Marsilius Lecture: Posttraumatic Stress Disorders

Press Release No. 19/2012
23 January 2012
Prof. Dr. Edna B. Foa on causes and potential therapies
Foa Edna B 160x200

Photo: University of Pennsylvania

Prof. Dr. Edna B. Foa

Prof. Dr. Edna B. Foa of the University of Pennsylvania (USA) will be visiting Heidelberg University on 1 February 2012 to give a Marsilius Lecture on the causes and potential therapies for posttraumatic stress disorders. The lecture of the Marsilius Kolleg is entitled “Post-traumatic stress: etiology and treatment taking social aspects into account” and will be held in English. It takes place at 4 pm in the Great Hall of the Old University.

“After tragic events such as hurricane Katrina, many are left traumatised by what they have gone through,” says Foa. “Many of the residents were so overwhelmed and confused, terrified and horrified. While for many these feelings will gradually subside over time, there will be people for whom these psychological symptoms will become permanent unless treated with evidence-based therapy.” In her lecture, Prof. Foa will first discuss the “posttraumatic response” construct and the diagnosis that goes by the name of “posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” from social, historical and psychopathological perspectives. This enables her to cast light on the theory of emotional processing that explains why some trauma victims develop chronic PTSD while others recover. With the help of video material, Prof. Foa will explain the principles behind prolonged exposure therapy, an evidence-based approach to the treatment of posttraumatic stress syndromes. Finally she will enlarge upon the socio-cultural challenges involved in the dissemination of this therapy.

Edna B. Foa is professor of clinical psychology and psychotherapy and director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010 she figured in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential personalities. The organisers of the lecture indicate that for many years Prof. Foa has combined psychotherapeutic practice with scientific research and has thus made a decisive contribution to our understanding of posttraumatic stress disorders and influenced present-day approaches to treating the condition. Her prolonged exposure (PE) therapy design for dealing with traumatic experiences is widely used all over the world.

The Marsilius Kolleg is a cornerstone of Heidelberg University’s Institutional Strategy to Promote Top-Level Research in the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Government and the state governments. Its work is geared to bringing together handpicked researchers from different academic cultures, thereby promoting a research-based dialogue between the humanities, the social sciences, legal studies and the natural and life sciences.

Edna B. Foa’s lecture will be transmitted on the internet via livestream. To watch it, go to

Tobias Just
Marsilius Kolleg
phone: +49 6221 543980

Communications and Marketing
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phone: +49 6221 542311

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