Trauma and its consequences: Current state of research on psychotraumatology in medicine and psychology.

International Conference, Giessen, Sebtember 1-3, 2011
Klinik für Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie (Direktor Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Kruse)

The history of mankind is also a history of individual disaster and collective catastrophes. Blood and thunder, wars, deadly epidemics and natural catastrophes are documented in the oldest writings. Extreme man-made violence reveals itself in a number of ways: in abuse and mistreatment, in delinquency, in torture and rape, in amok and mass murder.
The consequences of extreme violence are severe and enduring traumatisations are demonstrated on bodily, mental, cognitive, and social levels. Clinically, we are not only confronted with the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder but also with sequelae such as personality changes, anxiety disorders, depressions, somatisation disorders, and pain syndromes. And, besides the individual person affected, families and entire societies are traumatised by civil wars or genocide along multiple generations.
For about 150 years, with the beginning of industrialisation and reinforced in the aftermath of World Wars I and II, human scientists as well as natural scientists have been engaged with traumatised people. They have developed diverse suggestions and criteria for diagnosis and therapy. Today, trauma science in its wide even barely manageable spectrum has become more and more differentiated among disciplines. However, investigations not only in medicine, neurobiology, and psychology but also in the humanities, the social sciences as well as political systems have lead to important new findings and treatments.

Which concept of trauma do we agree on today regarding extreme interpersonal violence, the so-called “man-made disasters”? Which results do recent research in neurobiology and neuroendocrinology provide? What is the state of the art in studies concerning the sequels of trauma and what are the developments in diagnostic research? Are new developments in trauma therapy able to cope with this complexity? [Note: What complexity do you mean here?]

We are looking forward to let experts of all relevant disciplines speak at the international congress in Giessen. Recent findings in trauma research, concepts and perspectives shall be presented and discussed.


Images and narratives of torture:
Relations between fiction and reality

A symposium within the research project “The return of torture?
November 11th and 12th, 2010, Vortragssaal der Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek (11.11.) and Großer Sitzungssaal der Philosophischen Fakultät (12.11.)

Prof. Dr. phil. Reinhold Görling, Institute for Media and Cultural Studies, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Kruse, Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Images of torture and excruciated bodies are known since the ancient world but in the past couple of years images and narratives in literature and film have been agglomerated. This growing mediated presence is in a contradictory relation to insights made by medical and psychological research on physical, psychic, social and especially cognitive impact of torture on the victims. The capacity of memory and the ability of remembrance are effectively disturbed by extreme traumatic experiences. Traumatised persons can only gradually construct a verbal narration of their sensory-affective memories. Where exactly is the source of the “representation” of the “un-representable”, what kind of translation can be found and how should we behave towards these narratives? Cultural narratives often seek a kind of anchoring in extreme traumatic incidents. How can we understand this suspense? In what kind of relation are psychic and mediated representation of torture standing? What kind of relation exists between image, scene and narration of the reality of torture and its mediated, fictitious conversion?

Dori Laub, New Haven (Keynote); Rosmarie Barwinski, Winterthur; Julia Bee, Düsseldorf; Reinhold Görling, Düsseldorf; Franziska Henningsen, Berlin; Linda Hentschel, Berlin; Angela Koch, Bochum; Johannes Kruse, Gießen; Franziska Lamott, Ulm; Elke Mühlleitner, Gießen; Christian Schneider, Frankfurt; Mechthild Wenk-Ansohn, Berlin; Volker Woltersdorf, Berlin; Michaela Wünsch, Berlin; Dima Zito, Düsseldorf

Julia Bee, M.A., Institute for Media and Cultural Studies, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsstr. 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, e-Mail: julia.beephil-fak.uni-duesseldorfde
Dr. Elke Mühlleitner, Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Friedrichstraße 33, 35392 Gießen, e-Mail: elke.muehlleitnergmxde 


Folter und Zunkunft -Torture and the Future

International Conference at the Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, June 25-26, 2009

Torture threatens the social grounds of our societies because the intended destruction of the integrity of a human being attacks the basis of necessary social confidence. It also has a direct destructive impact on social groups related to the victim of torture. In its traumatic effects, in its destruction or lasting disruption of the psychic and social grounds of life the experience of torture cannot be integrated into the life of the victim. This is why torture is not only a theatrical mise en scene that inscribes itself directly into the body of the victim. It severely injures the world of the victims and their communities. It is an experience that in its core cannot be translated into a mental representation and become contextualized or integrated into a social idea of the world. Exactly because it cannot be historized it is ties its victims up into history, and blocks, like a repetition compulsion, our future.

David Becker, Berlin / Werner Bohleber, Frankfurt a. M.  / Carlo Gentile, Köln / Reinhold Görling, Düsseldorf / Denis Goldberg, Kapstadt / Christian Grüny, Witten-Herdecke / Susanne Krasmann, Hamburg / Gesa Lindemann, Oldenburg / Knut Rauchfuss, Bochum / Gabriele Schwab,  Irvine / Françoise Sironi, Paris / Stephan Trinkaus, Düsseldorf / Elisabeth Weber, Santa Barbara

Find more information about the conference here