Community Psychology Section

Power, Interest and Psychology: developing David Smail’s ideas Thursday 12th - Friday 13th November 2015 Birmingham

This exciting interdisciplinary event will appeal to anyone wanting to understand the connections between psychology and disciplines such as sociology, epidemiology, philosophy and cultural studies. Whilst it is inspired by David Smail’s work, the conference is much more than a celebration of his achievements. More vitally, it is a demonstration of the continuing relevance of his ideas and of the traditions upon which they draw. Our expert speakers will inform, enthuse and inspire, pointing the way to a sophisticated psychological understanding of clinical distress that is fit for the many challenges facing us today.What does ‘austerity’ have to do with poor mental health? When psychotherapy is offered, just what is occurring, and how does it work? 

How can we understand and work with the meanings of clinical distress across the age range? And how might psychology contribute to efforts to improve the everyday lives of us all?

This two-day conference will explore questions such as these with reference to the important writings of David Smail (1938-2014). A series of eminent speakers from psychology and related disciplines will explore some of the issues and concerns raised in David’s work. Their talks will show how his work points to difficult challenges, but also to exciting opportunities. Their contributions will demonstrate the significance of David’s work, in psychology and beyond, whilst also showing how psychology can be greatly enriched by knowledge from other fields.

From outside of psychology, high-profile speakers include Professor Richard Wilkinson (author with Kate Pickett of The Spirit Level); Dr. Mark Fisher (author, Capitalist Realism); and Dr. Lisa McKenzie (author, Getting By: estates, class and culture in austerity Britain). And from within psychology, well-known speakers include Professor Dave Pilgrim, Professor Mary Boyle, Dr. Lucy Johnstone and Dr. Dave Harper. We are still in the process of finalising the conference, once we have done so a definitive speaker list and conference programme will be posted here.

David Smail’s last book, ‘Power, Interest and Psychology’, was published in 2005. His other books include ‘How To Survive Without Psychotherapy’ (1996), ‘The Origins of Unhappiness’ (1993), ‘Taking Care’ (1987) and ‘Illusion and Reality: the meaning of anxiety’ (1984). David was appointed head of clinical psychology services in Nottingham in 1969, a post he held until his retirement in 1998. He was also Special Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Nottingham.

In addition to his influential, books David authored more than 50 journal articles and book chapters. His writings, which were consistently informed by his clinical practice, place distress firmly in its material context and recognise how feelings, thoughts and behaviour are shaped by economic and social circumstances. David proposed that to understand why we are unhappy, rather than insight, we must cultivate ‘outsight’ into the world around us. This perspective - which encourages personal modesty, appreciation of luck, compassion, and recognition of our common humanity – is today more relevant than ever.

This conference is generously supported by the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology. It will be of value to clinical psychology trainees, clinical psychology practitioners, and anyone with an interest in mental health and psychological well-being.

There will be an informal evening buffet meal after the first day of the conference on Thursday at the hotel. The cost for this will be £20.00 and should be booked in advance.

If you have any queries please contact us via the event hotline on 01332 224505.