Spring Conference: Buddhism and Psychoanalysis: Implications for the Psychotherapeutic Treatment of Trauma by Mark Epstein, M.D.

Buddhism and psychoanalysis both agree that trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people, it happens to us all. Death and illness eventually impact everyone, but many people are also subject to developmental, or relational, traumas stemming from mal-attunement in early emotional life. Today’s presentation holds that not only do the ‘Little T’ traumas of early life condition how we respond to the ‘Big T’ traumas all around us but also that both Buddhism and psychoanalysis aim to use the traumas of daily life to open our minds and hearts. Ranging from the contributions of analysts like D.W. Winnicott, Michael Eigen and Robert Stolorow to the undercurrent of loss in the Buddha’s own biography—the death of his mother when he was a week old—the interplay of Buddhist and psychodynamic psychologies asserts that, while emotional memory may be forever, trauma seeks a relational home in which it can be metabolized. Mindfulness meditation and relational psychotherapy both can contribute to the treatment of trauma.

Learning Objectives:
1. Recognize the symptoms of acute trauma and differentiate between acute and relational (developmental) trauma.
2. Apply techniques of Buddhist mindfulness and Western psychoanalytic psychotherapy to the treatment of trauma.
3. Compare the Buddhist method of ‘bare attention’ to the ‘attentional attitude’ of contemporary psychoanalysis.

Mark Epstein, M.D. is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Going on Being, Open to Desire, Psychotherapy without the Self and The Trauma of Everyday Life. His latest work is Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself (Penguin Press). He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University.

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Date(s) - April 6, 2019
8:30 am - 12:00 pm

The Hope Club (please no jeans/sneakers)
6 Benevolent St.
Providence, RI

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