Psychoanalysis Unit


Attachment and Trauma: State of the Art

13 May 2023–14 May 2023, 1:45 pm–1:45 pm

Children playing with families and playing games. Attachment and trauma conference

A Homage to the Inspiration of Mary Main

Event Information

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Psychoanalysis Unit

Mary Main’s argument for the need for a representational concept of attachment (Main, Kaplan and Cassidy 1985) and her identification of a category of disorganised/disoriented attachment that was particularly associated with children who had experienced adversity (Main and Solomon, 1986) were key landmarks in the development of attachment studies (Rutter, Kreppner & Sonuga-Barke, 2009).  This event will build on Main’s groundbreaking insight into the far-reaching impact that early trauma can have on a person’s capacity to represent, interpret and navigate their social world.  We will address both biological and cultural aspects of attachment, exploring the most recent findings concerning the neuroscience and other biomarkers of attachment trauma and considering ground-breaking new research that indicates the need to interrogate our assumptions about risks and protective factors in a person’s cultural context, with important implications for how we treat individuals with attachment issues and trauma.  These insights have profoundly influenced our ability to address trauma therapeutically and the conference will share new developments in intervention and prevention of the consequences of trauma, with particular attention to mentalisation-based and compassion-focused approaches.

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Speakers and Titles:

Biomarkers of attachment difficulties
Ruth Feldman and Karen Yirmiya
(Centre for Developmental Social Neuroscience, Reichman University, Israel)A compassion-focused approach to trauma
Paul Gilbert 
(University of Derby, the Compassionate Mind Foundation, UK and University of Queensland, Australia)
‘Papi is really, really kind. Daddy loves me too’: The adoption of children in care into gay father families
Susan Golombok
(Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, UK)The neuroscience of relationships and trauma through a transactional lens
Eamon McCrory
(UCL, and Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, UK) 

The multiple caretaker paradox – a buffer for attachment trauma
Haatembo Mooya
(University of Zambia, Africa)  

Focusing mentalizing on trauma: An extension of the MBT approach
Eva Rufenacht
(University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland)  

Interpersonal trauma and betrayal
David Trickey
(UK Trauma Council, UK)


Chairs will include: 

Liz Allison(University College London, UK)

Chloe Campbell(University College London, UK)

Pasco Fearon(University of Cambridge, UK)Peter Fonagy(UCL, and Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, UK)Patrick Luyten(UCL, and KU Leuven, Belgium)