About this event

  • Date and time Thu 15 Jul 2021 from 9:25am to 4:45pm
  • Location Online
  • Organised by Psychiatry, Sport and Exercise Medicine, Military Medicine

This webinar will explore the psychological qualities of those who partake in extreme sports and experiences, and what we can learn from this state of mind. Insights about the pathophysiology and remission of mental ill-health can also be gained by exploring these processes. This is an in-depth webinar that will touch on many different and interesting topics such as the role of breathing for our physiology and psychology, experiences of being in nature and how it benefits our mental health, and much more.

During this webinar you will:

  • Ascertain whether adaptability and resilience can be nurtured through extreme activities
  • Understand "flow states", their characteristics, and how they may manifest 
  • Learn the psychoneuroimmunological responses to extreme states, such as hypothermia and hyperthermia
  • Understand the importance of bodily rhythms and environmental entrainment for high performance

This meeting is held in association with RCPsych HoPSIG.

A CPD certificate will be issued to those joining the webinar live and will be automatically issued after 7 days to those who watched the webinar live in its entirety. Those who watch the webinar on-demand will receive a CPD certificate 30 days after the webinar has gone live.  

This webinar is being held in association with the RSM Sports and Exercise Medicine Section.

Join in the conversation online using #RSMPsyc and #ExtremeSportsPsyc
Follow us on Twitter: @RoySocMed

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Key speakers

Sue Jackson

Dr Sue Jackson

Performance and Wellbeing Psychologist, Author and Consultant

Speaker's biography

Dr Sue Jackson is an experienced psychologist and scholar with a particular focus on performance excellence and wellbeing. Sue is a registered psychologist and full member of the College of Sport and Exercise Psychology in the Australian Psychological Society (APS). With a PhD in sport psychology, and many years’ experience as a practitioner in psychology and performance coaching, Sue has an extensive tool kit from which to draw on to help create positive change and direction in people’s lives. Sue brings an extensive scholarly background in psychological aspects of performance and well-being. Sue has examined a range of issues and topics within psychology, including motivation, self-concept, stress and coping, optimal performance states, and the psychological experiences associated with performing to a high level. The primary emphasis of Sue’s work has been the application of flow theory to understanding experience, and enhancing performance, of individuals in various tasks and settings. Sue is an internationally recognised expert in the study and application of flow state to performance and experience. Sue started researching the flow concept in the late 1980’s, and her academic and applied work has helped to make the flow state both understandable and accessible to all levels of performers. Sue has published extensively on flow, including, with her mentor, and the founder of flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow in Sports: The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances”. In addition to a Hons (First Class), MSc, and PhD degrees, Sue is a mindfulness practitioner, and she incorporates both western psychological approaches and eastern spiritual traditions to her mindfulness practice and teaching. Sue has a life-long love of sport, and is presently chasing flow in open-water swimming.

Nikki Kimball

Ultra Marathon Runner

Dr Stig Severinsen

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Breatheology, 4 X Freediving World Champion and Multiple Guinness World Record Holder

Speaker's biography

Stig Severinsen is a four-time Freediving World Champion and was the first person on the Planet to hold his breath underwater for over 20 minutes. Stig has set multiple Guinness World Records; amongst others ‘Longest Breath Held Voluntarily’ (20 min 10 seconds in 2010 and 22 minutes in 2013), “Longest Dive Under Ice” (set under Greenland’s freezing ice caps) and ‘Longest ocean dive on a single breath’ swimming 202.0 metres (The 2020 Dive) in La Paz, Mexico. Stig was chosen as ‘The Ultimate Superhuman’ on the Discovery Channel’s ‘Superhuman Showdown’, when he held his breath for 22 minutes underwater. With an MSc in Biology and a PhD in Medicine, Stig is the author of Breatheology® – The Art of Conscious Breathing and founder and CEO of the online platform Breatheology.com, founded to raise awareness on the power of breathing and breath-holding for improved health, rehabilitation, performance and stress resilience. A member of the prestigious (and invitation-only) Explorer’s Club, joining a field of luminaries including the world’s first to reach the South Pole, the North Pole, the deepest point in the ocean, and the first to the surface of the Moon. Stig has consulted and trained the Danish Navy SEALs and the Danish Air Force. Today, Stig spends his time personally training elite athletes and business leaders, and through his online platform Breatheology.com, with those looking to improve their breathing, health and decision-making.

Rebecca Dennis

Author, Coach, Workshop Leader and Founder, Breathing Tree

Speaker's biography

Rebecca Dennis, international author of three published books, coach and workshop leader is the founder of www.breathingtree.co.uk. Based out of London and working globally as a breath coach and mentor facilitating workshops, events and retreats alongside her public speaking, she fervently believes that conscious breathwork is the ultimate key to our well-being, health and inner peace. Rebecca has been practicing holistic and breath and body based therapies for over 20 years and has trained with Judith Kravitz, Dan Brule, Donna Fahri, Max Strom and other masters and influential teachers of breathwork, bodywork and healing modalities. On her journey with holistic practices she also has trained in coaching, anatomy and physiology, somatic healing, Swedish and deep tissue massage, acupressure and shamanic healing traditions from indigenous tribes and elders. She is continually inspired by the simple power of our breath and how it can change lives including her own. Rebecca is on a mission to teach as many people as possible to empower their lives and improve their physical and mental wellbeing with conscious breathing techniques and somatic bodywork.

Mike Tipton

Professor Mike Tipton

Professor of Human and Applied Physiology

Speaker's biography

Professor Tipton from the Extreme Environments Laboratory, University of Portsmouth,  has spent over 35 years researching and advising in the areas of drowning and thermoregulation, environmental and occupational physiology and survival in the sea. He has published over 250 scientific papers and books including, “The Essentials of Sea Survival”. He is a Trustee/Director of Surf Lifesaving GB and member of the Council of the RNLI. Prof Tipton is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and The Physiological Society, and has been awarded a MBE for services to physiological research in extreme environments, the Ireland Medal for saving lives from drowning worldwide and the H&L Swiftwater rescue lifetime achievement award from the USA.

Charles Raison

Dr Charles Raison

Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair for Healthy Minds, Children and Families, Professor, School of Human Ecology and Professor, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Speaker's biography

Charles Raison, MD, is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Raison also serves as Director of Clinical and Translational Research for Usona Institute, as Director of Research on Spiritual Health for Emory Healthcare and as Visiting Professor in the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Raison’s research focuses on the examination novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training. More recently, Dr. Raison has taken a leadership role in the development of psychedelic medicines as potential treatments for major depression. He was named one of the world’s most influential researchers by Web of Science for the decade of 2010-2019. With Vladimir Maletic he is author of “The New Mind-Body Science of Depression” published by W.W. Norton in 2017.


View the programme

Welcome and introduction

Dr Christos Sideras, Psychiatry Section, Royal Society of Medicine

Session one: The case for extreme as natural states

Professor George P Chrousos, Professor, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The nature of extreme sports and their role in the future of mental health and wellbeing

Associate Professor Eric Brymer, Australian College of Applied Psychology, Leeds Beckett University

Nature as a healer: Nature-based interventions and solutions

Professor Tadhg E MacIntyre, Assistant Professor of Environmental Psychology, Department of Psychology, Maynooth University

Can stress induce psychological resilience?

Professor Jonathan Stone, Emeritus Professor of Physiology, University of Sydney

Panel discussion

Professor Adrian Taylor, Professor of Health Services Research, School of Medicine, University of Plymouth


Session two: The flow of the possible

Chair: Dr Amit Mistry, Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists Sport and Exercise Special Interest Group

Flow: The optimal psychological state

Dr Sue Jackson, Performance and Wellbeing Psychologist, Author and Consultant

Mushin: Engaged presence in high-stake situations

Professor Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Linfield University

Ultramarathon running

Nikki Kimball, Ultra Marathon Runner

Panel discussion

Professor Thorsten Barnhofer, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Surrey


Session three: Rhythms of life

Chair: Dr Gordana Milavić, President Elect, Psychiatry Section, Royal Society of Medicine

To breathe, or not to breathe: Altered body-mind states via breath work

Dr Stig Severinsen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Breatheology, 4 X Freediving World Champion and Multiple Guinness World Record Holder

Breathwork and embodiment

Rebecca Dennis, Author, Coach, Workshop Leader and Founder, Breathing Tree

From Huygens to Halsey: Rhythmic entrainment and the mind–body connection

Professor Costas Karageorghis, Divisional Lead for Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Brunel University London

Panel discussion

Professor Michael E Hyland, Professor of Health Psychology, Plymouth Marjon University and Honorary Professor, University of Plymouth


Session four: A body-mind adaptive 1

Chair: Dr Walter Busuttil, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of Research and Training, Combat Stress

Improving motivations

Professor Joan Duda, Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology, School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham

Psychology of extreme states: ‘Dysexistential syndrome’

Dr John Leach, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Extreme Environments Research Group, University of Portsmouth

Extreme sports for veterans

Anton Johnson, Executive Director, XSports4Vets

Panel discussion

Colonel Julian Woodhouse, President, Military Medicine Section, Royal Society of Medicine


Session five: A body-mind adaptive 2

Dr Valeria Mondelli, Clinical Reader in Psychoneuroimmunology, King's College London

Pushing the brain's limits through extreme sport: Novel insight into neurodegeneration

Professor Damian Miles Bailey, Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow, Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry and Director, Neurovascular Research Laboratory

Body responses in extreme environments and cold water immersion for depression

Professor Mike Tipton, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology

Body responses in affective states and hyperthermia for depression

Dr Charles Raison, Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair for Healthy Minds, Children and Families, Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, School of Human Ecology and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Panel discussion

Professor Neil Harrison, Clinical Professor in Neuroimaging and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Cardiff University and Cardiff and Vale Health Board


Debate: Are extreme sports good for mental illness?

Chair: Dr Chris van Tulleken, Associate Professor, University College London

Dr Allan Johnston, Consultant Psychiatrist, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, English Institute of Sport Mental Health Expert Panel, Consultant Performance Psychiatrist, League Managers Association, Sports Psychiatrist, Spire Leeds Hospital, Sports Chaplaincy UK Ambassador and State of Mind Sports Charity Trustee, Professor Alan Currie, Consultant Psychiatrist, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Tim Rogers, Consultant Sport Psychiatrist and Dr Jen Sherman, Clinician, Coach and Expedition Medic

Closing remarks



Disclaimer: All views expressed in this webinar are of the speakers themselves and not of the RSM.

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 

Special rates for difficult times
The RSM wishes to offer healthcare professionals continued learning opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. The RSM’s ​weekly COVID-19 series ​webinars remain free of charge, while there will be small charges to register for other online education. These fees will enable the RSM to continue its programme of activities and will apply during the course of the pandemic.

All webinars will be available for registered delegates 30 days after on Zoom. The link will be sent 24 hours after the webinar takes place. 

This webinar will be recorded and stored by the Royal Society of Medicine and may be distributed in future on various internet channels. 

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