[Sold Out] Scientific Controversies: Are We Really Damaged By Trauma?

Traumatic events can overwhelm the brain, hijack the body and distort one’s sense of self. Psychologists often address these responses through techniques that aim to integrate the traumatic memories, promote personal insight, and deepen one’s understanding of the event. However, the latest stress and trauma research has shown us that there are genetic, epigenetic, neurological, and hormonal mechanisms at play, and that understanding and integrating what has happened may not be enough to treat the symptoms. So are we permanently damaged by trauma? Or is there resilience inherent in our very bodies, in our biology?

Our guests Bessel van der Kolk, author of the NYTimes best selling book The Body Keeps the Score, and Rachel Yehuda, a pioneer in the epigenetics of trauma, are experts in the latest scientific research informing innovative trauma treatments, including the use of psychedelics and body-integrated therapies. Please join our exceptional speakers and our host Janna Levin to consider the impact of trauma on our bodies & brains and the possibility & promise of our resilience.

Before and after the conversation, explore Convulsive States, an exhibition by Liz Magic Laser on view on the main floor. Join in the garden for stargazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of NY, and food by Eat Off Beat.

Rachel Yehuda is an Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Trauma. She is also Director of Mental Health at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Yehuda is a recognized leader in the field of traumatic stress studies, PTSD, and intergenerational trauma. In 2019, Dr. Yehuda was elected to the National Academy of Medicine for her seminal contributions to understanding the psychological and biological impact of traumatic stress. In 2020, Dr. Yehuda established and now directs the Center for Psychedelic Psychotherapy and Trauma Research.

Bessel van der Kolk is a pioneering researcher in the field of traumatic stress. He has translated neuroscience and attachment research into innovative treatments for trauma in both children and adults and many of which have been implemented nationwide. He has conducted groundbreaking research on Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how trauma alters brain processes through neuroimaging, and on eye movement desensitization and processing (EMDR). He played a pivotal role in establishing the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Trauma Research Foundation, and also a research lab examining neurofeedback and MDMA’s effects on behavior, mood, and executive functioning. His book The Body Keeps The Score, published in 2014, spent over 245 weeks on the The New York Times best seller list and has been translated into 43 languages.

Janna Levin is the Pioneer Works Director of Sciences and the editor-in-chief of Pioneer Works Broadcast. She is also the Claire Tow Professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellow, Janna has contributed to an understanding of black holes and cosmology. She is the presenter of the NOVA feature Black Hole Apocalypse, aired on PBS—the first female presenter for NOVA in 35 years. She is the author of four books, one of which won a PEN prize for a first work of fiction. Her latest book is Black Hole Survival Guide.

This program is supported by the Simons Foundation.