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Even as practitioners, we didn't know how broken the mental health system was...until our child became part of it.


Mad Waters Podcast


Even as practitioners, we didn't know how broken the mental health system was...until our child became part of it. In upcoming episodes, we ask leaders like Rachel Yehuda, Allen Frances, and Maia Szalavitz what they are doing to change it. This is Mad Waters. 


Our child had always been drawn to the water. As we stood on an old bridge overlooking the shifting tides of the ‘mad waters’ of Chalkida, Greece, it was painfully apparent that despite our best intentions, what had led to this moment had been anathema to the physician’s creed of ‘do no harm.’ Would this place provide the panacea or would it be another form of exile?

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Dr. Allen Frances, Professor and Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine

Dr. Allen Frances has called the United States the worst place in the world to have a severe mental illness. He is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Duke, the chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, an international best selling author and according to The Atlantic, “one of the world’s most prominent psychiatrists.”

1 Dr Allen Frances

The night I met my future father-in-law was scary as hell. It was a phone call that began as civil and devolved into insults, profanity and finally threats. I’d only known this kind of person through movies or books. My husband -to-be, had grown up with him. So, what? I thought. I was marrying the son, not the father. 


In the age of 23 and Me or, what do we really know about who we are, how we got this way, and the effect it has on our parenting?

Dr. Rachel Yehuda is a pioneer in the study of traumatic stress. She is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is also Director of Mental Health at the Bronx VA Medical Center and Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Program at Mount Sinai. More recently, she spearheaded Mount Sinai’s Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research.

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Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Director of Mental Health at the Bronx VA Medical Center and Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Program at Mount Sinai

2 Dr Rachel Yehuda

The mother-child bond has had a central role in therapy and psychological theory since the beginning. Mothers are at once the source of love and a target of blame for their child’s well being. Can we separate the science of attachment from the fairy tales we’ve all grown up with?

Kristen Arquette is a licensed marriage and family therapist and substance use disorder professional who specializes in evidence-based and data driven therapies. Her expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, Family Education.Com and American Teen Magazine. She is one of the most skilled practitioners we’ve ever worked with.


Kristen Arquette, licensed marriage and family therapist and substance use disorder professional

3 Kristen Arquette

How can parents ever justify sending their child away in the name of getting help? That was the question we asked for years until we found ourselves pulled into that same position. 


Residential Treatment Centers, as they are called, are a last resort for parents but for thousands of children and adolescents who’ve experienced them, they can be places of abuse, neglect or worse. Why should help, ever mean saying ‘good-bye?’

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Maia Szalavitz, N.Y. Times bestselling author covering  residential treatment and other important topics  

Maia Szalavitz is a N.Y. Times bestselling author whose book, Help at Any Cost exposed the frightening and tragic world of residential treatment. She has written for numerous publications from The Washington Post to The Atlantic— and is author or co-author of six other books including two written with Bruce Perry, MD, PhD, a distinction she now shares with Oprah Winfrey.   

4 Maia Szalavitz

Imagine you are ill and that part of the malady, is not knowing it. Imagine that the result of this is not only to get worse. It is potentially fatal.


That is exactly the scenario in which a small percentage of those with mental illness find themselves and for those who love them, the choices to get help are excruciating and in some cases, pose ethical and legal dilemmas that even experts are hard pressed to answer.

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Doug Reuter, with his wife Nancy watching Washington Governor Jay Inslee sign "Joel's Law", implemented July 24, 2015

Doug Reuter has been a legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives, a sailor in the US Navy and an inventor of a world renowned board game. He is also a parent who lobbied for 2 years for the passage of Joel’s Law, allowing a family member to petition to have their loved one involuntarily committed after his son Joel died at the hands of the Seattle police, ‘defending himself against zombies.’

5 Doug Reuter

Covid-19 exposed fault lines in our culture, our education, and our healthcare. Burn-out spread like wildfire among those on the front lines and set the stage for what is now being called, the Great Resignation.


Can we care for the sick if, as corporations, a government, a society, we are not truly caring for the well?

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Dr. Akhtar Badshah, expert on social impact, philanthropy and international development

Dr. Akhtar Badshah is an internationally recognized expert on social impact, philanthropy and international development. For 10 years, he led Microsoft's global philanthropic efforts administering the company’s community investment and employee programs. He actively engages and challenges business and technology leaders to become catalysts to social change and is the author of The Purpose Mindset: How Microsoft Inspires Employees and Alumni to Change the World.

6 Dr Akhtar Badshah

Few have experienced the kind of isolation that Covid-19 brought with it. Although mandated for our collective health, it wreaked havoc on our mental health. Since the 1980’s, Japan has seen social withdrawal to the extreme with a group of primarily young men known as hikikomori. They refuse face-to-face contact for years and sometimes decades. As we emerge from the pandemic, what lessons do these modern hermits have for us?

Dr. Alan Teo is a psychiatrist and health services researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University. He is an international expert in Hikikomori and a core investigator at the VA HSR&D Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care at the VA Portland Health Care System. His focus is on depression and suicide prevention and how social connections can influence mental health.

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Dr. Alan Teo, Psychiatrist and Health Services Researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University

7 Dr Alan Teo
Season Two

Adrienne and Michael continue their conversations with leaders in the fields of mental health, child development, drug addiction, therapy, and research. 

Guests for Season Two of Mad Waters include Mary Gordon, Ken Duckworth, Kenneth Thompson, Nathan Sackett, Cynthia Martin, Anna Lembke, and Jared Taylor.

Season Two - Coming Soon

Mad Waters is a voice among many that seeks to purge the stigma, shame, alienation and fear surrounding mental health to find what is common and what is eternal – a desire for connection, with each other and with our true self. This story is ours but I know there are many like ours. For those children and their families, I feel awe. It often takes a heroine’s resolve to find treatment, to battle demons, to continue to love.

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“One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.”

Joseph Campbell

About the Hosts

Adrienne and Michael have worked together as professionals and parents

and it is the experience in both of these areas, that they bring to Mad Waters.


Adrienne Berofsky-Seyffert

Adrienne has graduate degrees in counseling and film from Columbia University. Her work has been shown at the Berlin and Barcelona International Film Festival, on WNYC TV, and on BBC. She has written for numerous publications including peer reviewed journals and is the author and creator of a popular children's book published with Disney. She is currently working on a book with her husband that draws on their personal experience, training and the exciting neuroscientific research in the field. This is her first podcast.

Michael Seyffert


Michael Seyffert is a board-certified psychiatrist. He is also board certified in sleep and pediatric neurology. He has been on the front lines of brain imaging for over a decade. Having done research at NYU Child Study Center and University of Washington using fMRI, he is hopeful that technology, multi-modal brain imaging and genetics will lead to a better future for mental health. Dr. Seyffert is a former US Army infantry officer and Air Force flight surgeon. He was awarded the Combat Air medal while serving as the Chief Flight Surgeon for the 107th Expeditionary Field Squadron, Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait where he treated service members. Learn more about Michael's private practice at


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