The British Library, Jun 10

Saturday, 02 April 2011 02:05
I started thinking about writing a book about lying in those months when we were being told about the certain existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction. But, of course, in the years I was working as a clinical psychologist in the NHS I was dealing with lies all the time. There were the lies we tell when we want to defend a much-loved theory, such as, ‘Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.’ And there were the lies my clients had been telling themselves since they were small children. The most common lie was, ‘I am, in essence, bad and have to work hard to be good.’ If you want to get depressed, this is the lie you need to tell yourself. Why we lie to others and why we lie to ourselves, and the consequences of these lies form the subject matter of this book. I defined truth and lies in terms of what is known about how our brain operates. I was not writing in terms of truth being a virtue and lying a vice, but in terms of how to live wisely by always telling ourselves the truth, and lying to others very sparingly, and then with…

London Metropolitan University Nov 09

Saturday, 02 April 2011 02:05
A Brief History of the Ideas and Practices in Psychiatry in the UK I am an Australian clinical psychologist who came to England in 1968. I took my first degree in psychology at Sydney University and my PhD from Sheffield University. I have written a number of books, the latest of which is called Why We Lie. It will be published by HarperCollins in May 2010. We lie in many different ways. One very popular form of lying in public life and in the professions of psychiatry and psychology is to call something by a name that doesn’t actually reflect the truth. When in 1957 there was a very bad accident at the nuclear reactor called Windscale, the methods of working at Windscale didn’t change a great deal but the government changed the name of the place to Sellafield and hoped that people would forget what actually happened at Windscale. I was working at St John’s Psychiatric Hospital in Lincoln when in 1984 the managers decided to change the name of this unpleasant, unhappy place to ‘The Mental Health Trust’. The hospital didn’t change, just the name. When in the 1980s passengers and patients were being renamed – they were now ‘customers’ -…
When George Bush and Tony Blair departed the political stage, we hoped that the eight years of political lies and hypocrisy had come to an end. No more Weapons of Mass Destruction, no more God speaking directly to the president and telling him to go to war, no more Blair excusing himself by saying, ‘I believed that what I was doing was right.’ Believing that you are right does not make what you do right. Hitler believed that what he did was right. Blair’s successor Gordon Brown might not have Tony Blair’s charm, but he did seem to tell the truth, while Obama, we hope, will save the world. People welcomed the new pope, Benedict XVI, while overlooking the fact that he had been in the Hitler Youth. They assumed that, like many young Germans, while he outwardly conformed, he knew that what the Nazis taught was wrong. However, when he reinstated Bishop Richard Williamson who had claimed that only about 200,000 t0 300,000 Jews had died in the Holocaust, many people had to reconsider their assumption.[i] As ever, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose – the more things change the more they remain the same. In politics…

Kirribilli Books, Jan 09

Saturday, 02 April 2011 02:05
Why theatre is essential in our life Not long ago I was at the Ensemble Theatre to see a play Tuesdays with Morrie. Perhaps you have seen this play, or read the book by Mitch Albom that formed the basis of the play. The play itself is no more than two people talking, an old man, Morrie, who is dying of motor neurone disease, and Mitch, a man in his thirties who had been been Morrie’s student. At its simplest and most obvious level, the story that emerges is that Mitch, having been hurt by the death of his uncle, the only person who really cared for him and whom Mitch loved, resolved never to love anyone again. Through their conversations Morrie shows Mitch that this is a very foolish decision because it will inevitably lead to a lonely, unhappy life. At this level, the play is sentimental, even trite. Yet all plays, in terms of their basic plot, are trite. Take, for instance, the play where two teenagers from feuding families, fall in love and, after a series of mistakes and misunderstandings, kill themselves. Their parents are distressed and end their feud. Yet most plays aren’t trite. Most plays…

The Meaning We Give to Time

Saturday, 02 April 2011 02:03
British Psychological Society - Psychotherapy Section Conference to Celebrate the Life and Work of Phil Salmon28th June 2003 Dorothy Rowe The Meaning We Give to Time It’s a great pleasure to be here today to help Phil celebrate her seventieth birthday. I first met Phil in 1968 not long after I had arrived in England when I went to a summer conference at York University organised by Don Bannister to introduce many of us to a new theory of behaviour, namely George Kelly’s personal construct theory. There I met the Gang of Four, Don Bannister, Fay Fransella, Miller Mair, and Phil, four people who were going to have a great influence on my life. Phil and I went on meeting at PCP conferences, but one time that I remember well was at the International Conference on PCP that was held in Holland. On our afternoon off Phil and I went to visit friends of mine who lived in a village some miles away. Phil and I were very proud of the way we managed to find our way there using public transport. It was such fun I entertained the idea that Phil and I might do some further travel together,…
The Sydney Institute - Lecture February 26, 2001 PEOPLE AND NATIONS –THEIR NEED TO LOVE AND HATE Dorothy Rowe Everything that exists is an ever changing, seamless whole. Everything is connected to everything else. Yet this is not the way human beings see themselves and their world. We divide this seamless whole into chunks in order to create a picture of ourselves and the world. Sometimes these divisions bear some similarity to what actually exists, and sometimes the divisions are contrary to our actual experience. This is the case when we divide ourselves into mind and body, or our experience of being alive into cognition and emotion, These divisions are false. Each of us operates as one whole unit. Our mind and body are one, and it is impossible to separate our thoughts from our emotions. Even that unit which we call ‘myself’, ‘I’, ‘me’ is not a clear, distinct being, separate from the rest of our world. We think of our skin as encasing our body and marking its boundary, but, were we able to see more clearly, our skin would appear as permeable and our body as a clump of nuclear particles which is in constant intercourse with…

Dealing with Physical and Mental Illness

Saturday, 02 April 2011 02:00
Dealing with Mental and Physical Illness Any similarity between mental and physical illness resides solely in the language used to discuss them. It is the language of medicine, of physical causes, symptoms, syndromes, cures, and where the illness cannot be cured, management. We may talk about mental illness in terms of physical causes and cures and list the symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, mania, obsessions and compulsions, and phobias, but such language actually prevents us from understanding what is happening to the person concerned. If we want to understand a particular physical illness all we have to do is refer to the results of the scientific research into the functioning of the body. We no longer have to rely on fantasies such as bodily humours or demonic spells to explain why we become ill. The causes and effects of physical illness can be readily demonstrated by various tests carried out on the body. The medical profession is extremely reluctant to decide that a set of phenomena is a disease if a physical cause cannot be demonstrated. It took some time to establish that Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) was a physical illness while whether chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) is…

How We Learn to Value and Accept Ourselves

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:59
Royal Society of Arts Lecture, November 11, 2004   How We Learn to Value and Accept Ourselves   A few months ago I went to stay with a friend who lives some distance from me. One afternoon we visited Louis who is the most wonderful child the world has ever seen. I know this because my friend, Louis’ grandmother, told me. I had met Louis a year before when he was only a few weeks old. Wonderful though he is, it was unlikely that he would remember me. I was concerned that I shouldn’t upset him in any way. The received wisdom amongst child rearing experts is that from about eight months onwards children recognise the difference between the people they know and strangers, and they become anxious when they meet a stranger. Moreover, Louis would be tired because he would have been at nursery that day. So I resolved to smile at him from afar and not invade his space.   Things didn’t turn out like that. I sat myself at the table at the far end of the kitchen while Louis’ mother and grandmother made tea and talked over the events of the day. Louis checked the kitchen…
Lecture for Counselling Children and Young People Conference, London, November 24, 2007 My Mother Still Thinks I’m a Child (Published as Not ill but lazy, June 2008) Long before we are able to define who we are as a person, our parents impose upon us their ideas about who we are. We are given a role in the family, and we are seen as possessing certain simple but unchangeable characteristics. As teenagers we might try to force our parents to relinquish their ideas about who we are, and to see us as we know ourselves to be, but rarely are we successful. When our parents hold fast to their ideas, they are doing so not merely out of mental laziness. They have personal reasons for keeping us in the role to which they have assigned us. When I was a child my mother saw my one over-riding, defining characteristic as being lazy. Certainly I was not always enthusiastic about the household tasks my mother imposed on her daughters from the day they were big enough to hold a duster, but I was always enthusiastic about learning and doing new things. However, my lungs were succumbing to a disease, bronchiectasis, which…
The Meaning of Resilience. Psychologists who want to make a name for themselves have found that they can achieve this by taking some word and claiming that it stands for an aspect of human behaviour that has not been recognised until then. For instance, about ten years ago, some American psychologists discovered self-esteem. We were told that it was a new idea and that it was very important. But we soon discovered that self-esteem was just another name for self-confidence. More recently the same process has been applied to the word ‘resilience’. Just as some people don’t have much self-esteem and others have lots, so resilience is something that some people have and some people don’t. For Mental Health Week I’ve been asked to talk about how people can acquire resilience. When I looked up the word ‘resilience’ in my dictionary I found that it was defined as ‘the quality of being resilient’. ‘Resilient’ comes from the Latin ‘re, meaning back’ and ‘salire meaning to jump’. So the first definition of ‘resilient’ is ‘springing back into shape or position after being stretched, bent or compressed’. The second meaning the dictionary gives is ‘recovering strength, spirits, etc quickly’. In this second…