Post Of The week – Saturday 16th July, 2016

1) Issues Of Gender

These two articles show how Psychology has dealt with gender. The first starts with a disturbing account of an attempt to cure homosexuality before exploring the career of Robert Heath, the man who carried them out. It is easy to see the ethical guidelines under which Psychology now operates as banal and to see researchers who carried out such research as dangerous mavericks. The article challenges both of these assumptions. It also clarifies the connection between science and ethics. The core problem with Heath’s research was that much of it was simply bad science.

This article looks at what we know about gender identity and what we still need to answer. This looks in part to be a question of reductionism and holism. We can describe gender in terms of biological markers and social identity. How different aspects come together to provide the feeling of being male or being female is still poorly understood..


2) The Biological Basis Of Crime

Since the 1870s, researchers have been trying to describe the biological basis of crime. This article explores some of those attempts. One such attempt comes from Caspi and Moffit, whose study of people from Dunedin in New Zealand is best known for what it has shown about the biological basis of depression. The diathesis-stress model sounds like a compromise but it remains the best way to describe the effect of genes and environment. The article talks about a three legged stool: genes, brain, environment.


3) GPs

When I teach people about how mental health conditions are diagnosed, I show an image of a GP consulting with a patient. This article explains how, with little specialist training and limited resources, GPs are dealing with a heavy mental health caseload.


4) Treatment Is Uncommon For Common Mental Disorders

This Mental Elf article refers to a recently published article about access to mental health care up to 2007. It challenges some commonly held assumptions: common mental disorders are on the increase, females are more likely to seek help than males. The extent to which this self-report data represents a valid picture and the changes arising from IAPT are identified as limitations of this study.


5) Gambling Advertising

In the A Level which has just passed, we had to look at media influences on addictive behaviour. It was a difficult area for which to find good evidence. This article from Mark Griffiths has therefore come out a few weeks too late. It explains how little we know about the effect of massive increases in gambling advertising. Studies rely on self-report data and find it hard to disentangle the effect of advertising from other factors. It seems clear though that the effect of gambling advertising on children and on problem gamblers represents a substantial cause for concern.


6) …. And Tobacco Advertising

We’ve amused ourselves by watching John Oliver’s take on tobacco advertising and plain packaging for a couple of years now. This article explains where cases brought by tobacco companies at various international tribunals have got to. One such case was brought against Uruguay. This looks like good news for proponents of visual health warnings and plain packaging.


7) In Therapy

This is part of a series of programmes featuring the psychotherapist Susie Orbach. It shows how therapy arising from the psychodynamic approach works, using actors who improvise the clients’ responses on the basis of real case profiles. It suggests that the psychodynamic approach to therapy is both alive and valuable.


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