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Reading the Mind - Collaboration and Conversation

The Maudsley and Johns Hopkins Hospitals psychiatry residency training programs have a long history of collaboration. When we learned - from Twitter - about the Maudsley’s Reading the Mind book group (@Maudsley_RTM), we reached out to create a Hopkins branch (for details, check out Lal et al, Reading the Mind: A Social Media-Facilitated Collaboration of US and UK Graduate Psychiatry Trainees, Academic Psychiatry, 2015). Launched in 2013, we now meet every 6 weeks at the home of our faculty facilitator, Dr. Chisolm. Each meeting lasts 90 minutes, with the first 30 minutes devoted to dinner and socialization and the remaining 60 minutes to discussion of the text.

In August each year, the core leadership for the book group – comprised of Johns Hopkins general and child/adolescent psychiatry trainees - meets at a local restaurant to select dates and titles for the upcoming year. This year, these residents, Dr. Chisolm, and two medical student psychiatric interest group leaders (including myself) made our way to the Ambassador Dining Room on what turned out to be a particularly dramatic evening, soon after a terribly violent storm struck that took out power and traffic lights across a large swath of Baltimore. But the restaurant was still open and we were still able to discuss the reading list over a delicious Indian meal.

While we waited for the appetizers, Dr. Chisolm passed around books that she had either read, heard about or wanted to read, and then asked all of us at the round table to suggest titles. Many of us thought of books or short stories we had been planning to read but for which we hadn’t quite managed to find the time, while others pitched films and other media. Every suggestion was welcomed with questions or confirmatory remarks such as, “Oh yes! I’ve been wanting to read that myself!” The discussions were animated, interspersed with bites of lightly roasted cauliflower and naan. By the time we had selected an array of titles encompassing child psychiatry, eating disorders, psychosis, depression, and forensic psychiatry topics - and had selected dates and faculty member guests who could contribute to our discussions - the entrees had arrived. We spent the rest of the evening talking about our days, new research projects, and the best restaurants in Baltimore. As the rain conveniently stopped, we said our farewells and parted ways after a lovely evening in good company.

The book group is intended to be a way to relax with colleagues outside the hospital, over a good book/video and meal. We hope you can join us this year:

  1. September 13 “Thirteen Reasons Why” – an original Netflix series

  2. October 25 “The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct” by Thomas Szasz

  3. December 6 “The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues about the So-Called Psychopathic Personality” by Hervey Cleckley & “The Iceman Tapes” (video)

  4. January 24 “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma” by Peter Levine

  5. March 7 “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey through Madness” by Elyn R. Saks

  6. April 25 “Psychiatric Polarities: Methodology and Practice” by Phillip R. Slavney and Paul R. McHugh

  7. May 23 “Swallow Me Whole,” a graphic novel by Nate Powell

For more details about the group, please contact our administrative assistant James Staten.

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