Embodied and Embedded

Approaches to the Self

in Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine

 Autumn School: 24 – 28 October 2011

University of Heidelberg

During the last decade, the concept of embodiment has risen to become a key paradigm of interdisciplinary approaches from the areas of philosophy, psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. This novel paradigm is based on a remarkable convergence of phenomenology, cognitive science and dynamical systems theory. Since the original work of Varela, Thompson and Rosch, theories of the embodied and enactive mind have gained considerable influence on philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. Neuroscientists like Damasio, Edelman, Panksepp and others have emphasized the close connection between brain structures, whole-bodily functions and aspects of the mind such as consciousness, cognition, emotion and self-awareness. Moreover, social neuroscience as well as social psychology increasingly endorse embodied models of social cognition and behaviour. Embodiment is on the way to become a major paradigm of psychopathology as well. Embodied and ecological concepts of mental illness emphasize the circular interaction of altered subjective experience, disturbed social interactions and neurobiological dysfunctions in the development of the illness. Thus, they are particularly suitable for bridging dualistic gaps that still dominate medical theory, for example between mind and brain, psychological and biological etiologies, or 1st and 3rd person approaches to mental illness.

The aim of this autumn school is to explore the practical applications and the theoretical scope of an embedded, embodied approach to the self and its disorders within psychiatry and psychosocial medicine. The autumn school will bring together researchers who are already working within this new perspective, to facilitate mutual exchange on research data and philosophical discussion.

We hereby invite young researchers working with embodied and embedded approaches in their respective fields to apply for the autumn school. The number of participants will be limited to 30 so as to maximize interaction. All participants are invited to introduce their own research. Moreover, there will be ample time scheduled for discussion.