Tag Archives: psychology

A longer read for the lockdown: Compassion and Coronavirus

Thanks to COVID-19 we may well be on the cusp of a public mental health crisis. The ONS (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/
healthandwellbeing/bulletins/coronavirusandthesocialimpactsongreatbritain/
latest#understanding-the-impact-on-society
) reports that 48% of adults feel their well-being has been affected by COVID-19, with evidence of a continuing upward trend, while 31% of those whose well-being has been affected said it was making their mental health worse. Grief, loneliness, uncertainty, an inability to access health and social care, and rising levels of domestic abuse are only some of the factors that are affecting people’s mental health right now. Many I am sure will have seen the following chart indicating the potential size of this harm relative to other aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.

4 waves of impact

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Beware the 1930s

My mind keeps going to parallels between the worlds of Brexit and Trump and what happened in Germany in the 1930s.

At the time of the referendum I was at the annual conference of the International Society for Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations. A gathering of people from across the world who are used to exploring unconscious processes was a rich context in which to explore what was going on under the surface.

By coincidence, on polling day one conference session was intended to focus on ethical dilemmas. We were shown short films on two famous psychological experiments, the Milgram experiment and the Stanford experiment which are controversial both because people were harmed, and because they shed light on how civilised people can come to behave badly. They have been used to understand what happened in the concentration camps, but are much more widely applicable than that.

The ensuing discussion seemed a little dry, as if there was something important which was being avoided. I took the microphone and made a link with some of the violence of the referendum: the murder of Jo Cox, an incident in a supermarket where someone I had seen earlier in a Vote Leave stall was shouting at a cashier planning to vote Remain, and some very aggressive comments from Leave supporters in door-knocking in the campaign. This is not to accuse Vote Leave of orchestrating violence, but it suggests something was being mobilised (which has become more obvious since then). I commented on the dark streak in Europe: along with our capacity to be civilised, there is a capacity to behave in very destructive ways. I expressed my fear that this was close to the surface in the referendum and struggled with tears as I commented on the way the EU has been set up to contain that destructive streak in the European psyche, and the fears evoked by some in the UK wanting to pull away from that. I was met with a round of applause.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 33 Comments

The same policy can be good or evil – depends who thought of it

In May 2010, the Labour Party pledged to cap Housing Benefit. In their manifesto , they argued that the State shouldn’t be subsidising people to live in private rented properties that “ordinary working families” couldn’t afford.

Over 600 Labour parliamentary candidates happily stood on the pledge, not a whisper of opposition to the idea was heard from their ranks.

Fast forward to October 2010, five months later, and the Coalition Government come up with the same plan.

Not only was the Coalition scheme denounced by Labour in the strongest terms, with talk of “social cleansing” echoing the horrific Kosovan experiences, …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 70 Comments
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