Public lecture by Nick Haslam

25 October 2018
Fox Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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Creeping Concepts: our expanding ideas of harm and pathology

A public lecture by Nick Haslam, Professor of Psychology,  University of Melbourne and 2018 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Concept meanings refuse to stand still. They move around over time reflecting changes in culture and society. In this talk, Professor Haslam will explore a pattern of conceptual change that originates in psychology and the social sciences but now permeates the culture at large. Concepts involving harm have gradually broadened their meanings so that they now refer to a much wider range of phenomena than they did in previous decades. This pattern of “concept creep” is illustrated by expanding notions of bullying, mental disorder, trauma and prejudice. Professor Haslam will argue that concept creep reveals a rising cultural sensitivity to harm that has ambivalent social implications and sheds light on contemporary debates about ‘political correctness’, campus culture wars and psychiatric diagnosis, among others. Professor Haslam will present findings from an emerging program of of empirical research on these questions.

Nick Haslam is Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne. A graduate of that university, Nick received his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, and taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City before returning to Australia in 2002. Nick’s research interests are in the fields of personality, social psychology and psychiatric classification, and he has published nine books and more than 200 articles and book chapters in these and related areas. In addition to his academic writing, Nick contributes regularly to The Conversation and Australian Book Review, and has also written for Time, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Monthly, and two Best Australian Science Writing anthologies. Nick is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and of several professional organizations. In the recent past he has been a member of the ARC College of Experts, Head of the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and President of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists. He is currently co-director of the Mental Health PhD program at the University of Melbourne, and Director of the Researchers for Asylum Seekers group.

This lecture is presented by the Institute of Advanced Studies in association with the UWA Medical Humanities Network.

The UWA Medical Humanities Network is a university-wide network with international links that provides an opportunity for educators and researchers engaged in medicine, allied health sciences and dentistry and those in the humanities, arts, music, psychology and social sciences to exchange ideas, share information and opportunities, and establish collaborative partnerships.