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Seminars, conferences and online resources on psychotherapy and human relationships
Embodied minds and mentalised bodies

Led by Dr Katerina Fotopoulou

Saturday 21 May 2016

09.30   Registration and coffee
10.00   Embodied minds

In this first session, we take an interdisciplinary stand-point and consider the relation between intricate psychological concepts such as 'the mind' and 'the self' and current neuroscientific knowledge on the workings of the brain. We will examine how our psychological selves are the products of processes that ensure the mind serves the needs of our body. Specifically, we will focus on how primary sensorimotor signals, including both interoceptive and exteroceptive messages about the body, are integrated and re-represented in various levels of the neurocognitive hierarchy. This re-representation of information in higher cortical areas is assumed to allow conscious awareness and more flexible behaviour. We will look at the precise neurobiological mechanisms and development processes by which bodily signals are integrated and re-mapped in the brain to ultimately form our coherent, conscious sense of embodiment.
11.30   Coffee
12.00   Neuropsychiatric disorders of body unawareness

To understand the nature of a coherent sense of embodiment, we will look at cases of neuropsychiatric disorders of body unawareness, including cases of 'anarchic hand syndrome', 'anosognosia' and 'somatoparaphrenia'. In all these cases, brain damage affects the habitual relation between the mind and the body and thus reveals some of the hidden processes that take place 'behind the curtain' of consciousness to make us feel that we own and control a physical, familiar body. We will use clinical vignettes and videos to answer the following questions: How do we perceive, remember and act upon the world? Why do we have feelings? Does the shape of the human body influence how we think and feel? And why is modern society so obsessed with its own body image? We will learn about the complex ways in which our brain constitutes ourselves, we will explore and reflect on the impressive cognitive abilities of humans, as well as the equally powerful and adaptive tendency of our brain to construct perceptual and psychological illusions.
13.00   Lunch
14:15   Mentalised bodies and intersubjectivity

Our body awareness is not something that depends solely on mental or brain processes that belong to the singular individual. Instead the self is socially or intersubjectively constituted. The notion of a socially constituted self has had many different voices in philosophy and more recently neuroscience, and debates unfold about the precise nature of intersubjectivity in relation to the architecture of the mind. This talk will address this topic via the results from neuroscientific studies that focus on how the physical presence of others, as well as our interactions and relationship with them, modulates our (inter)subjective experience of our body.
15.30   Tea
15:45   The therapist as partner in re-mapping the bodily self

In this session we will consider how hierarchical re-mappings of interoceptive signals (for example, cardiac awareness or, pain and pleasure on the skin) are modulated by social contextual factors and integrated with other sensorimotor information to form multimodal representations of the body. We will consider clinical observations and empirical data from studies on healthy volunteers and neuropsychiatric patients suffering from functional motor disorders (hysteria), anorexia nervosa and right-hemisphere syndrome to understand the different 'mentalisation' functions of human relations, separating between 2nd-person and 3rd-person mentalisations. Using insights from clinical neuroscience, as well as phenomenology and psychoanalysis, we will reflect on which kind of social mirroring the psychotherapeutic encounter entails and how this may affect how our bodies are given a second chance of 'mentalisation' during psychotherapy.
17.00   End

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Please read our booking conditions before making your booking

Early bird: £110 (Sold out)
Self-funded: £130 (Available)
Organisationally-funded: £220 (Available)
As part of Season Ticket: £42

CPD Hours

Certificates of attendance for 5 hours will be provided at the event

Grange Fitzrovia Hotel
Bolsover Street

09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:30 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:30 Tea
17:00 End