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CABP Conference with Shaun Gallagher on ‘Embodied Intersubjectivity in the Clinic’

CABP Conference with Shaun Gallagher on ‘Embodied Intersubjectivity in the Clinic’

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April 26, 2015 @ 10:00 – 16:00
Birkbeck College
London WC1E 7HX
Steve Elliott


A one-day conference organised by CABP

Chaired by Michael Soth - Panelists: Susie Orbach, Nick Totton, Birgit Heuer, Werner Prall, Jean Knox

Come and participate in this cutting-edge dialogue between the philosophy of embodied intersubjectivity (one of the most promising developments to come out of modern neuroscience and its cross-fertilisation with philosophy) and the everyday reality of embodied therapeutic practice.

The notions of ‘embodiment’ and ‘intersubjectivity’ are central to the therapeutic relationship and to modern notions of relationality. However, these notions are also surrounded by confusion and polarised assumptions:

• ‘embodiment’ acquires its polarised meaning in contrast to ‘thinking’ and the ‘talking therapies';

• ‘intersubjectivity’ is conceived of in opposition to ‘one-person psychology’ and the Cartesian ‘myth of the isolated mind’.

However, in their polarised meanings, these supposedly helpful and paradigm-shifting notions become too one-dimensional, rigid and unhelpful, creating as many conceptual traps and problems as they are meant to solve.

It may take a philosopher (rather than a therapist) to help us sort out these tangles and historically loaded concepts, and strip them down to terms that are phenomenologically useful, so they can do the work they are meant to do, and so we can work with them. We are inviting Shaun Gallagher, a philosopher who is known for his thinking and writing about both ‘embodiment’ and ‘intersubjectivity’, and who does so from a phenomenological perspective.

And we are bringing together a panel of therapists, writers and thinkers who have been exploring and pondering these issues for many years; and who have a track record of contributing significant ideas and impulses to our development in these areas: Susie Orbach, Nick Totton, Birgit Heuer, Werner Prall, Jean Knox.

Be prepared for some mind-expanding, body-opening, creative-controversial discussions which should shed some light on these cutting-edge questions which underpin our practice.

Professor Gallagher writes this about the day:

“Embodied approaches to cognition, including enactive and extended models of cognition, have been having a large impact on research in cognitive science, generating a number of different debates. They have also motivated new models of social cognition, and the topic of intersubjectivity has now become a central one in several of these disciplines, including cognitive neuroscience. Embodied approaches to intersubjectivity and related concepts of empathy also hold significant implications for therapeutic practice. Exploring these implications suggests the importance not only of face-to-face interaction, but also of the social affordances provided by narrative and therapeutic environments.”

Shaun Gallagher is the Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis. His secondary appointments are at the University of Hertfordshire (UK) and the University of Wollongong (AU); he’s Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), at Durham University (UK), and Honorary Professor of Health Sciences at Tromsø University (Norway). He is currently a Humboldt Foundation Anneliese Maier Research Fellow (2012-17). and is PI on grants to conduct research on intersubjectivity and institutions and the aesthetic and spiritual experiences of astronauts during space travel. His publications include Phenomenology (Palgrave Macmillan 2012); The Phenomenological Mind (with Dan Zahavi, Routledge, 2008), Brainstorming (Imprint Academic, 2008); How the Body Shapes the Mind (Oxford, 2005); and as editor, the Oxford Handbook of the Self (Oxford, 2011). He’s editor-in-chief of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

"To ask about the prenoetic effects of embodiment is to ask about what happens behind the scenes of awareness, and about how the body anticipates and sets the stage for consciousness. More precisely, the question in this case is not about the apparent structure of consciousness, but about the structuring of consciousness and the role that embodiment plays in the structuring process. How does the fact of embodiment, the fact that consciousness is embodied, affect and perhaps effect intentional experience?" Shaun Gallagher

For further details, including panelists' comments about the topic, see the detailed blog entry.

By |2015-03-04T20:55:34+00:00May 20th, 2014|Comments Off on CABP Conference with Shaun Gallagher on ‘Embodied Intersubjectivity in the Clinic’