Supporting Our Mission: 2021 Sigourney Award Winner

The Erikson Institute for Education, Research, and Advocacy is grateful to the Sigourney Awards for supporting their mission.

My name is Jane Tillman, and I am the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education, Research, and Advocacy at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

We are delighted to be one of the recipients of the 2021 Sigourney Award. The Sigourney Award is given to individuals and institutions within the field of psychoanalysis who hope to raise the profile of psychoanalysis and the wider application of psychoanalysis in the world. This recognition from the Sigourney Trust is particularly important to us, as it supports our mission. It supports our efforts to think psychoanalytically about complex problems in the world, and it helps us hold a conversation with a broad range of constituents worldwide about the ideas that matter to them and the ways of understanding suffering in the world.

The Erikson Institute—named after Erik Erikson, who was on the staff of the Austen Riggs Center for about 10 years—recognizes his important contribution: In order to really understand an individual, you have to understand the social context and the culture in which that individual is imbedded. We are dedicated to understanding society, culture, groups, and how individual identity is affected at a systems level.

We are particularly glad to have received the Sigourney Award, as it recognizes many of our projects that bring psychoanalysis to the wider world. Some of those projects include advocacy for access to mental health care. We also have projects in our local community; we work with our local schools, pediatricians, school counselors, and mental health professionals to coordinate and collaborate in a model of care to help children and families.

We have a research and education project in which we study suicide and the suicidal process. We also study and speak widely about the effect of suicide loss on survivors and work to understand models of suicide prevention.

In addition to the projects I have described, the Erikson Institute has a long history of bringing distinguished scholars to the Center, known as Erikson Scholars, for a period of time to study how psychoanalysis intersects with their own discipline—perhaps history, philosophy, or art. In this way, we are able to share a psychoanalytic perspective with a wider group of scholars.

We are grateful to the Sigourney Trust for awarding us the prize this year. It enables us to continue our work locally, nationally, and internationally, and to promote psychoanalytic ways of thinking to address societal problems.

Dr Tillman is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Director of the Erikson Institute for Education, Research, and Advocacy at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.