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Oct 14

Transcending Trauma Through the Arts: Sophia Richman, Ph.D. & Spyros D. Orfanos, Ph.D.

October 14, 2017 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

“Transcending Trauma Through the Arts”

Guest Presenters: Sophia Richman, Ph.D. and Spyros D. Orfanos, Ph.D.


MORNING: The Pathologizing Tilt in Holocaust Trauma Theorizing
Presented by Sophia Richman, Ph.D.

This presentation challenges sweeping generalizations about survivors and identifies theoretical assumptions which have led to the pathologizing tilt in our trauma literature. It offers a more balanced view of Holocaust survivors which includes resilience and coping mechanisms like “healthy” dissociation and doubling as well as the use of artistic self-expression to work through traumatic experience. Case examples from literature and art illustrate the mending potential inherent in the creative process.

AFTERNOON: The Creative Pulse and the Great Wound
Presented by Spyros D. Orfanos, Ph.D.

The narrative of creativity and imagination throughout the history of psychoanalysis has involved acts of engagement and renunciation. The celebration of the uniquely creative individual is a modern phenomenon emerging in the eighteenth century. This has yielded to contemporary claims for the genius in us all. Drawing on the today’s relational views and deep contextualism , this multimedia presentation will examine two artists (the composer Mikis Theodorakis and the vocalist Lina Orfanos) whose lives have been marked by trauma. The focus will be on how they have fashioned their own vitality in uplifting service to artistic and activist pursuits.

Learning Objectives

  • To recognize prevailing pathologizing generalizations about survivors of massive psychic trauma and the faulty assumptions they are based on.
  • To develop a more balanced view of survivors by identifying coping strategies and healing potential in the aftermath of catastrophic trauma.
  • To understand how artistic self-expression can facilitate mourning, witnessing, and healing.
  • To identify creativity as an area of study in psychoanalysis and the history of ideas.
  • To compare and contrast psychoanalytic theories about creativity including contemporary relational ideas.
  • To demonstrate the concepts of dissociation and witnessing as experienced by two artists who have been subjected to trauma.

Click here to download the full conference brochure.

Schedule for the day

10:00 am Introduction of speaker (Dr. Judi Kobrick)
10:10 am The Pathologizing Tilt in Holocaust Trauma Theorizing Dr. Sophia Richman
11:00 am Dialogue between audience and Dr. Richman
12:00 pm Lunch (on your own)
2:00 pm The Creative Pulse and the Great Wound Dr. Spyros D. Orfanos
3:00 pm Dialogue between audience and Dr. Orfanos
4:00 pm Closing remarks (Dr. Kobrick)


October 14, 2017
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Event Category:


George Ignatieff Theatre
15 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E2 Canada
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