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.


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

http://ideas.repec.org/p/arx/papers/1304.1186.html (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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2015.1015969 (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.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan weeks 9 and 10

I have been really bad at following the One Plan these past few weeks. It’s all about getting rid of extra possessions that you don’t need. I have done this in the past and I tend to live simply and don’t have a lot of things. I still have some junk I could clear out but as I live with someone else I can’t throw out everything I would like to as some of it is his.

I haven’t been following the diet properly and I have been drinking wine so lots of backsliding.

In this two weeks I became a Christian so my focus has shifted. I am still going to continue the One Plan and follow most of the recommendations as I think they are valuable and try to incorporate them into my new Christian lifestyle.

It is really cold in England at the moment and that always has a bad effect on me and makes me not want to do anything much.

So hopefully I can shake myself up and get back on the health track next week.

The Alpha Course – A Personal View

A couple of months ago I signed up for the Alpha Course. I am doing it in the neighbouring town of Wymondham about 20 minutes drive away. It has been running once every two weeks in the evening.

I got interested in it because I have been seeing these ads for Alpha for years but never dived in. I was brought up by Communists so though Christened no attention was ever paid to my spiritual development. I got introduced to Christianity at school and through friends. I dabbled a bit but didn’t completely get involved. At university it was the same. I went to a few prayer meetings in my Hall, attended Church a few times and then abandoned it for other things. I have always been quite spiritual though and returned sporadically to exploring. I have dabbled in Paganism, witchcraft, the occult in a New Agey way, Spiritualism, Hinduism and Buddhism.  The Buddhism was my most recent foray and I really liked it. I have been to the Norwich Buddhist Centre and learned to meditate. I still wasn’t sure which one was for me.

So I decided to learn more about Christianity. The Alpha Course is supposed to be for non-believers, agnostics or new Christians and is an introduction to the basics of the faith. I hoped I would get answers to my questions like the problem of evil in the world and why God made the world.

When I arrived at the hall I found that everyone there was already a member of the charismatic Church which used the Hall. I was the only vague one. I hadn’t expected this. What struck me the most was how pleasant everyone was. It was very welcoming. The pastor and leaders didn’t wear any particular clothes. It was very casual and relaxed.

Each session takes the same format. There is a meal prepared by the Church members and then a video headed up by Nicky Gumbel the founder of Alpha. Then we break into groups and discuss the topic. There is an accompanying booklet. I was hoping for some intellectual discussion but this didn’t really happen in my group. Everyone was already a true believer so they just believed. Sometimes I asked questions nobody could answer such as why the Old Testament is in the Christian Bible when there is a new promise of the New Testament. The leader who was incredibly sweet looked it up on Google for me the next week. They all seemed to take the Bible literally as the word of God so didn’t question anything. I realised I wasn’t going to be converted by clever arguments.

One thing struck me from the very beginning. They were all incredibly open and honest. Most had had life traumas which they discussed candidly. The Church was for broken people. At least this one was. I would fit right in. I warmed to them over the weeks though I often felt awkward and didn’t know what to say.

One week I finally cracked and cried as I thought about how sinful I had been and how I hadn’t come to Jesus properly even though he had given me plenty of opportunities.

The first few sessions were about what it meant to be a Christian but it swiftly turned into a conversion course.  I didn’t mind this but I could imagine some people would. In fact I wanted to be converted. I really need something solid in my life and I know the pick and mix spirituality is never going to work.

I felt I was on a roller coaster ride and I really was confronting my past and my failings and being honest with myself. I often went home in deep thought but I was enjoying it. I worked my way through the New Testament though I have done this many times before. The group leader behaves as if I am a complete atheist but I have actually read the Bible many times. I like the core message but I find lots of it confusing and contradictory. I still had lots of unanswered questions. I knew I wasn’t going to get them answered. If I wanted this I had to just go with it in my heart.

So I girded up my courage and prayed the conversion prayer recommended by Alpha. I repented and asked Jesus into my life. To my disappointment no Damascene miracle happened on the spot. Slightly sadly, I went out to walk the dog. In the church yard glebe at dusk I saw a huge white barn owl with wings outstretched hunting over  and over on the same patch of ground. It was completely unconcerned by my presence. As I stopped to watch it I was aware it looked a little like an angel. I took this as a sign. Maybe it was a very weak sign and just a coincidence but it was something.

The following week at Alpha there was a Holy Spirit day which was on a Saturday in the Church. For some reason I had a total foreboding about this and nearly didn’t go. When I got there it was all set up for a service. We watched no less than three videos in a row which were building up for the Holy Spirit experience. We had a short discussion and then the experience began. We all stood up and prayed and started to sing a hymn. We asked the Holy Spirit to come. The leaders went around and prayed for people. My group leader came to me and asked if I wanted to be prayed for. I said yes. Already I had started to feel quite strange even before this. My nose was running and I felt hot and shivery. She prayed for me and put her hands on my head. Then she started speaking in tongues and asked me to copy her. As I started I felt incredibly hot in my forehead and shivery but not cold. Then I felt like a great force came into me and something went out of me. I screamed I think about three times. Bizarrely, I can only compare it to orgasm. I am embarrassed I had a very loud orgasmic experience in front of a lot of fundamentalist Christians. Joking aside it was quite an incredible happening. I was also crying and my cheeks were wet when I opened my eyes. This was the Holy Spirit in me.

I sat down for a while afterwards feeling completely strange. I was different. One of the other leaders came over and asked if I wanted to learn to speak in tongues. I was inclined to say I had had enough for one morning but he was quite insistent so I agreed. He laid hands on my forehead again and spoke in tongues. It sounded like Ancient Aramaic. As I repeated it I had the hot sensation again and lots of lights were appearing under my closed eyelids like little fires. He said the Holy Spirit is upon you and carried on chanting. I found I could chant away on my own these strange words but I had no idea what I was saying. The same hot feeling was there but it wasn’t as intense as the first time.

Later on  a few of us joined in a circle and spoke in tongues.

I still feel in shock a few days later and I don’t quite know what to make of it. I do know that something profound happened to me and there was definitely something supernatural in the room. My rational mind has tried to make sense of it but come up with no explanation. I feel like there is something different in my mind. When I meditate or pray my brain feels different.

So I think I have become a Christian. I have been praying and reading the Bible and going about my usual tasks. The inital high has worn off but I still know I am changed. I have prayed in tongues and found it just flows out of me but I don’t know what I’m saying.

There are still a few sessions of the course to go but I feel like I have converted. It has taken me fifty years to fully accept Christ but here I am.

I don’t want to give up my daily meditation but maybe I don’t have to. I have a lot to learn but I have started the journey.


Don’t Worry. It’s Not You. It’s Society. Anxiety Blog



Modern psychological research is suggesting that the causes of anxiety may not lie within the individual in terms of faulty biology or faulty thinking patterns but come from factors within the wider society.

The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are some 3 million people in the UK with an anxiety disorder. What methods are used to give us information about anxiety? Different methods produce different evidence. Traditionally, anxiety was studied as something within the person using scientific experiments but these days surveys and interviews are often used to examine the effect of society in causing anxiety.

Anxiety is usually described in terms of the body’s stress response triggering the fight or flight reaction. This could have been useful in caveman times when we were out hunting but these days it can cause problems. The amygdala deep inside the brain alerts the rest of the brain that a threat is present and triggers an anxiety response just like in the cartoon above. Just knowing this doesn’t help you very much does it? Biology isn’t the whole story.

The Survey

The survey is a common method of collecting data in anxiety research. People answer questions about their feelings and behaviour on a scale such as the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale and this data is subject to statistical analysis. This type of research often leads to thinking of anxiety as due to faulty biology which leads to faulty thinking and disordered behaviour. It is also possible to use surveys with more open-ended questions and answers.

The survey method is cheap and can be used with lots of people at once. A large group of people taking the survey can make the evidence seem likely to be true for most people.

There are problems with the survey method though. The people answering questions may have lied or they may not have taken the survey seriously. They may not have understood the question. The questions may not fully reflect their experiences. Some researchers argue that anxiety scales are not accurate. For example, a statement reads ‘I worry more than most people’ and the answer is marked true or false. Just think about how vague this is and how open to different interpretations. The element of the social environment is missing on these scales. The Twenge (2000) study, which showed increased levels of anxiety from the 1950s to the 1990s, uses this method in the primary research studies.

This means the evidence collected by this method may not be entirely reliable.

The Interview

 This is similar to a survey but a researcher interviews the people taking part. The data from this can be seen to be more accurate than a survey if the interviewer is skilled and well trained. It can produce more detailed data, getting closer to the person’s actual experience. This method can also move beyond the idea that the anxiety is a fault from within the individual. It can bring in the missing factor: the social environment. The researcher can ask people about what might have caused their anxiety or indeed cured it.

Brown et al. (1992) found that anchoring life events, which bring security, could lessen anxiety. An example of such an event could be getting married and settling down. A team of researchers interviewed women about their feelings of anxiety and they did use scales but with an interviewer doing the rating. Then they interviewed the women about what was going on in their lives in a less structured way.

There are problems with this method too. The interviewer is a person and that person could be biased. They bring in their own thoughts and feelings into the social interaction and they might even lead the interviewee into answering in a certain way. They could do this without realizing it. It is also difficult to code this rich data gained from the interviews for analysis and mistakes can creep in here.

The evidence from this method may not be totally reliable either.

The Meta-Analysis

 This is where the researcher pools the data from lots of previous studies and then performs statistical analysis on all of it to see what the effect is. This is good for looking at large amounts of data but it is so complicated errors can creep in. There may have been errors in the previous studies that are then carried over into the new study. This method is good for looking at trends in society such as has anxiety increased over time. The bad news is that it probably has. The Twenge study (2000) did this and found that anxiety has increased a huge amount since the 1950s. Twenge also compared anxiety levels with social statistics and found that anxiety levels increased along with environmental factors such as low social connectedness and social threat levels. Lonely people living in high crime areas are more likely to have high anxiety levels.

Yet again there could be a problem with the reliability of the evidence due to the possibility of errors in the original studies used for the meta-analysis.

Looking to the Future

 A more recent movement in research has criticised all these approaches as having too much power inequality. The researchers are in control. Transformative research approaches want to redress this balance and give more power to the individual. The person with anxiety can collaborate with the researcher to set up the study.

Yes that’s power to you, the individual.

All of this doesn’t mean that anxiety research has all been wrong up to now. If the researcher has tried hard to minimise the risk of errors and performed the study rigorously the evidence can be useful. Both Twenge (2000) and Brown (1992) provide reasonably good evidence to suggest that anxiety can be linked to social factors.

This can be really empowering for people with anxiety symptoms. Instead of a pill or a course of therapy they can think about factors in their lives that could be causing their symptoms.




(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)



(Charlton E. 2017) ‘What happens to your brain when anxiety attacks?’ (Online) Available at https://www.thecounsellorscafe.co.uk/single-post/2017/02/04/What-Happens-to-Your-Brain-When-Anxiety-Attacks (Accessed 27th Nov 2017)



(Hoskin, R. 2012) ‘The dangers of self-report’, (Online) Available at http://www.sciencebrainwaves.com/the-dangers-of-self-report/(Accessed 24th Nov 2017)


(McLeod, S. A. 2014) ‘The interview method’ (Online) Available at www.simplypsychology.org/interviews.html (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



(McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) 2016) ‘Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014’. Leeds: NHS Digital. (Online) Available at https://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748 (Accessed 27th 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lab.2005.08.006 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)



The Open University (2017) DD801 Medicalising and Experiencing Anxiety and Worldviews and Transformative Enquiry (Online) Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/course/view.php? id=204962 (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)




Yogi Cameron The One Plan Week 5 and 6 Review

So I am still keeping up my Yogi Cameron plan kind of. I STILL haven’t lost any weight in spite of my Spartan diet. I have had some cheat days but I would have expected at least some weight loss.  Why is my body holding on to its weight?

On the spiritual side these two weeks have been about non-stealing. By this Yogi Cameron means not just literal stealing but things like cheating on your taxes and taking someone’s parking space. I’ve realised I’m a pretty honest person as I don’t do any of these things. This is something I can be proud of at last. I am ethical. I am honest. I have empathy. This is all good for my spiritual growth.

I have been feeling better. I have cut down my portions and now I have even stopped having rice. So I am existing on fruit and vegetables mostly with vast amounts of herbal tea. I have had a few cheat days. Husband has this effect on me. He encourages me to drink wine and takes me out to lunch to places that never have anything healthy on the menu.

I have massively upped my exercise regime. I am doing yoga and then HIIT and then weight training with dumb bells. I am only doing the weight training three times a week but the other exercise every day except Sunday. This is as well as dog walking which is often miles and miles around Norfolk lanes. My legs ache most of the time.

I am also meditating and praying daily.

I have upped my productivity massively and managed to finish my novel. It just needs editing now and adding to. I am quite pleased with it but it still needs some work.

I have also started my MSc in Psychology at the Open University. It is brilliant so far and I amr really interested in it. I have sent in my first essay.

I have also started a course in Hypnotherapy training. I am really hoping this could be a new career for me. It will take me ten months. I really enjoyed the first weekend and I got some compliments. Maybe I will actually be good at this. I am hopeful. The course was very relaxed and supportive. It was right for me. My anxiety melted away.

My depression is being held at bay. My strategy has been to force myself to do things even though I don’t feel like it. This has been effective and I feel better afterwards. I still haven’t got to the stage of joy yet but I am smiling more.

I have had another intervention as I have been going to CBT sesssions with the NHS. It’s not really therapy. I sit in a room  with other people and listen to a lecture on CBT from a very young man. Then I get a booklet and tasks to do at home. There are some useful ideas in it but you can tell it’s just trying to deal with people on the cheap. One size does not fit all in my view.

I still have the problem of no income. I do need to work on this. I do everything to avoid applying for jobs. I think it must be anxiety from my previous experiences. I much prefer doing courses. I still want to work for myself ultimately. Of course I want to be a writer but unless I have a bestseller I am not going to make any money. Being a therapist would be good too. I would like to help people cope with their problems. I have had so many issues it would be lovely to help other people not go into the depths like I did.

I have had to take a long look at myself and there are still lots of things wrong. It’s painful to examine your inner life. I still have very little in the way of a social network. I feel totally alienated from family but let’s face it I always did anyway. I can’t do anything right as far as they are concerned. Maybe being reclusive is my natural state. Of course I would love to have a perfect life like people in a TV ad but maybe I’m just not made that way.

I have felt a longing for children over the last few weeks. Sadly I think I am too old. When I was younger the time never felt right. I have a lot of regrets about the past. I suppose you can regret everything or regret nothing. I am finally waking up and facing my fears.


Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 19

Weight: 63.5 kg

Breakfast: berry smoothie with almond milk

Lunch: Carrot and butter bean soup. Two slices of homemade wholemeal bread and butter

Dinner: vegetable quiche, salad, cupcake

Exercise: 30 mins yoga, 20 mins HIT routine, dog walking 1 hour

Meditation: 20 mins

Mood medium. I feel like my energy levels are improving. I went to the Alpha course in the evening so had to have the meal. Social events are really difficult for dieting. I have eaten too much yet again. I still feel proud of myself for giving up caffeine and alcohol. It is strange that the physical withdrawal from caffeine was so hard and yet there are no physical symptoms from the withdrawal from alcohol. It shows I was only psychologically addicted, not physically. I had quite a productive day and did quite a bit of university work. I also managed some gardening and planted pansies in my pots at the front of the house. The weather was fine which made dog walking a pleasure. There are lots of mushrooms growing in the lanes. The Alpha Course made me think a lot about Christianity and spirituality. There are lots of people with painful pasts there. I am not alone.

Yogi Cameron Diet Day 10

Weight: 64.1 kg No weight loss. I am becoming exasperated. I think I am eating healthily and low calorie but it’s not enough. I shall have to be ever more draconian.

Breakfast: fried egg, two slices of sourdough bread

Lunch: nut roast, roast potatoes, broccoli

Dinnner: two boiled eggs


So it’s Sunday today so I don’t do exercise. Total rest day. I did do dog walking for an hour but that’s it. I have eaten too much. Next week my plan is to cut the wine out completely. Then I will be free of stimulants. I woke up in the night again with the same headaches and leg aches. My legs were still aching in the morning. Ibuprofen is my new best friend. This caffeine withdrawal is going on for longer than I hoped. I still feel tired and have no energy. There isn’t much improvement so far. I must be patient. As far as the Yogi Cameron ethos goes I have not eaten meat or fish and I haven’t had processed food or caffeine. This is an achievement. I have been eating my main meal at lunch time instead of evening. This is all in keeping with his principles. The next big push is the alcohol. I know I have been self medicating to bear the pain of the caffeine withdrawal. I have had crazy nightmares. I really hope to feel better soon. I was lazy and watche politics and a French film. It was beautiful sunshine today so the walk was lovely. I hope I am stronger soon. There are so many things I want to do. I feel like an elderly person who needs to be pushed around in a bath chair and covered in a plaid rug. Please God can I have my energy back.