Welcome to Autumn 2022 Psychology

Adult Learning: informal, fun, and complex

We are back in the physical world… 4th Oct 2022

Today will be my first time back in a physical classroom on campus in University College Dublin and I am so looking forward to it. This evening I will begin with an overview of the course. Psychology as an academic and scientific subject has been around since the late nineteenth century. Social and behavioural psychology has been around for a hundred years.

The world has changed so much since then but especially in the past ten to twenty years. One of the effects of psychology becoming increasingly academic has been a growing rift between social theory and practice especially in relation to the therapeutic professions. On the other hand, scientific psychology has advanced in interesting ways in relation to gaining deeper insights into human nature.

I taught Cognitive Psychology for 13 years with the Open University. I’m very committed to science but I’m also aware of the human tendency for cherry-picking and over-simplifying. I shudder when people say things like ‘science say this or that…’ Science doesn’t say anything, people interpret research findings and come to conclusions often based on their worldview. Science always involves questioning. We are discovering new things all the time. Psychology that’s grounded in scientific research is valuable, but it is only half of the story. It is the basis of what is called evidence-based practice.

On the other hand, those who work at the coal face with real human beings and communities have also acquired a huge amount of knowledge about human nature. Therapists, social workers, clinical psychologists etc, also do rigorous research. What they discover is called practice-based evidence.

Another name for evidence-based practice is top-down research. Practice-based research is often referred to as bottom-up research.

Mental Health Versus Spiritual Emergency?

It’s only been in the past two years that I first come across the concept of spiritual emergency. During the pandemic I found this concept coming up more and more in conversations about mental health crises. It is an alternative way of thinking about mental health that seems really helpful to many people in terms of their recovery and and coming to terms with their non-ordinary experiences. The Rebel Wisdom platform have several videos on spiritual emergency and working with trauma.



Cognition and Mind/ Body/ Spirit

Cognitive Psychology is the scientific study of the mind (how the mind works). It was a new branch of psychology in the 1950s influenced by the arrival of the computer. Imagine if the mind was an information processing machine like a computer, with ways of inputting information plus memory systems and storage, and also producing outputs.

Computes produce processed information, calculations, illustration, suggestions, images, ideas, printed pages, digital files and so on…

The human mind takes in information through the senses, it has memories and knowledge and has outputs in the form of emotions, thoughts, perceptions, behaviours, actions and so on…

This concept of the mind as doing information-processing seemed  to make sense. In Western culture, ‘feelings’ and ’emotions’ tended to be associated with the body, while ‘reason’ and ‘thinking’ were associated with the mind. Hence, we already had a mind-body split culturally.

An Evolving Understanding of Cognition

Up until the late 19th Century, it was up to religion to be concerned about matters of mind and behaviour. In the 20th Century, Psychology became the scientific study of mind and behaviour. Cognitive Psychology was specifically about how the Mind works. Now in the 21st Century we live in an increasingly secularised society. The world has changed rapidly over the past few hundred years. Many discoveries are being overtaken quickly as new knowledge becomes available. Now we’ve reached a point where there are scientists who are changing their minds about how we understand ‘cognition’. It appears there’s more to cognition that what goes on inside our heads.

Mental Health and the Therapy professions

On the other hand, in recent decades, those working in mental health and the therapy professions have noticed a trend as people seem increasingly disconnected in terms of mind, body and spirit. Buddhist spiritual practices like meditation and  mindfulness, plus other mind-states such as Flow, are now routinely integrated into services for those with mental health and psychological challenges.

Personal development became popular in the 1960s and later positive psychology brought a focus on practices for wellbeing and flourishing that seem very religious in nature. All the advice about a healthy lifestyle is now being supplemented with ideas like practicing gratitude (count your blessings), compassion (have a thought for the suffering of others) and so on…

Overall, it appears that in a secular society many of our cultural values associated with religion, and also practices associated with spirituality, are important for wellbeing and flourishing.

Many therapists are calling for a more holistic understanding of the human experience and an end to the splitting of mind, body and spirit. At the same time we see that the idea of distributed cognition as embodied and embedded within socio-cultural environments is become popular in science. The question arises as to whether the two sides of psychology are converging on a more integrated understanding of our human nature.

Recommended viewing: Awakening from the Meaning Crisis on Youtube, by John Vervaeke. There are 50 videos in this series all quite complication. You might start with Episodes 2 & 10, or pick out the titles that you find interesting. Vervaeke is both a Cognitive Psychologist and Cognitive Scientist. Many regard his work as cutting-edge. If you like an engaging and difficult challenge, you will find these videos very interesting.

Course Psychology in a Post Pandemic World

This evening we have the fourth class in this series. The main topic is problem solving. I have posted the plan for the class and will post some notes later. So check in before the class. I will of course go over everything. I’ll also send an email to the Life Long learning Centre with some notes on Shadow Work from last week’s practice session. Looking forward to tonight.

Creating Meaning in your Life

This exercise is inspired by a story in a book by Jonathan Haidt, an American Behavioural scientist. The Book is called The Happiness Hypothesis. This is a good book for those who like a good read with lots of research evidence.


  1. Think about an interest that means a lot to you?
  2. Now answer the following questions:
  3. what is the story about how you became involved?
  4. how did the story unfold?
  5. Write something about the history of your interest?
  6. Do you have any friendships arising from your interest?
  7. How has it affected your confidence?
  8. Vital engagement is about your relationship to the world that involves both flow and meaning.
  9. Have you achieved vital engagement in the activities that surround your interest?
  10. Has your interest connected you to a like-minded community?
  11. Has your interest become a source of flow, joy, identity, effectance and relatedness?

My attempt at answering these questions, Martina

Think about an interest that means a lot to you?

I took up creative writing as a hobby about ten years ago. My youngest son was 17 and I wanted to find some new hobbies that I thought I might enjoy. At the same time I took up hill-walking, which changed my life in interesting ways but that’s another story. Creative writing has continued to play an important although evolving role in my life.

what is the story about how you became involved?

I started with a Google search for creative writing in Dublin and found that there was an open and free writing workshop at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Parnell Square. This was a lunchtime, one hour workshop. I decided to go along and found it to be really enjoyable. I wanted to continue going to the workshop and although I found myself unmotivated to do any creative writing at home, I found I could write short poems to the prompts from week to week. So, you could say that I got into creative writing in order to participate in the workshop from week to week.

how did the story unfold?

At the Irish Writers Centre, I met John Kierans, a very interesting writer and translator. I mentioned doing a ‘word’ project for an art installation in the Polish House in collaboration with an artist. In the course of the conversation, I shared one of the ‘poems’ with him. It used wording from historical documents organised thematically. He told me about conceptual poetry and about a conceptual poet who was performing at the Irish Writers’ Centre on a Friday evening and then was giving a full day workshop on the Saturday. I was fascinated and later at home I googled ‘conceptual poetry’. I signed up for both events and that drew me deeper into creative writing by linking it to my interest in the arts. I continued to go to the workshops every Saturday and to the Friday night event in the Centre which was on once a moth.

Write something about the history of your interest?

Shortly after joining the Saturday workshop I was invited to join a writers’ group who met in the Irish Writers Centre on Tuesday evenings. After a short time I became involved with the group. The membership overlapped with the Saturday workshop, the core group was the same. After the workshop on the Saturday we would go for something to eat and often a few of us would go for a drink afterwards. Friendships were formed and soon the group were organising evening dinners in restaurants around Dublin. At one of the dinners, someone mentioned that they were going the Berlin for a holiday. Several others had been thinking about Berlin and next thing we knew five of us were booking a writers’ holiday for a week in Berlin. We had a fantastic time and on the Tuesday night we Skyped in to the Irish Writers Centre and joined our writers’ group for the evening. We also had a fantastic week in Claddagh and I joined a few people two years ago for a weekend in Listowel. Slowly we all moved on, although some are still there running workshops as volunteers at the Centre since funding has been greatly reduced and the culture of the Centre has changed. A couple of years after joining this group I heard of another group through the network, the Dublin Writers Forum who meet on a Thursday night in the Workman’s Club on Wellington Quay. I absolutely love this group and have learned so much about writing from them. It’s a free event, organised and run by volunteers who are well established published poets. Through the network I was also introduced to an open mic called the Sunflower Sessions that on every third Wednesday of the Month. This is very popular, also free and organised and run by volunteers. After a while I began to go to some of the popular annual literary festivals at Bantry and Listowel and the poetry festival in Bailieborough.

Do you have any friendships arising from your interest?

I tend not to have close personal friends beyond my family, unlike when I was young, but I now have lots of friendly acquaintances among the writers community in Dublin and throughout Ireland. I have become involved with the annual Dublin Writers Conferences and the Kilmore Quay Write by the Sea festival in Wexford. So I have lots of social events where I know people, and where I always feel welcomed.  As a writer, I tend to be a bit of an introvert and like to spend time alone and to travel alone but I always have company wherever I go so that spending time on my own is a choice.

How has it affected your confidence?

I haven’t restricted myself to creative writing events. The warm friendly and welcoming reception I experienced among writers has allowed me to open up and find new interests and connections throughout Ireland and beyond, opening up more and more possibilities and connections. From a humble start of attending a one hour free workshop once a week at lunchtime on Saturdays, I have discovered a world of possibilities, made a few friends and have become involved in creative projects that take me beyond Dublin on a regular basis. I had the advantage of travelling with my work for many years, throughout Ireland and the UK. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel and spend a lot of time in Europe with my family. With the experience and knowledge I’ve gained it has become easy for me to travel and get involved wherever I go. This suits my personality very well. It’s hard to imagine now how quite I once was and restricted was my knowledge of the world and the possibilities. Nonetheless, I find myself quite attached to home where I have my favourite armchair and laptop and like nothing more than to spend time at home writing, knowing that this is a choice.

Vital engagement is about your relationship to the world that involves both flow and meaning.

Have you achieved vital engagement in the activities that surround your interest?

Yes, I have been drawn more and more to the interests I enjoy either on my own like writing and gardening.

Has your interest connected you to a like-minded community?

Yes, I have found several communities where I have a sense of belonging but I’ve also found a community of like-minded people where I have a closer connection because they share my worldview and values.

Has your interest become a source of flow, joy, identity, effectance and relatedness?


Welcome to Psychology in the age of Zoom 2020

I’m happy to announced that my Psychology classes and workshops have moved to Zoom and will be available throughout the world. Here’s the link to my current course. A lot has been changing worldwide and also in my own personal life. This has transformed how I see psychology and the world. I believe we’re all having similar experiences as we adapt to the challenges and sometimes beautiful surprises. I’ve spent so much time alone in nature this year. I’ve also been doing creative writing and I’m starting up a creative writing healing circle. You can email me at martina.carroll@ucd if you would like to know more. Watch this space for more information. For now you might like to check out my psychology course AE-PN214 – Positive Psychology for Everyday Life The course starts with and Introduction on October 6th but if you miss the first session and decide to join us on the 13th Oct, I can arrange a Zoom call to catch you up on the Introductory session.

Wild Flowers from Tymon Park, Dublin

The Power of legitimate Authority

Check online for further information and details about the three scenarios below used as examples where obedience to legitimate authority appears to play an important role. There is also a link below to Zimbardo’s video about the nature of evil and the case of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Real-Life Scenarios, examples used

The power of legitimate close at hand authority is dramatically apparent in stories of those who complied with orders to carry out the atrocities of the Holocaust, and those who didn’t. In the summer of 1942, nearly 500 middle-aged German reserve police officers were dispatched to Jozefow, Poland, in German-occupied territory. On July 13, the group’s visibly upset commander informed his recruits, mostly family men, that they had been ordered to round up the villagers Jews, who were said to be aiding the enemy. Able blooded men were to be sent to work camps and all the rest were to be shot on the spot. Given a chance to refuse participation in the execution, only about a dozen immediately refused. Within 17 hours, the remaining 485 officers killed 1500 helpless women, children and elderly by shooting them in the back of the head as they lay face down. Faced with the pleadings of the victims, and seeing the gruesome results some 20% of the officers did eventually dissent, managing either to miss their victims or to wander away and hide until the slaughter was over (Browning, 1992). But in real life, as in Milgram’s experiment, the disobedient were the minority.

Meanwhile, in the French village of Le Chambon, French Jews destined for deportation to Germany were being sheltered by villagers who openly defied orders to cooperate with the “New Order”. The villagers’ ancestors had themselves been persecuted and their pastors had been teaching them to “resist whenever our adversaries will demand of us obedience contrary to the orders of the Gospel (Rochat, 1993). Ordered by police to give a list of sheltered Jews, the head pastor modelled defiance: “I don’t know of Jew, I only know of human beings.” Without realising how long and terrible the war would be, or how much punishment and poverty they would suffer, the resisters made an initial commitment to resist. Supported by their beliefs, their role models, their interaction with one another, and their own initial acts, they remained defiant to the war’s end.

(Source: Charles G. Lord, Social Psychology, (textbook))

During the war in Iraq that began in March 2003, personnel of the United States Army and the Central Intelligence Agency committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These violations included physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape,, and murder. The abuses came to public attention with the publication of photographs of the abuse by CBS News in April 2004. The incidents received widespread condemnation both within the United States and abroad. (Source: Wikipedia)


Social Influence, Notes for Workshop

Social Psychologists have been actively studying how the presence of others influences thinking and behaving. Up until now, the focus of this course has been on personal development, including individual suffering and the psychologists who attempted to understand what people need to live happier more fulfilled lives.

An extraordinary thing about most individuals is how resilient they are, it’s amazing how many get up in the morning, despite their personal unhappiness, their suffering and sometimes health issues. They go to work, school or college and put on a brave face, often pushing forward through stress and pain, finding ways to manage quietly often without sharing their experiences with those around them. Do you think that’s inevitable, that life has its ups and downs and generally speaking, it’s okay to put on a brave face? Is this a widely held expectation?

This workshop is about exploring these ideas in small groups and more generally, discussing the psychology of social behaviour. Each group has a different research study or scenario to discuss among themselves. Then the discussion will be opened up to everyone. A few questions are included to help with your discussion. To read more about the psychology studies go to www.simplypsychology.org. Here’s a quote from this website.

“The term conformity is often used to indicate an agreement to the majority position, brought about either by a desire to ‘fit in’ or be liked (normative behaviour) or because of a desire to be correct (believing in the information), or simply to conform to a social role (identification).”

About Psychology and the psychological professions

Psychology is very much about the individual (in context), although Social psychologists also study group behaviour. Psychology is about thoughts and mental processes, feelings and emotions, and actions and behaviours, but more generally, it’s is about the human mind and behaviour.

Regulations in most Western countries require those who identify professionally as Psychologists to have a recognised primary degree or diploma in Psychology. There are several other psychological professions for which a psychology degree is not a requirement such as Psychiatry (medical doctors who specialise in Mental Health and Mental Illness), Psychoanalysis (following a Freudian tradition), Psychotherapy (including Counsellors, some of whom are also Psychologists), Social Work, Psychiatric Nursing and so on. In other words, those who work in diverse psychological professions are typically practitioners and clinicians from an array of different professions. Psychologists work either in teaching and research or applied fields requiring graduate-level professional training such as Clinical, Educational, Forensic, Sports, and Business/ Organisational psychology, to mention just a few.

Psychology is a vast field with different perspectives and cultures, however, all are grounded in a scientific tradition of research into the human mind and behaviour, and, as with all scientific fields, it is often surrounded by controversy and debate. On a personal level, psychologists belong to different worldviews and political views, similar to others in scientifically informed fields such as medicine. Like medicine, there is a strong ethical code that requires a commitment to verifiable interventions and practice, generally regulated by professional associations such as the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI), the British Psychological Association (BPS) and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Introduction to Psychology (Topic Guide)

Session 1
Introduction to the Course

Sessions 2-4
Early influences on contemporary Psychology
The Psychology of Sigmund Freud
The Behavioural Sciences
Early studies of the Mind e.g. visual perceptions

Sessions 5-7
Counselling and Psychotherapy
Humanistic Psychotherapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Mindfulness-based therapies

Sessions 8-10
Mental Health, Positive Psychology and Well-being
The Crisis of Meaning in everyday life
Cognitive Science and the nature of the Human Mind
Neuroscience and physical health and wellbeing

Why Jordan Peterson?

This is the handout for the first of the Free Talks about Psychology and Youtube in the Thirdspace Cafe on Culture Night 2019  20th Sept. Future free talks are on Oct 11th, Nov 15th and Dec 13th.

My reason for beginning with Jordan Peterson is that the controversy that surrounds him, which is hugely amplified by the internet, has triggered an array of different conversations across the globe. I see two types of conversation, on the one hand there are the polarising conversations which is the stuff of contemporary politics but also the nuanced (in-between) conversations that are stimulated by the controversy and relate to very real psychological issues that affect people in the world today. The Peterson controversy surrounds the issue of gender, highlighting this enduring matter for culture and society. Control of gender goes hand in hand with political and economic control. Fragmentation is a well worn strategy of dominance, better known as divide and conquer. The aim of this talks-series is to join those who have chosen not to become caught up in the polarising conversations.

As a psychologist, I invite you to join me in a sense-making project where we can begin to open up a space for dialogue and conversation as sovereign individuals with personal lives and diverse points of view that converge on some issues and diverge on others. Psychology is a science, those who are professional psychologists are subject to a code of ethics and behaviour. Psychologists deal with many hard issues of human existence, the suffering and mental health issues that affect so many, the processes and practices through which we can thrive and flourish, and the kinds of human ecosystems in which we can develop our full human potential. Psychology, as a Science, aims to inform political debate. For this reason, Peterson is a good starting point as he attempts to inform the debate although sometimes adding fuel to the fires of our times.

This talk aims to assess the benefits of Peterson’s book ’12 Rules for Life: An antidote to Chaos’, to find what is of value in this book which has become so popular through the internet, and to move the conversation forward and discover the wealth of knowledge that exists in the diverse psychological movements that are quietly shaping the wellbeing of sovereign individuals in our increasingly complex world.

Psychology Taster Lecture 23rd Aug 2019

Handout, National Heritage Week, Psychology Lecture, UCD Belfield

(Please note that there is a link to UCD website at the end of this handout for more information about my upcoming course so feel free to scroll down and click).

Welcome to our Psychology Lecture for National Heritage Week. My name is Martina Carroll and I will be teaching two evening courses here in UCD. In October, there will be the ‘Introduction to Psychology’ course. I’ll talk mainly about that today. I’ll also refer to the ‘Positive Psychology and Creative Writing’ which is my Spring course in 2020. First, just a bit about the format of the ‘Introduction on Psychology’ course. I’ll begin each week with a lecture on a different topic, and after a short break, there will be a more informal session that will include questions and discussion, plus some further input from me linking the topic to everyday psychological matters.

The Introduction to Psychology course is for those who are interested in the kind of Psychology that’s taught in the UCD School of Psychology. It covers a lot of different topics from week to week. I make no claims to truth or fact, Psychology is a vast field with a diversity of traditions and practices. The Lifelong Learning Centre has offered this course for over 20 years. Things have changed a lot in that time and while the headings remain the same the content has evolved. For example, the significance of Freudian theory, which has always been controversial, is still relevant because of its influence on the psychological professions and on Western culture.

Psychology and the Psychological Professions

Here in UCD ‘Psychology’ is defined as the scientific study of the mind and human behaviour. Not all of the psychological professions in Ireland are governed by this definition. In addition to Psychologists, there are Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists, and Psychoanalysts, to mention the main ones. The core differences are in their Training and Professional development, although there are overlaps, for example, Psychotherapists often have Psychology degrees, though most have their core training in nursing, (sometimes Psychiatric Nursing), Social Work or related professions. Psychiatrists have their core training in medicine. Psychoanalysis is the name of the Freudian School of Psychology with its own professional training and professional associations. UCD has Schools with professional training in all these fields. Psychologists in Ireland are required to have a degree in Psychology and be members of the Psychological Society of Ireland. A diploma or degree in Psychology is required for professional training in all the different professions within Psychology such as Clinical Psychology or Educational Psychology

About myself

My training was in the School of Psychology here in UCD and I’m a member of the Psychological Society of Ireland. My field covers ‘Human Development across the lifespan’, the ecology of human development, and the ‘person in context’. I’ve specialised in theories of Creativity, Spirituality and Community, which are regarded as the core strengths for human development. I adhere to a strengths-based approach in human development, bringing together Creative Writing and Positive Psychology. Personally, I love literary and arts festivals. Between the creative events and the sporting events, Ireland has a rich culture. My work is now mainly in teaching psychology and supervising research, but I’ve also been involved as a psychologist in the arts in relation to community and also with homeless women.

What the Introduction to Psychology course is about:

Psychology as a science has its origins in the post-Darwin era of the late nineteenth century, generally based on a biological view of the mind. There were several different starting points. Sigmund Freud’s psychology was foundational for the way we think about mental health today. Social Psychologists and the Behaviourists focused on behaviour that was objectively observable or at least measurable. Neuropsychology focused on how brain injuries and strokes affected behaviour. The technological age after the second world war brought Cognitive Psychology, a new science about how the mind works. This was controversial at the time, however, it’s ideas and discoveries have proven to be essential in brain-imaging, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science.

List of Topics

  1. Introduction to the course
  2. Freudian Psychology
  3. Behavioural Sciences
  4. Cognitive Psychology
  5. The Humanistic School of Psychotherapy
  6. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  7. Mindfulness-Based Therapies
  8. Mental Health and Well-being
  9. Cognitive Science and the Nature of the Human Mind
  10. Neuroscience and Physical health and well-being

Freudian Psychology

Sigmund Freud’s theory, about how the mind works, was the first scientific-like theory of the human mind. His ideas about unconscious motivations and desires and how they drive behaviour has inspired generations of thinkers across all areas of Western culture. His was the foundational psychological therapy, his work influenced every mode of therapy that came later. His school of psychology continues to this day, although in the mainstream it has been overtaken by the scientific school which incorporates a lot of different sub-disciplines.

Behavioural Sciences

Broadly speaking, Behavioural Science today integrates the study of both individual and group psychology, it focuses on objectively measurable behaviours providing a wealth of insights into human activities and responses. In my lecture, I’ll focus on 1) how unconscious behaviour is conditioned and often manipulated, even in adult life, 2) biases in social thinking that everyone should know about such as confirmation bias, and 3) group psychology which is fascinating.

Cognitive Psychology

In this session, I’ll introduce basics from Cognitive Psychology and also some of the topics that fall under this heading e.g. problem-solving. Cognitive psychology is about the science of how the mind works.

The Humanistic School of Psychotherapy/ Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/ Mindfulness-based Therapies (3 sessions)

The Humanistic School evolved out of psychoanalysis (Freudian psychology). Today it’s rarely practised in Ireland in its pure form as was originally developed, however, most modalities of psychotherapy incorporate some of its principles. This School leads us into topics such as ‘needs and motivations’, transpersonal psychology and spirituality, Jungian psychology and much more. It was the foundation of the culture of personal development and a forerunner to Positive Psychology.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has also hugely influenced the kinds of therapy and personal development that are relevant today. It was influenced by the rationalist movement, Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, the early Behaviourist psychology and the philosophy of Stoicism. Some contemporary therapies integrate aspects of CBT, it plays an important role in coaching, including business and life coaching.

Mindfulness-based therapies are influenced by a Westernised version of Eastern spiritual and mindfulness practices. The Cognitive Scientist, John Vervaeke, who is interested in spirituality in the context of Cognitive Science, claims that we are going through a ‘meaning crisis’. Such ideas are often part of a wider response to the crises facing humanity in the twenty-first century. Major cultural changes have been brought about by social media and in response, there are attempts to use social media to connect communities around the world in a search for meaning and wisdom. Vervaeke’s lectures can be found on Youtube along with lots of interesting resources relevant to Psychology today.

Mental Health and Wellbeing/  Cognitive Science and the nature of the Human Mind/ Neuroscience and physical health and well-being

Positive Psychology overlaps with these three topics. The medical model of mental health that Psychology grew out of follows the trend of promoting personal responsibility for one’s mental health, not only for those diagnosed with a psychiatric condition or those who seek help for psychological, emotional or behavioural problems. Nowadays, personal development is more about evolving one’s lifestyle in ways that support health and psychological wellbeing.

After 150 years of Western Psychology, we have come full circle although with a lot more knowledge and with some answers to fundamental questions that challenge assumptions. The advances in Cognitive Science are hugely challenging, particularly for the Western tradition that gave birth to it. Cognition is about how the mind works. Cognitive Science overlaps with Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience. Questions arise relating to our ideas about human nature, especially in terms of finding solutions to human problems. The issues that face humanity in the twenty-first century is unprecedented. Despite the many theories and assumptions about the nature of consciousness and the widespread use of the word, it appears that we don’t really know what consciousness is, for example, are we conscious when we’re dreaming? How does hypnosis work? What is blindsight? What about mystical experiences? How do we make sense of our experiences? Why is that people sometimes say that life has no meaning when research suggests that ‘meaning’ is essential for wellbeing?

In conclusion:

These and many more questions are likely to come up in the course in discussions following the weekly lecture. This handout very briefly touches on a lot of deep issues and complicated theories. However, my hope is that you will find the Introduction to Psychology course interesting and maybe consider the creative writing course in the Spring with its unique mix of psychology and writing exercises. I hope you’ve enjoyed this taster lecture today. To click on the big link below go to this handout online at www.martinacarroll.wordpress.com  which will bring you the course on the UCD website.

my email: martina.carroll@ucd.ie /Contact UCD: http://www.ucd.ie/all/contact/

Introduction to Psychology Course details: https://sisweb.ucd.ie/usis/W_HU_REPORTING.P_LAUNCH_REPORT?p_report=BP121&p_parameters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

‘Taster’ Psychology Lecture UCD

Tomorrow you will have an opportunity to hear me speak about Psychology and about my courses on campus at University College Dublin (UCD), Belfield, Dublin.

UCD is offering a series of ‘taster’ lectures so if you are interested, my psychology taster is at 12 – 01 pm. Location is the Access and Lifelong Learning Centre in the Library Building, entrance to the right of the entrance to the library and the stairs.

Contact details for the Centre: http://www.ucd.ie/all/contact/



Your Younger Self

This week’s exercise in my writing class is to write a letter to your younger self. Someone mentioned that I said very little about music when talking about creativity. Serious omission! I come from a very creative family with plenty of musicians. My father played the violin both classical and trad (fiddle) my mother played piano and always sang in a choir. Two of my three children all adults now are also into music performance. Here’s a song, written and performed by my son Al Doyle that’s relevant to this week’s exercise. It’s called Brother and is written as a mature man to his younger self. The lyrics are both dramatic and metaphorical. Here’s a link:


Sometimes life gets busy

I would love to spend a lot more time blogging but life can sometimes get in the way. Last weekend was my first at home for a month. In fact, sometimes during the summer, I’ve only been three days in Dublin with weekends often stretching from Thursday to Tuesday. For me, it’s been a fantastic year, spending time travelling throughout Ireland. Apart from a short trip to Warsaw in January, I haven’t left the island. Ireland is full to the brim with creative activities and people.

Something I would love is to develop the discipline to sit down, blog, and upload photos as I go. I plan to work on doing just that as I move forward. I take lots of photos but want to organise myself to sit down, connect to the internet, write my thoughts and share beautiful images. I also want to share my ideas about psychological issues and what I’ve found to make life extremely positive.

This evening is the second session in UCD. Last week we began with a writing exercise and this evening I hope we can pick up on writing straight away. When it came to talking about Psychology, I began with definitions. In the Universities and the Psychological Society of Ireland, Psychology is defined as the scientific study of the human mind and human behaviour. In my talk, I tried to pin down what’s considered central to science. It’s about finding out ‘how things work’. Science goes hand in hand with technology but in the world of psychology, it’s more about testing claims about reality with an emphasis on wellbeing and ethics. However, Psychology is not just about how mind and behaviour work, it’s also about what works for people. In other words, at its best Psychology is about what’s best for human flourishing, and individuals in the context of their everyday lives. Psychology has changed since it began in the late 19th Century with its emphasis on mental illness, but it’s still about the thoughts, feelings, actions, behaviours, and perceptions of individuals in the context of their lives.

Therapy is not at the centre of Psychology, with the majority of psychologists working in other fields such as education, research, teaching, business, sports etc. Counselling and Clinical Psychology are mainly concerned with mental health although their scope is much wider. Other mental health professions are Psychiatry (medical doctors who specialise in mental illness), Psychotherapy and Social Work.

This week I’ll focus more on Positive Psychology beginning with the theory of Martin Seligman, PERMA. This is an interesting framework and quite useful to know about. I also plan to focus on the ‘Creative Writing’. I look forward to seeing everyone in UCD this evening. I will post the Notes on a tab rather than as a blog post.