Neuroscientist speaks at SBCC about compassion, healthy mind


Jacob Frank

Neuroscientist and Professor Daniel Siegel lectures over 150 City College students, faculty and community members about cultivating a healthy mind through the practice of “mindsight” on Friday, Feb. 28 in the Business Communications Center at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Jacob Frank, Staff Writer

Award-winning educator and neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Siegel spoke at City College Friday to share ideas on how to cultivate a healthy mind.

About 150 students, teachers and community members squeezed into the Business-Communication Building Forum and overflowed into the aisles to hear Siegel speak.

The lecture was put on by the Honors Program, led by Professor Melanie Eckford-Prossor and a handful of student leaders. 

“I read ‘Mindsight’ and kept thinking, oh my gosh, how cool would it be for students to hear this man speak,” Eckford-Prossor said, referring to the book written by Siegel.

Siegel focused on the awareness and practice called “mindsight,” the leading concept in a relatively new field known as interpersonal neurobiology.

“Mindsight means, ‘How do you perceive the world of the mind,’” Siegel said.

This perception involves “stepping into the shoes” of another person and trying to understand their point of view. Siegel hopes this larger practice will lead to a world of compassion, kindness and cooperation. 

“We are looking at issues related to global wellbeing,” Siegel said.

Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry, and has worked extensively studying family interactions, serving as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow at UCLA. 

Siegel argues that in a world without understanding, “Fear will trump love… but we can drop into presence instead of fear and tune into love.”

“When we put people in the outgroup, we dehumanize them,” Siegel said.

Siegel co-created the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA and the Mindsight Institute, edited over 70 textbooks on interpersonal neurobiology, on top of publishing his own arsenal of work to revamp education towards this goal of integration.

“It can happen relatively quickly,” Siegel said. “When people say we only have so much time left before it’s too late I’m like, let’s do it! We are all here together.”