New Mind Changers Episodes!

The BBC’s Radio 4 program Mind Changers, hosted by Claudia Hammond (above),┬áhas returned with several all knew episodes dedicated to the history of twentieth century psychology. Now available to listen to online are three episodes that explore the work of James Pennebaker, Abraham Maslow, and Anna Freud, respectively. Full descriptions of these episodes follow below.

James Pennebaker and Expressive Writing

Claudia Hammond returns with the history of psychology series examining the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she meets the American social psychologist, James Pennebaker, to discuss his work on expressive writing.

Pennebaker’s ground-breaking experiment was published in 1986; he showed that simply writing about one’s emotions can significantly improve one’s health. His work revolutionised how emotions are viewed within psychology.

Claudia travelled to New Orleans, to the American Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual gathering, to speak to James Pennebaker, who was there to receive a Distinguished Scholar Award and to take up the Society’s Presidency. She also met others who have worked with him and taken his work on expressive writing forward in various directions. These include Annette Stanton -Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UCLA, Laura King – Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri at Columbia, Kent Harber – Associate Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, Sam Gosling – Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, Adriel Boals – Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas, Matthias Mehl – Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, and John Weinman, Professor of Psychology as Applied to Medicine at King’s College.

Abraham Maslow and the Hierarchy of Needs

Claudia Hammond presents the history of psychology series which examines the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she examines the work of Abraham Maslow who, in the mid-twentieth century, developed a theory of human motivation which was particularly influential in management.

In his 1954 book, Motivation and Personality, Maslow explained his Heirarchy of Needs: how only when basic physiological needs, and those of safety and security, are met can humans aspire to be motivated by higher goals such as status and self-respect. And he maintained that only a small number of exceptional people – he gave Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt as examples – are capable of reaching the highest level of motivation, and are driven by the desire to accomplish all they are capable of.

Maslow was also a pioneer, with Carl Rogers, of Humanistic Psychology – a response to the sharply opposing schools of psychoanalysis and behaviourism which dominated psychology at the time.

Claudia Hammond visits Brandeis University outside Boston, where Maslow was the founding Professor of Psychology, to speak to some who knew him, and hears from psychologists and management experts how his influence persists. Contributors include Margie Lachman – Professor of Psychology at Brandeis University, Lawrence Fuchs – emeritus Professor of American Civilization and Politics at Brandeis (who died last month), and Warren Bennis – Professor of Management and Organization at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Anna Freud and Child Observation

Claudia Hammond presents the history of psychology series which examines the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she reflects on the enduring impact of Anna Freud’s approach. By insisting on observation in her nurseries, she promoted the understanding of the child’s perspective. Her continuing legacy can be seen in the way children are cared for in hospital and within the legal system today.

Claudia explores how Anna, the only one of Freud’s six children to follow him into the field of psychoanalysis, started out as a teacher in 1920s Vienna and soon identified the toddler age as crucial to the child’s future emotional development. After she fled to London with her father in 1938, she set up the Hampstead War Nurseries, the foundation for the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic, which became the Anna Freud Centre after her death in 1982. Claudia visits the Centre to meet Nick Midgley, a child psychotherapist there, and Dr Inge Pretorius, who is in charge of the Parent Toddler service. She also meets students training to be child psychotherapists, who are taught to observe in minute detail the interaction between children and carers in the way Anna Freud pioneered.

At one of the Centre’s therapeutic parent toddler group parents explain what sets it apart from other groups, and discovers that today the Anna Freud Centre is breaking new ground with its Developmental Neuroscience Lab, using EEGs to further their understanding of the psychology of children and adolescents. Co-Director of the Centre, Mary Target, believes Anna Freud would have approved, though many within psychoanalysis are sceptical of this approach.

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University. Her dissertation explores the early history of questionnaires in American psychology.

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