A PLEA FOR A MEASURE OF ABNORMALITY:
TRANSDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING & EMBRACING NEURODIVERSITY

Virtual Live Seminar
Presenter: Inna Rozentsvit, M.D., PhD
Date: March 10th, 2024
(Sunday, 10:30am-3:30pm EDT)

Continuing Education: 8 hours
for NYS Psychologists, NYS Social Workers, & APA (most Mental Health Practitioners outside of NYS)
4.5 hours for Licensed Psychoanalysts

To Register for this seminar, please complete the Registration form

SEMINAR DESCRIPTION:

“… defects, disorders, [and] diseases… can play a paradoxical role, by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence” (Oliver Sacks, 1996, An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales, p. xvi).

“When does a nerd turn into Asperger, which is just mild autism? I mean, Einstein and Mozart and Tesla would all be probably diagnosed as Autistic spectrum today.” (Temple Grandin, 2010 TED Talk, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds”)

In 1993, Joyce McDougall wrote a book entitled Plea for a Measure of Abnormality, where she challenged what’s “normal” and showed her humanness and kindness to those of us or our patients, clients, neighbors, or relatives who do not fit into society’s understanding of what’s allowed/ acceptable/ “right” — mostly in relation to the psychoanalytic process in narcissistic pursuits, psychic pain, sexual perversions, and psychosomatic illness, just to name a few.

Thirty years later, we are expanding the quest of understanding “normality” and “abnormality” utilizing our new knowledge about different brains, the neural system, and all typical and atypical ways to operate these.

During this seminar, we will be exploring the following topics:

Redefining “Normal” and “Abnormal”: We will be exploring the concepts of “normality” and “abnormality” in the context of neurodiversity, challenging traditional definitions and measurements. First, we will focus on discussing the controversies and challenges in measuring and defining “abnormality” due to differing perspectives across various medical and psychological disciplines.

Neurobiological Diversity: There are two main types of neurobiological diversity: neurodevelopmental (in children and young adults) and due to loss of function (typically in adults). We will discuss both, developmental neurobiological diversity, including conditions like autism spectrum disorders (ASD), ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, prosopagnosia, sensory disintegration disorders, and “loss of function” neurodiversity in neuropathological conditions, such as strokes, parkinsonian disorders, dementias, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Contributions of Neurodiverse Individuals: This part of the seminar will be focused on celebrating the contributions of neurodiverse individuals to humanity and the importance of understanding and appreciating their unique experiences and perspectives. We will explore the lives of physician Oliver Sacks and zoology professor Temple Grandin.

Functional PsychoNeuroBiology Tools to Understand Brain “Normality” and “Abnormality”: This section will discuss the mind-brain dyad, its development from intra-utero to adulthood, along with the mechanisms and processing phenomena at play:

  • Structural normalities and abnormalities in the corpus callosum, synaptic pruning, the mirror neuron network, and the two-hemisphere arrangement.
  • Neuro-processes related differences in neuroplasticity, neurointegration, autonomic regulation, “bottom-up” and “top-down” processes.
  • Neuro-phenomena-related differences in navigating the Triune Brain, interoception, and the brain-mind dyad (also known as the Theory of Mind).

Advances of Neuroscience of Neurodiversity: Finally, we will discuss the advances in basic neuroscience, computational neuroscience, and neuroimaging that have helped make significant advances in understanding neuro- “normality” and neurodiversity.

Call for Special Attention to Parents and Siblings of Neurodiverse Individuals: This section will explore ways to advocate for the acceptance and appreciation of neurodiverse individuals, emphasizing the need for a more inclusive understanding of human minds. It also will focus on reframing the parental and family experience of joining their neurodiverse child on their journey, as experiencing individual growth, including post-traumatic growth (PTG).

In 1993, Joyce McDougall wrote a book entitled Plea for a Measure of Abnormality, where she challenged what’s “normal” and showed her humanness and kindness to those of us or our patients, clients, neighbors, or relatives who do not fit into society’s understanding of what’s allowed/ acceptable/ “right” — mostly in relation to the psychoanalytic process in narcissistic pursuits, psychic pain, sexual perversions, and psychosomatic illness, just to name a few.

When we expand this quest for measuring “abnormality” 30 years later, we think more in terms of neurobiological diversity, with all the controversies around it. Controversies arise because of the confusion of (professional) tongues and lack of agreement on how to measure (test) one’s “abnormality.”

If you ask a traditional adult neurologist this question, the abnormality would be measured in the symptoms of neuro-pathological conditions like stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, etc., which also include the neuro-mental symptoms of delusions, delirium, hallucinations, and seizures. A pediatric neurologist would probably recount autism and other neuro-pathological and developmental disorders that show up as abnormal behaviors and developmental delays.

For a neuropsychologist, the abnormality would be measured by testing one’s brain functions: e.g., executive brain functions, which include mainly the working memory (retaining information), cognitive flexibility (thinking in more than one way/direction), and inhibitory control (resisting impulsivity and staying focused).

If you ask the same question of a developmental neuroscientist, you will probably hear about “no Theory of Mind” in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which means that people with ASD cannot make inferences about what is in/on the other person’s mind. According to this assumption, people with ASD do not have an idea about other people’s intentions, beliefs, emotions, desires, and thoughts that can be different from their own (Apperly & Butterfill, 2009).

Specialists in speech and language pathology, neurolinguistics, and communication disorders would say that the pathology in neurodiverse people is mainly about severe difficulties in comprehension of spoken language, especially the abstract concepts (adjectives, adverbs, and wh-questions), semantic relations and complex syntactic structures (Shane, 2015). They would also say that people with ASD diagnosis are lacking a capacity for empathy (Vollm, 2006) as we know it.

Some computational neuroscientists and cognitive imaging scientists will say that ASD is a disorder of neural connectivity (Just et al., 2012); others — that there are functional brain asymmetries in three anatomical planes in people with ASD diagnosis v. controls (Desaunay et al., 2023); or that there are abnormalities specifically in corpus callosum (a “bridge” between two hemispheres) connectivity (Loomba et al., 2021); or that facial emotions are accurately encoded in the neural signal (which is new information), and that the problem is possibly in decoding this information (Mayor Torres et al., 2022). The list of problems goes on…

If we ask an educator — she/he will rely on standardized testing to find one’s mind’s “differences” (aka abnormalities), to determine if this student could move to the next class, level, or program. This is reflected in the anecdote which educators in any master’s program learn about: “When asked, ‘What test should you give to a bird, a chimpanzee, a penguin, an elephant, a fish, a seal, and a dog?’ – an educator would answer: ‘The tree climbing one, of course.’”

As a neuropsychoeducator, I would say that the problem happens when there is an overload of information for the brain to take in, which causes a breakdown in processing of this information, and the “symptoms” of such a breakdown are socially unacceptable behaviors. When these behaviors are not understood for what they are, there is a further breakdown in inter-personal communications, which cannot be helped by medications or disciplining.

… When talking about unusual minds and their contribution to humanity and to the neurodiverse community, we cannot forget Dr. Oliver Sacks, a brilliant neurologist and author. When asked how he would like to be remembered in 100 years (during his 1989 interview on “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour”) he said: “I would like it to be thought that I had listened carefully to what patients and others have told me, that I’ve tried to imagine what it was like for them, and that I tried to convey this. And to use a biblical term, the feeling, ‘he bore witness.’” Experiencing neurodiversity himself (he was dealing with the “face blindness” condition), Sacks bore witness to the joys and struggles of various neurodiverse populations. In his 1996 book An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales, Dr. Sacks offered a fantastic collection of real neuro-pathological case studies, letting us in on some beautiful but complicated human stories and insights that emerge from them.

The title of the book was borrowed from Dr. Temple Grandin, a zoology professor at Colorado State University and an “autistic person” herself. This is how she described her feeling in the world – as a cow or a Martian. The other stories were about remarkable lives of other “different-minded” people: a surgeon with Tourette’s syndrome who exercised a laser-focused precision during operations; an artist who acquired extraordinary skills after traumatic brain injury; and a man with memory area damage, for whom it was always 1968… Sacks (1996) concluded that “defects, disorders, [and] diseases… can play a paradoxical role, by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence” (p. xvi).

In her 2010 TED Talk, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds,” Grandin called for acceptance and appreciation of people “on the spectrum,” asking, “When does a nerd turn into Asperger, which is just mild autism? I mean, Einstein and Mozart and Tesla would all be probably diagnosed as Autistic spectrum today.”

SEMINAR SCHEDULE:

Morning Session: 10:30am – 12:45pm EDT

Afternoon Session: 1:15pm – 3:30pm EDT

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

At the conclusion of this educational activity, its participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of neurodiversity as a neuro-bio-psychological phenomenon.
  • Analyze and discuss various theories and perspectives on neurodiversity.
  • Discuss the neurodiverse clinical cases described in literature (by O. Sacks, E. Kandel, and others) as examples of brain/mind diversity rather than “illness” or “deficiency.”
  • Utilize Functional PsychoNeuroBiology™ Tools to understand and work with neurodiverse individuals in clinical practice.
  • Apply to one’s personal life and clinical practice the multi-disciplinary concepts of neurodiversity.

READINGS AND VIDEOS (FOR CE CREDITS):

READINGS:
Sacks, O. (1995). An anthropologist on Mars. In An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales (pp. 255-316).
Kandel, E. (2018). The disordered mind – What unusual brains tell us about ourselves (pp. 41-69). Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
VIDEOS:
1. Rage for Order, Oliver Sacks – Mind Traveler: Features the artist, Jesse Park. Oliver Sacks explores the existential aspects of autism and attempts to describe the different perspective with which people with this condition view the world around them and the implications it has in interpreting the social behavior and intentions of others.
Part 1 of 4: https://youtu.be/cZndKnARqB8?si=pyVDC3tpehJ4gDOu
Part 2 of 4: https://youtu.be/eJyojEqyaFo?si=M9KPYpbhqkPT_0Nt
Part 3 of 4: https://youtu.be/g-yYLfvDvGo?si=inw6-Vmz-Kaqu82s
Part 4 of 4: https://youtu.be/mQvJDGcr2lM?si=7M0Kjo956Gs6Eg_v
2. Prosopagnosia. The case of Oliver Sacks: https://youtu.be/kK7UpIlqioU?si=m2EEq-HD8Z0phIiE
3. Neurological Disorders as Alternate Ways of Being (with Oliver Sacks): https://youtu.be/FST243lDYRQ?si=sI3o2Gg2bhgA2IdL
4. Oliver Sacks on Tourette Syndrome – Shane. The neurologist Oliver Sacks talks about Tourette Syndrome. Features Shane Fistell. Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that causes motor and vocal tics which vary considerably between individuals and impulsive behaviors and reduced inhibition (and filtering) of thoughts, movements, and sensory input. This may lead to a rapidity and expansiveness of thought processes and reduced reaction times. Obsessions and compulsions are a consistent feature of TS and may involve thoughts, speech, and movements, such as touching or evening things up and counting. This portrayal provides a sensitive and insightful perspective – a welcome and more representational alternative to the often-simplistic stereotypical media depiction of the disorder which has been responsible for much misunderstanding and distress to sufferers.
Part 1 of 3: https://youtu.be/ljX1rsMNA34?si=LAkDu_–M5PcpT9W
Part 2 of 3: https://youtu.be/jJYu_YA2skU?si=AY8UWRREkXLi5Upd
Part 3 of 3: https://youtu.be/sVD9XSRiH9U?si=NkT7OqpqguUqrl3B

SUGGESTED ADDITIONAL READINGS:

  • Apperly, I.A., & Butterfill, S.A. (2009). Do humans have two systems to track beliefs and belief-like states? Psychological Review, 116(4), 953-970.
  • Blumberg, S.J., Bramlett, M.D., Kogan, M.D., Schieve, L.A., Jones, J.R., Lu, M.C. (2013). Changes in prevalence of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder in school-aged U.S. children: 2007 to 2011-2012. National Health Statistical Report, 65, 1-11.
  • Boyle, C.A., Boulet, S., Schieve, L.A., Cohen, R.A., Blumberg, S.J., Yeargin-Allsop, M., Visser, S., & Kogan, M.D. (2011). Trends in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in US children, 1997-2008. Pediatrics, 127(6), 1034-1042.
  • Desaunay, P., Guillery, B., Moussaoui, E., Eustache, F., Bowler, D.M., & Guénolé, F. (2023). Brain correlates of declarative memory atypicalities in Autism: A systematic review of functional neuroimaging findings. Molecular Autism, 14(1), 2.
  • Durham Region Autism Services (n.d.). Celebrating Neurodiversity: Embracing people for what they are. Retrieved from durham-autism.org/celebrating-neurodiversity/
  • Grandin, T. (2006). Thinking in pictures: My life with autism. Knopf Publishing Group.
  • Greenspan, S.I., & Lewis, N. (2000). Building healthy minds: The six experiences that create intelligence and emotional growth in babies and young children. Da Capo Lifelong Books.
  • Greenspan, S.I., & Weider, S. (2005). Infant and early childhood mental health: A comprehensive developmental approach to assessment and intervention. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
  • Greenspan, S. I., & Wieder, S. (2007). The developmental individual-difference, relationship-based (DIR/Floortime) model approach to autism spectrum disorders. In E. Hollander & E. Anagnostou (Eds.), Clinical manual for the treatment of autism(pp. 179–209). American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
  • Greenspan, S.I., & Thorndike Greensman, N. (2010). The Learning Tree: Overcoming learning disabilities from the ground up.
  • Grinman, V. (2020). A retrospective exploration of the experience, interpretation, and perception of growth in parents of young adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. ProQuest Dissertation Publishing.
  • Just, M.A., Keller, T.A., Malave, V.L., Kana, R.K., & Varma, S. (2012). Autism as a neural systems disorder: A theory of frontal-posterior underconnectivity. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36(4), 1292-1313.
  • Kandel, E.R. (2007). In search of memory: The emergence of a new science of mind. W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Kandel, E.R. (2018). The disordered mind: What unusual brains tell us about ourselves. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Loomba, N., Beckerson, M.E., Ammons, C.J., Maximo, J.O., & Kana, R.K. (2021). Corpus callosum size and homotopic connectivity in autism spectrum disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 313, 111301.
  • Mayor Torres, J.M., Clarkson, T., Hauschild, K.M., Luhmann, C.C., Lerner, M.D., & Riccardi, G. (2022). Facial emotions are accurately encoded in the neural signal of those with autism spectrum disorder: A deep learning approach. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 7 (7), 688-695.
  • McDougal, J. (1993). Plea for a measure of abnormality. Routledge.
  • O’Brien, M. (2007). Ambiguous loss in families of children with autism spectrum disorders. Family Relations, 56(2), 135-146.
  • Sacks, O. (1996). An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales. Vintage.
  • Shane, H.C. (2015). Enhancing communication for individuals with Autism: A guide to the visual immersion system. Brookes Publishing.
  • Shaw, K.A., Bilder, D.A., McArthur, D., et al. (2023). Early identification of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 4 years—Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2020. MMWR Surveillance Summer 2023, 72 (No. SS-1), 1-15.
  • Vollm, B.A. (2006). Neuronal correlates of theory of mind and empathy: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study in a nonverbal task. Neuroimage, 29(1), 90-98.

SHORT BIO OF THE SEMINAR LEADER:

Inna Rozentsvit, M.D., PhD, MBA, MSciEd is a neurologist and neurorehabilitation specialist, trained in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, with extensive experience in brain trauma, autoimmune neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions.
Dr. Rozentsvit is a founder of the Neurorecovery Solutions, Inc. (neurorecoverysolutions.com), a non-profit organization which helps neurologically impaired and their caregivers in their often heart-breaking journey to well-being. She is also an educator who works with children and adults with learning and emotional disabilities, while applying knowledge from the fields of neurology, basic sciences, mental health, and pedagogy to solving puzzles of miscommunications and every-day interactions of these children and adults with their parents and significant others.

Dr. Rozentsvit is passionate about people and supporting the possibilities that all people are. This passion fueled her publishing endeavors, which realized into founding the ORI Academic Press (oriacademicpress.org), the MindMend Publishing Co., and the MindConsiliums (a trans-disciplinary journal with main focus on cross-pollination of knowledge and experience from various mental health, medicine, and science fields, mindconsiliums.org).

Dr. Rozentsvit is the scientific faculty member, programs director, and administrator of the Object Relations Institute for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (ORI, www.orinyc.org) in NYC. Her course on Neurobiology for Psychoanalysts and Psychotherapists and the Parent-Child Development Program at the ORI include important for all mental health professionals topics: Neurobiology of Self; Neurochemistry of Emotions; Attachment Theory/ Love before First Sight; Neurological Disorders (Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and multiple sclerosis) through the Eyes of a Psychotherapist; Neurobiology of Psychosomatic Illness; Neuroscience of Anger and Violence; and others.

For more information, please visit https://innarozentsvit.com/

CONTINUING EDUCATION:

Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis
2023 / 2024- Psychoanalysis, Psychobiography and Neurodiversity at ORI
December 10, 2023 – March 10, 2024
Live Online
Session #1: An IN-DEPTH UNDERSTANDING of FAMOUS and ORDINARY PEOPLE through the ART of PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY (with Paul Elovitz, PhD) (15.0 CE)
Session #2: A Plea For A Measure Of Abnormality: Transdisciplinary Approach To Understanding & Embracing Neurodiversity (with Inna Rozentsvit, M.D., PhD) (8.0 CE and 4.5 CEs for Licensed psychoanalysts)

Joint Accreditation Statement

In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by Amedco LLC and Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis (ORIPP).  Amedco LLC is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

Amedco Joint Accreditation #4008163.

Psychologists (APA) Credit Designation

This course is co-sponsored by Amedco and Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis.  Amedco is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.  Amedco maintains responsibility for this program and its content.  23.0 hours. [Session 2: 8 CE hours

The following state boards accept courses from APA providers for Counselors: AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, ME, MO, NC, ND, NH, NE, NJ, NM, NV, OK*, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WY

MI: No CE requirements.
*OK: Accepts APA credit for live, in-person activities but not for ethics and/or online courses.
The following state boards accept courses from APA providers for MFTs:
AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, MD, ME, MO, NE, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OK*, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WDC, WI, WY

AL MFTs: Credits authorized by NBCC or any other state licensing agency will be accepted.

MA MFTs: Participants can self-submit courses not approved by the MAMFT board for review.

The following state boards accept courses from APA providers for Addictions Professionals: AK, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, IN, KS, LA, MD, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NY (held outside NY ONLY), OK*, OR, SC, UT, WA, WI, WY
The following state boards accept courses from APA providers for Social Workers:
AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, KY, ME, MN, MO, NE, NH, NM, OR, PA, VT, WI, WY

New York Board for Social Workers (NY SW)

Amedco SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0115. 23.0 hours. [Session 2: 8 CE hours] 

New York Board for Psychology (NY PSY)

Amedco is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists #PSY-0031. 23.0 hours. [Session 2: 8 CE hours] 

To receive CE certificates for the actual hours attended – please request them at the time of registration or any time prior to beginning of the conference. CE certificate fee: $25 (in addition to the registration fees). No fees charged for PD (Professional Development) certificates from ORI.

REGISTRATION AND FEES:

Early Bird registration (before January 5th, 2024)
$70 regular/ $45 grad students & candidates/ $15 undergrad students.
If CEs are requested — please use the “regular” registration option. There is an additional fee of $25 (can be paid prior or on the day of the conference).

Regular registration (January 5th – until 6pm on March 8th, 2024)
$80 regular/ $50 grad students & candidates/ $20 undergrad students.
If CEs are requested — please use the “regular” registration option. There is an additional fee of $25 (can be paid prior or on the day of the conference).

Registration ‘at the door’ (after 6pm EST/ NYC time on March 8th, 2024)
$90 regular/ $55 grad students & candidates/ $25 undergrad students.
If CEs are requested — please use the “regular” registration option. There is an additional fee of $25 (can be paid prior or on the day of the conference).

SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIPS are available for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as for retired or disabled practitioners, or need-based or/and those who live outside of the USA.
SPECIAL SCHOLARSHIPS are available for neurodiverse individuals and their families
To apply for your scholarship, please go to the registration form below.

CANCELLATION POLICY:
Full refund will be issued if cancelled before the beginning of the event on March 10th, 2024.
No refund from the beginning of the event on March 10th, but full paid tuition will be applied to any further ORI events.

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