Taking it to extremes in Cambridge

Book now for the Cambridge 'Festival of Ideas'.

What can mystical experience during seizures tell us about the links between psychology and religion? Is mental illness an extreme state of being? What do we mean by ‘extreme’ in human nature? 

These questions and more are explored during a series of events that delve into our understanding of human psychology and its extremes during this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas, which launches on 15 October. 

The mystery of mystical seizures, on 18 October, features a discussion about the mind and the roots of religious life. During the event, a panel of researchers, and people who have experienced mystical occurrences in seizure, address the implications for the spiritual, and the psychology and neurology of spirituality and religion. The panel, including Reverend Professor Alasdair Coles, Rabbi Mordechai Zeller, Dr Joseph Tennant, and Iain Ball, will explore how these experiences feel, the content of these experiences, their possible neurological roots, and what they might tell us about the brain and mysticism. Is this just the product of the brain? Do these experiences lose meaning if they're 'just brain stuff'? 

On 27 October, social psychologists from Anglia Ruskin University discuss the extremes of human nature: why women vote for Trump, cross-cultural homoprejudice, criticism of the McCanns, mass and YouTube suicides, and more. Participants include Dr Annelie Harvey, Dr Magdalena Zawisza, Sam Martin, Dr Mick Finlay, Dr Emma Kaminskiy and Dr Lewis Goodings. 

The extremes of social situations and the effects on mental health are again explored during 'The extremes of everyday life and the poetics of psychoanalysis', also on 20 October. A panel investigates the ’extremes’ in therapeutic practice: working with people who are homeless, children who present challenging behaviour, and people with brain injuries. The speakers are psychotherapists Tim Hunter, on the place of extreme emotional experiences and how they are bound up with everyday life; Fliss Cadbury on working with people who are homeless; Antoinette Fox on therapeutic work with children who present challenging behaviour in school settings and are considered ‘extreme’; and Simon Lacey on his use of ecology in his work with people who have experienced brain injury. 

Other events include 'Extremes in violence' on 20 October, 'Praise and blame' with Terri Apter on 22 October, and a workshop on 'Counter stories to combat the real sense of feeling like a fake' on 27 October, led by Dr Terri Simpkin. Why do so many of us feel like a ‘fake’, and how do the ‘stories’ we carry forward from early learning, society and the workplace colour our view of ourselves and influence our behaviour in the workplace and in our personal lives?

Bookings can be made by telephone 01223 766766 or online: www.festivalofideas.cam.ac.uk 

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