Students Staff

01 May 2015

Developing new approaches to treating trauma survivors

How can the wisdom and traditions dating back to early Christian spirituality help to develop innovative and creative treatment options for the survivors of trauma experienced in combat zones or in other violent situations.

Leading academics from across the world are coming to the University of Essex to discuss this challenge as part of a major international symposium on Forgiveness and Healing in the Face of Moral Injury organised by the Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugees at Essex and sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation (JTF).

The event will be held at Wivenhoe House at the University’s Colchester Campus from Sunday 3 May to Tuesday 5 May and will be chaired by Professor Renos Papadopoulos from the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at Essex.

Professor Papadopoulos said: “This is a unique event in many ways: tragically, the theme is always very topical, because of the wide range of effects violence (in its multiple forms) has on the human psyche - on the moral and ethical fabric of our being.

“We witness this effect in the way we react to the ISIS beheadings in the Middle East, to the intentional sinking of boats carrying hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean, to the brutality of 'ordinary' murders.

“At this Symposium we have world authorities in the fields of psychiatry, psychotherapy, cultural studies, theology and spirituality.
“We are aspiring to forge new pathways in exploring the interface between science and spirituality, between psychology and theology within the context of the theme of violence and destructiveness.

“Invariably, these disciplines follow their own trajectory, often oblivious of other perspectives. This Symposium will bring together the expertise of these distinguished participants who are not just involved in armchair theorising but are, themselves, engaged in this field as practitioners and researchers.”

The symposium is part of the John Templeton Foundation’s Humble Approach Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to bring about the discovery of new spiritual information by furthering high-quality scientific research. The “humble approach” is interdisciplinary and encourages openness to new ideas and a willingness to experiment.

The Symposium is a closed event which will be attended only by the invited participants in order to ensure maximum possible interaction. Afterwards the findings of the Symposium will be published in a book and further follow-up research will be carried out.

Those taking part include Mary Ann Meyers from the JTF and CPS PhD student David Alexander. They will be joined by other leading academics including:

  • Professor John Behr (Theology and Philosophy), St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary; Crestwood, New York
  • Professor Rita Nakashima Brock (Theology and Culture) Brite Divinity School; Ft. Worth, Texas
  • Professor Harold Koenig (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) Duke University Medical Center; Durham, North Carolina
  • Professor Romano Màdera (Philosophy) University of Bicocca; Milan, Italy
  • Professor Robert Emmet Meagher (Humanities and Culture) Hampshire College; Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou (Theology and Culture) Fordham University; New York City
  • Professor Nancy Sherman (Philosophy) Georgetown University; Washington, D.C.
  • Professor Vasileios Thermos (Psychology and Theology) University of Athens, Greece
  • Professor Emeritus Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (Theology), Oxford University

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