Volcano icon

Keynote speaker :
50th Anniversary Conference of the
New Zealand Psychological Society

The Australasian Journal of Disaster
and Trauma Studies
Volume : 1997-3

A report on:

The keynote address presented by Dr Bessel van der Kolk
at the 50th Anniversary Conference of the
New Zealand Psychological Society

Reported by: A.J.W. Taylor
Psychology Depaprtment
Victoria University
New Zealand

Bessel A van der Kolk gave the first keynote address of the conference, entitled "The psychobiology of post traumatic states". In what proved to be a tour de force, he traced the recognition of trauma through art and internal medicine to psychoanalysis and finally to a synthesis in psychobiology. He made the comment that clinicians and researchers were often limited by the prevailing concepts and knowledge of psychological trauma, and in World War 1 they were so affected by the evidence of carnage in the trenches that they were silent on the topic. But they were more attentive in World War 2, under the impulse to minimise battle-related psychological casualties. Subsequently after the Vietnam War they gave full recognition to PTSD, and soon afterwards they extended the conceptual category to civilian victims who had suffered in a wide variety of disaster and emergency situations. Amnesia captured their attention, and it led them to focus on the different sensory modalities and components of memory, as well as on the meaning victims gradually ascribed to their traumatic experiences. More recently they have been able to monitor the limbic system and in particular of the amygdala with brain scans for evidence showing the existence and then the dispersal of troublesome memories. Such site-specific interactions of body/mind phenomena can indeed be described as exciting indicators for clinical and theoretical developments in the trauma field.


A.J.W. Taylor © 1997. The author assign to the Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies at Massey University a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to Massey University to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web and for the document to be published on mirrors on the World Wide Web. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the author.

| Home | Current | Back Issues | Reports | Conferences | Books | Links | Information |

Comments to Psych.Webmaster@massey.ac.nz

Department of Psychology, Massey University , New Zealand
URL: http://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/
last changed Monday, 10 November 1997
Copyright 1997 Massey University