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Adult Trauma and Recovery: advances in Social Neuroscience and Attachment Research

Dr Belinda Liddell

Attachment theory proposes that humans, alongside many other species, learn from an early age to seek refuge in trusted others in times of need. There has been a recent resurgence in interest around the vitality of attachments to human health. Experimental evidence suggests that attachment representations and social support can have a soothing effect that assists in the coping of stress, providing many other psychological benefits. The primary caregiver during infancy plays an important role in establishing these healthy and advantageous attachment systems. 

But disruptions to these attachment systems through the experience of unreliable attachments can result in efficiencies in the ability to benefit from attachments in adulthood and the development of insecure or avoidant attachment styles. Refugees are also profoundly affected by breakdown in attachment networks as conflict and forced migration disrupts connection to family, community and place. Such compromised attachment systems can significantly influence the experience, severity and maintenance of PTSD and other mental health symptoms following trauma exposure. 

Clinical Master Class Evening
14 October 2015

Belinda Liddell
Belinda Liddell
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Dr Belinda Liddell

Dr Belinda Liddell is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, UNSW Sydney and Deputy Director at the Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program (RTRP). Her research focuses on examining the neural mechanisms underlying refugee trauma including torture and other human rights violations. She is also undertaking research into how cultural factors modulate emotion and social processes. Belinda completed her PhD at the University of Sydney in the fields of affective and cognitive neuroscience. She has published over 40 scientific papers in the areas of emotion, clinical neuroscience, post-conflict mental health and refugee and migrant issues. She has also previously worked for the United Nations in Cambodia and directed a two year community mental health research project in Timor-Leste. Her current work synthesises her multidisciplinary interests in neuroscience and psychological research, refugee and human rights, cross-cultural issues and policy translation.

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