People

Directors

Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. He is Editor-in-Chief of Transcultural Psychiatry, the journal of the Section on Transcultural Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association, and directs the Culture and Mental Health Research Unit at the Department of Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. He founded and directs the annual Summer Program and Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry at McGill. He also founded and co-directs the CIHR-IAPH Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research. His past research includes studies on cultural consultation, pathways and barriers to mental health care for immigrants and refugees, somatization in primary care, cultural concepts of mental health and illness in Inuit communities, risk and protective factors for suicide among Inuit youth, and resilience among Indigenous peoples. His current projects include a multi-site study of culturally-based, family-centered mental health promotion for Aboriginal youth; development of a web-based multicultural mental health resource centre; and the use of the cultural formulation in cultural consultation.

 

Douglas Hollan is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at University of California, Los Angeles; Instructor at the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute; and President of the Society for Psychological Anthropology. His research interests include psychological anthropology; cross-cultural psychiatry; person-centered ethnography; and the cross-cultural study of mind, consciousness, and mental disorder. He is the co-author of Contentment and Suffering: Culture and Experience in Toraja (1994) and The Thread of Life: Toraja Reflections on the Life Cycle. Dr. Hollan is currently conducting cross-cultural studies of dreams, consciousness, and cultural idioms of distress. He is a member of the FPR Board, and holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology and in Psychoanalysis.

 

Eran Zaidel is Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience and a Member of the Brain Research Institute at UCLA. His research interests include hemispheric specialization, inter-hemispheric interactions and hemispheric control; right-hemisphere language; error monitoring; structure and function of the human corpus callosum. 

 

 

 

 

Faculty


Lauren Ban is currently a Senior Research Fellow with the Centre for International Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia. She has recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Transcultural Psychiatry at the Jewish General Hospital/McGill University and Cultural Psychology at Concordia University. Her Ph.D. in social and cultural psychology explored folk perceptions of mental disorder among people with East Asian (primarily Chinese Singaporean) and Australian cultural backgrounds. Her work now looks at explanatory models of mental illness, resilience, recovery and psychological stigma from a cultural psychology perspective.

 

Jennifer Bartz is Assistant Professor in Social Psychology at McGill University. She is interested in the ability to engage in prosocial, communal behavior is vital to developing and maintaining close relationships. Her work investigates the factors—both individual difference and situational—that hinder or facilitate people’s ability to engage in such behaviors. Her research is grounded in personality and social psychology but also draws upon clinical and neuroscience traditions. Specifically, she conducts research in both healthy and clinical (autism, borderline personality disorder) populations, and use a multi-method approach involving experiential, behavioral, and biological levels of analysis.

 

Alain Brunet is Director of the Psychosocial Research Division at the Douglas Institute and Douglas Institute Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Victimology, President of Traumatic Stress, Canadian Psychological Association and the founder of the i-trauma web site. As a clinical psychologist, he has been investigating the impact of trauma exposure on individuals for over 15 years, with a special focus on characterizing the risk factors and developing effective treatments for PTSD, such as early intervention and reconsolidation blockade. 

 

Suparna Choudhury is Junior Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin where she directs the research project Constructions of the Brain. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University. Her PhD in cognitive neuroscience focused on development of the social brain in adolescence at University College London and her postdoctoral training in Culture and Mental Health Services Research at McGill led to the development of the critical neuroscience project. Her work in Berlin has focused on the development and use of brain-based models of adolescent behaviours in clinical, educational and popular domains. Her current research interests include critical neuroscience, adolescent mental health, theory and practices of interdisciplinarity, and neuroscience and subjectivity.

 

Ian Gold is the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy & Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. He completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton University and did postdoctoral training at the Australian National University in Canberra. From 2000 to 2006 he was on the faculty of the School of Philosophy & Bioethics at Monash University in Melbourne and returned to McGill in 2006. His research focusses on the theory of delusion in psychiatric and neurological illness and on reductionism in psychiatry and neuroscience. He is the author of research articles in such journals as Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Mind and Language, Consciousness and Cognition, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, World Psychiatry, Transcultural Psychiatry, Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry. No Mind is an Island, a book co-written with Joel Gold, is due to appear in 2012.

 

Danielle Groleau is Associate Professor at the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry at McGill University,Senior Investigator at the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry-LDI at the Jewish General Hospital and Associte Editor of the journal Transcultural Psychiatry. Dr Groleau is a medical anthropologist that received her PhD in Public Health from the Université de Montréal and postdoctoral training in Transcultural Psychiatry at McGill University. She specializes in qualitative methodologies, cultural determinants of health behaviours, health policy and clinical communication. Her current research interests include developing a communication tool constructed in a Person-Centered-Medicine approach, process evaluation of national health policy; cultural determinants of low breastfeeding rates among mothers of low-birth-weight babies.

 

Brandon Kohrt, MD, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and psychiatrist at The George Washington University. He conducts global mental health research focusing on populations affected by war-related trauma and chronic stressors of poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to healthcare and education. He has worked in Nepal for 16 years using a biocultural developmental perspective integrating epidemiology, cultural anthropology, ethnopsychology, and neuroendocrinology. With Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal, he designed and evaluated psychosocial reintegration packages for child soldiers in Nepal. He currently works with The Carter Center Mental Health Liberia Program developing anti-stigma campaigns and family psychoeducation programs. He was a Laughlin Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists and a John Spiegel Fellow of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture (SSPC). Dr. Kohrt has contributed to numerous documentary films including Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army

 

Duncan Pedersen, MD, MPH, studies how societies impact the mental health of their citizens. His work focuses on Latin America, where large numbers of urban poor, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples are exposed to social discrimination and political upheavals, poor environmental conditions, poverty, and income inequality. This results in substandard health conditions and a high prevalence of mental and social disorders. His research is currently centered primarily on the long-term impact of political violence and wars amongst the indigenous populations of the Peruvian Highlands, primarily in relation to trauma-related disorders, collective suffering and local forms of distress.

 

Amir Raz holds the Canada Research Chair in the cognitive neuroscience of attention, and heads the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at McGill University and the Clinical Neuroscience and Applied Cognition Laboratory at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and a member of the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychology as well as the Montreal Neurological Institute. Dr. Raz is an interdisciplinary cognitive neuroscientist. He holds diplomate status with the American Board of Psychological Hypnosis. His active research interests span the neural and psychological substrates of attention, self-regulation, and effortful control. He is also conducting research into the cognitive neuroscience and culture, authorship processes, and atypical cognition.

 

Andrew Ryder is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Concordia University. His Culture, Health & Personality lab’s research involves the relation between individuals and their cultural context, and the implications of this relation for psychopathology. His recent work has explored differences between Chinese and Euro-Canadians in the presentation of depression, using cross-national and acculturation designs in student, community, and clinical samples. Once cultural differences are identified, the emphasis is on why these differences occurred; the potential role of the self-concept is central to these efforts.

 

Rebecca Seligman is an assistant professor at Northwestern University who works in the areas of biocultural medical anthropology, psychological anthropology, and transcultural psychiatry. Seligman is interested in the relationships of stress, social disadvantage, and cultural models of selfhood to outcomes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociation, somatization, diabetes, and depression. She is also engaged with current neuroscience research concerning these phenomena, and has published several articles on cultural neuroscience. Her past research has explored the relationship between self-narrative, embodiment, and mental health among possession mediums in Northeastern Brazil.  Seligman’s current project explores mental health disparities among Latino youth in the US, examining how sociocultural influences on the ways in which youth conceptualize and experience their emotions, relationships, and ultimately, their sense of self, affect help seeking and the experience of mental health care.  Seligman is the author of the forthcoming book Possessing Spirits and Healing Selves: Embodiment and Transformation in an Afro-Brazilian Religion, as well as articles published in the journals Transcultural Psychiatry, Culture Medicine and Psychiatry, Medical Anthropology, Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, Progress in Brain Research and Ethos.  She is co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Cultural Neuroscience.

 

Dr. Veissière studies the interaction between cognition, culture, and human behavior in evolutionary and developmental perspectives. As humans, our evolved psychology is adapted (and constantly adapting!) to the unique challenges of being a social, cultural, political, and cooperative species. Dr. Veissière and his colleagues draw on range of experimental, ethnographic, and theoretical models and methods to study the cognitive underpinnings of culture, and the role of culture and context in shaping the regimes of attention, expectations and intuitions that drive human behaviour.

 

Allan Young is an anthropologist and the Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies in Medicine. His research focuses on the ethnography of psychiatric science, specifically the valorization of new diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and the institutionalization of standards of evidence; and the ethnography of psychogenic trauma as a clinical entity and as a subject of laboratory and epidemiological research. A current research interest is the origins of the social brain. 

 

 

Students

Liana Chase is an MSc student in Social and Cultural Psychiatry focused on issues of forced migrant mental health. She is currently conducting research with asylum seekers in Montréal, Canada, but has also worked extensively with the Bhutanese refugee population, first as an anthropology student at Dartmouth College and then as a Fulbright scholar to Nepal. Her work is situated at the intersection of psychology and anthropology, applying methodologies from both fields to further our understanding of the human capacity for resilience.

 

Daina Crafa is a Ph.D. student in the Integrated Program for Neuroscience at McGill University and has previously completed two MS.c. degrees in Neuroscience and Transcultural Mental Health. Her research broadly investigates the influence social and cultural contexts have on human brain processes and how they relate to cultural learning and pathology. Her past work has focused equally on normal cultural acquisition during childhood and abnormal culture-specific features of patient groups. Her current emphasis is on neural flexibility during social information updating using mixed methods, including neuroimaging, and on pathological variations of these processes. The Culture-Brain-Behavior Interaction (CBB) Model, which she recently proposed conceptualizes this approach. She is also currently studying acculturation, the emergence of psychiatric disorders, and related gene by environment interactions in adults and their offspring, as well as neurocognitive components of certain culture-bound syndromes. Through these projects, she hopes to help deepen modern understanding of the situated social brain and genes and related pathologies.

 

Vincent LaLiberté is a Psychiatry resident at McGill University and has a Master’s degree in Sociology from Université Laval. He is interested in the various ways in which neuroscience informs our understanding of mental dysfunctions or more generally problematic behaviors. His work currently takes the form of two projects. The first is an analysis of brain-based model of risk-taking during adolescence. Secondly, he is interested in the use of brain-based biomarkers in child and adolescent psychiatry that would help diagnose mental illness, and even more importantly predict their emergence. The larger goal of these two projects is to frame these scientific advances, and beliefs about their validity and utility, in the larger social context in which they take place, informed by the framework of Critical Neuroscience.

 

Michael Lifshitz is a doctoral student studying contemplative experience in the neuroscience department at McGill. He studies a spectrum of processes ranging from meditation and hypnosis to placebos and psychedelics. Working from the vantage of cultural neurophenomenology, he aims to synthesize knowledge of various contemplative practices to advance the science of consciousness, embodiment, and self-regulation. In this spirit, he recently co-edited with his supervisor Amir Raz a book entitled "Hypnosis and Meditation: Towards an Integrative Science of Conscious Planes" (Oxford University Press, 2016). Michael's work is supported through a Vanier Graduate Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and a Francisco J. Varela Research Award from the Mind & Life Institute. Before his doctoral work, he completed a master's degree in the Integrated Program of Neuroscience and an undergraduate degree with honors in psychology and minors in philosophy and world religions—all at McGill.

 

Ram P. Sapkota is a Psychologist from Nepal. He is currently enrolled in a PhD program at the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University. He has worked in the field of psychosocial and mental health care for almost a decade in Nepal. His areas of interest include organized violence and its impact on mental health and wellbeing, psychosocial interventions, and global mental health. He is also interested in cultural concepts of distress, traditional healing, and in culture and dissociative phenomena such as trance and possession. Currently, he is involved in a multidisciplinary study on trance and possession phenomena in Nepal. The study aims to produce insights into existing gaps in evidence on the etiology of mass trance and possession by triangulating methods from psychology/psychiatry, neuroscience, and anthropology.

 

Eli Oda Sheiner completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently a graduate student in the Transcultural Psychiatry program. At present, he is working on a critical history of hypnosis in Japan with Momoka Watanabe, a colleague from the department of Transcultural Psychiatry. This project aims to undo current formulations of hypnosis as a universalized phenomenon by highlighting the idiosyncrasies of its development in Japan. He is also undertaking a qualitative research project in Montreal, exploring the discourses generated around ayahuasca, a controversial Amazonian psychoactive plant decoction, which is rapidly growing into a global phenomenon and capturing the attention of academic and popular circles alike.