Peter Kinderman

Peter Kinderman

Lead Educator and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
@peterkinderman
www.liv.ac.uk/psychology-health-and-society/staff/peter-kinderman

Location Liverpool

Activity

  • I guess a relatively 'inclusive' approach (one favoured by a lot of GPs and psychiatrists) would suggest - as you say - that many illnesses are powerfully influenced by social and psychological factors. Heart disease, diabetes, infectious diseases (famously TB), obesity... they're all strongly influenced by social factors (poor people suffer more). That's the...

  • Thank you. ... any suggestions for revisions or improvements?

  • Good !

  • I don't disagree... but I'd be willing to bet a large sum that Nick regards his model as a biopsychosocial model - it's very much common practice for mainstream psychiatrists to argue (and presumably believe) that their approach meets a definition of 'biopsychosocial', but.... at least in my opinion, there are many very different interpretations of what that...

  • @SamColombinoJr. I absolutely agree. We're all different, and "viva la difference!". And, of course, events in the world impact on our brains and have physical traces... but one question that follows is whether that means that these consequences should best be thought of in terms of 'disorders' and 'mental illnesses'

  • Well... part of the argument I'm trying to develop here is (as I hinted at above) that one part of Kandel's argument (pithily, that we're biological machines) doesn't necessarily lead to the second part - that mental health problems are therefore best seen as illnesses and treated with as such. For me, as a psychologist (and not a doctor) all psychological...

  • @ElaineCollins Ah... Yes... I can see what you mean about my questions being parodic. I guess that's a fair criticism - it's easy for academics to snipe at each other rather than offer respect (and, indeed, rather than focus on the ideas, not the person). But I do think Kandel's ideas - can be challenged. Not because he's factually wrong (he clearly isn't),...

  • Thank you. I have my own opinions, but - as an educator - I like to provide an opportunity to discuss and think about things from multiple perspectives (and then you'll come to the conclusion that I'm right!)

  • Well that's an interesting question.... and perhaps relates back both to the 'Understanding Psychosis' document from the British Psychological Society and the TED talk by Eleanor Longden. The experiences are there... but how we interpret them and make sense of them does (at least in my opinion) make a huge difference.

  • Yes. I haven't met anyone who denies the importance of biological or genetic influences on human thoughts, emotions, behaviours. I guess what we're saying in this (and similar) documents is that ALL human behaviours have to be looked at in this light, not just so-called 'disorders'

  • I'll look into it... right now, most of my emails are about responses to COVID-19

  • The philosopher Epictetus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus) said something similar, which is often translated in phrases like: "‘it is not events that disturb us, but our interpretation of the events"

  • Yes. Two things here. First, poverty (or perhaps social disadvantage) as the 'cause of the causes' is a powerful idea. When you're wealthy, events (like losing your job) is less of a problem. So the 'cause' of distress may well be buffered. And, also, I like the idea of thinking about the relationship between genetic determinism and choice. Imagine that you...

  • Hi. Well.. the World Health Organisation (https://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/development/en/) certainly believes that that poverty is important. Perhaps it's also helpful to reflect on the fact that RELATIVE poverty and INEQUITY are important. That is, it really seems to matter how unequal societies are. In unequal societies, both mental health and...

  • Stick with it! I'm sorry about the terminology. I've tried to make it as understandable as possible without 'dumbing down'. I have to say that I've breached the 'readability criteria' for every step, so I KNOW that it's complex. All I can say is.. I've tried my best, and stick with it. There's some perhaps easier material soon.. but also some VERY complex...

  • My personal view is that there are two ways in which there might be a 'genetic component'. As I'll say later in this course, I believe we need to separate out the fact that we're ALL genetically-programmed organisms (so our brains are dependent on genetic blue-prints) from the idea that genetic DIFFERENCES are responsible for differences between us in terms of...

  • Thank you... Please, also, suggest other books that colleagues on the course might also like.

  • Aw... thank you !

  • Thank you! I do like a debate... even an argument! But I would also hate to think I was spoon-feeding or lecturing!

  • Hi. Thanks (everyone) for their comments... just a quick word about 'attitudinal fortitude' or 'resilience'. As you'll see in this course, MY personal stance is a social determinist perspective - so, while I think it's clear that we each differ (one from another) in terms of our psychological response to stress... I think those differences themselves stem from...

  • @OliviaHackshaw Hi. Yes - I think continua models (in the plural, there are almost certainly many different continua on many different dimensions) have a great deal of legitimacy, and evidential support. Yes.

  • How nice - thank you (I'm an academic, so I naturally like hearing that my work has changed someone's thinking).

  • Ah... yes... we talk about that a lot more in Step 2.4 of this course... with a suggestion that Kate Allsopp and I made in the journal "Lancet Psychiatry"... but I won't give it all away yet !

  • @JamesCalhoun I certainly think the fact that our psychiatric diagnoses reflect and change with social values (cowardice or post-traumatic stress; homosexuality; hysteria and women's rights; the recognition of the impact of trauma on our lives and the consequent use of labels like 'personality disorder') is fundamentally important. For me (this is my view, not...

  • Apparently... Oprah Winfrey recently said the same thing (either channeling Jacqui Dillon or perhaps plagiarising her, or most probably simply on the same page at the same time): https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-childhood-trauma-ptsd-60-minutes-report/.

  • Yes... but also see my earlier comment. Identifying (measuring, classifying, naming and categorising) problems is clearly helpful. And I'm not at all averse to your idea of "... a spectrum of illness...". But I think it's at least arguable that we can develop systems for describing, measuring, classifying ... and then explaining and intervening... that don't...

  • Ah... good point... yes... but (for me) the idea of 'diagnosis' has shifted (at least in dictionary definitions) to mean to classify something as belonging to the class "illness". Diagnosis is sometimes described simply as labelling, as classifying, as description. But, I think (feel quite strongly), that diagnosis is MORE than that. There are many types of...

  • Just an additional (deliberately) tangential point... I think it's clear that psychiatric diagnoses can be helpful (even very helpful), but also clear that they have their problems. It can be argued that the relatively frequent revisions of DSM and ICD are attempts to improve their helpfulness and avoid their problems. So, we're often in the position of...

  • James Davies's excellent book "Cracked" (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cracked-Psychiatry-Doing-More-Harm/dp/1848315562) covers some of this - with fascinating interviews with key players!

  • Hi, I'm not 100% sure we'll be able to give the kind of practical answers that will address specific personal questions... but... there are a couple of documents that the British Psychological Society has prepared - and that we have made available on the course - which can be (and have been) practically helpful to individuals. I know this is pre-empting...

  • So.. for instance (and linked to the Harvard blog you cite) a representative blog (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/shared-genes-link-depression-schizophrenia-and-three-other-mental-illnesses-201303015944 ) talks explicitly about "shared" genetic risk factors for a broad range of mental health outcomes.
    Thats important, but it clearly isn't a specific link...

  • Hi,
    There are lots of papers that claim - perhaps even have found - links between genetic variance and mental health outcomes. It doesn't take much of a search - on google or on more sophisticated search engines - to find both individual research studies and eatery news articles or claims by academics (much like myself) suggesting that there is reliable...

  • Yes... And I think it's because there are those multiple factors all adding and subtracting and modifying each other that, overall, you see continua.

  • @OliviaHackshaw Hi. I'm absolutely convinced (on the basis of the evidence) of a continuum (or, rather, multiple continua) model. I'm currently out of the office, but check out Dan Freeman's work on paranoid anxiety.

  • I think this is important... it seems to me that it's clear that psychoactive substances (such as alcohol or medication) affect how we think or feel. And, as you say, things like under active thyroid functioning can equally (through hormonal mechanisms) affect our thinking, our emotions and our behaviour. Part of my argument, however, is that it strikes me...

  • 'Predisposition' is almost certainly better than 'cause'. There's an idea by the philosopher Mackie of "INUS" conditions - factors that are (if I remember it right) Insufficient (that is, not enough themselves to be causes) but Non-redundant (they do actually play a role) parts of a set of factors which is Unnecessary (the event could have occurred for other...

  • We discuss problems that attract the labels of 'schizophrenia' and 'bipolar disorder' later in this course, and there's a (quite long, sorry) report from the British Psychological Society on the subject. It's certainly true that people are often prescribed medication for prolonged periods... it's a little more controversial as to whether we always "need" it...

  • Ah... possibly... but it's always better to deliver more (rather than less) than you advertise (and you don't have to read absolutely everything!).

  • Yes, absolutely - the World Health Organisation would agree (http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/) defining mental health as: "as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his...

  • Oops... sorry about that.
    As far as I knew, there was an automated system limiting this allocation... I'll look into it.
    Sorry !

  • Hi,
    Yes, that's at least what I would like to think I'm arguing.
    Absolutely understanding the implications of biological research - not least in terms of its implications for 'normal' psychology - but re-evaluating the metaphor of 'illness' and therefore the role and significance applied to that biological account.

  • Thank you... in the interests of full disclosure... yes, you're correct, I do lean to the political left. But... there you go, that's what I believe, for right or wrong !

  • Hi,
    Yes - excellent point.
    There are many ways in which a psychological focus can be harmful - we can ignore biological pathologies that desperately need treating, we can waste time and effort on ineffective treatments, we can re-traumatise people with ham-fisted attempts to dig into the past, there are plenty of charlatans around, and, of course, some...

  • Hi Ella,
    Thanks for the feedback. This was the first course I've designed, so perhaps I treated it more like an extended lecture, or lecture series. I tried to include a wide range of reading from other colleagues (including people with whom I disagree), but I guess all the 'hosting' was done by me.... Still, useful feedback, and hopefully teh next one will...

  • Thank you...

  • Hi,
    When I give lectures / talks on this kind of materials, obviously some people disagree with my conclusions. But when people DO agree, they often ask how we should go about changing things.
    I'm an academic, so I guess I tend to like arguments, discussions, debates.
    But, ultimately, I don't think we'll get much change simply through argument.
    I think...

  • Thank you!

  • Good questions... I have my views... but perhaps to be addressed later (!)

  • Well... yes... but surely everything psychological derives from operations of the brain. That applies to falling in love, choosing what career to follow, or voting (God forbid) for Donald Trump. I'm not sure that pointing out that everything we do is dependent on operations of the brain necessarily means that some (but presumably not all) our behaviours should...

  • Well... I agree with you (I think my point of view comes over pretty clearly). And definitely for the (in my opinion) unscientific and pejorative (and frequently misogynistic) label of 'borderline personality disorder'.
    But I guess if we accept any degree of influence of biology on our moods and thoughts and behaviour, I guess that means that biological...

  • Later in the course (week four, I think, from memory) I try to explain how I have tried to resolve this issue... Personally, I think there must be something more than a correlation; I think that there must be some form of causal link between both biological and environmental factors and those problems that we call 'mental health' issues. For me (as I'll show...

  • True... it is simplistic... it's main purpose, however was to encourage engagement and discussion... and it works (reasonably well) from that perspective.

  • Peter Kinderman replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Yes... I tried not to give everything away in the first week... more reading (and more primary research papers) in the next few weeks' material.

  • Thanks... interesting.
    I once had dinner with a psychiatrist who told me about his client, a professor at a (very) prestigious university. The professor commented that his father and grandfather had both suffered greatly (and harmed others) through alcohol use, and so he (the professor) made a vow with himself that he'd never touch a drop of the stuff. His...

  • Hi,
    Thank you for sharing this. I certainly think that our biological make-up is important. The research evidence (from genetics, from twin studies, from the neurological and neurotransmitter studies) clearly suggests that biological factors are important. And I don't really disagree with the idea of biological vulnerability. I guess I would say two things,...

  • Remember, too, that we designed this as a six-week course. And this is just week 1 !
    We'll go into more details about biological factors in week 2, and into more depth about social factors in week 3. And then, in weeks 4 and 5, we'll try to integrate them a bit.
    I guess I have tried not to reveal everything, discuss everything, in this first week.
    And I...

  • There are so many themes here (all great).
    I don't want to add yet more reading, but there are lots of ideas relevant to this topic in the work of the philosopher JL Mackie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._L._Mackie
    He writes about the links between the mind, the brain and the body (discussed here), about the differences between 'cause' and 'blame', but he...

  • We'll look into the sound, but it's an external site, so there may well be nothing we can do

  • I agree !

  • I like Philippa's point about "before" vs "after" in terms of our mental health and therapy. I prefer to think of therapies such as CBT in terms of learning how to understand and manage our emotions and thoughts rather than 'treating' problems. It's a slightly different emphasis, and - like Philippa says - tends to move us away from 'before and after' or even...

  • Hi,
    It's always risky to give advice for individuals in these kinds of circumstances (everybody is different; what might work for one person may well not work for another), and so we're still heavily reliant on individual professional help. But, in week 5 of this course, I try to offer some pointers towards practical psychological help. It won't be...

  • Ah... I'll need to check with technical colleagues about 'cloud reader'. We try hard to make .pdf files accessible, but apologies if not everything is workign perfectly

  • Hi,
    I just wanted to say... I'm really glad you're bouncing ideas off each other. One of the fantastic opportunities offered by online learning is the possibility to learn from each other, not just from the 'teacher'. So this is great. Just one additional point, which it that it's really easy to add hypertext links...

  • I shall tell them ;-)

  • It absolutely is complex... I've been studying this area for over 25 years... learning every day !

  • Hi Jenny,
    I don't think anyone - or at least not me and my colleagues - dispute the validity of research into the functioning of the brain, and the involvement of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine). As we'll discuss next week, when we look at biological models of mental health problems, it's obvious that the biological functioning of the brain underpins all...

  • Hi,
    Thanks for this.
    All that is true - and, as you say, all detailed on my blog and elsewhere.
    I'm afraid my FutureLearn profile is limited to only 200 characters, however (so I couldn't list all that).
    I have indeed been meeting with various people from Government, as part of my BPS duties. I've blogged about it here:...

  • Hi Audrey,
    I'm sorry that we haven't been able to supply more audio-visual content. In an ideal world, we'd have been able to add audio to complement (and not to replace) some of the .pdf materials. I agree with Craig that it's important to supply both transcripts and audio, but again this is quite an expensive process. I hope you can understand that would...

  • Hi Michele,
    I'm afraid I can't contact you directly in any other way - but you sent me a very kind, but entirely unnecessary, card through the post. I wanted to say "thank you", but also would like to suggest that you send me an email, so we can communicate directly, if that's OK.
    Peter

  • Hi Katie,
    Will the Manifesto be adopted? Probably not... not in this form. And I guess I wouldn't expect that - or even want it, I want it to develop and change with input from others. I think it's too far-removed from current practice. It's an aspiration. Don't misunderstand me; I believe in every word I wrote, but I'm aware that we're on a journey in which...

  • We did consider a PC version, and it's certainly something we'll look into.
    In terms of security; only people who agree to it will upload any data, there is absolutely no identifiable information stored, and the server (here at the university) is extremely secure.
    But if anyone is worried, the app works perfectly well without sharing any data.

  • Hi,
    Yes, sorry.
    A lot of people have mentioned that... and apologies.
    It certainly doesn't matter if you miss out on this - I think it'll be fun, and it might (with, undoubtedly, some more development work) turn out to be either educational or therapeutic or even both.
    But to be honest we don't know yet.
    So, while I'm quite proud of it, you might not be...

  • Hi Katie,
    We are collecting data on this app.
    We won't have a control group - we're doing a very preliminary evaluation of the app as a teaching aid, not testing its effectiveness in therapy... although that might come later, and then a control group would be important. For now, we're interested in things like:
    - how many people can actually use it (not...

  • I apologise if my approach appears insulting - I haven't explained myself clearly, and I'm sorry.

  • So... what I'm trying to say is:
    How we make sense of the world is the product of our experiences and learning history. We're not to blame for - for instance - believing we're unloveable. But it does matter, and it is psychological (in my view).
    That does NOT mean I blame people for how they think - how we think is a consequence of the experiences we've had...

  • This also explains why I refer to “beyond nature and nurture’ in the title of the course. Essentially, I argue that what we believe about the world has causal value, but that what we believe about the world is the product of our experiences. So if we’ve been exposed to abuse and negatively, we’ll learn to regard ourselves as valueless. If we’ve been exposed to...

  • First, there is a role for biology. We all differ in all kinds of ways, and part of that difference might include differences in the way our brains work. But I share the views of colleagues whose work I discuss in week 3 of the course - I believe differences in our biology explain very little of the differences in how people react to events. Instead, I believe...

  • Oh dear!
    I definitely DON'T intend to insult people struggling with mental health problems. I know that a lot of psychological views can sound like we're being blamed for "thinking errors" or told that, if we think differently, we'll escape all our problems. As a GP colleague said recently, it's difficult to reinvent, through sheer will-power, the love we...

  • Well, I'm sorry about that.
    My intention was to offer the paper itself in the form it was accepted for an academic journal AND to offer the BBC magazine article (written in more accessible language) AND to offer a summary AND to explain it in the video.
    I'm sorry if it felt a bit dense... but my intention was to be open - to let learners see the original...

  • Sorry... see my answer to Mike Elliott, below...

  • On the 'limbic fight/flight brain system' question...
    Good question!
    So my answer will appear a bit 'weasely' or 'having my cake and eating it', but it goes like this...
    I have stressed the 'consciousness and thought' angle to 'making sense of the world', but I've also been quite clear in acknowledging a biological element. When it comes to anxiety, it's...

  • Ah... surprisingly difficult, and people (psychologists and philosophers) disagree.
    The relationship between 'mind' and 'brain' is a mine-field, for example.
    I like the OED definition of 'mind': "the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought"...

  • Hi,
    Ah... it's very hard (maybe even inappropriate) to try to conduct statistical, quantitative, research on massive sample sizes in psychology... although I'm not merely trying to defend myself! It's really hard to choose questions that cover the whole range of human experiences (relationships, life events, thinking styles) which both drill down into...

  • Hi,
    It's true that some psychological - especially cognitive or CBT - approaches to mental health problems suggest that there's something 'wrong' with a person's thinking. I don't agree - I don't think people's thinking is 'wrong' - but I recognise that criticism. It's particularly noticeable in CBT, where some psychologists have discussed 'thinking errors'....

  • Hi,
    I'll try to - and I'd be happy to - reply and respond.
    I know learners on courses like this appreciate interaction... my only reservation is that there are so many comments it's difficult to know where to leap in!
    I'm flattered (and it's dangerous to flatter me, I get very big-headed) at the idea that I could 'blast apart' anybody's theories. I've...

  • Hi,
    EMDR - 'eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_movement_desensitization_and_reprocessing) has some controversial aspects. Although trials of this approach show it's helpful for people with mental health problems (particularly related to trauma), scientists disagree about HOW and WHY it's effective. The precise...