Placebos, Epigenetics and Trauma: A full day of talks exploring the fascinating science of the mind-body connection. 

Commonly, we think of the mind and body as two separate things. 

We think ‘I’ have a body, rather than I am my body. 

As a result we feel cut off from ourselves; alienated from our true nature. 

But is this split-view of ourselves scientifically accurate? 

Or might the two be more interconnected than we previously thought?

In this series of talks we’ll explore the fascinating science of the mind-body connection; how the mind affects us biologically, and also how what happens in the body influences the mind. 

You’ll learn: 

  • Epigenetics: An Introduction; how your thoughts and signals from your environment influence which of your genes get switched on or off, and ultimately shape the kind of person you become – Dr Nessa Carey
  • Healing Developmental Trauma; how behaviour patterns laid down in early years affect our relationships as adults, and how we can rewire our brain to change attachment behaviours, and heal developmental trauma – Marian Dunlea
  • The Psychology of Placebos; how our beliefs affect our biology and immune responses, the science behind why placebo medicines work, and why the placebo effect evolved in humans – Professor Nicholas Humphrey

You’ll learn how these insights can improve your own quality of life, but also your ability to help others, too.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Epigenetics: An Introduction – Dr Nessa Carey 
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: Healing Developmental Trauma – Marian Dunlea
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm:  The Psychology of Placebos – Prof Nicholas Humphrey
  • 5:20pm – 7:00pm: Attendee Social & Networking (Optional)

Full Day Pass: £38.25 + VAT + booking fee

Student Pass: £20.25 + VAT + booking fee


Sunday 25th October 2020

09:30 – 17:00 BST

Add to Calendar
25/10/2020 09:30 AM
25/10/2020 5:00 PM
Online Conference,
The Weekend University – A Day on the Mind-Body Connection


University of Greenwich,
10 Stockwell Street,
SE10 9BD

Lectures & Speakers

Epigenetics: An Introduction – Dr Nessa Carey

Ever wondered why identical twins become less alike as they age, even developing different diseases? Why are the cells of your skin so different from the cells of your kidneys, even though they contain exactly the same DNA? The answer lies in epigenetics, an extra layer of information on top of genes, that controls how the genetic script gets used. It’s the link between nature and nurture and it’s important in a huge range of biological processes. It explains why tortoiseshell cats are almost always female, and why global warming is leading to catastrophic skewing of the sex ratios in turtle populations.

Drug companies are investing billions of dollars in creating new therapies for cancer, using their knowledge of how epigenetic problems can drive this disease. Most weirdly of all, the epigenetic system can be a means by which responses to the environment get passed down through generations, without any change in DNA. It’s a wonderful, strange, fascinating and sometimes controversial science, and it affects us all.

Reading Recommendations:

  •  The Epigenetics Revolution – Dr Nessa Carey (Icon Books, 2011)
  •  Introducing Epigenetics, a Graphic Guide – Cath Ennis (Icon Books, 2017)
  •  The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner, 2017)
Dr Nessa Carey - The Weekend University

Dr Nessa Carey is a biologist working in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology. She is International Director of the technology transfer organisation PraxisUnico and a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London. With expertise in the field of epigenetics and in technology transfer, she promotes the movement of scientists between academia and industry, lecturing often to school students and early career scientists. 

Dr Carey writes books and articles for a scientifically interested general audience, and contributes to the Huffington Post. She is the author of The Epigenetics Revolution and Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome which explore advances in the field of epigenetics and their implications for medicine. You can find out more about her work at

Bodydreaming & Healing Developmental Trauma – Marian Dunlea

The wiring of the brain, the neural pathways, are laid down during the crucial years of life when the infant is dependent on the primary caregiver. The past is encoded in the present. The degree of developmental trauma caused by adverse situations and by the relationship of mother and infant determines to a large extent the infant’s nervous system responses and the attachment styles adopted to ensure survival. These behaviour patterns laid down in the early years of development govern relationships and interactions as adults. From conception onwards memory is not subject to recall in the obvious ways, but is stored as implicit memory, held in the body out of conscious awareness.

Neuroscience confirms the brain’s plasticity which ensures that we can rewire the brain,

changing the autonomic nervous system responses, and consequently shift our attachment

behaviours and heal developmental trauma. In Bodydreaming we learn tools to enable affect regulation, to produce greater ease, flow and expansion in our systems. We focus on our sensing bodies through inner and outer attunement which has the effect of changing our default responses of fight, flight, freeze, the residue of early trauma and insecure attachment patterns.

The quality of this relationship to the body lays down a new template for a secure attachment –

this time round an attachment to an embodied core sense of self. The work creates the

foundation stone for healing developmental trauma.

Reading Recommendations:

  • Levine, P. (2010) In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
  •  van der Kolk, B. (1996 [2014]), The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, St Ives: Penguin Random House.
  • Porges, S. W., (2011a) In Interview with Serge Prengel – The Polyvagal Theory for Somatic Perspectives of Psychotherapy,
  • Schore, A.N. (2001) The effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health. Infant Mental Health Journal, Vol. 22 (1-2), 201-269
  • Sieff, D. F. (2015) Understanding and Healing Emotional Trauma: Conversations with Pioneering Clinicians and Researchers, Hove and New York: Routledge.
Marian Dunlea - The Weekend University

Marian Dunlea is a Jungian analyst and somatics practitioner who has been leading workshops internationally for the past 25 years integrating body, mind and soul. She is head of the BodySoul Europe Training, which is part of the Marion Woodman Foundation.

Marian is the creator of Body-Dreaming; an approach which incorporates developments in neuroscience, trauma therapy, and attachment theory with Jungian psychology, and the phenomenological standpoint of interconnectedness. Her trainings include Jungian Analysis, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy, Infant Observation Supervision, and Somatic Experiencing.

The Psychology of Placebos – Professor Nicholas Humphrey

Human beings have evolved to be highly adaptable creatures, psychologically and physiologically. From moment to moment we continually monitor the social and physical environment in order to assess opportunities or threats that lie ahead; and we change the face we present to the world accordingly. 

In this talk I’ll explain how these adjustments to personality, mental and physical health can occur without our knowing it, as we respond instinctively to environmental cues. But of course we may sometimes get it wrong. We may be deceived by accidental or deliberate disinformation into forming a false picture of our prospects. Or we may be misled by information that – in evolutionary terms – is simply out of date. I’ll show how this explains not only the placebo effect, but much else about the misfit between human nature and the modern environment.

Preparation Recommendations:

Placebos at large. New Scientist. 2013. 

The evolutionary psychology of healing: A human success story. Current  Biology. 2012. 

Placebos: Cracking the Code 

Nicholas Humphrey - The Weekend University

Nicholas Humphrey is a theoretical psychologist, based in Cambridge, who is known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness. His interests are wide ranging. He studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey in Rwanda, he was the first to demonstrate the existence of “blindsight” after brain damage in monkeys, he proposed the celebrated theory of the “social function of intellect”, and he is the only scientist ever to edit the literary journal Granta.

His books include Consciousness Regained, The Inner Eye, A History of the Mind, Leaps of Faith, The Mind Made Flesh, Seeing Red and most recently Soul Dust. He has been the recipient of several honours, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, the British Psychological Society’s book award, the Pufendorf Medal and the International Mind and Brain Prize .

He has been Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford, Assistant Director of the Subdepartment of Animal Behaviour at Cambridge, Senior Research Fellow in Parapsychology at Cambridge, Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research, New York, and School Professor at the London School of Economics.

What TWU attendees are saying:

    positive review  What a fantastic and fascinating day with awesome lecturers - it quite literral blew my mind!! I have only been studying beginners psychology at local adult education classes for less than a term but I felt at home amongst all the 'real psychology students' and Mental Heath professionals and Specialists. There was so much to be learnt on all levels of understading and experience. I can thoroughly recommend The Weekend University and booked my second one immediately after this one!.

    Lisa Adams Avatar Lisa Adams
    April 2, 2019

    positive review  Amazing day of interesting lectures. Thank you.

    Wilfy Williams Avatar Wilfy Williams
    January 28, 2019

    5 star review  Really good selection of talks, really engaging

    C W Norm Cheung Avatar C W Norm Cheung
    June 28, 2018
TWU 100% Money Back Guarantee

The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.