Embodied Mentalisation: Sociality and the Body
A one-day workshop with Dr Katerina Fotopoulou
London, 3 March 2017 (Friday)
The question of whether our mental processes are initially and primarily shaped by our embodied dimensions or social interactions is debated across multiple fields, including psychotherapy, psychology and cognitive neuroscience. At this practical and intellectually stimulating workshop, we examine the development and maintenance of the psychological self in relation to two central influences: embodiment and sociality.
Our aim is to uncover mind-body linkages from somatic, psychoanalytical and neuroscientific perspectives with a view to aiding our therapeutic interactions. The workshop helps us understand:
- how the physical presence of other people, as well as our interactions and relationship with them, modulates our (inter)subjective experience of our body
- the radical claim that even some of the most minimal aspects of selfhood, namely the feeling qualities associated with being an embodied subject, are fundamentally shaped by embodied interactions with other people in early infancy and beyond
- how such embodied interactions allow us and our clients to mentalize and maintain stable equilibrium between our psychological processes
- the neurobiological mechanisms by which bodily signals are integrated and re-mapped in the brain to ultimately form our coherent, conscious sense of embodiment
- what do we mean by proximal intercorporeality and how this concept can help our clinical interpretations
- The sculpturing of the mentalization process by which our clients come to understand themselves, their therapists and others
- How embodied, social interactions contribute to the constitution of the minimal self, including the progressive sophistication of mental distinctions between:
- self-other and even
By drawing linkages between cognitive neuroscience research and psychoanalysis, Dr Fotopoulou explains why gaining an understanding of such mind-body functioning is well worth the effort given the intrinsically multifaceted nature of the mind and the ‘dual’ self as subject and as object of our consciousness.
About the speaker
Aikaterini (Katerina) Fotopoulou, PhD, studied cognitive neuropsychology and theoretical psychoanalysis at UCL before completing her PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Durham, UK. She is currently an Associate Professor (Reader) at the Psychoanalysis Unit, Psychology and Language Sciences Division, University College London. There she researches how bodily feelings like pain and skin pleasure, as well as multimodal representations of the body, are influenced by interpersonal exchanges and expectations, as well as by neuropeptides known to enhance social feelings. These studies point to unique neural mechanisms by which our bodies are interpersonally ‘mentalised’ and perceived to form the basis of our selves. Katerina is the Founder of the International Association for the Study of Affective Touch (IASAT) and the Secretary of International Neuropsychoanalysis Society; she runs the London Neuropsychoanalysis Group on: ‘Psychodynamic Neuroscience and Neuropsychology’. She has published widely in psychology and neuroscience journals and is the editor of the volume: Fotopoulou, A. Conway, M.A. Pfaff, D. From the Couch to the Lab: Trends in Psychodynamic Neuroscience. Oxford University Press, 2012.
10:00AM: Session 1: Dialogue between Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology and Neuroscience
11:30AM: Coffee Break
11:45AM: Session 2: Embodied Minds and the Self
1:00PM: Lunch Break (a light lunch is provided as part of the seminar)
2:00PM: Session 3: Mentalised Bodies and Intersubjectivity
3:30PM: Plenary Discussion
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