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This blog is to critically introduce, and contextualise, new research findings from developmental research, neuroscience, attachment theory  and other areas of psychology that are topical or are likely to whet the appetite of  anyone interested. The aim is to discuss research which will feel relevant and which might even, if lucky, make a differenc...e to how we approach our work or other areas of our lives. More

Protest, political allegiance, stress, fear and brains

One of the perplexing political questions of the moment is why, instead of more protest about issues such as poverty, unemployment, the lack of job security, as well as maybe climate change and a host of issues that are affecting people’s lives for the worse, we rather see people whose backs are against the wall becoming economically and in other ways  more conservative. hence the increased support for far right parties such as UKIP in the UK. We have often seen extreme political views flourish at times of crisis. 

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Betting, risk-taking, poverty and stress

A forthcoming government document  is about to  report a huge surge in spending on betting and gambling in the poorest areas of Britain. Particularly worrying is the high levels of betting using high speed machines  In the 55 most deprived boroughs of the country there are  2,691 betting shops,  and over £13bn was bet and apparently  £470m of that lost during the, last year. In contrast our 115 richest areas had just 1,258 bookies, even though  the population was the same, and only  £6.5bn was bet with losses of  £231m, within the same 12 months.

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The lost joys of playing and just being

Speaking to several parents in the last week, and children I work with, I was reminded of what a regimented and over-organised world we now live in, one in which there is so little time to  ‘just be’, to allow creative thoughts and imagination to grow and to do what it needs to help children and adults to become generative and develop their own thoughts and ideas.  I suggested to one dad what I suggest rather often, which is that he just take 15 minutes , or even 10, each day to spend in following his child’s play. He looked aghast and panicked, how on earth could he fit that in, what with after school karate, maths, football club, violin and French, chores to do for him, homework to supervise, and so the list went on. I was not surprised at the panic, I felt my own anxiety levels rising as I listened.

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After the giving and receiving. Materialism and happiness and tough lives

This year in some circles we have seem a backlash against materialism. Typical is a new book by Robert Wolman called Stuffocation [1], arguing that stuff does not make us happy, but rather it is experiences and relationships which do. Much research bears this out and such analyses can make important points, but maybe leave out what might be propelling people to consume. 

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Antidepressants, Big Pharma, and ordinary unhappiness

Recently after an OECD report many articles have been outlining the extent to which anti-depressant use has soared in Western countries. Apparently one in ten Americans use them now, and in China there has been a 20% year on year increase in the last three years. Indeed the OECD study suggests a large rise in a wide range of Western countries, including the UK, Australia and almost as bad as anyone, Canada, although Iceland tops them all.

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IQ and genes, Cummings, Gove, prejudice, inequality, social conditions and parenting

Michael Gove’s longstanding advisor, Dominic Cummings has just released a huge document in which he makes many worrying claims, the most pernicious of all being the statement that educational outcomes are most predicted by IQ levels and genetic inheritance. Such ideas are not only dangerous,  they are also completely wrong.

We have long known that IQ is a moveable feast and IQ levels are incredibly responsive to one’s current environment and are also highly related to the kinds of early experiences one has. Cumming’s ideas are yet another way that right wing politicians bash the poor and those who achieve less well and justify the gains from the social and educational advantages that the more affluent can give to their children.

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