Intentional Performers with Brian Levenson

Dr. Norman Rosenthal on South Africa, SAD, and Meditation

April 3, 2019

Dr. Norman Rosenthal joins us on this week’s episode of the podcast. Dr. Norman Rosenthal is a world-renowned psychiatrist, researcher, and author who first described seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. He pioneered the use of light therapy as a treatment during his 20 years at the National Institute of Mental Health. He is a highly cited researcher and best-selling author, and he has written over 200 scholarly articles and authored or co-authored 8 popular books. Dr. Rosenthal has worked in the weeds with patients and had a private practice while also going deep into the research. He has written books including “The Winter Blues,” and he also has New York Times bestsellers list called “Transcendence” and “The Gift of Adversity.” He has practiced psychiatry for over three decades, coached, and conducted numerous clinical trials of medications and alternative treatments such as transcendental meditation for psychiatric disorders. He and his work have been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, NPR, and other national media outlets.

In this episode, they discuss what life was like for him as a kid (4:20), what guilt felt like for him (6:05), what it was like to be stabbed (6:40), how he thinks about gratitude (8:30), his experience with Viktor Frankl (13:50), the distinction between gratitude and forgiveness (16:40), his thoughts on grievances (19:10), if he’d do our jails/criminal system any differently (21:30), when he became a researcher and scientist (23:00), how his parents reacted to his career choice (24:30), the values his parents passed down to him (25:20), how he handles privilege while understanding how quickly things can change (28:30), how life is so multi-faceted (33:00), how he first thought of SAD (35:30), how the community first responded to SAD (38:15), why he didn’t stay on the path of research (40:00), what light therapy is (41:20), about transcendental meditation (43:30), how he thinks about spirituality (45:00), his thoughts on death (47:40), his writing process (51:30), his thoughts on the mindset in preparation vs. performance (55:30), what he does to make sure he’s mentally where he needs to be (59:20), what about his framework allows him to be open to other possibilities (1:01:30), how he navigates when to be open and when to be contrarian (1:05:30), the letter his mom wrote he and his siblings (1:09:50).

Thank you to Dr. Norman Rosenthal for coming on the podcast. You can find more information about Norman at his website at which lists his books and blogs he’s written. You can also find him on Facebook at

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Thanks for listening.


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