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Making sense of things

In this video Peter Kinderman introduces the idea that thoughts, emotions and mental health are largely dependent on our understanding of the world.
So welcome back. This week, we’re going to talk about how we might bring together some of the ideas that we’ve heard in the preceding weeks. But also I’m going to introduce you to what I think of as a specifically psychological approach to mental health and well being. One of my colleagues Jackie Dylan once said, “don’t ask me what’s wrong with me, ask me what’s happened to me.” So for me as a psychologist, what happens to us– the nurture part of the equation– is very important. But I don’t reject the nature half of the argument, the way in which our brains and our bodies work. That’s also very important in determining mental health and well being.
But for me as a practicing clinical psychologist, there’s another element as well, the psychological element. And for me, the way in which we make sense of the world, the way in which we understand ourselves, who we are as people, the way we make sense of other people, the way that we react socially, how we think about the future, and how we think about the world in general, this sense making, this framework of understanding of the world is fundamentally important in determining our mental health and well being.

As a Professor of Clinical Psychology, I have argued for a long time that our mental health is essentially a psychological issue, and that biological, social, and circumstantial factors affect our mental health and wellbeing by disrupting or disturbing psychological processes. This places psychology at the heart of mental health.

In this video, I briefly introduce this idea – that, fundamentally, our thoughts, our emotions, our behaviour and therefore our mental health, are largely dependent on our understanding of the world, our thoughts about ourselves, other people and the future. This understanding, of course, has itself been and continues to be shaped by our experiences. Essentially, things happen to us, we make sense of those events and respond to them, and there are consequences. We all differ in the ways we respond to events, and there are many reasons for those differences. There are as many different reasons for these different responses as there are people on the planet. Biological factors, social factors, circumstantial factors – our learning as human beings – affect us as those external factors impact on the key psychological processes that help us build up our sense of who we are and the way the world works.

These ideas are central to my resolution of the ‘nature – nurture’ dilemma, and form the content of this week’s material.

Peter Kinderman

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Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture

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