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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
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Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
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Spring 2005
Stress Fractures

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Dr. Peter Whybrow
Peter Whybrow envisions a new community-oriented direction for UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. 

“The American Dream is fascinating to me,” says the British-born-and-educated Whybrow, who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years (though he still retains his English accent). Chasing after that dream has us often on the move. Migrants by temperament, Americans are among the approximately 2 percent of the world’s population who move from place to place, Whybrow notes, while the other 98 percent live and die within 50 miles of where they were born.

“We’re a self-selected group of people here, many of us running on a treadmill trying to catch the dream, this El Dorado, trying to embody it in some sort of physical space,” Whybrow says. “But we can’t. We fail to realize that the dream is ephemeral.”

Couple this with the fact that we’re losing touch with family and community, which traditionally instill important life lessons and constraints, and we’re really in trouble. “We’re pushing ourselves to our physiological and psychological limits and beginning to actually cause ourselves harm,” Whybrow says. “We’ve got to find a different way to go.”

FINDING THAT different way is a quest Whybrow is embarking upon not only in his writing, but also in an ambitious plan to Finding that different way is a quest Whybrow is embarking upon not only in his writing, but also in an ambitious plan to rebuild NPI. His vision expands upon the institute’s strengths in neuroscience research and patient care and couples those with a community component to help people learn how to better take care of themselves, creating a center that is as much a destination for sustained well-being as it is a place to come when that well-being is threatened. Whybrow is working on collaborations with UCLA Extension, the School of the Arts and Architecture and other campus entities to develop such community-oriented offerings as museum-like exhibits illustrating the relationships between mind, body, genetics, community and culture; a teen-oriented coffee house to provide adolescents with a place for increased social interaction; and training classes to help children with attention-deficit disorders to better focus.


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