HCN News & Notes

Austin Riggs Center Research Psychologist Named Fellow

STOCKBRIDGE — The San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis has announced that Austen Riggs Center Research Psychologist Katie Lewis, PhD, has been named the next Robert S. Wallerstein Fellow in Psychoanalytic Research.

This prestigious fellowship, which includes a minimum of five years of grant funding, will support Dr. Lewis’ research study, “Impact of Interpersonal Experiences on Maladaptive Thoughts and Behaviors: An Object Relations EMA Study.” Jane Tillman, PhD, ABPP, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research at Austen Riggs, is co-investigator on the study and will serve as Dr. Lewis’ sponsor.

The fellowship was established in 2000 and is supported by a fund created by the late Marshall A. Greene, MD, in honor of Dr. Robert Wallerstein for his contributions to the field of psychoanalysis. Wallerstein, an accomplished psychoanalyst and researcher, was a proponent of empirical research that thoughtfully utilizes an array of methods to address complex psychological issues. Lewis is the third recipient of the fellowship.

“Building on the work of suicide researchers and scholars, my research, which is part of a broader Suicide Research and Education Strategic Initiative at Riggs, examines specifically how daily interpersonal interactions influence the frequency and intensity of suicidal thoughts and urges,” said Lewis. “Assuming that different kinds of experiences trigger suicidal impulses for different people, my work takes as its focus the specific experiential features of ‘self’ and ‘other’ that may uniquely mark an interaction’s salience as a trigger for self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.

“In this study, research participants provide information about their interpersonal experiences and self-harm urges multiple times per day using their smartphones, employing state-of-the-art methods that allow us to better understand how these daily experiences relate to changes in suicidality over time,” she went on. “Through the analysis and integration of personal historical details, information on general psychological functioning, and details of daily interactions and momentary changes in mood, I hope to be able to identify the distant and nearby pathways that lead an individual to be at heightened risk for suicide.”

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