Log Book

Expert Interviews: Dr. Avie J. Rainwater and Dr. Frank Rodden

14 - 19 July 2016
In July, I conducted two more interviews with psychiatrist and psychologist Dr. Avie J. Rainwater and psychologist, physician and neurosurgeon Dr. Frank Rodden.

Dr. Avie J. Rainwater

Read my interview with Dr. Rainwater.

Take Aways

  • "Context is everything": Dr. Rainwater emphasized heavily the value of understanding a patient's emotional history as it typically provides much more background related to the problem that finally brought them into the office.
  • 30% of patients who enter a hospital or a primary care facility are presenting a physical problem that is a disguise for the emotional problem underneath. Dr. Rainwater cites the example of a Muscle Tension Headache. Patients who suffer from them typically have emotional tension that leads to the physical expression of a headache. Searching for the physical cure doesn't solve the latent emotional issue.
  • The possibility of patients with Alexithymia is a target group. These patients have a marked dysfunction in the emotions awareness, social attachment and interpersonal relating, difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of other, which is thought to lead to unempathic and ineffective emotional responding. Dr. Rainwater likened their emotional expression abilities to those of the abilities of the blind to see. As a blind person, sight is a non experience - and so it emotion with those with Alexithymia.

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Dr. Frank Rodden

Read my interview with Dr. Rodden.

Take Aways

  • The notion of Sickness and Wellness. As a physician and neurosurgeon, much of Dr. Rodden's work has been in the context of illness. However he maintains in his practice of psychology that he doesn't agree with the fact that depression is considered a sickness. He believes it to be "just a part of the human condition." I think this line of thinking compliments Emotion as process. The body undergoes the process in an attempt to regain balance - even if it takes time and tailored assitance.
  • "A good part of the time, being able to label an emotion is a big step toward the cure": Dr. Rodden highlighting the importance of the cognitive process in "naming" emotions and feelings.
  • Perhaps we should be focusing less on WHAT patients are feeling but WHY they are feeling it. This aligns with my ideas on focusing on teaching patients Emotion as process in order to help them identify the stimulus events.
  • Dr. Rodden said that sometimes, he has a specific conversation with his patients that are struggling with depression. "I have a lot of people who are depressed because they are doing things right. For example, maybe they’re caring for people who no one else cares for and maybe it is costing them money and time. But their depression is for a good reason, and sometimes hearing that helps them get through it." I found this very interesting, as it is a practical example of what Dr. Maya Tamir references in her paper discussing long-term emotion regulation. Dr. Tamir juxtaposes the desire to feel plesant emotions because of their immediate benefits with the desire to feel unpleasant emotions because of their future benefits - conduciveness to long-term goals.
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Research Topic: Defining Emotion

June-July 2016
Throughout the Zwischensemester, my research goals are to clearly define the context and psychology that will be the basis I will draw from in my design experiments.