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Tip: To see Abram’s analysis of Winnicott’s theories…

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In-depth analysis of Winnicott’s psychoanalytic theorization was conducted by Jan Abrams in her work The Language of Winnicott. You can access it directly by clicking here.

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Forrest, D.V. (2020). The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Healthier and Happier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, by Kelli Harding, M.D., Atria/Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019, 245 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 48(2):220-222.

(2020). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 48(2):220-222

The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Healthier and Happier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, by Kelli Harding, M.D., Atria/Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019, 245 pp.

Review by:
David V. Forrest, M.D.

Marianne Williamson's presidential campaign promoting love arrived in a political climate of scorn and avarice on the one side and wrath, envy, and avarice on the other, and was unfortunately as shortlived as a drop of perfume on the overheated barrel of a Kalashnikov. Our just-acquitted President announced at a prayer breakfast that he “disagreed” with Jesus on forgiving one's enemies. Kelli Harding's popular new book presents the medical basis of the benefits of love and kind caring. Her story begins in the 1970s when genetically identical rabbits were separated into 4 experimental arms in a study of fatty diet and cholesterol on arterial fat deposits. One of the groups of animals fared inexplicably better with 60% fewer deposits. It turned out the technician caring for this group was giving them more than kibble. She talked to them, petted them, and cuddled them. In other words, she added love, and her tender-loving care was hugely bioactive.

We psychiatrists have lived through a period of reductionism. Our colleagues who call themselves psychopharmacologists-conjuring an image of them with mortar and pestle-when they might have said they were pharmacotherapists taught that in pharmacological research, psychosocial effects are so negligible they could be ignored in experimental design. Only chemicals could move the needle of effect size, they claimed. Fortunately, when “talk” was actually measured in replicable forms, such as Weissman and Klerman's interpersonal psychotherapy, such reductionists have had to eat humble pie, as countless head-to-head studies have found side-effect-free psychosocial interventions often of equal efficacy and longer benefit.

At a book signing at the Strand Bookstore in New York on September 5, 2019 (videotape online), the author, a sunny young blond woman in a bright yellow summer dress with a bright yellow book to sell, was accompanied by a crustier and approving Lloyd Sederer, M.D., former New York State Chief Medical Officer, who challenged her to disambiguate “kind” and “nice.”

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