An article I have written, connecting our evolutionary past with our present ecological crisis has been published on Earth Talk (https://emagazine.com) website. This essay is partly a summary of the field of epigenetics and cultural evolution studies, and partly a discussion document to try to integrate arguments in the environmental field. I welcome any responses to it through email or through the magazine website. A list of the main sources that inspired my writing is attached to this entry, though not laid out as a numerical reference list.
I attended the conference of the Human Behaviour and Evolution Society, which is a US based Evolutionary Psychology organisation. The presentations by PHds and Post-docs were very varied and generally very good, and the final address by Frans de Waal was fantastic. He asks: Are we smart enough to tell how smart animals are? This is his latest book, and he presented it well, encouraging all evolutionary researchers to consider whether we tend to measure animal intelligence against out own, which tends to limit our true understanding of their amazing specialist adaptations to their own environments. He has spent all his life actually observing animals, especially primates, and so speaks from long experience in the field.
Steven Pinker, as one of the world’s leading thinkers, and a great proponent of evolutionary theory, has in his last two major works taken a bolder step in showing just how much we have progressed and overcome the many pitfalls of natural selection, to become a wiser and better species. Despite the many detractors he has had to face in this endeavour, he puts across a very convincing case, and develops a challenging argument about how we can move forward in answering the many problems that we currently face.
This is an important book that brings together thinking from a wide range of sciences. In it they give a good snap shot of how holistic thinking across domains has led to a far more comprehensive and complex understanding of the problems facing humanity, and more realistic appraisal of solutions that may be applied.
For two weeks over the Christmas holidays I visited Kerala, having wished to go to India for a long time. The reason I am writing this as a blog entry is that I feel it had more effect on me than reading many books. What touched me wasn’t so much the tourist pleasures, though there are many, but just for a brief time, living in a culture that has had remarkable continuity for the last 5,000 years, and still feels so very vibrant with it. In their cultural evolutionary trajectory, they have not had many of the collapses and invasions that have typified European history, but over time, have integrated and absorbed many other religions and traditions along the way. This is perhaps more so in Kerala than Northern India with it’s great separations of the last century, so there is a great sense of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic acceptance without the emotional distancing and conflict – mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches are often only yards apart. Everyone seems to take part in the economy, and when one gets used to being pestered to buy tourist stuff, this feels quite democratic, engaging and real. Most of the population is also living at a far more sustainable level of consumption and energy use. The social values are much more communal, and, on coming back to the UK, it occurred to me how much time, effort and expense we go to, to create space and distance between us, without really noticing.
November 2017. As my last action as chair of the Psychotherapy section, I chaired the conference at the BPS London office. The title of the conference e was: Trauma and development: culture, contexts and narratives.
The subject was looked at from a variety of perspectives. The three main speakers were:
Rudi Dallos and Arlene Vitere on trans-generational transmission of attachment ‘scripts’. Their book is entitled Attachment and narrative therapy model.
David Morgan on the effects of migration through broken attachments, loss and trauma, on the mental health of refugees and other migrants. Very moving.
Christopher Scanlon and John Adlam on organisations that become traumatised and traumatising for clients and staff in the managed care and welfare arrangements that we have in our society. They also led a plenary session to look more deeply into the issues we had experienced during the day.
Much of this linked in with the theme of Social Justice, which had also been the main theme of the two previous conferences I had attended, so I wrote an article for the Psychotherapy Section Review, which is attached.
September 2017. The main theme of this conference was again on social issues in therapeutic work, but with an emphasis on finding ways of working psychologically within communities, often with group work and projects. It was more overtly political, and many of the workshops were very participatory and creative, including art, drama and music.
July 2017. The main theme of the conference was on social justice issues in psychotherapy, and how to avoid reinforcing positions of power in therapy relationships. There was also a large section on working with young people.
May 26th 2017. Ran a workshop on Sibling relationships for the Psychotherapy Section of the BPS, at the London office.Siblings, an introduction
Easter 2017. I attended the EHBEA conference in Paris, which was very interesting, with a number of talks on Cultural Evolution.