MD, born in 1971 in Bonn (Germany), psychiatrist and psychotherapist, father of two children, he moved to Switzerland in order to climb mountains. After medical studies in Germany and France, he has been working in the French part of Switzerland for the past 15 years. He has a special interest for the acquired psychiatric disorders which are major challenges for modern societies: addiction and traumatic stress.
For many years he held a leading position at an outpatient addiction clinic in Lausanne. In addition, he worked as a researcher in several research projects in Switzerland and United States, and ran himself a study that investigated the relationship between interpersonal trauma, dissociation and addiction.
He is a trained EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) practitioner and is currently working in private practice in Vevey. Besides that, he works at the Lausanne University hospital in a large cohort study which collects data concerning the social situation, psychiatric comorbidity and substance use among young Swiss men (www.c-surf.ch).
Talk: “Between play and pain: the cycle of life and the endogenous opiate system”
The aim of this talk is to present the many functions of the endogenous opiate system. In the mammalian brain this system plays a crucial role in the experience and processing of both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. For instance, pleasant social interaction with peers is a process which is mediated by endogenous opiates at the neuronal level. In contrast, the sudden loss of a loved one (observable under experimental conditions as “separation anxiety”) is a highly painful state, which is mediated within this system by means of a depletion or lack of opioid transmitters. The use of opiates, such as morphine or methadone is well established in medicine for a long time but indications for their prescription are restricted to treating severe pain or as a substitute for patients suffering from severe opiate addiction. Based on the knowledge of the role of the opiate system for encoding joyful as well as painful social interactions, there is some debate as to whether prescribing opiates may, or may not, be useful and safe for patients who are experiencing a psychiatric crisis.
This talk will be completed by clinical case reports that illustrate the high pertinence of taking the opiate system into account when conceptualizing and treating psychic suffering.