in our culture, infants tend initially to form attachment relationships with only a few people, especially with parents. Over time, attachments to members of groups gain in importance, such as in the extended family, day care centers, nursery schools, school, adolescent peer groups, and work groups in professional life, associations, parties, and religious communities. People may experience these group attachments as a great resource and a source of emotional security; the support and stability that they offer in school, self-help groups, and group-psychotherapy may prove invaluable.
However, attachment relationships in and to groups may be disordered, and the psychodynamics within the group play a large role in this regard. Groups may serve as a defense against anxiety by stigmatizing other groups, even exerting control to the point of violence. This may lead to malicious prejudices, fanaticism, and radicalization, that may eventuate in extreme acts, up to and including terrorist acts, against others who do not belong to one’s own group.
This raises a number of important questions: Can protective factors be identified? How can new, secure attachments be nurtured in groups? What do foster families and adoptive families need to know in order to establish new resources for the development of secure attachments in children who have experienced emotional violence, such as in sects? How does radicalization occur in groups? What forms of counseling, therapy, and prevention offer a way forward for people who wish to leave groups in which they were traumatized?
The conference will examine both healing and destructive aspects in the context of attachment and groups.
Internationally renowned researchers and clinicians will report on their studies and experiences, illuminating potential preventive strategies.
The conference is aimed at physicians of all specialties, as well as psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, teachers, and youth welfare workers. We welcome anyone who is involved in child development in groups and the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders in all age groups resulting from emotional trauma in groups. This includes those who care for, counsel, or have responsibility for people suffering the ill effects of emotional violence, such as teachers, nurses, special needs teachers, adoptive and foster parents, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, pastors, jurists, and politicians.
Prof. Dr. med. Karl Heinz Brisch
Chair and Research institute in Early Life Care
at the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria
Head of the Department of Pediatric Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy
at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital at the University of Munich, Germany.