2003 Torrey Pines Workshop

Trauma and Early Relational Experiences, Social Context, and Developmental Trajectories


The Foundation for Psychocultural Research (FPR) presented its third annual workshop on the interaction of neuroscience and culture, entitled “Trauma and early relational experiences, social context, and developmental trajectories.” The general purpose of the FPR’s yearly symposia was to foster more meaningful dialogue among scholars and researchers from among an array of academic disciplines—anthropology, history, neurobiology, psychology, and psychiatry—in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. Participants were interested in interdisciplinary approaches to biology, behavior, and development within their social, cultural and historical contexts.

Participants focused on: setting the broad agenda for the second FPR-UCLA interdisciplinary conference in winter 2005, which examined biological, clinical, and cultural approaches to understanding psychological trauma and early life experiences; and identified relevant issues of cross-disciplinary interest and possible topics within the three different domains. Assuming that early experiences were predisposing factors to susceptibility to trauma-related distress and psychopathology, the workshop objective was, more precisely, to consider how/to what extent mutually influential biological mechanisms—gene expression and neuroethological and endocrinological settings, for example—and social and cultural experiences predispose some individuals to later distress. The challenge was to direct our focus on a set of themes that were less “disciplined,” more liminal, and attracted an influx of new empirical data.

The workshop opened with presentations from three researchers drawn from the biological, clinical and cultural domains, Drs. Stephen Suomi, Alicia Lieberman, and Melvin Konner. These presentations provided overviews of the neurobiological, ethological, clinical, and cultural perspectives on early relationships and social behavior and were aimed at orienting the researchers in attendance to areas that may be unfamiliar to them. The presentations were followed by inter- and intradisciplanary panels in which each workshop attendee participated.

In pursuit of the FPR’s mission, participants explored, discussed, and debated some of the more general complex philosophical and methodological issues involved in attempting to integrate social, cultural, clinical, and neuroscientific levels of analysis. These general discussions contributed to the development of agenda for further research, training, and other activities relevant to the FPR’s current and future foci, which revolve around the mutual influence between social experiences and the brain.


Click on the selected paper titles listed below to read or download as a pdf file.


Anderson-Fye, E. 2003. Never leave yourself: Ethnopsychology as mediator of psychological globalization among Belizean schoolgirls. Ethos 31:77-112.


Francis, D. D., and M. J. Meaney. 1999a. Maternal care and the development of stress responses. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 9:128-134. [FrancisCurrOpin99.pdf]

Francis, D., J. Diorio, D. Liu, and M. J. Meaney. 1999b. Nongenomic transmission across generations of maternal behavior and stress responses in the rat. Science 286:1155- [FrancisSCIENCE99.pdf]

Crabbe, J, C., and T. J. Phillips. 2003. Mother nature meets mother nurture. Nature Neuroscience 6:440-442. [NEWS&VIEWS.pdf]


Greenfield, P., H. Keller, A. Fuligni, and A. Maynard. 2003. Cultural Pathways through development. Ann. Rev. Psychol. 2003 54:461-490.


Kirmayer, L. J. 2002. Psychopharmacology in a globalizing world: The use of antidepressants in Japan. Transcultural Psychiatry 39:295-322. [TPPsychopharm.pdf]

Henningsen, P., and L. J. Kirmayer. 2000. Mind beyond the net: Implications of cognitive neuroscience for cultural psychiatry. Transcultural Psychiatriy 37:467-494. [TPHenningsen.pdf]

Kirmayer, L. J. 2003. Psychotherapy and the cultural concept of the person Ms., McGill University. An earlier version of this paper appeared as: Kirmayer, L. J. 1989. Psychotherapy and the cultural concept of the person. Sante, Culture, Health, 6:241-270. [Psychotherapy.pdf]


LeVine, R. A. Forthcoming. Challenging expert knowledge: Findings from an African studyof infant care and development. In Childhood and Adolescence in Cross-Cultural Perspective, ed. U. P. Gielen and J. L. Roopnarine. [Challenging.pdf]

LeVine, R. A. 2003. Attachment research as an ideological movement: Preliminary statement. Written version of talk presented at UCLA Anthropology Department, November 4, 2002. [research.pdf]

LeVine, R. A., and K. Norman. 2001. The infant's acquisition of culture: Early attachment reexamined in anthropological perspective. Chap. 4 in The Psychology of Cultural Experience, ed. C. C. Moore and H. F. Mathews, 83-104. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Quinn, N. 2003. Child rearing and selfhood, or, culture and personality. Ms., Duke University. [aaa2002.pdf]


Schechter, D. S. In press. Intergenerational communication of maternal violent trauma: Understanding the interplay of reflective functioning and posttraumatic psychopathology. Chap. 7 in September 11th: Trauma and Human Bonds, ed. S. W. Coates, J. L. Rosenthal, and D. S. Schechter. Hillside, NJ: Analytic Press, Inc. [07-schechter.pdf]

Schechter, D. S., T. Kaminer, J. F. Grienenberger, and J. Amat. Forthcoming. Fits and starts: A mother-infant case-study involving intergenerational violent trauma and pseudoseizures across three generations. Infant Mental Health Journal. [Schechter2.pdf]


Suomi. S. J. In press. How gene-environment interactions can influence emotional development in rhesus monkeys. In Nature and Nurture: The Complex Interplay of Genetic and Environmental Influences on Human Behavior and Development, ed. B. S. Zuckerman and A. F. Lieberman. Skillman, NJ: Johnson and Johnson. [BROWNC~1.pdf]

Suomi, S. J. 1999. Attachment in rhesus monkeys. Chap. 9 in Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications, ed. J. Cassidy and P. R. Shaver. New York: Guilford Press. [suomi.pdf]


Okami, P., T. Weisner, and R. Olmstead. 2002. Outcome correlates of parent-child bedsharing: An eighteen-year longitudinal study. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 23:244-253. [Bedsharing_fulltext.pdf]

Weisner, T. S. 2003. Ecocultural understanding of children's developmental pathways. Ms., University of California, Los Angeles. [HD_culture_Weisner_Final.pdf]


Yngvesson, B. 2003. 'Going home': Adoption, loss of bearings, and the mythology of roots. Social Text 21:7-27.

Yngvesson, B., and M. Mahoney. 2001. 'As one should, ought, and wants to be': Belonging and authenticity in identity narratives. Theory, Culture and Society 17.

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