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The intersubjective nature of human beings develops immediately after birth and is one of the cornerstones of our capacity for meaning-making. From the moment we come into the world, in fact, the relationality plays a key role in our existence: the infant's ability to imitate the caregiver's facial expressions not only ensures his or her survival, but also enables him or her to interact with the caregiver in a synchronised manner, giving rise to increasingly complex relational exchanges that are essential for the child's psychobiological development.
The discovery of mirror neurons offered a major neurophysiological foundation for the famous paradigm of the motionless face or Still Facemaking a substantial contribution to scientific research in this field. How, then, can Psychotherapy make use of this valuable knowledge to promote individual well-being? The online Congress "Still-Face and Mirror Neurons: the Neuroscience of Psychotherapy' will give some of the leading experts in the field the opportunity to answer this question.
The event will feature internationally renowned speakers, who will present the latest studies on the role of the emotional-relational tuning and on the relationship of the individual with his or her selfanalysing both its research implications and its therapeutic applications. In this regard, the concept of intersubjectivity - closely related to the relationship with the Other, but also to the relationship with the Self, which is considered one of the central goals of the therapeutic change process - will be particularly emphasised. Furthermore, different treatment approaches and a series of hypotheses on the functioning of the mind based on and validated by neuroscientific foundations will be analysed. Finally, the role of the recognition in the mirrora key element to deeply explore the relational dimension of the self within the most advanced therapeutic models.
Mirrors for the soul: self-representation and social mirroring
The ability to accurately recognise one's own face has long been considered one of the key indicators of a higher level of consciousness. More recent research has given us a greater understanding of the contribution made by the integration of information from many different sensory channels (including sight, touch and the internal senses of proprioception and interoception) to the representation of one's face. In addition, studies in the field of social neuroscience have shown that mapping the actions and facial expressions of others, as well as experiences of touch and pain, through our sensory systems (mirroring) plays an important role in the development of empathic responses and perspective-taking. In this talk, Dr. Farmer will draw on research related to cognitive neuroscience to illustrate how the perception of one's own time influences - and is influenced by - social interactions with others. First, evidence will be presented that shows how mirroring others, at the tactile and motor level, can lead to an increase in perceived facial similarity, as well as a greater sense of affiliation and trust. Subsequently, research will be described that highlights the reverse functioning of this same relationship: trustworthy behaviour and increased social affiliation modulate the responses of mirroring systems, both at the tactile and motor level. Finally, more recent work will be presented that examines how interruptions in the sense of self under conditions of depersonalisation result in a failure of mirroring at both the tactile and motor levels.
Mindful Interbeing Mirror Therapy: beyond trauma healing
The Still-Face paradigm and the mirror neuron mechanism are two fundamental principles of Mindful Interbeing Mirror Therapy (MIMT): both have emphasised, from a scientific point of view, the intrinsically relational dimension of the processes of construction of the Self and creation of existential meaning inherent in every human being. The use of the mirror within the therapeutic setting makes it possible to explore, from the very first session, the client's relationship with his or her Self; in parallel, the concept of the "Self" is objectified as the "Other" with whom the client interacts. Consequently, the intersubjective dimension of humanity is experienced in a new way, an aspect that contributes to accelerating the process of therapeutic change. Based on a conscious and targeted activation of specific neurobiological circuits that regulate the recognition of faces and the identification of emotions related to facial expressions, MIMT is an effective therapeutic approach, conceived as a process of self-reconstruction. The therapeutic objective is to help the client recreate a deep sense of connection with his or her own reflected image in the mirror and develop a new self-compassion, overcoming shame and self-loathing, emotions typically present in traumatised individuals.
The Neurobiology of Mindfulness and Compassion: Practical Applications
The development of the technology behind functional magnetic resonance imaging (or fMRI) has enabled a significant increase in research studies on the neurobiological effects and mechanisms of action of practices related to Mindfulness and compassion. How do these neuroscientific findings affect clinical practice? What information do they provide regarding the origins of psychological suffering and solutions to alleviate it? Ronald Siegel will explore these issues in depth, offering numerous insights into the practical applications of the latest neurobiological findings, with the aim of enriching any form of Psychotherapy.
The dynamic process of meaning-making in human beings and the Still Face paradigm
The fundamental importance we attach to the creation of meaning with respect to our relationship with the human world, the inanimate world and our self is well exemplified by the Still-Face paradigm. The findings of the Still-Face paradigm show that meaning-making is a dynamic process involving multiple systems: cerebral, psychobiological and neurosomatic. While meanings can be created endogenously, it is also possible to state that meanings are most frequently co-created with an Other, within an active exchange of information. This exchange is chaotic and characterised by both moments of correspondence and mismatch between meanings, as well as reparative processes. Successful meaning-making leads to an expansion of consciousness and enables the creation of attachment bonds, fostering the development of relationships, resilience and trust. If, on the other hand, meaning-making fails, consciousness shrinks and compresses, generating distrust and fragility. Chaos, failure and repair at the relational level play an equally fundamental role in therapeutic processes.
The forms of fragmentation of the experience of self in traumatic attachment: from biological bases to therapeutic implications
A vast and growing body of scientific data indicates that child maltreatment constitutes the greatest risk factor for all mental disorders as well as a factor of resistance to their treatment, regardless of the diagnosis and type of therapy applied. Among the forms of maltreatment, a significant role is played by traumatic attachment, i.e. the severe and continuous deprivation of a stable, sensitive and responsive attachment figure, which is an experience provided for the human species for the normal development of mental functions, particularly those that support and regulate relationality and the continuity of self-experience. Traumatic attachment activates various pathogenetic processes that, interacting with each other, cause numerous psychopathological manifestations, including alterations in the regulation of emotions and behaviour, consciousness, identity, fragmentation of self-experience, and the malfunctioning of metacognitive capacities and various aspects of social cognition. These psychopathological manifestations can be variously present in all clinical pictures, constituting a psychopathological dimension that contributes to the severity of the disorder and resistance to treatment. Some of the neurobiological and psychopathological mechanisms involved in these pathogenetic processes will be examined, in particular the role of loss of mental integration, so-called traumatic disintegration, and its impact on interpersonal relationships. Through some clinical examples, the clinic of traumatic disintegration and the implications for psychotherapy will be described.
The Experience of Self and Others in the Digital World
During this talk, Vittorio Gallese will illustrate the relationship of human beings with digital images, conceived as dematerialised, visual representations of reality. The arguments presented are based on the belief that technology has always been an extension of the mind; the very definition of 'artificial' is, therefore, intrinsically linked to the 'natural' cognitive capacity to develop devices, thanks to the evolution of new cognitive technologies. This presentation will take an in-depth look at the possible effects of digitisation on the neuro-cognitive processes that characterise social communication, as well as the creation of a sense of self, especially in a context such as the current one, in which the pandemic has significantly increased the amount of time we spend online, significantly modifying the way we interact with the reality of everyday life.
Healing trauma and expanding consciousness using brainspotting
Brainspotting is a relational, brain-body connection-based therapy that uses a series of relevant eye positions to locate the presence of unprocessed trauma and dissociation within the subcortical area of the brain. Brainspotting proposes a bottom-up neuro-experiential model, presenting it as an alternative to the traditional therapeutic model. This presentation will illustrate how Brainspotting can be used both to heal trauma and to expand consciousness and improve client performance. The talk will include time for questions from the audience and live demonstrations.
Note. The following program may be subject to change.
9:50 - 10:00 Opening
10:00 - 11:30 Harry Farmer: "Mirrors for the soul: self-representation and social mirroring".
11:30 - 11:45 Break
11:45 - 13:15 Alessandro Carmelita and Marina Cirio: "Mindful Interbeing Mirror Therapy: Beyond the recovery from trauma”*Beyond trauma healing'
13:15 - 14:15 Lunch break
14:15 - 15:45 Ronald Siegel: "The Neurobiology of Mindfulness and Compassion: Practical Applications".
15:45 - 16:00 Break
16:00 - 17:30 Edward Tronick: "The dynamic process of meaning-making in human beings and the paradigm Still Face"
17:30 - 18:30 Closing panel
10:00 - 11:30 Benedetto Farina: "The forms of fragmentation of the experience of Self in traumatic attachment: from biological bases to therapeutic implications"
11:30 - 11:45 Break
11:45 - 13:15 Vittorio Gallese: 'The Experience of Self and Others in the Digital World'
13:15 - 14:15 Lunch break
14:15 - 15:45 David Grand: "Healing trauma and expanding consciousness using brainspotting".
15:45 - 16:00 Break
16:00 - 17:30 Vilayanur S. Ramachandran - The exact title of the presentation will be announced as soon as possible
17:30 - 18:30 Closing panel
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