Get Published | Subscribe | About | Write for Our Blog    

Author Archive: September Williams, MD

About September Williams, MD


by September Williams, MD

FOR SAMA is a documentary film by International Emmy Award winning journalist and film director, Waad Al-Kateab. The project was brought to fruition with co-director Edward Watts. Director Waad Al-Kateab made this film while she fell in love, got married, was pregnant, and breastfeeding in a war zone rife with humanitarian violations. She did it while her husband, Dr. Hamid Al-Kateab, used every available hand to manage war trauma, first in the remains of bombed hospitals, then in any shelters left standing. FOR SAMA was filmed over five years—in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.

FOR SAMA is essential viewing for bioethicists and clinicians rightfully seeking literacy in the struggle against modern humanitarian violations.…

Full Article


Autonomy, Liberty of Movement & Narrative Power

by September Williams, MD

THE LURE OF THIS LAND is a feature length documentary by Alexandra Lexton. Its world premiere was at the Mill Valley Film Festival October 5, 2019. Lexton is a consummate film professional, writer and narrative educator now stepping into the director’s chair. This work expresses a gentle passion for extracting primary motivating forces driving atypical protagonists. THE LURE OF THIS LAND (LOTL) is a filmic exploration of individual autonomymanifested by self-determination through the liberty of movement.

Here, autonomy is defined as the right of individuals to define and act in their own best enlightened self-interest.

Full Article


by September Williams, MD

ASK DR. RUTH by director Ryan White shows the personal lifestyle of the 90-year-old sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer. That lifestyle is simple—work, family, home, friends, and the familiarity of happy spaces. It’s a life most people, particularly elders, want to enjoy. White’s film intertwines that norm with the doctor’s unfathomably complex personal, professional and psychological underpinnings. At a height of 4 foot 7 inches, hormones and the assaultive stresses of world history have denied Dr. Ruth a body size reflecting her true stature. What Dr. Ruth lacks in height is more than compensated by a giant intellect and humanitarian zeal.…

Full Article


by September Williams, MD

Boarding my flight from Burbank, I flicked through my phone emails, finding that director Marshall Curry was available for interviews. It was a few weeks before the Academy of Film Arts and Science 2019 shindig. I had not seen Curry’s most recent film nor had I realized it was now also nominated for an OSCAR® in the Best Documentary – Short Subject category. This new work is added to his eight films since 2005 with their 38 awards and nominations. The new film is A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN — The title references New York’s iconic venue, Madison Square Garden.

Full Article


Managing Anorexia Nervosa by Her Own Hand

by September Williams, MD

 “You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.” It’s a saying used in a wide variety of mental health self-help communities. The phrase is also the apt tag line for Laura VanZee Taylor’s profoundly emotive feature length 2018 documentary film, I AM MARIS (IAM). Taylor along with producer Ariana Garfinkeland— most importantly— the film’s artist-writer-protagonist Maris Degener, document the perpetual state of recovery required to quell manifestations of mental illness. The story copes with the myriad incognito fluctuations of minds burdened with the disease anorexia nervosa.

Full Article

My Love Affair With the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond (clip) from Luna Productions on Vimeo.

TV Screenings and Viewing options for  MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN: 

SOME TV SCREENINGS:
My Love Affair with the Brain will screen in the San Francisco Bay Area On TV,  
March 22, Wed., 8 pm on KQED9 Plus the following7 other times (note that KQED9 is a different channel than KQED WORLD, etc.)·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 6:00am ·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 12:00pm ·  
KQED 9: Thu, Mar 23, 2017 -- 2:00am ·  
KQED Plus: Fri, Mar 24, 2017 -- 3:00pm ·  
KQED World: Sun, Mar 26, 2017 -- 2:00pm ·  
KQED Life: Tue, Mar 28, 2017 -- 9:00pm·  
KQED Life: Wed, Mar 29, 2017 -- 3:00am

PURCHASE: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN  is  available for ACADEMIC PURCHASE (Libraries, Colleges, Schools.) http://lunaproductions.com/buy-love-affair-brain-marian-diamond/individuals: http://lunaproductions.com/personal-use-dvd-my-love-affair-with-the-brain/

Full Article

Marian Diamond portraits, 1984, photos by Ed Kash

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN is an award winning documentary about the life and work of Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD, neuroanatomist, researcher and educator. Filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg (Luna Productions) make an argument which by all reasonable standards would support Diamond’s candidacy for a Nobel Prize, not only in science but also for peace. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Marian Diamond is a filmmakers dream. She is fluid and animated as anyone who routinely spends hours of her day on a stage before a judging audience of hundreds of students ought to be—but often are not. The camera loves her. With aesthetic wisdom the film not only focuses on Marian but on others sharing the territory she inhabits. It is a broad domain of geography, mind and family tradition. She is a catalyst for laughter fueled intelligence.

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN has established an iconic visual representation of Dr. Diamond’s vantage. It is the long view and the long shot. In Diamond’s mind the brain is always at the forefront, the seat of human intelligence and humanity. It is this view that Luna Production’s camera reflects in the film. We see Diamond watch the brain, from a distance but in sharp focus. Then we see the audience, and the world, watch her. The  filmmakers take the opportunity to not only show us her but the joyous reactions of others ignited in the wake of her whimsy. 

The lightness of Marian Diamond’s ‘being,’ is even reflected in Ryan and Weinberg’s choice of narrator for MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN,  Mayim Bialik. Bialik holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA but also plays a neuroscientist on TV’s BIG BANG THEORY. 

Marian Diamond is a scientist who is also a woman. She came up through a period when women did not teach in academia. Well qualified and well suited to lecturing she may have never have found that passion were it not for the persecution of her employer and mentor while working at Cornell University. That professor was fired during the rise of the witch-hunt of McCarthyism in the 1950s. However, the professor’s parting shot was to recommend the only person he knew could, and should, take his lectern— a woman, Marian Diamond,PhD. And so, at that University, Diamond became the first woman science lecturer in its history. 

Marian Diamond did not mean to dismantle archaic science with new truths, she’s just made that way—a fact to which she is not oblivious. Her youth and adult life has been filled with brilliant scientist husbands, mother, father and free thinking siblings first then her own children. She did not only study dead brains as specimens, but watched the living ones around her. They were all collaborators and conspirators in her quest to understand.

Dr. Marian Diamond’s major scientific contributions are generally divided into three: discovery of the impact of the environment on brain development; differences between the cerebral cortex of male and female rats independent of sex hormones; and the likely link between positive thinking—or happiness—in maintaining individuals immunological health reflected in brain tissue and function. Rigorous scientific inquiry often divides domains of investigation of a single entity. But Dr. Marian Diamond’s hallmark is: that which others might think static she suspects is mobile, multifaceted, unified though plastic—and when needs be— able to be remodeled.


Full Article


Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg’s documentary film MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD is not only a theoretical scientist but also an applied one. The Nuremberg Code—the rules for research conduct arising from the Nuremberg trials—has ten points. The second of those ten is that: Experiments should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature. Dr. Diamond’s scientific integrity at the work bench has yielded a change in how we view human capacity. 

Luna Productions film shows a field clinic on brain growth, Diamond’s project, Enrichment in Action. It uses findings of the doctor’s brain enrichment research to directly benefit impoverished, orphaned children. In Cambodia a group of children are provided with an environment fortified with supplementary vitamins, language skills, computer lessons, and promotion of the children’s wider social acceptance. She has been facilitating, watching and documenting those children’s growth over years. 

There are multiple other clinical applications to the insights of brain malleability derived from Marian Diamond’s work. In the not too distant past, medical students were routinely taught that only a tenth of the cerebral cortex (the heaviest part of the brain) was actively used. The implication was that if brain cells were lost that portion of the brain’s function was permanently diminished. The observation that nurture, as well as abuse, can alter brain function through structural change—is among neuroanatomist Marian Diamond’s major contributions to scientific history. That truth defines a choice to be made, by humanity, about how we can proceed, as individuals and a group. We either promote brain health or we do not. 

The idea of the mind-body complex evolved in western culture more slowly than in others. After time in China, Kenya and Australia, Dr. Diamond’s paradigm expanded even the Mind-Body complex to include the significance of the brain as a switching station—validating a Mind-Brain-Body complex as it were. Science at its best over turns old beliefs with new information. There are many applied applications to Diamond’s science. Clinicians now see their tasks as recruiting brain cells and promoting their growth and function within the window of best opportunity to promote neuro-plasticity, or brain flexibility. This is as important in maximizing function after any neurological insult like stroke or traumatic brain injury, dementia or aging—as it is in early childhood development. 

Those recently experiencing the birth of a baby in a hospital may notice that policy has shifted so that mothers and babies are no longer easily separated in the first moments after delivery. We now know that immediate breast feeding is essential for best growth and development of infants brains, and also prevention of chronic disease later in life for children and their mothers. These phenomena are in part nutritional but also the effect of early bonding—nurture. 

There is a story told by a friend who was sitting for days to become a Buddhist Priest. It was arduous. On her brief breaks she would light a stick of incense at the window. Doubting that she may have chosen the wrong direction for her existence she asked the universe for a sign. Just then a magnificent shooting star crossed her eye-line. Then she wondered, ‘But what does it mean?’ This is the quandary of both life and science.  

Marian Diamond has written, “The greatest thrill in my life up to that moment was when I held my first newborn child in my arms against my breast. I knew why I existed.” That child was born in immediate proximity  to Dr. Diamond’s completion of her PhD, in 1953. Though her life’s work was set at that time it would take decades to realize its meaning. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN spreads the word not only about what Dr. Diamond’s research has been but what it means. Diamond has summarized her take home lessons from her 60 years in brain research. She believes all the signs lead to the idea that brain health is dependent on five things, diet, exercise, challenge, newness, and love.


References:








Full Article

My Love Affair With the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond (clip) from Luna Productions on Vimeo.

TV Screenings and Viewing options for  MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN: 

SOME TV SCREENINGS:
My Love Affair with the Brain will screen in the San Francisco Bay Area On TV,  
March 22, Wed., 8 pm on KQED9 Plus the following7 other times (note that KQED9 is a different channel than KQED WORLD, etc.)·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 6:00am ·  
KQED World: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 -- 12:00pm ·  
KQED 9: Thu, Mar 23, 2017 -- 2:00am ·  
KQED Plus: Fri, Mar 24, 2017 -- 3:00pm ·  
KQED World: Sun, Mar 26, 2017 -- 2:00pm ·  
KQED Life: Tue, Mar 28, 2017 -- 9:00pm·  
KQED Life: Wed, Mar 29, 2017 -- 3:00am

PURCHASE: MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN  is  available for ACADEMIC PURCHASE (Libraries, Colleges, Schools.) http://lunaproductions.com/buy-love-affair-brain-marian-diamond/individuals: http://lunaproductions.com/personal-use-dvd-my-love-affair-with-the-brain/

Full Article

Marian Diamond portraits, 1984, photos by Ed Kash

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

Dr. Marian Diamond, photo courtesy of Luna Productions

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN is an award winning documentary about the life and work of Dr. Marian Cleeves Diamond, PhD, neuroanatomist, researcher and educator. Filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weinberg (Luna Productions) make an argument which by all reasonable standards would support Diamond’s candidacy for a Nobel Prize, not only in science but also for peace. 

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN shows Marian Diamond is a filmmakers dream. She is fluid and animated as anyone who routinely spends hours of her day on a stage before a judging audience of hundreds of students ought to be—but often are not. The camera loves her. With aesthetic wisdom the film not only focuses on Marian but on others sharing the territory she inhabits. It is a broad domain of geography, mind and family tradition. She is a catalyst for laughter fueled intelligence.

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN has established an iconic visual representation of Dr. Diamond’s vantage. It is the long view and the long shot. In Diamond’s mind the brain is always at the forefront, the seat of human intelligence and humanity. It is this view that Luna Production’s camera reflects in the film. We see Diamond watch the brain, from a distance but in sharp focus. Then we see the audience, and the world, watch her. The  filmmakers take the opportunity to not only show us her but the joyous reactions of others ignited in the wake of her whimsy. 

The lightness of Marian Diamond’s ‘being,’ is even reflected in Ryan and Weinberg’s choice of narrator for MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE BRAIN,  Mayim Bialik. Bialik holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA but also plays a neuroscientist on TV’s BIG BANG THEORY. 

Marian Diamond is a scientist who is also a woman. She came up through a period when women did not teach in academia. Well qualified and well suited to lecturing she may have never have found that passion were it not for the persecution of her employer and mentor while working at Cornell University. That professor was fired during the rise of the witch-hunt of McCarthyism in the 1950s. However, the professor’s parting shot was to recommend the only person he knew could, and should, take his lectern— a woman, Marian Diamond,PhD. And so, at that University, Diamond became the first woman science lecturer in its history. 

Marian Diamond did not mean to dismantle archaic science with new truths, she’s just made that way—a fact to which she is not oblivious. Her youth and adult life has been filled with brilliant scientist husbands, mother, father and free thinking siblings first then her own children. She did not only study dead brains as specimens, but watched the living ones around her. They were all collaborators and conspirators in her quest to understand.

Dr. Marian Diamond’s major scientific contributions are generally divided into three: discovery of the impact of the environment on brain development; differences between the cerebral cortex of male and female rats independent of sex hormones; and the likely link between positive thinking—or happiness—in maintaining individuals immunological health reflected in brain tissue and function. Rigorous scientific inquiry often divides domains of investigation of a single entity. But Dr. Marian Diamond’s hallmark is: that which others might think static she suspects is mobile, multifaceted, unified though plastic—and when needs be— able to be remodeled.


Full Article