Open Minds – Show #015

(Part 2 of my interview with Dr. Daniel Siegel. Part 1 of this interview is available here.)

“You’re out of your mind!” “I’m losing my mind!” “Uh-oh, I’m not in a good frame of mind today.” These are all sayings we’ve heard many times, yet, if someone asked you to define your “mind,” could you? You can probably easily describe your brain as that mass of grey matter in your head, but the mind is less tangible, not something we can point to or take pictures of or easily describe.

According to my guest, Dr. Daniel Siegel, that’s because the mind is not a thing to be x-rayed, but instead a process to be understood. Bringing together widely varied academic fields, his many books highlight what can happen when that process leads to harmony and integration, resulting in what we commonly call happiness, balance and mental health; and also how we can suffer mental illness when we lack mental and physical integration and harmony.

Whenever I listen to him, I’m reminded of how very much we still don’t really know about how our brain and our mind work. But as a psychiatrist, a researcher and a clinician, Dr. Siegel is the forefront of understanding and teaching about how our brain and our mind play profound roles in our wellness, and how even mental systems damaged by genetics or environment can be repaired through our everyday interactions with others and with ourselves.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m genuinely thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Dr. Siegel. I am a better therapist and a better human being because of what I’ve learned from him over the last decade. He has profoundly impacted the way I understand myself and the people who come to see me. In writing and in person, he shows a gentle, compassionate, and accepting side of himself that encourages me to be the same. His thoughtful responses to questions about why stigma exists and persists put into words something I knew, but couldn’t articulate. And that, in a nutshell, is what Dr. Siegel does best: he takes incredibly complex ideas and concepts and puts them into language we can all understand and use to live happier, healthier lives. His evidence based theories give real hope to those who may have thought themselves beyond hope. He reminds us it’s never too late to heal, a belief I carry into my own therapeutic practice.

Because he was so generous with his time, this interview will run in two parts, but even both shows together barely scratch the surface of what this man understands about the human mind. I feel sure that if you give him a listen, this week and next, he’ll get you thinking about things like neuroscience and interpersonal relationships in ways you haven’t before. You can be a healthier parent, partner and human being by considering what he has to say. Read his books, check out his website, and if you’ll pardon the pun… get ready to let him blow your mind : )