Everyday Trauma: Perspectives from Buddhism and Psychoanalysis

Published on 1 Jul 2015

Mark Epstein, M.D. presented the 2015 Ikuo Yamaguchi Memorial Seminar at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration on March 9, 2015.

If there is one thing Buddhism and psychoanalysis can agree upon, it is this: Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people, it happens to everyone.

Many in Western psychology teach that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it, while those drawn to Eastern practices often see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both of these tendencies fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life. Fortunately, dissenting voices occur in both camps. Resisting trauma is pointless, these voices council, and only makes it worse.

Today’s presentation brings this perspective forward. Ranging from the contributions of analysts like D.W. Winnicott, Philip Bromberg and Robert Stolorow to the undercurrent of loss in the Buddha’s own biography—today’s discussion holds that not only do the ‘Little T’ traumas of early life condition how we respond to the ‘Big T’ traumas all around us but that we can use the traumas of daily life to open our minds and hearts.

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