7th Annual ARPH Conference

Professor Jenny Slatman - 09:45 - 10:30, Thursday January 25th 

Jenny Slatman is Professor Medical Humanities in the department of Culture Studies at Tilburg University. Slatman has a background in physiotherapy and philosophical anthropology. She has published widely on issues of embodiment in art, expression and contemporary medical practices. Her publications include a book-length philosophical study on the meaning of expression in the work of the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty: L’expression au-delà de la représentation. Sur l’aisthêsis et l’esthétique chez Merleau-Ponty (Paris, 2003), and the monograph Our Strange Body: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Medical Interventions (Amsterdam-Chicago, 2014). In 2010, Slatman was awarded a NWO-Vidi grant for her research project on Bodily Integrity in Blemished Bodies. In this project, Slatman and her team explored the meaning of bodily identity and bodily integrity in disfiguring head, neck and breast cancer. In 2017 Slatman was awarded a NWO-Vici grant for her research project Mind the Body: Rethinking embodiment in healthcare. This project will focus on the meaning of embodiment in health practices pertaining to MUPS (medically unexplained physical symptoms), obesity, and depression, while exploring how health professionals, patients and the wide audience talk about and deal with body-mind issues www.jennyslatman.nl; www.mindthebody.eu 


Title: Beyond Body & Mind? MUPS from a philosophical-anthropological perspective

Summary: As is well known, in modern western health and medicine, disease is understood as something that can be located in the body. According to this view, which is dominant since the 18th century, disease implies a defect at some place in the body. Diagnostic tools of somatic problems therefore aim at tracing deviating values of measurable physical features. We all know, however, that many physical health problems cannot be traced back to such features. For the sake of convenience, these problems are nowadays labeled as “medically unexplained physical symptoms” (MUPS). Some believe that these problems are only temporarily unexplained, that we might find an explanation in the future with new diagnostic tools, others may believe that people suffering from these kinds of problems in fact suffer from some mental disorder.  Whereas the first conviction might lead to the search for new somatic diagnostics and treatment, the second might lead to forms of therapy that aim at boosting mental capacities. In my talk, I will not discuss which of these approaches is clinically most effective. Rather, as a philosophical anthropologist, I am more concerned with the underlying logics of both convictions. Both convictions start from the same dualistic presupposition, i.e. they both start from the idea that human beings have a body (soma) and a mind (psyche). In my talk, I would like to show why such a dualistic view on humans is problematic. Subsequently I will introduce an alternative view on the body and on embodiment, which might help us to consider the problem of MUPS from a new perspective.

Professor Wolfgang Linden - 16:30 - 17:15, Thursday January 25th 

Professor Wolfgang  Linden is an expert in psychological factors in mental health and rehabilitation. He is Full Professor in of Clinical and Health Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Professor Linden is a true scientist-practitioner who has conducted clinical and experimental research on mechanisms of disease in the areas of health behaviors, treatment of hypertension, cardiac rehabilitation, and cancer care. He is well recognized for his scholarly systematic reviews and meta analyses as well as innovative clinical trials.


Title: Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer in Women and Men: ‘Same same’?

Summary: This keynote address provides a review of the roles that sex and gender play in the clinical management of cardiovascular disease and cancer from a biopsychosocial perspective. This summary and perspective reflects a lifetime worth of clinical experience, controlled experimental research and clinical trials from Professor Linden. The multiple parallels between health psychology- and behavioral medicine-based approaches to research and interventions are discussed.  The keynote address will sensitize the audience to the important subtleties in these cross-cutting issues and help to provide more efficient approaches to understanding disease processes and optimizing clinical care.

Professor Christine Heim - 15:45 - 16:30, Friday January 26th 

Professor Christine Heim is the Director of the Institute of Medical Psychology at Charité. She is also a Member of the Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure at Charité in Berlin as well as Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie the link between childhood trauma and increased risk for developing a range of psychiatric and medical disorders across the lifespan. With this research, she hopes to derive novel pathophysiology-driven targets for the prevention and intervention of disorders related to early-life stress. She is the recipient of multiple federal grants and foundation grants, and she serves on national and international scientific review committees regarding research on consequences of childhood trauma.


Title: Understanding and Mitigating the Impact of Early-Life Adversity on Disease Risk: Towards Developmental Programming of Lifelong Health

Summary: Adversity in early life, such as childhood abuse, neglect and loss experiences, is a well-established major risk factor for developing a range of psychiatric and medical disorders later in life. Understanding mechanisms and trajectories of biological embedding of early-life adversity, and their moderation by gene-environment interaction, is critical to design novel interventions that directly reverse these processes and to derive biological measures that identify children who are at risk of developing disorders or are susceptible to a specific intervention. Such advances will promote personalized care based on risk profiles and will inform targeted interventions to mitigate the adverse outcomes of early-life stress and promote lifelong health.