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Psychology in the arts, arts in Psychology

A small crowd of people observing a piece of art in a gallery

Art and Psychology have been tightly intertwined since long before Freud used the story of Oedipus to decipher the unconsciousness mind.

Prof. Paul Stenner, Co-Director of the Open Psychology Research Centre (OPRC), coordinated an event in May which brought together Psychology and Arts scholars from across The Open University to explore some of these ‘intertwinings’.  

Some of the projects covered include:

  • How does writing and reading fictional stories empower ordinary people living through difficult circumstances? (Dr Siobhan Campbell, Prof. Sara Haslam)
  • How can reading stories lead us to empathise with those we might otherwise scorn? (Dr Zoe Walkington, Prof. Graham Pike)
  • Why was music so important in the treatments offered in 19th Century asylums? (Dr Rosemary Golding)
  • What are the ethics of using writing to voice silenced stories like those of Virginia Wolff’s learning disabled half-sister Laura? (Dr Emma Claire Sweeney
  • Why and how are people curating their bookshelves to manage the impressions they give whilst video-conferencing? (Dr Shafquat Towheed)
  • What can artists learn from psychoanalysis and psychoanalysis from art? (Dr Edward Hogan)
  • How are cognitive representations of intersex people influenced by classical literature? (Prof. Peter Hegarty)
  • Why are so many scientists now using arts to engage the public with their research? (Prof. Darren Langdridge).

These questions and many more were discussed during the event, which has paved the way to new research ideas for which a funding application is currently being prepared.

Image credit: Photo by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash

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