Updated: Mar 26
Dr. Rik Seefeldt began teaching in the streets, hospitals and museums of London and Paris almost twenty years ago. In that time, he has changed the lives of generations of students from all over the USA who've been lucky enough to get one of the coveted roster spots in his iconic class, Madness.
Rik was also one of the original founding member of The Catalyst Program. In 2022 when Madness rolls again through London and Paris, it will be a special celebration for Rik and his class. This will be the 10th anniversary class and the first after Covid. Anticipating the return to what he loves best is exciting for Rik: "my favorite places and my favorite people come together like magic when we do Madness. It's the best time ever!"
Why Madness is So Special
As Rik says, "you can study abnormal psychology in any lecture hall in the world pretty well. But no lecture hall is like being at Freud's House in London or at La Salpetriére in Paris." He is right of course. And his legions of alumni make the same point over and over. As Catalyst alum Serena recounts:
Dr. Seefeldt brought us into Freud's study, and there was the couch. You can't even photograph it. It's just there. And for me this was like a confirmation of my passion and career choice. The day launched me. I eventually moved to London and did the Masters in Neurosciences at King's College.
For Madness students, it's really hard to say what part of their class they love best. But it's pretty easy for them to say how special they think Rik is to their learning and their adventure. He lives and breathe the cities where he teaches. And has memories and stories around every corner. But maybe the thing they most admire about Rik is the passion he brings to every day of teaching on The Catalyst.
The Shell-Shock Archives
One London day of Madness has often surprised Rik's students. In developing the history of neurology during his class' highly intentional walks through the city, he takes them finally to a small archive attached to the Royal Hospital at Queen Square. Bt the time Madness gets to the archive, Rik has prepped them for what's waiting inside. Held in old folios nobody else has read for 100 years are the original papers of one of the most famous Canadian doctors to focus on the "shell-shock" diagnosis of World-War One. Madness students read the treatment protocols and confront first-hand what the documents explain about the "cures" for this first version of PTSD. More than a century's remove can't save some students from having visceral reactions to the soldiers' stories. On a day that's as uncomfortable as it is unforgettable, only a few students will notice that the hospital and its archives are impossible for outsiders to access. Because of Rik and his reputation in the field, Madness students are always insiders in this sacred place.
A Warning to Madness Students of the Future from Missy, one of Rik's Alums:
When Rik says "let's walk to old Bedlam Royal Hospital," take a look at how long your legs are and then look at his. Five miles for him and five for you aren't the same! And the more you walk, the more you learn. It's a great kind of exhaustion at the end, but you will easily do 20,000 steps keeping up with Madness, for sure!"
Why Madness Changes Lives and Wardrobes
For Rik and his students, The Catalyst is an intensive journey. Rik wouldn't allow for anything less. The program is expensive, and Rik knows this. But he also knows there's no better value for the student dollar than this exact investment. So whether he's teaching in an old World-War Two bunker underground in London or in the ancient halls where Freud studied neurology in Paris, he spares no personal effort to leave Madness students gobsmacked daily by how and what they learn. That's why so many of them say the course and Rik changed their lives.
And any future Catalyst students from Rik's class or the others will learn something in London right away from Rik. If your wardrobe lacks just the perfect pair of leather boots for live music nights or anything else? Rik will be eager to share one of his many London "insider secrets." And then you'll be the latest Madness student to find a tiny boot shop in Camden where The Clash, The Sex Pistols and countless other bands got fitted for their Dr. Martens. That's just Madness as usual, with Rik in a very real version of his "happy place."