Daniel Siegel

Daniel Siegel

Daniel J. Siegel is a contemporary psychiatrist and writer who specializes in interpersonal neurobiology and coined the term mindsight.

Professional Life

Daniel J. Siegel was born September 2, 1957. He attended the University of Southern California as an undergraduate, and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1983. He completed his residency at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the departments of psychiatry, pediatrics, and neuropsychiatry.

Since 1997, Siegel has taught clinical psychiatry at UCLA. In 1999, he established the Center for Human Development and Mindsight Institute. He is also a founding member and codirector of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, medical director of the Lifespan Learning Institute, and the founding editor of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology.

Siegel’s 2001 book, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, illustrates the importance of self-awareness and explores how a person is shaped by both nature and nurture. In 2009, he emphasized the significance of examining the self through one’s thought processes with Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation.

Contribution to Psychology

Siegel has spent much of his career researching and exploring interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB). This field of neurobiology is dedicated to understanding the brain, subjective experience, and the ways in which the brain is altered by experience. By integrating empirical evidence and therapeutic techniques, interpersonal neurobiology strives to transform chronic psychological conditions. Siegel points to neuroplasticity, which shows that the brain continues to develop neurons and neurological pathways throughout life, as evidence that interpersonal neurobiology has the power to transform emotions and interpersonal relationships, in addition to enabling people to master new skills. Traumatic experiences that can impair healthy psychological functioning can be reversed by tapping into the never-ending growth opportunities in the brain. Patterns of behavior and thoughts that were once thought to be irreversible can be re-patterned to result in healthy and productive actions.

Siegel coined the term mindsight to refer to the ability to understand the internal workings of the mind. Mindsight aims to help people understand the brain’s role in regulating emotions and is akin to mindfulness in helping people refrain from identifying with their thoughts and feelings in order to achieve equilibrium between the brain, body, and mind. Through mindsight, emotions are recognized and managed in a way that allows people to gain control over their psychological states rather than being ruled by them. For example, Siegel emphasizes the difference between saying, “I am sad” and “I feel sad.” The latter empowers people to see their emotions as temporary feelings over which they can gain control rather than overwhelming sensations that must dominate their lives. With a heightened sense of self-awareness, people are better able to uncover hidden emotions, feelings, and thoughts and identify areas of themselves they want to change.

Books by Dan Siegel

  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (1999, 2001)
  • Parenting from the Inside Out: How A Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive (with Mary Hartzell, 2003)
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being (2007)
  • Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation (2010)
  • The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician's Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration (2010)
  • The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind (with Tina Payne Bryson, 2011)

Dan Siegel Featured on GoodTherapy.org

In February, 2011 Dan Siegel presented Mindsight in Action: How to Create a Healthy Mind, a GoodTherapy.org web conference available to clinicians for continuing education (CE) credits.


  1. Daniel J. Siegel. (2011). Contemporary Authors Online. Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com/InContext/bio.htm
  2. Mary, S. W. (2004, Sep). Mindsight. Psychotherapy Networker, 28, 0. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/233330153?accountid=1229

Last Update: 07-13-2015

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