New book publishedNovember 2017
Both science and literary writing are integral to this book. Each chapter begins with a detailed description of a time, place and behaviour to situate the psychology, and ultimately to test it. To understand the conflicted habit of smoking and how it was promoted so successfully by the tobacco companies using psychoanalytic ideas, I describe working-class Belfast in the sixties and what smoking meant in my street, and how it was defended. To appraise Festinger’s work on cognitive dissonance, I write about the boxing gyms of Sheffield where many ‘counter-attitudinal’ statements were said without any apparent effects on underlying attitudes. To explore conflicted memories, I sit down with the artist Tracey Emin who describes her early memories and her attempts at resolving them, and how these processes have influenced her art.
This book explores that wide and deep gulf between our experienced lives and our psychological models.