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March 03, 2007, 3:30 PM

Mind, Brain & Spirituality: Toward a Biology of the Soul

Participants: Martin Bergmann, Siri Hustvedt, Jaak Panksepp, David Pincus (moderator), Reverend Thandeka

The nature of spirituality and the nature of the human soul is at the heart of the human quest for meaning. The late Morty Ostow's last book, entitled Spirit, Mind and Brain: A Psychoanalytic Examination of Spirituality and Religion (Columbia University Press, 2007), will be the centerpiece of this roundtable discussion on how such subtle aspects of human mind and culture can be elucidated. The panelists will approach this question from psychoanalytic and neuroscientific as well as belief and experience-oriented perspectives. Perhaps the most radical idea to be entertained and debated is that the soul is a useful construct that is thoroughly psychobiological. The discussion will be framed in the context of Ostow's life-long quest to understand the human mind.

This event is co-sponsored by the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.

Martin Bergmann is Clinical Professor of Psychology at New York University, where he teaches the course on the history of psychoanalysis in the post-doctoral program. He is a trainer and supervisor of psychoanalysts at the New York Freudian Society, a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and an honorary member of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is the author of In the Shadow of Moloch: The Sacrifice of Children and its Impact on Western Religions.

Siri Hustvedt has a PhD from Columbia University in English literature, and is the author of The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl and What I Loved, as well as two books of essays. She is also currently teaching a writing class to psychiatric in-patients at the Payne Whitney Clinic in New York.

Jaak Panksepp is Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Bowling Green State University and Head of Affective Neuroscience Research at the Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics at Northwestern University. He is the author of Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions, Textbook of Biological Psychiatry and Advances in Biological Psychiatry.

David Pincus is Director of the Consortium for Mind/Brain Studies at Summa Hospital of Akron and Northeastern Ohio University's College of Medicine. He is a member of the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center and affiliated with Case Western Reserve University's Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology.

Reverend Thandeka is a Unitarian Universalist minister, Senior Research Professor of Theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, founder and President of the Center for Community Values, and the author of The Embodied Self: Friedrich Schleiermacher's Solution to Kant's Problem of the Empirical Self and Learning to Be White: Race, Money and God in America. She is presently at work on volume one of her systematic theology, addressing human nature and the physiological basis of the soul, which will be published in 2007. Before entering the academy, Thandeka was an Emmy award-winning television producer for 16 years. Her name, which means "beloved" in !Xhosa, was given to her by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984.


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