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.
- 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.
- 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)
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.
- 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 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 www.nessacarey.co.uk.
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.
- 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 ), 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, www.SomaticPerspectives.com
- 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 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.
Placebos at large. New Scientist. 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0262-4079(13)61931-4
The evolutionary psychology of healing: A human success story. Current Biology. 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.018
Placebos: Cracking the Code. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvbQnMvhQFw&t=1350s
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:
Great initiative! For people that like myself are passionate about psychology but wouldn't commit to long term course or training it's a wonderful opportunity to listen to qualified professionals in the area in a relaxed atmosphere.
Just attended my second Weekend University day of lectures at Birkbeck, this time on Memories, Dreams and Existentialism. A great mix of speakers, styles and content which left me wanting to go home and find out more about two out of the three subjects. Fantastic to see Emmy Van Deurzen in action - she's a bit of a heroine of mine! One tip would be to ask the audience to fill up the rows of seats before the start as inevitably some people arrive late (like I did) and it was all a bit chaotic at the back of the auditorium. There were empty seats near the walls but no way to get to them without having four or five people stand up.
Great initiative. Eminent speakers, fascinating talks.
Another amazing day of learning! Thank you Niall.
I just wanted to say what a fabulous day it was on Sunday. The presenters were all highly engaging and the material fascinating. I am ever so grateful to have been able to attend and look forward to any future similar events with 'zest'!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was a well organized event with fantastic informative talks by knowledgeable and charismatic speakers. Looking forward to future events.
Great event, 3 fantastic lectures presented
I found the 3 speakers to be extremely well prepared, professional, charismatic, authentic in their delivery of there content. They all had something to share. They were very clear on the "takeaways" which I found in important for such a long day. They all 3 were also very generious in spending time after their talk, to answer more 1-2-1 questions on the side of the room. Very generious. I look forward to future weekend university days.
Just to say that I was so impressed with the quality of the lectures today. It is rare to find that kind of substance, and I imagine you looked long and hard to choose. You are doing a great job. I will definitely come again and tell those I know who would be very interested.
I have attended lots of psychology workshops and would rate this organisation very highly. Interesting, engaging speakers and well run course at an affordable price. Well done Niall. You deserve to do very well
What an intense and heartening day, Jan 28th at Birkbeck U venue. Despite being crowded (testiment to the desire for these events and the calibre) we were comfortable enough to be riveted by the material for hours. I appreciated the free coffee, because the day was long for those like me who come from outside the city. I look forward to the slides being sent to fill out my notes. Fellow audients were warm and attending for a variety of reasons, and are the second fab reason to be there for the day.
Just attended Scientific Behaviour Change - Ancient Wisdom & Modern Psychology and had the most fantastic, enlightening and inspiring day. All three speakers were at a tremendously high level and (to echo the reviewer below) the variety of approaches and theories around a single topic gave great insight. I've already booked for next month.
Today's event was so good, I immediately booked for next one in February!?
The day of Psychology was really insightful, it has inspired me to start researching into all spectrums of mental health & psychology. Something I particularly liked about the day, was the contrast and variety of theories and approaches by each of the three speakers
Interesting lectures on a variety of areas of Psychology and well organised.
A really good mix of topics. I was engaged all day and i'm looking forward to the next one!
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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.