Dear fellow ESTD Members,
The next ESTD conference – Rome, October 2019! The next ESTD conference, our 7th, will be in Rome from 24-26 October, 2019, at the Auditorium della Tecnica (http://centrocongressi.confindustria.it/en/#/ms-1/2). As the old saying goes, ‘All roads lead to Rome’! If this is true… it should be very easy for you to get there!
We are very excited about this conference, which is combining the themes of history and the body/mind relationship. The conference title is: The Legacy of Trauma and Dissociation: Body and Mind in a New Perspective. I think this is a great conference theme, as it points to both the damage caused by trauma and the way forward – both the title and subtitle have dual meanings.
The word ‘legacy’ has an interesting dual meaning itself. There is a narrow positive one – money or property left for one by deceased relatives – essentially, a gift. But there is also a broader, more general meaning: ‘something that is part of your history or remains from an earlier time’, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, or simply ‘something that is a result of events in the past’. As this meaning also has the sense of something that has been ‘held over’ from the past or is, in a sense, intruding into the present, ‘legacy’ is the perfect word to describe dissociation and the effects of trauma – the past continues to haunt us.
It is meant this way in the title, but also in the more positive, narrow way – with reference to the trauma and dissociation field. What ‘gifts’ have we been given along the course of the past century and a quarter (for our field) and decade (for ESTD)? What is our legacy? Where has our field been and where is it going? Both the negative and positive aspects of this title will be on full display at the Rome conference.
And the body/mind relationship has a great deal to do with the legacy of trauma and dissociation. The subtitle body and mind in a new perspective can be read in two ways; just like the title – negative and positive: a new perspective can be the consequence of trauma – a manifestation of dissociation, but also a cure for trauma – a more healthy reorientation of body and mind. As we know, traumatizing events cause dissociation – divisions in the personality. Persons do not feel safe in their body, and at times are not even present in their body. Trauma causes an alteration in the body/mind relationship – an understandable adaption, but one that comes with considerable personal and relational costs. The cure for trauma is a realignment of body and mind; to place body and mind in a new, higher functioning, perspective. Importantly, this body/mind perspective will not be the same for the person as it was before their traumatization; it will be different and, in some sense, possible better. In Rome, you will hear much about the effects of trauma and dissociation on the body/mind relationship, but also about new approaches to treating the consequences of trauma – realigning body, mind and world in a life affirming way.
So, how are we going to do this? Well, for starters, we have a stellar line up of plenary speakers. Some will no doubt be familiar to you – Ellert Nijenhuis, Kathy Steele and Martin Dorahy, and others may require some introduction – Benedetto Farina and Marcela Marzano. The initial trio – of Nijenhuis, Steele and Dorahy – represent the top tier in our field in theory (Nijenhuis), practice (Steele) and research (Dorahy) – though, frankly, all are highly skilled clinicians.
Given our conference theme, Ellert Nijenhuis – who really needs no introduction – was a natural choice. His important recent work has focused intensely on changing old-fashioned attitudes toward the body-mindworld relationship; in his plenary, Ellert will present his new approach to therapy, called ‘Enactive trauma therapy’. Kathy Steele is one of the most sought after teachers and supervisors in the dissociation field; her clinical knowledge of complex trauma and dissociation is unparalleled, as is the clarity of her presentations. Her most recent award-winning books (with Suzette Boon and Onno van der Hart) focus on integrative approaches to trauma-related dissociation and skills training for clinicians and patients; her plenary will address these themes. Martin Dorahy, active in ESTD from the beginning of our organization, has been a prominent figure in the trauma and dissociation world for several decades. Past president of ISSTD from 2017, he has conducted ground-breaking research on autobiographical memory in DID and the role of shame in trauma treatment. He is also very knowledgeable about the history of our field, and will give a keynote talk integrating these themes.
Some of you may know the work of Benedetto Farina. Dr. Farina, who worked closely with Giovanni Liotti, has been conducting cutting edge brain research in persons with dissociative disorders, including studying the impact of activating the attachment system on brain functioning. He will present stunning new findings in Rome on patterns in brain functioning associated with dissociation and dissociative disorders. Michela Marzano is an Italian philosopher, author and politician, who has been Professor of Philosophy at the Paris Descartes University since 2010. The reference to Descartes is an interesting coincidence, as Dr. Marzano’s main field is the philosophy of the body – including how the human body has been conceptualized throughout history. She is also concerned with moral and political philosophy, and has served in the Italian parliament since 2013. She is a passionate and eloquent speaker and writer, and is particularly concerned with the fragility of the human condition.
So, as you can see, the keynote speeches at our Rome conference will plumb the breadth and depth of our conference theme – The legacy of trauma and dissociation: Body and mind in a new perspective. Preconference workshops are now being arranged, and the 1st call for abstracts is planned for November; the conference website should be active in September. Presentations related to the themes of the conference title, and other areas within the trauma and dissociation field, will be most welcome. And finally, there will be one ‘ghost’ who will certainly be haunting us in Rome – someone whose presence will be felt intensely by his absence – Giovanni Liotti. And for Liotti, to whom this conference will be dedicated, the term ‘legacy’ is justly used – he has left the trauma and dissociation field with his priceless teachings – a rich trove of wisdom that will guide us for many years. I hope to see you in Rome next year!
From ESTD Newsletter Volume 7 Number 3, September 2018