Category Archives: Psychology

The Human Givens Conference 2007

human givens conference

It has been 10 years since the term ‘human givens’ was first used, and last weekend, on the 19th-20th of May, the third Human Givens Conference, attended by over 165 delegates, was held in Sunningdale Park near Ascot.

The event was a huge success, and we thank everyone who attended for making it the inspiring and entertaining weekend it was.

For those who were unable to attend, or for those who read this blog and would like to see some of the people and organisations who are implementing the human givens approach with great success into the ‘real world’, here is a short summary (a longer one is being prepared for the next HGI Newsletter for professional members of the institute) of all our speakers over the two days, complete with photos!

hartlepool mind

First up, after an introduction from Pat Williams, were Iain Caldwell and Julian Penton from Hartlepool MIND (website coming soon!), where they have had fantastic results (which you can read an article about here) using a human givens approach ‘recovery model’ with members of the community of Hartlepool who have mental health problems. They reported back on the progress of their organisation, gave some insight on how they got government funding, and proposed some new plans for getting similar projects going in other areas of the country.

david grist

Next was David Grist, the youngest member of the team working at The SPACE, a residential therapeutic community for children aged between 8 and 19 years. He gave a case study of how he was able to creatively tackle the problems of a boy with difficulties during a game of Badminton, using simple human givens therapeutic principals. Read more about the fantastic work being done at The SPACE here.

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Bystander Intervention

Today we have a guest blog post from Fiona, a reader from New Zealand who has written about the psychological research into the phenomenon of bystander intervention and apathy. It’s fascinating how many different approaches there are to this issue, which was kicked off by the infamous death of Kitty Genovese.

kitty genovese

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Catherine ‘Kitty’ Genovese’s untimely and gruesome death in 1964 hardly caused a ripple in the media of the day. Reported only in a small column of the New York Times, it was purely through a conversational misunderstanding between New York city police commissioner, Fredrick Lussen and journalist Abe Rosenthal that lead to further examination of the Genovese case. What was unusual about Ms. Genovese’s death was that it had been prolonged, loud, and witnessed. It was not witnessed by just one or two people, an astonishing thirty-eight of Ms. Genovese’s neighbours heard her screams and pleas for help over the thirty five minutes it took for her attacker to repeatedly stab her, sexually assault her, then leave her to die. Not one of these thirty-eight people made any attempt whatsoever to assist Ms. Genovese, not aiding her physically, or even contacting police until it was too late.

The horrific nature of this event, not just the torturous murder of a young woman returning home from work, but also the apparent cruel paralysis that gripped the bystanders, sparked an important series of experiments in social psychology. Psychologists sought to understand and predict the phenomena that came to be known as bystander intervention. There are various theories as to what causal influences corroborate to create bystander intervention (or nonintervention). Some of these have included social-cognitive theories while others have focused on perception of self by others . There has been discussion emphasizing that each theory has arisen in a specific historical and social climate that has profoundly influenced them . As well as those who are critical of the ‘mechanical and causal’ approach these theories have taken. Contemporary neurobiological theory and the Human Givens approach can also be applied to expound and perhaps negate bystander intervention.

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Blairwatch interviews Adam Curtis

Go here to read the Blairwatch interview Adam Curtis about his new series, The Trap: what happened to our dreams of freedom.

“What I’m trying to do in these films is show that behind the way you think about yourself and the way those who govern you think about you, there are ideas. There are specific ideologies… The world we experience both personally and politically today is not the natural order. Many people think “oh this is it, we got there” because there aren’t alternatives. What I’m trying to say is “No, hang on. The way we think, the way we feel and the way those who govern us think and feel come from very specific ideologies”

The post has generated some very interesting comments..

If you’re looking for Ivan Tyrrell’s interview with Adam Curtis about his previous series, The Century of the Self then click here!

Posted by: Eleanor

Vote for your favourite psychology study!

Over at PsyBlog, Jeremy Dean has finished his compliation of top ten influential psychology studies. Some are very well known like Milgram’s infamous obedience study, but some I’d never heard of!

My favourite is still this one, a neat little study on how cognitions can greatly influence emotion in which Schachter & Singer suggest that genuine excitedness and euphoria can be induced by ‘experimental trickery’.


Vote for your favourite here.

Posted by: Eleanor

Do you think we deserve effective psychotherapy in the NHS?

I’ve been very helpfully informed about a petition (which is running until 3rd March 2007) on the Government’s website which anyone interested in effective therapy should sign. Pass this around if you agree and get as many signatures as possible

The motion is this:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to consider other psychotherapy approaches, not only cbt, in the proposed expansion of psychotherapeutic services within the NHS, instead of restricting choice for members of the public to one only model of therapy.

The proposal by Lord Layard to increase by 10,000 the number of CBT therapists in the NHS ignores the benefits to people of other forms of therapy. Relationship based therapy, such as the Person Centred Approach, and others, have a proven record of helping to alleviate distress and to change lives.

‘We Need To Talk’ , a July 2006 report into NHS availability of mental health treatment supported by MIND, The Mental Health Foundation, Rethink, TheSainsbury Centre for Mental Health and Young Minds highlights the need for more organisation and consideration of therapies other than CBT in this area.

They recommend that “The Department of Health should investigate the current bias in research priorities and address it by supporting more research into psychological therapies.”

The more signatures this petition gets before 3rd March 2007 so it receives the Priministerial attention it deserves, the better.

Sign the petition here.

Posted by: Eleanor

Common Ground: diplomacy and the human givens


If you are interested in the Middle East conflict, I’ve just put up a fascinating article from a 2006 issue of the Human Givens Journal by John Bell.

He is the Middle East Director for Search for Common Ground and a founding member of the Jerusalem Old City Initiative and suggests that only a ‘radically different, innate needs-based approach to conflict resolution can bring a possibility of peace to the Middle East’.

“DIPLOMATIC intervention seems, in this day and age, to be less and less effective as an instrument of managing frictions and conflicts between states. This is particularly so in the Middle East, where venture after diplomatic venture has failed; indeed, they have possibly even exacerbated the troubles there.

At its core, the Middle East conflict speaks to the ancient human need to protect against outside threat. The irony is that the methods the region has developed to do so now propagate those threats by blurring the need for security with other unidentified essential needs, no longer meeting any of them clearly and, as a result, exacerbating problems with outsiders. If diplomacy is to offer any useful answers, it needs a fresh approach and a clear understanding of human needs, how they manifest and how to meet them…” read more

Posted by: Eleanor

The Dreamcatcher – New Scientist interview with Joe Griffin

Here is an oldish interview with Joe Griffin answering questions on REM sleep, depression, psychosis, trauma, conflict and cult behaviour, published in New Scientist in April 2003:

JOE GRIFFINWe live in mad times. The WHO predicts depression will soon rank second in the global disease burden, suicide rates are rising, and the trauma caused by war, conflict or domestic abuse is everywhere. The toll is horrific: mental illness costs Britain alone £32 billion a year. And people looking for therapy face a confusing tower of psychobabble, with 400-plus often warring schools of thought. Enter JOE GRIFFIN, who says there is a way to lift depression in a day, and told BARBARA KISER he can prove it.

How can you deal with serious depression in just a day?

The important thing is to know how depression is manufactured in the brain. Once you understand that, you can correct the maladaptive cycle incredibly fast. For 40 years it’s been known that depressed people have excessive REM sleep. They dream far more than healthy people. What we realised – and proved – is that the negative introspection, or ruminations, that depressed people engage in actually causes the excessive dreaming. So depression is being generated on a 24-hour cycle and we can make a difference within 24 hours to how a person feels.

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