Psych Congress Remembers and Honors Eric Arauz

October 24, 2018

ORLANDO, Fla.­—The kickoff keynote address at the annual Psych Congress conference has been named after former Steering Committee member Eric C. Arauz, MLER, who passed away at age 47 this year.

The announcement was made by Steering Committee member Andrew Penn, RN, MS, NP, CNS, APRN-BC, before this year’s keynote presentation.

“Eric [in 2013] was the first kickoff keynote speaker that Psych Congress ever had,” Penn said. “To honor Eric and to keep his memory and the impact that he made on this meeting alive, I’m happy to announce that the kickoff keynote address from this day forward will now be called the Eric Arauz Memorial Keynote Address.”

Arauz’s 2013 address, in Las Vegas, Nevada, was “both inspiring and uncomfortable,” said Penn, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and Associate Clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing.

“It was inspiring because he reminded us of the value of our work, the reason why we get out of bed every morning and go to the hospital, to the clinic, to the prison, wherever it is that we interact with our patients,” Penn recalled.

“It was uncomfortable because his unflinching account of his own struggles reminded us that none of us are immune from mental illness.” Arauz was a trauma survivor and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Leave your memories about Eric Arauz

Penn recalled that he first heard Arauz speak in 2010, when he delivered the keynote address at the annual conference of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Arauz had only recently started speaking publicly.“His story and how he came through the torments of bipolar disorder, addiction, and trauma at the hands of both his father and psychiatric hospitals to becoming a successful public speaker and mental health advocate and consultant was not only so compelling you could hear a pin drop in that room of 2000 people. But by the time he was done there was not a dry eye in the house.”


The first Eric Arauz Memorial Keynote Address was given after the announcement by Stephen W. Porges, PhD, Distinguished University Scientist, Indiana University Bloomington and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Porges gave attendees an in-depth explanation of the Polyvagal Theory, which he proposed in 1994. It emphasizes the importance of the physiological state in the expression of behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders.

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