The Branch exists to promote and advance Psychology as a whole, but with particular relevance to policy and practice in Scotland.
On this page you'll find news, updates, and blog articles specifically relevant to the work and interests of the Scottish Branch.
For news and articles relevant to the wider Society please visit the main BPS news page.
Updates from the Scottish Branch
Postgraduate Conference took place in August 2019Show content
The Scottish Branch undertook a networking research study day for postgradaute students.
This was held on Tuesday 27 August 2019 at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Registration and Refreshments
Hamish Wood Foyer
Welcome and Opening Address
Representative from Glasgow Caledonian University
Benjamin Butterworth GCU
Amanda Brown University of Strathclyde
Morning PG student presentations
Lunch and Poster session
Focus Panel Question Time
Dr Beth Hannah University of Dundee
Dr David Robertson University of Strathclyde
Dr Ian Bushnell University of Glasgow
Dr Lana Ireland Glasgow Caledonian University
Refreshments available at Café in the Saltire Centre
Afternoon student presentations
Dr Maxine Swingler, Honorary secretary, BPS Scottish Branch, University of Glasgow.
Poster session and networking
The Lantern and W110
Post conference social and networking event.
Strathclyde University Union
Booking details on BPS events page.
BPS Public Policy Priorities for Scotland from 2018Show content
Dumfries and Galloway HUB - July 2019Show content
Dumfries and Galloway HUB event – “Brining ourselves to mind”
On 30th July at the Holiday Inn in Dumfries, Dumfries and Galloway hosted its first BPS HUB event. This took the form of a screening of ‘The Sense of an Ending’, based on the Julian Barnes novel of the same name. Thirteen people attended the event from a range of backgrounds, and we were pleased to welcome two BPS members from Glasgow and to renew acquaintance with a recently retired local member. The screening was preceded by a short talk on autobiographical memory, which is a major theme of the film. Following the film there was some lively debate about the merits of the film, both artistic and psychological. An interesting question was raised as to whether therapy, particularly those forms of therapy that are historical, is inevitably a social constructivist endeavour.
‘The Sense of an Ending’ is a film about the past, and how we construct and reconstruct that in our memories. The film switches back and forth between two periods in the protagonist’s life. We first meet Tony, now retired, who introduces us to his younger self via a process of reminiscence. Through these reminiscences we are introduced to Adrian, a fiercely intelligent teenager and one of Tony’s close school friends. Tony recalls a debate between Adrian and his history teacher on the veracity or otherwise of historical accounts, and this theme is later picked up in the film at the individual level. Tony also recalls a relationship with Veronica, which ended acrimoniously. Veronica and Adrian later write to Tony to inform him that they have embarked on a relationship, and he sends them a postcard with a trite and sarcastic message of congratulations. Finally, he recalls hearing the news, sometime later, that Adrian had killed himself.
In the present day, Tony becomes re-acquainted with Veronica. Her mother has died, and she has left Tony Adrian’s diary in her will. Veronica is the executor of the will, and is reluctant to hand over the diary. Eventually she hands Tony a letter, one that he has no recollection of having written. The letter, to Veronica and Adrian, was written after the postcard and is a vitriolic and cruel outpouring of emotion. Tony wonders whether it is this letter that perhaps played some part in Adrian’s decision to take his own life.
There is a further twist to the tale which, for the sake of those who may not have read the book or seen the film, I shan’t disclose.
Clearly, the film is of interest to psychologists, raising the idea that memories can be repressed in order to maintain a positive sense of self. The concept of repression is arguably a Freudian one in that Freud coined the term, but poets well before Freud were aware of the unreliability of memory – for example, Shakespeare:
“Like oneWho having into truth, by telling of it,Made such a sinner of his memory,To credit his own lie.”
There is some support for the idea of repression in recent research. For example, Williams (1994) interviewed 129 women with documented histories of CSA and found that 38% did not recall CSA when directly asked about abuse experiences.
The tendency to forget, or repress, CSA was more likely the younger the woman was when she experienced CSA, and was also more likely to occur where the abuser was a family member. Loftus et al. (1994) subsequently criticized the Williams paper on the grounds that forgetting is a normal process, and pointed to their own ‘Lost in the Mall’ research, showing how easy it was to create false memories through suggestion. They implied that this process might equally arise in therapy, if the therapist were to lead the patient down a particular pathway. Williams countered that, whilst forgetting was normal and that whilst false memories could indeed be created in certain circumstances, her original findings nevertheless pointed towards a ‘motivated forgetting’. This kind of repression, however, is associated with the most extreme circumstances and typically occurs in young children. We know as clinicians that trauma is generally characterized by an inability to forget, so the ‘trauma’ of discovering that your former girlfriend is now with you former best friend, and your associated act of letter-writing, is arguably not likely to manifest itself in an act of repression.
Other accounts of autobiographical memory (for example, Conway 2005) emphasize the tension between ‘correspondence’ – memories that are true to the facts – and ‘coherence’ – memories that are revised (but not repressed) so as to fit with our positive model of self. This process of revising memories so that they fit better with existing schemata seems to come closer to the usual process of autobiographical memory than does repression. There is also evidence that it is our schematic view of ourselves that is more closely related to well-being than our ability to recall specific autobiographical memories, and this seems especially the case in older adults (Rathbone, 2015).
Linked to the ‘revisionist’ model of autobiographical memory is the broader model of attribution theory (Heider, 1958). Attribution theory, put simply, states that others behave badly because of their own character flaws, but we behave badly because of the circumstances we find ourselves in. One can see how these self-attributions might underpin revisions in autobiographical memory that enable us to see ourselves in a more positive light.
For me, the HUB event marked another sense of an ending. The Holiday Inn forms part of the former Crichton Royal Hospital estate, one of the grandest of the Victorian asylums in Scotland. The Crichton, in its heyday, was s self-contained village complete with its own church, farm and water supply, occupying a site extending to 100 acres. The clinical psychology department at the Crichton was the first in Scotland, attracting the likes of the narrative therapist Miller Mair and the neuropsychologist John Raven. When I took up a post in Dumfries & Galloway thirteen years ago, much of the Crichton estate was still in use by the NHS, but in 2013 the last in-patient ward was closed and earlier this year the last of the NHS-owned buildings was sold to a private developer. It will be turned into a luxury hotel and, for better or worse, that will mark the end of the Crichton Royal Hospital.
Conway, M. et al (2004) “The self and autobiographical memory: correspondence and coherence” Social Cognition 22(5)
Conway, M. (2005) “Memory and the self” Journal of Memory and Language 53
Conway, M. & Loveday, C. (2015) “Remembering, imagining, false memories and personal meanings” Consciousness and Cognition 33
Freud, S. (1910 / 2014) Five Lectures On Psychoanalysis White Press
Heider, F. (1958) The Psychology Of Interpersonal Relations
Loftus (1994) “Memories of childhood sexual abuse: remembering and repressing” Psychology of Women Quarterly 18(1)
Loftus, E. & Pickrell, J. (1995) “The formation of false memories” Psychiatric Annals 25(12)
Rathbone, C et al. (2015) “Autobiographical memory and well-being in aging: the central role of semantic self-images” Consciousness & Cognition 33
Williams, L. (1994) “Recall of childhood trauma: a prospective study of women’s recall of childhood sexual abuse” Journal of Consult. & Clin. Psychology 62(6)
Annual General Meeting
Scottish Branch AGMShow content
Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Meeting of the British Psychological Society – Scottish Branch 2020.
The AGM will be held on Monday 27 April 2020 at 3.15pm via Zoom.
Meeting ID: 452 802 138
Password: 452 118
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If you have any queries regarding the AGM, nominations or resolutions please email Member Network Services.