Recent Posts

"Let yourself be puzzled by the obvious." - Noam Chomsky

Posted on February 16,2013 by sdmosaligantimspp

Noam Chomsky, the dot on the left, answering questions after the screening of the documentary.

My first introduction to linguist/cognitive scientist/political critic Noam Chomsky was through Ali G's prankster interview where he was asked such monumental questions as, "Why don't you create a new language?... you could make a lot of money." Chomsky responded with, "You can do it if you like, and nobody would pay the slightest attention to you because it's a waste of time." (I'd post a link to the interview except Ali G asks some questions that might not be so school-blog-friendly)

Luckily, my latest exposure to Chomsky fostered a more intellectual and - how do you say - IN-PERSON feel. :) Given that Boston is a "college town," the universities often host events, many of which are free, featuring high-profile professors and researchers presenting their thoughts and ideas. On Tuesday, MIT hosted a free screening of the animated documentary Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, a film based on an interview with Chomsky, followed by a Q&A with the man himself. After practicum, Kishore and I booked it to MIT, stood in line for about 45 minutes, met some MIT student who we really vibed with (I knew she was my kinda people when she dropped the f-bomb like a thousand times), and then finally got seated and had our minds blown.

The interview focused mostly on Chomsky's linguistic work, which is based on a computational-cognitive approach to understanding language. He has a fondness for being skeptical about taken-for-granted knowledge, particularly in regards to language - how is this unbelievably complex verbal code, our primary means for communicating our inner world to others, acquired? How is it that infants and toddlers are able to grasp the structures and rules of language despite such relatively minimal exposure to it? Are we all innately wired with some cognitive blueprint for syntax and linguistic structure? Chomsky's open-mindedness, flexibility of thought, and overall "let's start from scratch" approach inspires me to be okay with looking at psychology with a sense of healthy skepticism.

After having provided such richly complex, abstract responses, Chomsky was then asked, "What makes you happy?" He stumbled for a moment - "uh, uh." As we sat in anticipation of some wow-inducing response that would give us the answer to happiness, he said, "My kids, my grandkids, and my friends." No verbs, prepositions, adjectives. No skepticism about his answer or about the definition of "happiness." Just a cut-to-the-chase certainty: kids, grandkids, friends. After all this intellectual talk, it felt sort of bland (I mean, if that's all he's gonna say, could he at least drop an f-bomb or something to spice it up?).

Once the event was over, Kishore and I walked to Central Square for a bite. On the walk, we talked about the film - debated about language and such - and then grabbed a wrap and smoothie and listened to a live bluegrass show without speaking much. Suddenly I realized that Chomsky had gotten it right - I knew exactly what he meant: we can sit and intellectually search for answers, but, in the end, the only truth of which I am certain is how happy I am spending time, even if just in silence, with a best friend. :)

(Link to the event/movie trailer:

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Around Boston

Snow White and the Seven Dorks

Posted on February 09,2013 by sdmosaligantimspp

(There's actually six of us (roommates) total, but I figured I'd include the dog in the mix)

Read More

History Major + Environmental Studies Minor = Career in Psychology...

Posted on February 02,2013 by sdmosaligantimspp

I know that many people are currently interviewing or considering applying to MSPP, so I figured that today I'd share my "story" (there's really not much of a plot or climax, but you got it) regarding how I ended up in the PsyD program here.

Read More

Tagged Change of Career, Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth, Applying to MSPP

Where My Ladies at

Posted on January 22,2013 by sdmosaligantimspp


Read More

Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth, Social Responsibility, Around Boston

A Little DBT

Posted on January 15,2013 by sdmosaligantimspp

As a second-year psychology student, you hear a lot about DBT ("Oh, DBT is so great"), but never really get an opportunity to thoroughly learn about it. Luckily, my practicum site, Wheelock College, hosted a DBT training for staff and interns. Originally developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan to be administered to treat those with "borderline" personalities, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, given its simplicity and elegance, could be applicable to almost anyone looking to quell their distress or anxiety.

Read More

Tagged Clinical PsyD, Personal Growth

Who Put the Bom in the BOMBAY Bom Ba Bom, Who Put the Bang in the BANGALORE-a Ding Dong

Posted on January 07,2013 by sdmosaligantimspp

For the holiday break, I have been traveling in India with Kishore to visit his family, specifically having gone to Bombay/Mumbai, Bangalore/Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. The trip has been tremendous: the food, people, sites, overall culture. As I'm recovering from a slight bug (I ate the chutney at a road-side food stand when everyone told me, "Don't eat the chutney"), I'm just gonna post a few pics detailing our amazing trip. Here we go...

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth

Thoughts from India

Posted on December 29,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

I have been in India for the holiday break, currently in Hyderabad, a major city in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. As you may have heard, India has been in an uproar in reaction to the violent sexual assault and death of a 23-year-old female student in Delhi. Despite the somber circumstances underlying the pandemonium, I have been inspired and even empowered by the extent to which the people of India have raised their voices in reaction to this tragedy.

Read More

Tagged Personal Growth, Social Responsibility

A Very Pink Christmas

Posted on December 17,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

This weekend I got together with my Boston-based family for some early rockin' around the Christmas tree (When I say "rockin' around," I mean "sitting around eating eggplant parm and lasagna" and when I say "the Christmas tree," I mean "while we all have to repeat everything we say over and over again because my uncle can't hear anything"). I was particularly excited to see my older cousin Pam - Pam was recently diagnosed with (very early-stage) breast cancer and is about to undergo treatment. This is where the pink comes in. With my pink lacy Euro-hip top, pink Indian bangles and scarf, pink socks, and pink moccasin-ish shoes, I looked like an ad for a trip around the world, but all in the name of celebrating my cousin and the family as they endure the process of surviving this painful disease.

Read More

[Insert trite, irritating title featuring the phrase "Who Let the Dogs Out"]

Posted on December 11,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

The "therapy dog" Annie at Wheelock today. My own three cats and dog hanging out in my bedroom. :)

I chose a college counseling center for my second-year practicum with the intention of strengthening my psychotherapy skills (as mentioned previously, my first-year site was a psychiatry unit, which fostered a short-term, assessment-based "medical" model) - I have found, however, that a college site comes with a range of other perks. There's always so much going on on-campus: film screenings, performances, talks, dinners, people dressed cuter than me, and... dogs. Today was Therapy Dogs Day at Wheelock. That basically means that two dogs came in and everyone sat around poking at them and "awww"ing. And it was pretty awesome.

Most people I know, particularly many of my clients/students, report that animals serve as an effective stress reliever. As someone who has three cats and a dog, I can completely relate. I always wonder what it is about animals that promotes such a sense of ease. Sometimes I think that being with pets, given their lack of linguistic and social structures, allows us to default to a more basic rugged emotional way of relating and being. Or maybe they're just cute.

Overall, Therapy Dogs Day was a success (not that it took much for it to be a success). Just another day in the life of a college-counseling intern. If you're interested in further developing your psychotherapy skills, I definitely recommend pursuing a college counseling center for your practicum or internship as such a site gives you access to all of the playful and educational opportunities and resources available on-campus. You also get to learn all of the hip new lingo (I'm still in my twenties, but - I swear - the word "vibin'," a word I regularly use now like I'm some huge goofball, was not in the vernacular when I was in college). Anyways, below are some pictures detailing some other recent on-campus attractions in which we interns participated.

Read More

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (until January 2nd)

Posted on December 07,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

Beacon Hill's holiday night

Boston and the holiday season go so well together. The holiday lights and decorations nicely adorn the brownstones and storefronts and parks, and the cold weather provides a good excuse to snuggle up with hot chocolate and start a fire (of course, I sometimes wonder if this is all some sort of gigantic defense mechanism to deny how utterly miserable the cold can be). Given that the city is bustling with festive activity, I have decided to take time from my non-stop work life to explore the holiday scene.

Last night I went with some MSPP friends to Beacon Hill, a historic neighborhood featuring narrow, gas-lit streets, brick sidewalks, and quaint brownstone apartment buildings. To celebrate the holiday season, Charles Street, the main street in the neighborhood, was shut down to vehicles so that people could mingle and meander. Carolers were busting out some Christmas tunes on the sidewalks, the stores featured sales and served free wine and goodies, and horse-drawn carriages made their way down the street.

Meanwhile, tonight my roommate made some latkes for us to celebrate (early) the start of Hanukkah. For everyone celebrating the Festival of Lights, a big Happy Hanukkah!

Read More