For almost three decades this conference has examined the evolving knowledge of how trauma affects psychological and biological developmental processes, and how the damage caused by trauma and neglect can be reversed. This year we will explore new frontiers in this work, frontiers that transcend old paradigms of explaining, fixing troublesome behaviors, or administering drugs.
The study of psychological trauma has been accompanied by an explosion of knowledge about how experience shapes the central nervous system and the formation of the self. Developments in the neurosciences, developmental psychopathology and information processing have contributed to our understanding of how brain function is shaped by experience and that life itself can continually transform perception and biology.
The study of trauma has probably been the single most fertile area in helping to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship among the emotional, cognitive, social and biological forces that shape human development.
Starting with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults and expanding into early attachment and overwhelming experiences in childhood, this endeavor has elucidated how certain experiences can “set” psychological expectations and biological selectivity.
We have learned that most experience is automatically processed on a subcortical level in the brain; i.e., by “unconscious” interpretations that take place outside of awareness. Insight and understanding have only a limited influence on the operation of these subcortical processes. When addressing the problems of traumatized people who, in a myriad of ways, continue to react to current experience as a replay of the past, there is a need for therapeutic methods that do not depend exclusively on drugs and cognition. In this conference we will pay particular attention to physical self-experience, finding one’s voice to speak the truth of experience, and the transformative potential of action, mind altering medications and theater.
Workshops included in this recording:
Self and Identity in Traumatic Stress: From “fixation on the trauma”, to Resuming the Arc of One’s Life — Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Dealing with Unrelenting Threat: Translating the Lessons from the Neuroimaging Lab into Effective Treatment — Ruth Lanius, MD, Ph.D.
Trauma, Body and Self: How Physiological Hypoarousal Contributes to Alterations in Identity, Awareness and Agency — Wendy d'Andrea, Ph.D.
Panel Discussions and Questions
The Impact of Trauma Over Time: The Need for Stage-Dependent Diagnosis & Treatment of Traumatic Stress — Alexander McFarlane, MD
Meditation as Trauma Therapy: A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective — Peter Bayley, Ph.D.
Explain how the brain has fundamental capacities to learn to regulate itself.
Explain how infant brains develop over time.
Describe how to integrate neuroimaging into effective treatment.
Recognize how physiological hyproarousal contributes to alterations in identity, awareness and agency.
Identify the impact of trauma over time.
Examine the role and mediating mechanisms of meditation practices in healing emotional suffering.
Discover integration for paradoxes of mind and brain using meditation.
About the Authors:
BESSEL A VAN DER KOLK, M.D.
Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., is a clinical psychiatrist who has studied the impact and resolution of trauma on human beings for over 30 years. His research has ranged from developmental impact of trauma to neuroimaging and from memory processes to the use of EMDR and theater groups in PTSD. He is professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston, where he also serves as director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network. He is past president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He has taught at universities and hospitals throughout the world. He is author of over a hundred scientific articles, Psychological Trauma and co-editor of Traumatic Stress.
Financial: Bessel van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is the medical director of the Trauma Center in Boston. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Nonfinancial: Bessel van der Kolk has no relevant nonfinancial relationship to disclose.
RUTH LANIUS, M.D., PH.D.
Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD: Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, Canada; co-editor (with Eric Vermetten and Clare Pain), The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease: The Hidden Epidemic
WENDY D'ANDREA, PHD
Wendy D’Andrea, PhD: Assistant Professor of Psychology at The New School for Social Research in New York, NY. Her research focuses on physiological manifestations and consequences of complex trauma.
Alexander McFarlane, MB BS (Hons) MD, is the Professor of Psychiatry, Head CMVH, University of Adelaide Node, The Centre for Military and Veterans’ Health, Australia; and Past President, ISTSS. He’s the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles on PTSD, and Co-author of Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience in Mind, Body and Society. He’s also the principal investigator, Australian Department of Defense longitudinal study of combat exposure.
PETER J. BAYLEY, PH.D.
Peter J. Bayley, PhD, War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRIISC), VA Palo Alto Health Care System, clinical assistant professor, Stanford University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.