Category Archives: Psychology

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 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  which will bring you the course on the UCD website.

my email: /Contact UCD:

Introduction to Psychology Course details:

‘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: