Category Archives: Psychology

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:



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: