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Mental health life space and lived experience ecologies




Speaker: Paula Reavey, Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University

The Centre for Mental Health Research at the School of Health Sciences, City, University of London welcomes Professor Paula Reavey as part of the research seminar series.


It is perhaps difficult to directly conceive how process philosophy might sanction more productive ways of conceptualising lived experiences of distress. In this paper, I propose such ways are possible, using examples from empirical studies across a variety of inpatient and community settings, using concepts such as life-space, movement and affordance in these various experience-ecologies. Analytically speaking, the focus turns to the manner in which agency is negotiated, moved through and felt within specific settings and their attendant materiality.

Using the concept of ‘life-space’, developed by the social psychologist Kurt Lewin, I explore how people who live with distress have relative freedom to move within institutional and community spaces, yet can lack relational space and hence life-space, which in turn can serve to contract agency. Finally, I wish to illustrate how the expansion of life-space is possible by turning to existing practices which make explicit the role of space and relationality.

About the Speaker

Paula Reavey is Professor of Psychology at London South Bank University, a director of Design in Mental Health Network UK, and research consultant at St. Andrew’s Healthcare and Maudsley hospitals. She has co-edited three volumes, New Feminist Stories of Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual Scripts and Dangerous Dialogues (with Sam Warner, Routledge, 2003) Memory Matters: Contexts for Understanding Sexual Abuse Recollections (with Janice Haaken, Psychology Press, 2009), and Space & Mental Health (with Laura McGrath, for Routledge, 2018). She has also sole edited volume, Visual Methods in Psychology: Using and Interpreting Images in Qualitative Research (Routledge, 2011 - now in preparation for its second edition).

She has also published two monographs Psychology, Mental Health and Distress (with John Cromby & Dave Harper, Palgrave, 2013 - winner of the British Psychological Society Book Award, 2014 – now in preparation for its second edition) and VitalMemory and Affect: Living with a Difficult Past (with Steven D. Brown, Routledge, 2015).

Paula has also published nearly a hundred articles on mental distress, social remembering and visual methods. She has designed and delivered courses relating to the psychology of mental health and distress, including a Masters in Mental Health and Clinical Psychology, which has a firm focus on the lived experience of individuals coping with, and managing distress. She has received funding from the ESRC, Higher Education Academy, St. Andrew’s Healthcare, Design in Mental Health UK and the Wellcome Trust.

A light lunch with refreshment will be available from 12:45pm with the talk commencing at 1pm.

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When and where

12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 25th June 2018

MG26 Myddelton Street Building City, University of London 1 Myddelton Street London EC1R 1UW United Kingdom

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