention two important developments that are currently in the works The first is a major website revision which is now scheduled to “go live” in January. The second development is a unique mentorship program that will connect senior SSPC members to younger members in their research, clinical and training careers. Watch the website for information about both of these additional benefits of SSPC membership.
2015 elections – Last year the Board completed a major revision of its Bylaws. Two major changes going forward are the size (smaller) and term limits for all Board members. The Board will now consist of 18 individuals: 5 members of the Executive Committee – President, Vice President/ President elect, immediate Past President, Secretary and Treasurer – plus 12 elected Board members, each serving a 3 year term with the option of election to a second term, plus a non-voting Executive Director.
In March 2015 we will elect 3 members of the Executive Committee – Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer – and three Board members, for a 3-year term beginning at the annual meeting in Providence. I hope you will consider running for one of these positions, or joining one of our Committees. Finally, please plan to attend our brief but important business meeting on Friday April 24th where we will thank the retiring officers and Board members for their excellent service, and introduce our new officers, Board members and committee chairs.
Lastly, don’t forget to contribute to the President’s Fund. We are presently working on a way for you to donate when you pay your dues or register for the annual meeting.
With best wishes for the holidays I look forward to seeing many of you in Providence.
2014 is off to an excellent start for SSPC. Under Roberto’s leadership, the Program Committee has put the finishing touches on what will prove to be one of our best meetings ever. We received an abundance of excellent abstracts on this year’s theme of trauma. It was sometimes difficult to select the most outstanding presentations.
On the first day of our three day meeting we will have plenary sessions, award winning lectures, a film festival, and a poster session focused primarily on the theme of trauma. On days two and three we have organized 15 first rate symposia. Apparently the word is already spreading about the meeting since registration is at an all time high with more than 2 months to go. If you haven’t yet made your plans, this is one SSPC meeting you won’t want to miss. Our recently upgraded website is getting better with age and the contributions of our hard working membership. Although we had some glitches in the process of accepting your annual dues and registration for the annual meeting, most of these understandable problems are now fixed. (Thanks to Liz and our very competent new web manager Bahman Mahdavi.)
We have just opened a section of the SSPC website for members only. I encourage you to enter that section from the Home Page and complete the information section on the Profile Page so that other members can contact you, learn about your interests and professional activities, and you can reach out to them in return. Over time, with everyone contributing to this section, we will develop a very valuable communication instrument, (better, I predict, than Facebook and LinkedIn, where I never go.)
In the Members Only section you should also sign up for your free online subscription to the journal, Transcultural Psychiatry. Finally, by the time you have read this letter our videoconferencing program (produced and directed by Sadeq Rahimi) will have been launched. Sadeq has planned an exciting rotation of monthly discussions, alternating between clinical cases, interviews with authors of recently published articles in the field, and conversations with investigators of current research projects. You won’t want to miss your Society’s exciting venture into the digital age.
With all these changes, and more planned, we need your help. We have openings on several committees as well as positions on the Board, so please volunteer for something that interests you. Please tell your colleagues about our work, collegiality, and encourage them to join SSPC and come to our meeting in May.
Welcome to 2014 and the next phase of SSPC! I look forward to seeing you in San Diego.
Our 2013 meeting in Toronto may only be a memory but the good feelings about it are still strong. I’ve heard from many of you since we wrapped up the program on May 5th and the opinions were that this meeting was one of the best. Thanks to all who made it successful, but especially to our Toronto hosts, Kenneth Fung, Lisa Andermann, Ted Lo, and the Hong Fook Mental Health Association who brought an important clinical focus to our discussion of stigma on the first day.
Although the ink is not dry on the 2013 meeting files the Program Committee has begun gearing up for the 2014 meeting in San Diego. The theme is “Trauma, Recovery, and Culture”. The dates are set for our standard three full days of sessions: Thursday through Saturday, May 15-17, with the possibility of a special half day workshop on Sunday. We will be at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego. Look for further details about the meeting on the SSPC website, www.psychiatryandculture.org and in forthcoming newsletters.
A block of rooms is being held at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Old Town, which is just a few minutes from the Kroc Institute. The room rate is $139.00 plus tax, including breakfast. The hotel’s reservation telephone number is (619) 299-7400 . Rooms are limited and May is a busy time in San Diego, so please be sure to book early and tell them you will be attending the SSPC meeting.
The most important date coming up is the deadline for abstracts — September 16th. We have new guidelines for submitting abstracts this year, so please read them carefully and follow the instructions completely, including the requirements for a reference in each abstract and learning objectives for every presentation.
The SSPC Board met on June 21 to consider several time-sensitive proposals:
- Transcultural Psychiatry, edited by Board member Laurence Kirmayer, proposed an affiliation with SSPC that includes an online copy of the Journal for each SSPC member and a loose commitment on the part of TCP to publish papers from members’ presentations at our annual meetings in special issues. TCP, a Sage publication, is one of the most important journals in our field. This is a great value added benefit to membership in SSPC. There will be a $15 increase in 2014 dues ($5 for trainees) to cover the cost of the online subscription, which is usually only available to members. SSPC members will be able to supplement their online subscription with a print subscription for only $30/yr, well below the $111 cost for an individual subscription. The Board unanimously accepted the proposal and is proud to include this affiliation with TCP as a new SSPC membership benefit. Online subscriptions will begin with the first issue of 2014.
- The Board also took two additional actions. A committee was formed with Larry Merkel as Chair, to consider publishing an SSPC casebook on cultural psychiatry. While there was considerable enthusiasm for this project, Board members are aware of the time and effort involved in producing a quality book and approach the project cautiously. Larry and his committee will report back to the Board within three months with their committee’s recommendation.
- Finally, at the recommendation of Francis Lu, the Board endorsed the APA Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities suggestions to the APA’s Milestone Project, which advises the APA Council of Medical Education and Lifelong Learning. Simply, but I hope accurately put, the Board is hoping to include the cultural formulation and culturally-sensitive treatment in every psychiatric training program.
by Steve Wolin and Elizabeth Kramer
This year SSPC lost 4 members of the organization. Their loss to SSPC, the professions in which they served, and to their families is immeasurable, but we honor them here and remember them fondly.
Wen-Shing Tseng (1935-2012) was born in Taiwan in 1935, graduated medical school at the National Taiwan University in 1965, and additional training in psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center of Harvard Medical School 1965-68. He taught psychiatry in Taipei from 1965-71, but began a two year stint as a research associate at the East-West Center in Honolulu in 1971 and in 1972 he joined the psychiatry faculty of the University of the Hawaii School of Medicine as an associate professor. In 2009 he was promoted to full professor. For many years Wen-Shing was a principal ambassador for cultural psychiatry around the world. He visited China in 1981 as a WHO fellow, and later became a guest professor at the Institute of Mental Health, at the Peking University. He taught psychotherapy to young psychiatrists there for two decades. He was chair of TP section of the World Psychiatric Association and later was the founding President of the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP), where he organized numerous congresses around the world, including the inaugural meeting of WACP in Beijing in 2006. He published over 50 books and monographs in three languages, including his autobiography in Chinese. (sw)
Raymond Harold Prince (1925-2012), a pioneer in transcultural psychiatry, was born in Barrie, Ontario. He studied medicine and psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario where he experimented with LSD supplied by a pharmaceutical company. Although an atheist, he spent his life studying religious experiences. Ray’s career in transcultural psychiatry began in 1957 while working at Aro Hospital in Abeokuta. The only ‘alienist’ in the pre-independence colonial government of Nigeria, he observed how differently the Yoruba people treat mental illness. Ray noticed an unusual condition that was prevalent among students in Nigeria. He wrote that “here, the somatic complaints were focused upon the head; burning, pain, vacancy, prickling, the sensation of worms crawling – and there was a concomitant inability to concentrate and grasp the meaning of the written word. Students sometimes had to abandon their studies… It gradually dawned on me…that this was a distinctive syndrome…I called it ’brain fag’, because some of the students referred to it in that way and attributed it to too much use of their brains.” This was Ray’s description of what became his first psychiatric paper in 1960: “The Brain Fag Syndrome in Nigerian Students”, published in the Journal of Mental Science (later The British Journal of Psychiatry). In that same year Ray published two other papers: “Curse, Invocation and Mental Health among the Yoruba” in what is now called the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry and “The Use of Rauwolfia for the Treatment of Psychoses by Nigerian Native Doctors” in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Ray’s classic observations and questions on the treatment of psychoses by indigenous healers became an essential component of cultural psychiatry. “I began to see a whole series of patients who described obvious psychotic episodes and who had been treated by indigenous healers. It became clear that their treatments [worked]… How did they do it?”
He was research director of the Montreal Mental Hygiene Institute at McGill University, and became Professor of Psychiatry at McGill in 1979, and Professor Emeritus in 1991. He was the director of the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry 1981-91, and editor of Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review, now Transcultural Psychiatry.
Ray’s interest in research in cultural psychiatry included the nature of consciousness, in altered states of consciousness, in psychological healing, and in spiritual healing.
He was fascinated with the physiology of these phenomena, as well as with trance and possession states; those induced by religious ecstasy and those induced by drugs; and how they are related to ‘insight’, to healing and to psychopathology. He organized several important conferences on these topics, which led to numerous publications on the subject. Ray published 154 papers between 1955 and 2002, including 22 since he retired in 1991, and especially a series of articles on the “pioneers of transcultural psychiatry”.
We owe a great debt to Raymond Prince for the innovative contributions he made in psychiatry, to defining a major aspect of cultural psychiatry and by extension his importance to our organization. Thank you to Ron Wintrob for providing me with many of the details of Ray Prince’s life work. (sw)
Photo credit: John Onate
Herbert Campbell (1959-2012)
We learned only a few weeks ago that long-term member and friend, Herb Campbell, died suddenly and unexpectedly on August 25, 2012, at the age of 63. Herb was a career psychiatrist with the Department of State whose posts included Cambodia, India and Athens, where he was based at the time of his death. According to one of his colleagues at the State department, Herb was passing through Germany en route to regional work, went for a hike and was not heard from. He was found lying on a rock with his hands behind his head as a pillow, looking up at the sky. We will sorely miss his wonderful quirky humor and the impish grin that infected all of us. (ejk)
Houshang Hamadani (1936-2012) died Saturday, October 6, 2012.
He was born in Tehran, Iran on October 14, 1936. He came to the United States in 1960 for his residency in Psychiatry and had a clinical practice in Allentown since 1979. He specialized in treating adolescents and their families, often over many years. As a loyal member of SSPC, Houshang contributed numerous clinical presentations which illustrated the value of knowing one’s patients and their relatives over an extended period. In the tributes to his memory, many families spoke of his importance to them as a wise, compassionate clinician. (sw)
“Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”
—Lao Tzu, 550 BC