Finding Connections: Perspectives on Psychological Development and Mental Illness





Nancy Rappaport (Harvard Medical School)
Freshman Seminar 25N      
4 credits (fall term)       Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The seminar's challenge will be to deepen our understanding of human development and how individuals cope with serious emotional or social difficulties (neglect, bipolar disorder, autism, depression, schizophrenia). We will use multiple perspectives: medical observations and texts that provide practical knowledge (e.g. The New England Journal of Medicine review articles), narrative readings to understand how patients experience the meaning of illness from the inside out (e.g. The Center Cannot Hold), visitors who will discuss their experience with mental illness, and how development-related mental illness is portrayed in the press (e.g. The New Yorker articles). We will start with the mental life of babies and how scientists interpret infants’ nonverbal ways of finding safety and security. This begins the journey of our understanding fundamental needs for tenderness, holding, and making meaning. Understanding how conditions such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia are described in clinical research and literature will help us to appreciate the biological vulnerabilities and relational patterns that may disrupt the human connection. We will examine the resourcefulness required for both fragility and resiliency. Throughout the seminar, the instructor, as a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist, will bridge the gap between research findings, clinical applications, and everyday insight.

See also: Fall 2022