Door into the Dark – New Novel




Molly is just an ordinary woman living in Manchester, England with her Muslim husband Taj. She wakes up one morning to find him gone. The horrible truth dawns on her he has left for Syria to join the Islamic State. What is she to do? Should she follow him to try to bring him back?

This is a novel about eternal themes: love, loss and love discovered once again against the brutal backdrop of war. It is also a quiet contemplation on a woman’s growing Islamic faith. Not the usual romance.


Hidden Homelessness – Open University Project

Campaign Brief




Key Points:

Many of the British public see homeless people as rough sleepers and have negative attitudes towards them. There is a lack of reliable information about the numbers of hidden homeless but the statistics are unacceptably high. Most homeless people are not out on the street.


The stereotype of homelessness for the public is the image of someone sleeping out on the street, often with drug and alcohol problems. Rough sleepers are only a small minority of people experiencing homelessness. The majority are hidden homeless who are much less visible. These people may be staying in various forms of temporary accommodation. The government collects statistics on those who have officially presented as homeless. Many people do not show up in these official figures. The full extent of hidden homelessness must be revealed so it can be eradicated (Simon Community NI, 2016).


A definition is necessary before a category can be researched and discussed. One possible definition is provided by FEANTSA (2006, cited in McCulloch, 2017). Homelessness can include:

  1. Roofless: sleeping rough or staying in night shelters.
  2. Houseless: homelessness accommodation, accommodation for immigrants, women’s shelters, due to be released from prison, hospitals or children’s homes or those in accommodation for formerly homeless people.
  3. Insecurely housed: illegal accommodation, staying with friends or family, under threat of eviction or violence.
  4. Inadequately housed: extreme overcrowding, unfit housing or living in temporary structures.


Furthermore, there is no agreed definition of hidden homelessness but for the purposes of this campaign it is taken to mean people who are not roofless but houseless, insecurely housed or inadequately housed.


The aim of this campaign is to dispel the myth that those experiencing homelessness sleep rough. The public will come to a greater understanding that homeless people can be just about anyone; they have unique profiles. They will realise that large numbers of homeless people are hidden and that the numbers of hidden homeless are high. The campaign will consist of a poster that will be displayed on billboards for six months. Results of the campaign can be measured by performing attitudes surveys before and after the campaign. The key message is that most homeless people are hidden. The role of the poster is to change attitudes. The public will have a greater awareness of the extent of hidden homelessness and will be more sympathetic towards homeless people.


Research Evidence


Key Points:

Research evidence suggests:

  • The term homeless is open to interpretation
  • Many of the British public see the category of homelessness as meaning those who are rough sleeping
  • Many of the British public have negative attitudes towards those experiencing homelessness
  • Research is contradictory in estimating the numbers of hidden homeless


Firstly, there is the general issue of the categorisation of the term homelessness itself, which makes the category difficult to research, measure and discuss. The grouping is dynamic; it can be interpreted and applied in different ways. Powerful groups such as the government and charities construct and apply the labels associated with homelessness, which can have the effect of privileging certain narratives and silencing others (McCulloch, 2017). Bowker and Star (2011) stated that categories are politically and ethically charged, situated in time and place. This makes the understanding of the categories around homelessness very complex and far removed from common sense understandings. Jacobs, Kemeny and Manzi (1999) drew attention to the socially constructed nature of homelessness. What they meant by this is that definitions of homelessness are not fixed but are open to change and debate. Homelessness is constructed through interactions. Different people give different meanings to homelessness. Those experiencing homelessness have little power to influence the narrative and the hidden homeless are silenced by their absence from the statistics.


Secondly, there is the problem of the public’s attitudes towards the homeless. They tend to see homelessness in a stereotypical way as referring to people who sleep rough. Evidence for this is provided by Cleghorn, Given and Ormston (2007) who found that 61% of the Scottish public agreed with the statement that most homeless people sleep rough outside at some point. This study also found 45% of Scots agreed with the statement that most homeless people could find somewhere to live if they really tried. This suggests fairly negative attitudes towards the homeless.


Data for this study came from an independent survey that aimed to provide quality data for the Scottish Government. The survey’s findings were based on interviews. Between 2006 and 2007, a random sample of 1,594 adults aged 18 plus resident in Scotland was interviewed. This survey involved a face-to-face interview with participants and a self-completion questionnaire. The large sample size and the rigour with which this survey was conducted suggested reliable and valid data. The views were likely to be representative of those of the Scottish public and probably the British public as a whole. However, this survey did suffer from some disadvantages. In interviews, people can be influenced by the presence of the researcher so researcher bias was a problem. Some people may not have completed the questionnaire truthfully. There was a lack of information about the context of these attitudes towards homeless people, which means the survey lacked explanatory power.

In contrast to these attitudes, actual evidence suggests only a small proportion of homeless people are on the street. Crisis (2018) reported there were 4,751 people sleeping rough on any given night in England in 2017. They stated that this statistic comes from government official street counts and estimates. In the same year, 59,090 households were accepted as homeless in England by local authorities (Crisis, 2018). This is known as the statutory homeless. A statutorily homeless household is defined as one that is unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category such as having dependent children. The local authority has a duty to house these people and they are often to be found in temporary accommodation (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2016). This figure does not include many of the hidden homeless who may be sofa surfing nor those refused help by the local authority.

160 000 households are estimated to be homeless in the UK in total (Crisis, 2018).

However, these statistics are open to dispute. Rough sleeper statistics are collected by street counts but these are difficult to carry out accurately due to many street homeless not being visible to the researchers on the night of the count. The estimates of total numbers from these street counts may not be accurate. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland collect their statistics in different ways so it becomes difficult to discuss figures for the UK as a whole. Government officials only collect statistics for the statutory homeless. It is virtually impossible for government to count the sofa surfers as they may never present to the local authorities. Even charities find it difficult to reach and measure these people.


Furthermore, different charities publish different statistics on their websites. It can be argued that charities may wish to inflate homelessness statistics as much as possible by applying the category widely in order to shock the public into supporting their campaigns. Government agencies may wish to minimise homelessness statistics to make themselves look like they are tackling the issue and to avoid spending more money on the problem. Homeless Link (2017) stated that there were 79,190 homeless people in temporary accommodation in 2017 in England. CentrePoint (2018) argued that 150,000 young people alone approached local councils across the UK for help with homelessness in 2017. CentrePoint (2018) used freedom of information requests from councils to gather their data.


It has been seen that the hidden homeless are difficult to include in statistics. In order to address this, Clarke (2016) carried out a survey to discover the extent of hidden homelessness among young people in the UK. 2,011 young people aged 16-25 took part in the survey, which was conducted online. 35% of young people stated they had sofa surfed at some point in their lives. Clarke estimated this meant that 215,957 young people are sofa surfing on any one night in the UK. This figure is much larger than those found in the other research that has been stated. She also found that most of these young people had no particular vulnerabilities. Significant numbers had been in care, some were non-British and some were disabled but these were not the majority. Sometimes, the experience of hidden homelessness was not negative as it could be linked to looking for employment or education opportunities or could be about repairing relationships with family. The large sample size and the rigorous methodology employed suggested these findings were reliable and valid. It seemed likely the figures represented young people in the UK as a whole. However, there were some disadvantages. This survey was a self-report so it was possible some people were not answering truthfully and the use of the Internet to carry out the survey meant not all people affected could be reached.


This evidence review supports a need to change the public’s common stereotyped attitude about homeless people being rough sleepers. It also suggests there are large numbers of hidden homeless, which the public are unaware of and that these people are varying in individual characteristics. The poster campaign will attempt to highlight these issues. This change in attitude will be beneficial in that it may encourage the public to influence the government to try to address the problem of hidden homelessness.


The Audience


Key Points:

The audience for this campaign is the general public of the UK. It is hoped that the audience will receive the campaign favourably and understand that there are large numbers of people experiencing hidden homelessness and that these people cannot be stereotyped.


Communication about this issue is challenging, as the general public are a wide-ranging group with differing existing opinions. It is hard to target a message precisely to such a varied group. A poster is by nature limited so there may not be enough information in it to change attitudes.


There is a risk that the information is not accurate as the statistic quoted on the poster comes from Crisis (2018) and it has already been seen that the statistics are open to question, due to the difficulty of collecting the data and then making accurate estimates. It is in the interests of the charity to over-estimate the problem.


It is possible that the poster will be ignored by the public, as they may not be sufficiently interested in the image. It may be that images of pretty young women are already too common in advertisements to gain attention. They may not be sufficiently moved to read the further information at the bottom. A more shocking image of a needy street homeless person would gain more attention but that would just reinforce the existing stereotype so could not be used in this case.


Key Points:

There is a clear need for the campaign as many of the public have stereotyped attitudes towards homeless people and are unaware of the extent of hidden homelessness.


The poster will attempt to change the stereotyped attitudes towards the homeless by pointing out that the numbers of hidden homeless are large and they are not all rough sleepers. It could happen to anyone.


The poster will present its message by having an image of a young healthy woman. She is far removed from the typical image of a rough sleeper with drug and alcohol problems. The slogan ‘Sally is homeless’ is simple and striking. It contrasts with the photograph and will make the audience stop and think. The figure of the number of hidden homeless gives more information and may shock the public. The red writing contrasts with the dark background so that the message stands out. The poster is deliberately simple so that it has the most impact.


Hopefully, the poster will contribute to some people changing their attitudes towards homelessness and being more aware of the issues. This greater awareness can contribute to the eradication of homelessness.




Bowker, G. and Star, S. (2011) ‘Invisible mediators of action: classification and the ubiquity of standards’, Mind, Culture, and Activity, vol. 7, nos. 1–2, pp. 147–163 (Online). Available at DOI: 10.1080/10749039.2000.9677652 (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018)


CentrePoint (2018) CentrePoint FAQS (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018).

Clarke, A. (2016) ‘Prevalence of Rough Sleeping and Sofa Surfing Amongst Young People in the UK’ in Social Inclusion vol. 4, no. 4, pp.60–72 (Online). Available at DOI: 10.17645/si.v4i4.597 (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018).

Cleghorn, N., Given, L., Ormston, R. (2007) Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2006: Public Attitudes to Homelessness, Edinburgh, The Scottish Government (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018).


Crisis (2018) Homelessness Knowledge Hub (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018).

Department for Communities and Local Government (2016) Statutory homelessness, January to March 2016, and homelessness prevention and relief 2015/16: England (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018).

Homeless Link (2017) Homeless Link The Facts (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018).

Jacobs, K., Kemeny, J. and Manzi, T. (1999) ‘The struggle to define homelessness: a constructivist approach’, In Huston, S. and Clapham, D. (eds.) Homelessness: Public Policies and Private Troubles, London, Cassell, pp. 11–28 (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018)

McCulloch, D. (2017) DD801: Week 3 Category Construction and the Homeless, Milton Keynes, The Open University (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018)

Simon Community Northern Ireland (2016) Simon Community NI Ending Homelessness (Online). Available at (Accessed on 27th Feb 2018)



On being a new Christian

I have been a Christian for about two months now. I got a real high at first when I was filled with the Holy Spirit on the Alpha Course but it hasn’t lasted. I have been studying the Bible, praying and going to Church. My moods have been up and down. In general, I really like having a structure to my life. I think I need a framework to hang things on and Christianity has certainly given me that.

I am fully aware of my many faults and failings and I am working on them daily. I have learned to speak in tongues which I am quite ambivalent about. I use it sometimes to pray and it comes out as song which is quite beautiful and joyful. I feel like I am worshipping God through it though I have no idea what I am saying. The nonsense language aspect of it is the bit that bothers me.

My main problem has been with the Church I have been attending. It is charismatic and evangelical and the service is quite American in style in my view. There is a lot of arm waving and crying out. The services are mostly the pastor speaking and the Bible is referred to briefly. Leaders from the congregation are invited to preach and sometimes there are visiting preachers. The songs are modern. There is a prayer team who lay hands on people at the end and pray for them. There is a great emphasis on emotion and I have  found myself crying many times.

In spite of the un-Britishness of it all I was just about coping and I did feel God was at work in the Church. The thing that bothers me the most is the words of knowledge. These are supposed snippets of information from God, often though not always about the future. A section of the service is handed over for this. People go to the front and announce their words of knowledge. Last week it was all quite innocuous about bad backs and changing jobs and so on. It may be harmless but it worries me that these messages are said to come from God. How does anyone actually know?

This week was the final straw for me. There were three baptisms of teenagers. After they were dunked in the tub their faces were really joyful so that was a lovely thing to see. They were given ‘words of knowledge’ saying things like they were flowers just about to open. All inspirational and fine and dandy.

We went back to the main hall and two of the congregation were preaching. All they were really doing were giving words of knowledge. Somebody was told they had leadership qualities and I can’t remember the others. Then the female turned to me. I was picked out as the lady with the tartan scarf. Then I was harangued for five full minutes. I was accused of not giving my burdens to Jesus. I was informed in a raised voice that Jesus is not in his grave but is alive today so why don’t I accept him? I had already accepted Jesus a month previously so I had no idea what this tirade was about or why it was being addressed to me. Her face was full of malevolence. I could feel the tears pouring down my face. Everyone else gets beautiful flowers opening and I get this. I must be a black hearted sinner indeed.

I was in shock afterwards and for the rest of the day. I won’t be going back to that Church. As far as I can see this is bullying. It could happen again or to anyone at any time. As a fragile new Christian I really don’t need this approach. Even my novice reading of the Bible has taught me that words of knowledge are controversial and should be tested. Parts of the Bible warn against them. Parts seem to condone them. Such is the Bible.

I have contacted another Church, a local abbey. I will be going there next Sunday. It will be full High Church Mass and all the trimmings. I’m hoping nobody will see the need to shame me from the pulpit.

I am sad as I shall miss some of the lovely people I have met but I have learned to protect myself by now.

Goodbye to all that.

The decline of homophobic attitudes in Britain and the rise of homophobic attacks; a critique of research methods

The decline of homophobic attitudes in Britain and the rise of homophobic attacks; a critique of research methods

Lynn Matheson

 The Open University 


 Executive Summary




This report evaluates two research methods used in psychology in the context of homophobic attitudes. The methods chosen are surveys and case studies. The research design is a literature review. The link between homophobic attitudes and attacks on LGBT+ people is explored. The report finds that the survey method is flawed due to its reductive approach. The case study method is found to be of limited use as it is not always generalizable. The link between homophobic attitudes and anti-gay attacks is weak. Social factors have more importance. There is a need for more mixed methods research with a focus on perpetrators and social contexts. There is also a need for research into other groups in the LGBT+ community other than gay men. 


  1. Introduction


This report is the result of work commissioned by the British Government into the usefulness of research methods on the subject of homophobic attitudes. This work also seeks to explore the apparent contradiction between increasingly liberal attitudes towards LGBT+ people and an increase in the number of attacks perpetrated on them in recent years.


Research methods are evaluated within a pragmatic approach, which means a concern with how useful these methods are in solving practical problems.


The main focus is a critique of two frequently used methods in psychology. The methods chosen are:

  1. surveys
  2. case studies.


The argument taken here is that the evidence produced from these methods is found to be weak with both methods giving only a partial picture. The relationship between this evidence of homophobic attitudes and homophobic attacks is then explored and it is found that there is no significant link. Homophobic attacks are caused by many factors with social context considered more important than attitude. There is a need for a mixed methods approach focused on action.


Let’s examine some background from which this work arises. According to the latest British Social Attitudes Survey 64% of people now say there is ‘nothing wrong at all’ with same sex relationships (Harding, 2017). Attitudes have become more liberal year on year.


In spite of these increasingly liberal attitudes, an increase in verbal and physical attacks on LGBT+ people has been reported. The proportion of LGBT+ people who have experienced a homophobic incident in the last year because of their sexual orientation has increased from nine per cent in 2013 to 16 per cent in 2017 (Bachmann and Gooch, 2017).



What is a homophobic attitude?


One meaning of homophobia is heterosexuals’ fear of being close to homosexuals as well as homosexuals’ self-loathing (Weinberg, 1972, cited in Koc, 2017). This definition does seem problematic. There are surely degrees of homophobia with varying intensity. Some psychologists reject this term and prefer ‘anti-gay’ (Koc, 2017).


The term attitude is even more troublesome. According to some psychologists, ‘attitude’ refers to a person’s evaluation of any aspect of the social world around them (Bernard et al., 2003). Attitudes are open to change as we have seen from the British Attitudes Survey (Harding, 2017). In addition, attitudes are not always consistent with behaviour (LaPiere, 1934). They tend to be context dependent (Potter and Wetherell, 1987). Again, this concept is simplifying a complex web of thoughts, feelings and behaviours.


Research Design


The evidence in this report is based on a review of international literature on the subject of homophobic attitudes and then on homophobic attacks. Online searches of academic research studies were conducted using The Open University Library and Google.



  1. Critique of the Survey Method


The survey often takes the form of a written questionnaire. It is a method for collecting information as self-reported by individuals.


An example is Parker and Bhugra’s (2000) paper “Attitudes of British Medical Students towards male homosexuality”. This study assessed medical students attitudes to gay men. A 20-item questionnaire was completed by 428 students, 50% of whom were male. It was found that 10-15% held very negative views. The authors hold that this finding is worrying as a gay male patient has a high chance of seeing a homophobic doctor.


Let’s have a closer look at the method. The participants were medical students in London who were invited to fill out a one sided questionnaire after lectures. They completed the task there and then and left them on the bench. Their responses were anonymous. The questions consisted of 20 statements concerning male homosexuality, bisexuality and HIV/AIDS. Beside each statement the participants were asked to indicate their opinion by placing a tick in one of the boxes denoting: strongly agree, generally agree, unsure, generally disagree and strongly disagree. The statements phrasing, positive or negative with regard to attitude, was balanced across the statements. The evidence is translated into numeric form.


Firstly, the advantages will be examined. One advantage of the survey is high representativeness. This means the participants have the same characteristics as the whole population of people being studied. The Parker and Bhugra (2000) study has a large sample size, which suggests it is representative of all medical students in the UK. 428 students took the test. This implies strong evidence.


A second advantage is the attempt at objectivity. Researcher bias is minimised. In the Parker and Bhugra (2000) study the students are answering standardised carefully phrased written questions on their own. They are not influenced by the presence of the researcher or the responses of others. This makes the evidence appear trustworthy.


Now, the disadvantages will be examined. The first issue is that the survey method is reductionist. It is over simplifying very complex phenomena. In this example, Parker and Bhugra (2000) are using a questionnaire, which reduces the many facets of homophobic attitudes down to a series of statements. They are not capturing the nuance, the variability and the context of the individual participants’ attitude. For example, 15% of the students agreed with the statement: ‘Male homosexuals should not be employed in schools’. The researchers take this as evidence of extreme homophobia. But is it? All we can really know is that on a particular date at a particular time a participant put a tick in a box. We don’t know why he ticked this box. He may have limited direct experience of gay men. He may not hold anti-gay views about other aspects of LGBT+ life. The whole context of human interaction is missing. Maybe his attitude is not stable over time but varies according to the situation and the conversation he is having at the time. Attitudes may not be enduring thoughts, but constructed through interactions. They can be contradictory (Potter and Wetherell, 1987). This survey is giving us too narrow a picture.


The second disadvantage of a survey is lack of validity; it is not measuring what it says it’s measuring. In this example, the researchers say they are measuring homophobic attitudes. They claim to be getting to the personal opinions of the students. All they are really doing is measuring explicit attitudes, not the implicit ones that are of more interest. The explicit attitudes are what the students were willing to state publicly in an official survey, not what they are thinking, which we can never really know. They could be lying or at least modifying their views to fit in with what other people think. They are probably aware that homophobia is now frowned on. The private homophobic attitudes could be higher than 15 % or lower. We don’t know. We can only speculate. Attitudes can’t really be measured at all due to their constantly changing nature (Potter and Wetherell, 1987).



Now, moving the scope of our argument more widely, it seems there is a problem with the whole paradigm that this method is situated in. A paradigm means a way of looking at the world. The research is framed within this worldview. The survey is in the tradition of scientific enquiry, assuming there is an objective reality which can be measured and which follows logic. Many researchers argue against this. They hold that psychology is the study of complex human interactions, which people actively construct, in different contexts (Flyvbjerg, 2001). There may be no one truth but many subjective truths. Generalisations cannot easily be made on complex human mind states. Parker and Bhugra (2000) suggest that the survey indicates 15% of medical students are homophobic. This is presented as if it is a scientific fact. We cannot know this. We can’t say anything about the implicit attitudes, just interpretations of them, which may be in flux. This makes the survey evidence seem weak.


Finally, this study only concerns attitudes towards gay men. It can provide no evidence about attitudes towards different groups within the LGBT+ community. As attitudes are so variable there could be significant differences here.


It seems reasonable to conclude that the survey method is extremely flawed so the evidence it provides is not of any great use in solving social problems. It provides more of a starting point which other research could build on.


Critique of the Case Study Method


A case study is a detailed look at a particular phenomenon, an individual or group of people. It grew popular as a method as a reaction to the limitations of approaches like surveys. More particularly, case studies use observations and interviews (Flyvbjerg, 2001).


In order to critique this approach let’s look at an example of a case study on the subject of homophobia: “‘It’s Just Not Acceptable Any More’: The Erosion of Homophobia and the Softening of Masculinity at an English Sixth Form” by McCormack and Anderson (2010). This research examines the relationship between sexuality, gender and homophobia and how they impact on 16-18 year old boys in a sixth form in the south of England. The boys were found to have pro-gay attitudes and there were no instances found of homophobic language or behaviour.


Let’s have a closer look at the methods used. Two researchers were employed to observe the students in the common room, in lessons and in interest clubs at the sixth form for five months. They then researched attitudes through 17 semi-structured interviews. The data produced was coded thematically. The sixth form was in the south of England and was considered to be typical. The evidence is the statements of the boys and the notes of observations arranged into themes.


Firstly, the advantages of a case study will be examined. This method gives rich and complex data about one particular community, which allows us to feel we are getting a detailed picture of the interpretations of the participants. In the McCormack and Anderson study (2010), the boys’ attitudes can be captured with all their complexity as they discuss homophobia. The research is in depth for five months covering a wealth of interactions and responses. One gay student expresses how everybody is ‘cool with it’ and ‘nobody is bothered’ (McCormack and Anderson, 2010 p.851). The open nature of the research gets to this student’s own interpretation, it is not reduced by general statements like in the survey.


Another advantage of the case study is that the context is not ignored. It is part of the data. As Flyvbjerg (2001) argues it is not possible for psychology to proceed like natural science so this method offers a way forward, capturing a particular example. In this study example we get close to the constructed realities of the boys at this particular sixth form as they are observed in different situations. An example is a gay student is sitting alone on a coach and three boys go and sit with him for the rest of the trip. This is powerful evidence of pro-gay behaviour. They are not just saying it, they are doing it.


However, some psychologists would still argue there are disadvantages of the case study method. Firstly, for it to be really useful the case chosen has to be typical. Untypical cases cannot be generalised to the whole population of school children. In this example McCormack and Anderson (2000) are at pains to point out that the school is typical but this can be contested. It seems predominantly middle class and white and is in the south of England. As Stonewall have pointed out, homophobia may be at its most prevalent in the northeast of England (Bachmann and Gooch, 2017). The finding here of no homophobic language is not supported by other research in schools (Norman and Galvin 2006, Douglas et al., 1999), which suggests the study is not a typical case. However, this criticism does not have to be devastating. A series of such case studies in different locations around the country with different demographics would give varied data which, when looked at together, would give a detailed picture of homophobic attitudes in the UK.


Secondly, the problem of researcher bias is an issue for some psychological approaches. This means the participants are influenced by the presence of the researcher and behave and speak differently, and that the researcher brings their own preconceived ideas into the study. In the McCormack and Anderson (2000) study there is an attempt to blend in with the participants and live among them. However, they are not participants. The age difference must be apparent. It seems the students like the researchers. They will be concerned to express attitudes socially acceptable to the visitors. The investigators may be finding exactly what they want to find. In addition, they are coding and interpreting the information while classifying it into themes. They are being selective in the statements they pick out for comment. In this way, without reading the transcripts the reader is not getting all the data but a highly edited version of it. Due to the way the study is written up we are not given many examples of the students’ actual words. One such example is: ‘He wouldn’t keep at it long’, (McCormack and Anderson, 2000 p.851). This statement is referring to anti-gay epithets, which might be used by other students. This phrase suggests a concern with what other people think. Is it the case boys do not express anti-gay attitudes not because it is what they really think but because of the reaction of other people? We still do not know what the boys’ intrinsic attitudes are, only what they say and do in front of their peers. We are seeing an interpretation of the students’ views, not the students’ views themselves.


Moving more widely, some psychologists would criticise this research for still not being nuanced enough. Discourse analysis, where transcribed conversations or texts are examined in detail might give us more sense of how the students’ attitudes are very complex and contradictory depending on the context (Potter and Wetherell, 1987). There is not much sense of this here, no idea that attitudes constantly shift and change according to the subject, no capturing of the complexities of categorisation and the irrational and emotional nature of conversation as shown in more discursive studies (Coates, 2013). It seems all too neat and easy. Perhaps, the researchers were asking the wrong questions or not going deeply enough.


Finally, this study only gives information about attitudes towards gay men. It can provide no evidence about attitudes towards different groups within the LGBT+ community.


In conclusion, the evidence from the case study method is often weak. The study must be designed very carefully if it is to be helpful in solving social problems. The evidence provided in this particular study is not useful for understanding homophobic attacks.




  1. Is There a Link between Homophobic Attitudes and Attacks on LGBT+ people?


The weak link between attitudes and behaviour means attitudes research is not useful in finding out why homophobic verbal and physical attacks occur. Social factors are more significant.


In support of this view, Walters and Brown (2016) suggest there are multiple social, psychological and structural causes of homophobic crime. Attackers are influenced by the people around them, the environment, the conflicting ideas in their minds, and the inequalities in society. Attitude is only one factor and not the most important one.

Support for this comes from Williams and Tregidga (2013, cited in Walters and Brown, 2016), who suggest a number of contextual factors, including opportunity, proximity, intoxication, housing issues and existing relationships between the victim and the perpetrator all come into play. Furthermore, Chakraborti and Garland (2015, cited in Walters and Brown, 2016) have emphasised the role of threat, which results in some men policing the boundaries of male heterosexuality through violence, reinforcing their own masculinity. Again, support comes from Franklin (1998, cited in Herek, 1998) who interviewed men who had assaulted LGBT+ people who did not recognise themselves as particularly homophobic and reported no hatred towards this community. Factors such as gender norms, peer dynamics, youthful thrill seeking, and economic and social disempowerment were more important than attitude.


At present, there are many gaps in our knowledge in this area and further research is needed (Walters and Brown 2016).



  1. Conclusions



Evidence from both surveys and case studies concerning homophobic attitudes should be treated with caution as it can be seriously flawed. Surveys can give too reductive a picture and case studies can suffer from researcher bias and cannot always be generalised. Attitudes research is not useful when exploring the reasons for the rise in homophobic attacks. Analysis of assailants’ speech could be more fruitful. A mixed methods approach is needed with data from surveys providing a starting point and then further research conducted in context.



  1. Recommendations



  1. Conduct research into the causes and motivations of homophobic verbal and physical attacks, with an emphasis on perpetrators and the social contexts they find themselves in, using a mixed methods approach.


  1. Conduct research concerning behaviour and speech towards other groups in the LGBT+ community other than gay men.


  1. Ensure research is solution focused, paying attention to disadvantaged groups within society.





Bachmann, C. L. and Gooch, B. (2017) LGBT in Britain Hate Crime and Discrimination, London, Stonewall and YouGov (Online). Available at (Accessed on 3rd January 2018).

Bernard, M.M., Maio, G.R., and Olson, J.M. (2003) ‘The vulnerability of values to attack: inoculation of values and value-relevant attitudes’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 29, no. 1, pp.63–75, London, Sage (Online). Available at (Accessed on 10th January 2018).

Coates, J. (2013) ‘The discursive production of everyday heterosexualities’, Discourse and Society, Vol. 24, no.5, pp. 536-552, London, Sage (Online). Available at

(Accessed on 10th January 2018).


Douglas, N., Warwick, I., Whitty, G., Aggleton, P., and Kemp, S. (1999) ‘Homophobic bullying in secondary schools in England and Wales‐ teachers’ experiences’, Health Education, Vol. 99 Issue: 2, pp.53-60, Bingley, Emerald Publishing (Online). Available at (Accessed on 10th January 2018).


Herek, G. M. (ed.) (1998) Stigma and Sexual Orientation: Understanding Prejudice against Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals, London, Sage (Online). Available at (Accessed on 10th January 2018).


Koc, Y. (2017) DD801, Week 14 Interrogating Methods: Measuring Attitudes and Homosexuality, Milton Keynes, The Open University (Online). Available at (Accessed on 3rd January 2018).


LaPiere, R.T. (1934) ‘Attitudes vs. Actions’, Social Forces, Vol.13 (2), pp.230-237, Oxford, Oxford University Press (Online). Available at (Accessed on 3rd January 2018).


McCormack, M. and Anderson, E. (2010) ‘’It’s Just Not Acceptable Any More’: The Erosion of Homophobia and the Softening of Masculinity at an English Sixth Form, Sociology, Vol. 44(5) pp. 843-859, London, Sage (Online). Available at (Accessed on 3rd January 2018).



Parker, A. and Bhugra, D. (2000) ‘Attitudes of British Medical Students Towards Male Homosexuality’, Sexual and Relationship Therapy, Vol 15, No.2, pp. 141-149, London, Taylor and Francis (Online). Available at (Accessed on 3rd January 2018).


Potter, J. and Wetherell, M. (1987) Discourse and Social Psychology, London, Sage.


Walters, M.A. and Brown, R. (2016) Causes and motivations of hate crime, Equality and Human Rights Commission, New York, SSRN (Online). Available at or (Accessed on 3rd January 2018)






















Critique of psychological research methods on the subject of anxiety

In this essay the research area of interest is the effect of the social environment on anxiety. Two different methods are examined to see how they have contributed to this research in two particular studies. The methods are: meta-analysis arising from self-report data and semi-structured interviews.


The first study to be examined is Twenge (2000). Twenge found that anxiety had increased considerably over the time of the study and the environmental attributes of low social connectedness and high threat explained these high levels of anxiety. The method used in the study was meta-analysis. Meta-analytic techniques were used to gather and analyse data from samples of American college students and children between the years 1952 and 1993. The participants completed self-report measures of anxiety and neuroticism. For the college students the initial research was conducted using the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, the Eysenck Personality Inventory or the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. For the studies involving children the Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale was used.


The method of self-report can be examined first. The anxiety scales are highly structured so this suggests they can give robust and valid data. It is difficult to see how personality constructs can be measured in any other way with a large sample. However, this self-report method is not without its problems. Scales can suffer from the problem that some people will tend to choose the extreme ratings while others will cluster round the middle. Participants may not respond truthfully or may not take the questions seriously enough. It is impossible to establish cause and effect from self-reports. There may be other variables at work. There are already preconceptions in the questions so the answers are necessarily limited. Participants may answer in a way that does not accord with their views. Some participants may lack the necessary introspection to answer the questions or may not understand what they are being asked (Hoskin 2012). Thus it can be argued that anxiety scales are not entirely reliable but Hoyt and Magoon (1954) found the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale to be largely valid with the results according with those given by experienced counsellors. One major weakness of the study is that the self-reports may not reflect true shifts in personality but the participants’ willingness to describe themselves as anxious because of the acceptability of the term in society. Attitudes towards mental health have become less judgmental (Twenge 2000).




Secondly, the meta-analysis method will be examined. Twenge used data from many studies. This can be criticized in that the researcher has lost control of how the original studies were performed and there may have been errors in their methods. The use of meta-analysis has the advantage of enabling a large sample size to be examined suggesting the results are reliable and valid. The method avoids the bias that may be inherent in literature reviews. The method improves statistical power and improves estimates of the effect size (Noble 2006).


A difficulty for meta-analysis is the research cannot exceed the limits of what is reported by the primary research. It is a challenge to quantify the size of the common effect because of the diversity of the primary studies and their many potential differences. The effect size may be over-estimated reflecting bias in the original studies. There could still be bias in the researcher as important studies could have been left out and more favourable studies included. Meta-analysis seems very complicated so mistakes can be made which invalidate the results (Borenstein et al 2009).


In spite of some shortcomings it seems that Twenge’s study does make an important contribution to anxiety research suggesting that the larger sociocultural environment has a large impact on the mental health of the individual. There does seem a reductive element to the study though and one is left wanting to know more about the experiences of the participants. This could be achieved through a detailed case study or more open interviews.


Twenge seems to have a mix of worldviews. The major focus seems to be social constructionist. The data is qualitative from self-reports and the statistical analyses only show correlations not causations. The tone of the study seems exploratory as she is showing new possibilities for further study into the effect of society on the mental health of the individual. The participants are viewed within their contexts. There is also an element of the pragmatist worldview as this research can be used to solve real world problems: to create societies where people do not feel so anxious. There is a problem of power relations in this study as the researcher is in a more powerful position than the participant as she has framed the terms of the study. Future research on this topic could have a more transformative tone (Cresswell 2014, cited in The Open University 2017).


The second study to be examined is Brown et al (1992). This study found that anchoring events (events giving increased security) were associated with recovery or improvement in anxiety. The method used here was the semi-structured interview. The participants were interviewed twice with one year between. On the first interview information was gathered about the previous year. There was therefore clinical information for three years. The interviews were recorded and the interviewer made the final ratings. The interviewers used the DSM-III-R diagnostic system to record the anxiety symptoms. There was also a semi-structured interview for the information about life events. Raters judged the life events against what most women were likely to feel in that situation.


The semi-structured interview has many advantages as a method of psychological research. There is a pre-determined set of open questions but the interviewer can explore issues further. The participants are not limited by closed questions so the information is getting closer to their real experience that can be very valuable. There is still some uniformity because of the pre-determined questions. The structure gives reliability but there is also flexibility because of the openness. If the interviewer is skilled and well trained they may well rate the information more accurately than in the case of a self-report questionnaire. The skilled interviewer can also elicit more information about the real life events. The data can be rich (McLeod, S. A. 2014).


There are, however, obvious disadvantages. The interview is a social interaction and the participant may answer in a different way to how they would normally. The participant could be intimidated by the interviewer and tell lies or give the answers they think the interviewer wants to hear. Recording the interview could make the participant more reticent. The interviewer could suggest answers so there is a real possibility of interviewer bias. The research method is very time consuming and needs highly trained interviewers and raters (McLeod, S. A. (2014).


The use of the DSM-III-R diagnostic system can be argued to be reductive but the scale has been shown to be valid and reliable over time (Brown et al 1992). One strength of this study is that the interviewer is making the rating, not the participant, so if the interviewer is well trained the ratings should be accurate. The semi-structured interview about the anchoring and other life events can be the most challenging part of the study due to the possible bias effect of the interviewer and the complexity of rating and categorizing this material. This study does try to lessen bias effects by having a team of researchers with different people rating the information to the ones doing the interviewing.


The researchers themselves point out some limitations of the study. It is impossible to rule out bias completely. There was sometimes doubt about the exact date of the clinical change. It is possible that the clinical change as in recovery from anxiety occurred before the anchoring event and this change brought about the event rather than the reverse. The sheer complexity of the subject matter means the correlations between anchoring events and recovery from anxiety may involve other factors (Brown et al 1992).


In spite of some drawbacks of the method this study seems to provide valuable and reliable, rich evidence about the influence of social factors on anxiety that has real world implications. There is a wealth of detail in the data because of the interview method that is lacking in Twenge (2000).


Again, there seems a mix of worldviews in the design and implementation of this study. The use of the semi-structured interview provides situated information placing the participants in a social context and giving validity to their experiences. This gives the study a strong social constructionist element. There are also some pragmatic features such as the desire to solve a real problem. There is still a power inequality between the researcher and the participant with the researcher framing the terms of the research so the study is not transformative (Creswell 2014, cited in The Open University 2017).



Both methods have provided important information about the effect of the social environment on mental health and both have an exploratory tone giving pointers to further research, moving the dialogue about mental health on from beyond the individual and the family. The meta-analysis has breadth while the semi-structured interview has more depth from a smaller sample.



(Borenstein, M. Hedges, L. Higgins, J. Rothstein, H. 2009) ‘Introduction to Meta-Analysis’, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd (Online) DOI: 10.1002/9780470743386 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Brown, G. Lemyre, L. Bifulco A.1992). ‘Social Factors and Recovery from Anxiety and Depressive Disorders A test of specificity’, British Journal of Psychiatry vol. 161 pp. 44-54 (Online) DOI: 10.1192/bjp.161.1.44 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Hoskin, R. 2012) ‘The dangers of self-report’, (Online) Available at 24th Nov 2017)


(Hoyt, D. Magoon, T. 1954) ‘A validation study of the Taylor manifest anxiety scale’,

Journal of Clinical Psychology, October 1954, Vol.10(4), pp.357-361 (Online) DOI: 10.1002/1097-4679 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(McLeod, S. A. 2014) ‘The interview method’ (Online) Available at (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(Noble, J. 2006) ‘Meta-analysis: Methods, strengths, weaknesses, and political uses’, Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine Volume 147, Issue 1, Pages 7–20 (Online) DOI: (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



The Open University (2017) DD801 Worldviews and Transformative Enquiry. 8.2 Four Worldviews on Research. Available at (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



(Twenge, J. 2000) ‘The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism 1952-1993’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol.79(6), pp.1007-1021 (Online) DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.79.6.1007 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)











What criticisms are levelled at the case study in psychology?


The case study has suffered from many criticisms but these can all be countered with reasonable success. Flyvbjerg (2006) sets out the five main criticisms. The first is that practical knowledge provided by case studies is not as valuable as theoretical knowledge. The second is it is not possible to generalise from a single case. Next, that the case study is only useful for generating hypotheses. In addition, the case study contains a bias towards verification. Lastly, it is difficult to summarise and develop general theories on the basis of case studies.


It can be argued that case study knowledge is just as valuable as theoretical knowledge. It is not possible to have hard science theories in psychology because it is the study of people in real life situations. Newburn’s study (2015) of the behaviour of crowds in city riot situations is a good example of this. This topic cannot be studied in a theoretical way. The researcher needs to look at the actual behaviour in real life in order to learn something. As Flyvbjerg (2006) states there really is only context dependent knowledge when one is concerned with the behaviour of people. Milgram’s (1965) laboratory experiment study of obedience has many flaws, which make its findings questionable. A case study could be a valuable way of looking at this concept. All psychological research can be flawed, not just case studies.


It can also be argued that it is possible to generalise from a single case. The Magh Mela study (Hopkins et al 2015) is an example of an extreme or critical case. If effervescence and self-realisation is evident here in a huge crowd living in extreme conditions then it should be possible in any crowd situation. Many cases show the same phenomenon such as the road protest study (Drury 2015) where people are empowered through being in a crowd. However, this argument still seems weak as one case study only suggests rather than demonstrates a theory and could be disproved by more case studies on the same topic.


The case study is not only suited for generating hypotheses but can reveal more information leading to greater knowledge of a subject. This is particularly true of extreme or paradigmatic cases as Flyvbjerg states (2006). The Magh Mela study (Hopkins et al 2015) can be seen as a case like this as its richness adds more information creating knowledge which can be studied further.


It is not correct to say that case studies always suffer from confirmation bias, as there are examples where the case study results challenge the pre-conceived notions of the researcher. This was true in the study of democracy, power and urban planning (Flyvbjerg 1998) where he actually found that democracy and urban planning were in fact weak in the face of power in Aalberg where he originally thought this would be a model case of strong democracy.


Flybjerg (2006) counters the difficulty of summarising case studies and drawing theories from them by stating this difficulty is to do with the richness of the material that provides good narratives, which are valuable in their own right. It is not always necessary to summarise or theorise. The Magh Mela is a case study like this (Hopkins et al 2015).


The case study is therefore a valuable research method, which is not as weak as the classical view of it proposes. It provides knowledge alongside other theoretical or experimental knowledge so that psychological research can have both breadth and depth. It is particularly useful for studying real world human behaviour that cannot be replicated in a laboratory setting. It is also useful for confirming or rebutting hypotheses but does suffer from the problem of lack of generalizability.



Flyvbjerg, B. (1998) ‘Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Flyvbjerg, B. (2006) ‘Five misunderstandings about case study research’, Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 219–245. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Drury, J., & Reicher, S. (2000). Collective action and psychological change: The emergence of new social identities. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 579–604. UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.




Hopkins, N., Reicher, S., Khan, S., Tewari, S., Srinivasan, N. and Stevenson, C. et. al (2015) ‘Explaining effervescence: investigating the relationship between shared social identity and positive experience in crowds’, Cognition and Emotion, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 20–32 Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)



Milgram, S. (1965) ‘Some conditions of obedience and disobedience to authority’, Human Relations, vol. 18, pp. 57–76. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)



Newburn, T. (2015) ‘Reflections on why riots don’t happen’, Theoretical Criminology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 125–44. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)

What role does the case study play in psychological enquiry?


The first question to be asked must be: What is a case study? One definition might be:

“Case study. The detailed examination of a single example of a class of phenomena. A case study cannot provide reliable information about the broader class, but it may be useful in the preliminary stages of an investigation since it provides hypotheses which may be tested systematically with a larger number of cases.” (Abercrombie, Hill and Turner 1984 p 34)

This provides a useful starting point but it will be argued here that the case study provides more of a role than this and is a useful research method in its own right rather than just a pilot method.

One example of a case study that illustrates many of these points is the study into the relationship between shared social identity and positive experience in crowds by Hopkins et al (2015). The subject of the study is a selection of spiritual pilgrims at a religious festival in India: the Magh Mela. It provides the role of giving a detailed and rich examination of the participants’ experience.

This case study also has the role of testing a hypothesis. The hypothesis is that participation in crowds is a positive experience, which strengthens social identity allowing collective self-realization. It is not a pilot study but builds on lots of other research, which supports the social identity theory of crowd behaviour (Turner 1987). The case study of the Magh Mela (Hopkins et al 2015) provides the role of an example of the subject of crowds in general and more particularly of crowds that are positive in nature. It can be seen as an extreme or outlier case as it is on a huge scale and the participants are living in very basic conditions in a very noisy environment. It can be argued if collective self-realization can happen here it can happen in any crowd. This suggests this case study can be used to generalize to other situations. All crowds may be capable of self-realization. The study is not just describing crowd behaviour but also explaining it in accordance with social identity theory.

Flyvbjerg (2006) argues that the case study does more than the conventional definition we looked at the beginning of this essay. It is the only way of providing context dependent knowledge, which is necessary when theorizing about human affairs. He argues people can only become expert when they have knowledge of lots of examples of concrete cases. A case study can then provide expert knowledge of human behaviour. The study of the Magh Mela performs this role.

Another detailed case study is the examination of empowerment at an anti-roads campaign (Drury and Reicher 2000). Activists and local residents climbed over barriers and destroyed them to reclaim the green space and felt empowered by their shared social identity. This study provides the role of an example of positive, empowering crowd behaviour. It confirms the research into social identity theory on crowd behaviour (Turner 1987). As the findings are similar to other case studies it can be used to generalize about crowds. This study is again performing the role of providing context dependent knowledge, which would be difficult to obtain any other way. It is describing crowd behaviour and also explaining it in accordance with social identity principles.

It seems the case study is crucial as a research method. It is particularly appropriate for understanding complex real world behaviour though it can never give the whole story. It has depth rather than breadth so can be utilized alongside other research methods such as experiments and theoretical knowledge to deepen understanding of human behaviour.



Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., & Turner, B. S. (1984). Dictionary of sociology (3rd ed.). Harmonds- worth, UK: Penguin.

Drury, J., & Reicher, S. (2000). Collective action and psychological change: The emergence of new social identities. British Journal of Social Psychology, 39, 579–604. UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Flyvbjerg, B. (2006) ‘Five misunderstandings about case study research’, Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 219–245. Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Hopkins, N., Reicher, S., Khan, S., Tewari, S., Srinivasan, N. and Stevenson, C. et. al (2015) ‘Explaining effervescence: investigating the relationship between shared social identity and positive experience in crowds’, Cognition and Emotion, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 20–32 Available at (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Turner, J. C., Hogg, M. A., Oakes, P. J., Reicher, S. D., & Wetherell, M. C. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorization theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.




























Discuss one Theory used in Psychotherapy



Lynn Matheson

This paper will discuss psychoanalysis. It is both a therapeutic technique and a theory of mind. Psychoanalysis is important, as it is the founding theory behind psychotherapy. What psychoanalysis is will be examined, the theory behind the method, and how psychoanalytic ideas have changed over time as well as its purpose and goals. Its influence on more modern psychotherapy theories will be detailed. Finally, its usefulness in the modern day will be discussed and it will be argued that it still has value.


Firstly, what is psychoanalysis? In classical psychoanalysis two people – the patient and the psychoanalyst meet as much as five times a week at set times usually for fifty minutes each time. The patient lies on a couch and the analyst sits behind him without eye contact. The patient says whatever comes to mind. This is known as free association. The analyst is often silent but not passive. The aim is to act as a catalyst, clarifying and interpreting what is said. This exploration of the mind can bring about lasting change for the patient leading to improved mental health (Pick 2015).


Secondly, the theory that led to this method of therapy will be examined. Psychoanalysis was developed by Freud (1856-1939) in Vienna. Freud referred to his method as the ‘talking cure’ and he used it with his patients, who had been diagnosed with hysteria, beginning in the 1880s. These patients were suffering from psychological stress which affected their physical as well as mental health. His theory used empirical data from case studies of his patients, most famously Anna O, as he referred to one of them (Pick 2015). The main idea developed was that thoughts can exist of which we are unconscious. This unconscious is dynamic, full of conflicting forces trying to gain access to consciousness and ego defences preventing such access (Eagle 2018). Freud (1920) provided evidence for these unconscious processes from slips of the tongue, which reveal hidden intentions, as well as dreams. Freud (1920) also finds evidence of a sort from fantasies, or as he refers to them phantasies, which are disguised fulfilments of instinctual wishes. Listening to his patients led Freud to develop the concept of transference; baggage from the past is brought into present relationships. Patients can transfer feelings onto the analyst, which are really meant for someone else.


Freud believed that his patients repressed thoughts of unbearable early memories. Many patients described experiences of childhood sexual abuse often from family members. Freud later came to doubt that these were always real events but could be fears or fantasies. Freud held that children feel both hate and love for their parents and this leads to ambivalence which is necessary to separate from them to gain a sense of identity (Pick 2015). These ideas led to Freud developing the famous Oedipus Complex which includes: universal incestuous wishes towards the opposite sex parent and hostile wishes towards the same sex parent, the incest taboo, and choice of mate based on parental templates. How the individual resolves these conflicts determines their psychological development. The infant goes through stages of psychosexual development: oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. People can become fixated which means they are stuck at one stage of development (Eagle 2018). Freud conceptualised the conflict between immediate gratification and the need to delay gratification as one between the pleasure principle and the reality principle. This leads to Freud’s model of the mind involving the superego (largely unconscious reproaches), the ego (mediates internal and external reality), and the id (unconscious instinctual urges and passions which can erupt and overtake us). Analysis can strengthen the ego and make the superego and the id less destructive. A very critical superego can lead to feelings of worthlessness and abjection (Pick 2015).


The concept of defence is also central to psychoanalysis. This occurs when there is an incompatibility between the ego and an idea presented to it. These unacceptable thoughts are banished from consciousness by an act of will; they are repressed. Not all Freud’s ideas concerned sex. He also believed in the death drive: a tendency to self-destruction and also aggression towards others. Coping with these internal and external forces leads to anxiety. The process of analysis between the analyst and patient can lead to a release of these conflicts and an understanding of them, which can provide relief for the patient, and a lessening of their ‘hysterical’ symptoms. Many of Freud’s patients reported an improvement in their conditions but the treatment was not always successful (Pick 2015).


Next, how psychoanalytic theory has changed over time will be examined. Freud himself did not have static ideas but changed and developed his ideas over the course of his life. Freud worked with other psychoanalysts but many disagreed with many of his ideas and split from him and developed their own theories. Jung diverged from Freud and introduced a spiritual dimension (cited in Pick 2015). Adler and Klein (cited in Pick 2015) also split off from Freud. Klein did a lot of work with children and developed a theory of the relational dimension of the mind. Hartmann (cited in Pick 2015) developed ego psychology and became convinced that the ego could operate conflict free with the help of analysis. This view was also held by Anna Freud (cited in Pick 2015). Lacan (cited in Pick 2015) was interested in words and felt that the ego is constituted by our relationships to our own images. We are involved in a constant searching for others. Winnicott (cited in Pick 2015) became interested in the primacy of the relationship between mother and infant and developed the idea of the good enough mother. Bion (cited in Pick 2015) was interested in work with groups and introduced the concept of projective identification. Less desirable qualities in ourselves are projected onto others. Ferenczi (cited in Pick 2015) was concerned that there should be more warmth in the analyst. Psychoanalysis has developed differently in different countries. Currently it is in decline due to the rise in popularity of other therapies (Pick 2015).


In spite of this decline there are still practitioners today working as psychoanalysts though many do not fully accept all of Freud’s ideas. What remains accepted is that our behaviour, thoughts and feelings are influenced by factors outside of our conscious awareness and that we do indulge in defences and self-deceptions. These illusions protect our self-image. There is also much evidence supporting the idea of unconscious mental processing. However, there is not much evidence for Freud’s notion of a dynamic unconscious as a seething mass of primal desires. The unconscious in modern research is seen as consisting of internal working models which are acquired in childhood and can be difficult to change. There is little evidence for a universal Oedipus complex or that it has a role in psychological development. Modern psychoanalysts have reconceptualised this as a tension between the regressive lure of identification with the caregiver and the progressive urge for separation. How these tensions are resolved are important for healthy psychological development. Research evidence has provided support for viewing delay of gratification, affect regulation and executive functions as concerning the adequacy of an individual’s ego functions. In essence, modern psychoanalysis has moved from seeing psychopathology as resulting from repressed conflictual wishes and impulses towards seeing it as early acquisition of maladaptive representations. It is not always necessary to become aware of one’s representations and their influence on behaviour but these representations can be altered through the therapeutic relationship itself without interpretation. Therapy can provide emotional correction. However, it still seems that self-knowledge can be important in becoming a healthy individual (Eagle 2018).


Psychoanalysis has been criticised for lacking scientific rigour. It cannot be falsified. Freud only used a small sample of patients to generate his theories so they cannot be generalised to all human beings (Joseph 2010). However, Bergin (1971, cited in Lambert 2013) found that 80 % of patients undergoing psychoanalysis showed significant improvement, which suggests this style of therapy can have considerable value.

Next, the purpose and goals of psychoanalysis will be examined. The goal is better mental health by a patient understanding his or her neuroses. Freud’s patients often had physical symptoms such as paralysis. Through ‘working through’ how neuroses have developed through talking about painful memories and thoughts the patient can be helped to understand the condition and resolve it. Formerly unconscious material is brought into conscious awareness and reintegrated into the total structure of the personality. Symptoms are seen as having a psychological rather than a physical cause (Joseph 2015).


This paper has chosen to concentrate on psychoanalysis, as it is important as the founding father of psychotherapy. It brings in the notion that psychological processes rather than biological processes can sometimes result in psychological problems. Freud was the first to point out that unconscious motives and defence mechanisms influence behaviour and that early childhood experiences influence adult personality. The idea of transference is utilised by many therapists today.


Finally, other modern psychotherapy techniques will be examined to tease out the influence of psychoanalysis on them. Many modern therapists refer to themselves as psychodynamic. These therapists use many of the techniques of psychoanalysis but they have adapted them to a modern context. It is not considered necessary to see the therapist as much as five times a week and most have abandoned the couch and will sit face to face with the patient. They are more likely to intervene in the interaction in order to help the patient. Psychodynamic techniques like this are still recommended for some cases of depression and schizophrenia. They can also be useful for clients wanting to develop interpersonal skills, to enhance self-understanding and overcome self-defeating behaviour (Joseph 2010). Modern psychodynamic therapists do not usually support all of Freud’s ideas but will still work with inner conflict and transference to help their patients.


Humanistic approaches to psychotherapy emerged in the middle of the twentieth century. They were a reaction against the pessimistic view of human nature painted by psychoanalysis in which people are selfish, driven by sexual and aggressive impulses. The humanistic approach sees human nature as essentially positive and emphasises choices, values and purpose. Carl Rogers (1902-1987) is one of its most well known proponents. He developed the person-centred approach. The foundation of the theory is the actualizing tendency, which is a natural force in people directed towards constructive growth and development. This tendency in a child is thwarted by an internalized belief that he must please others. The therapist provides a supportive environment where the client can become their actualized self. This approach can be seen as a radical departure from the ideas of psychoanalysis. However, its echoes can still be felt. Person centred therapy is still a talking therapy and events in childhood are given prominence. Not much research has been done on the effectiveness of this therapy but some work has suggested it is just as effective as other forms (Joseph 2010).


Another humanistic approach is Perl’s Gestalt therapy. The client experiences the total configuration of who they are. It emphasises choice and responsibility. It is a more confrontational approach than that of Rogers, encouraging the client to heighten their emotions. Little research has been done into the effectiveness of Gestalt (Joseph 2010). Its emphasis on the here and now suggests a clear break with the approach of psychoanalysis.


Berne (Joseph 2010) introduced a form of humanistic counselling called transactional analysis. This approach assumes people are ‘ok’. The therapist values and esteems the client. Each person can make decisions about their life and the way they think is their own choice. It is closer than the other humanistic approaches to psychoanalysis and can be seen as a development of this theory as Berne himself trained in psychoanalysis. Berne developed a model of the mind consisting of the child, the parent and the adult. In many ways this model echoes Freud’s ideas of the id, ego and superego. The approach also echoes the Freudian idea that problems have their roots in childhood.


The transpersonal approach is associated with Maslow. He saw human beings as striving to achieve their potential. Maslow described a hierarchy of human needs with physical needs such as food at the bottom and self-actualisation at the top. Actualized individuals are self-directed, creative and independent. Self-actualized individuals can have peak experiences, which transcend ordinary human consciousness and can be regarded as spiritual in nature. This approach has little in common with Freud. There has not been much research into the effectiveness of the transpersonal approach (Joseph 2010).


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a widely used approach used today both in the NHS and in private practice. This is a merging of cognitive and behaviourist ideas about the human mind. The approach works on changing a client’s behaviour and the way they think about themselves through checking their internal dialogue and removing negative, critical thoughts. Much research has backed up this approach and it has gained respectability by adopting psychiatric language. However, it has been criticised for being overly simplistic with scientific experiments not always relevant to complex, intractable problems of patients (Smail 1996, cited in Joseph 2010). This approach with its emphasis on the present shows a resounding rejection of the ideas of psychoanalysis.


Now, psychoanalysis in the present day will be examined. Classical psychoanalysis as described by Freud is rare today. It is still possible to train in at various institutions around the world. As the client is required to come for sessions as much as five times a week and the therapy can go on for years it remains too expensive, time consuming and impractical for many people. Many of Freud’s key ideas have also been severely criticised as having no scientific basis. As a result of this psychoanalysis is in decline. It survives in private practice and is rarely used in the NHS, which is constrained by economic factors. It has been overtaken in popularity by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. However, it still survives in modified form in psychodynamic therapies in private practice. Many psychodynamic practitioners use psychoanalytic ideas of unconscious conflicts and transference in their work. They may follow other theorists more closely than Freud but who are still within the analytic tradition such as Jung, Klein, Adler and Erikson. This kind of approach can still be useful for deep-seated depression, which has not responded to other techniques. Modern therapy is moving towards an integrative approach where the therapist uses what works best for the client. In this way, psychoanalytic ideas still survive (Joseph 2010).



This paper has examined psychoanalysis discussing what it is, its purpose and goals and its influence on other psychotherapies. It has been seen that its legacy has been great though it is currently in decline. Psychoanalytic ideas have been much criticised but many practitioners have found their use in therapy to be beneficial in helping patients. New research into the effectiveness of different approaches may well show that psychoanalytic ideas still have value.






























Eagle, M. N. (2018) Core Concepts in Classical Psychoanalysis Abingdon: Routledge


Freud, S. (1920) A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis New York: Boni and Liveright


Joseph, S. (2010) Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Lambert, M.J. (2013) ‘Outcome in Psychotherapy: The Past and Important Advances’ Psychotherapy American Psychological Association, Vol. 50, No. 1, 42–51

Pick, D. (2015) Psychoanalysis A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press



New Year’s Resolutions

I know we are all tired of resolutions and I have failed to keep many in the past but I still need goals so here are mine.


1 Read the Bible every day

2 Pray every day in English and in tongues.

3 Meditate every day

4 Find out all I can about different mental health therapies  by reading and having therapy. Choose one that works for me

5 Diligently work on my hypnotherapy training and become qualified in it.

6 Diligently work on my MSc Psychology and complete the first module.

7 Do not drink alcohol

8 Do not eat meat

9 Attend the Alive Church every week and decide if it is the right Church for me.

10 Find paid employment.

11 Do voluntary work.

12 Find out all I can about Christianity by reading and talking to other Christians.

13 Rework my second book and self publish it.

14 Start and complete a third novel.

15 Increase my social circle.