The 'new normal', and beyond

We need your submissions for a special summer edition.

In these changing times, The Psychologist team have adapted to remote working in order to bring you your May edition (due in the post by 16 April, as well as online and in our app), and we’re making good progress with June. However, for a whole host of reasons, we’ve made the decision to produce a combined July/August magazine this year. 

Although this move was expedited largely by the ongoing uncertainty around the global coronavirus pandemic, it’s something we’ve considered doing for a while. It’s common practice in membership organisations and professional magazines, and we believe that trying it now gives us a great opportunity to do something genuinely different, relevant and timely. We are determined to bring psychologists together in producing a collection that is original, stimulating and practical in terms of how the content has been gathered and presented.

Now we need your help.

The idea is that the July/August issue would not have the regular sections – ‘Letters’, ‘News’, ‘Books’, ‘Culture’ etc. We are likely to continue with some of that coverage on our website, but the priority will be pulling together a ‘special edition’ with three main strands:

1) The ‘new normal’: We want you to look six months or more down the line. How might we and the world we live in be psychologically changed by coronavirus? How might the discipline itself have to adapt?

A mix of the personal and professional perspectives will likely engage the reader – think ‘magazine’ from the start. But above all it’s important that these pieces are evidence-based, i.e. clearly grounded in psychological theory, research and practice. 

We welcome contributions from psychologists in research or practice, at any career stage. As with the perspectives we have gathered here we are particularly keen to hear from those directly involved in the response.

These pieces can be anything up to 1000 words, or email me on [email protected] to discuss the potential for longer contributions. 

2) Changing landscapes: 2040 visions: We’re also calling for psychologists to look further down the line. Imagine it’s 2040. You’re still working in Psychology, but it has changed. How? 

These perspectives don’t have to be coronavirus-related. We have already been collecting these pieces, to tie in with our now-postponed 2020 Conference, but would love to see more. 

Again, up to 1000 words, engaging and informative, and suitable for our large professional audience. We would like you to write imaginatively as if you're looking back from 2040 at what has changed, or what hasn't changed, and the challenges along the way.

3) Staying together apart: the artistic response: Since the outbreak and lockdown measures, we’ve seen some readers react with artistic and cultural output. Maybe Psychology, or The Psychologist, have been a theme in your art, photography, poetry? Perhaps your professional life has permeated your attempts to maintain and even strengthen important social identities during times of physical distancing? We’d love to showcase your best efforts.  


For all three aspects, send all submissions to me on [email protected]. The sooner the better, but definitely by 15 May. 

Please note on your submission if you’re a student in psychology; this will serve as our 2020 Voices In Psychology programme, in that we’ll be seeking to identify and then nurture new writing talent.

We of course recognise that people have more competing priorities than ever, and we are throwing ourselves at your mercy in terms of pulling together this ambitious issue at a challenging time. We can offer a supportive editorial process, and the opportunity to reach a very large audience in print and online. We’re also looking to get creative about how we gather the content: for example, through the new BPS Member Connect site, and the possibility of audio/video interviews with one of our team. We’re also seeking to organise a webinar on the ‘new normal’ aspect. 

As we continue to bring you content – in print, on our website and via Twitter – we hope you are finding at least some of it interesting and useful. We look forward to returning to something approaching ‘normal’ later in the year. But for now, we would really appreciate your help in producing a July/August issue that our profession can be proud of.

Dr Jon Sutton
Managing Editor

*Stop press* - our editor Dr Jon Sutton will be hosting a live webinar on Tuesday 5 May to discuss 'the new normal, and beyond'. Speakers are Dr Rowena Hill (seconded to the Government's cross-departmental C19 foresight group), Professor Susan Michie (Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change) and Kathryn Scott (the British Psychological Society's Director of Policy).

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Gillian Bowditch writes in The Sunday Times, 19th April 2020:

"The worry is still real but initial despair is giving way to new and ingenious ways of contributing... Networks of businesses are helping each other in so many ways. It is not just businesses. Community groups ate rallying round vulnerable individuals... Everyone is frightened to some degree but everyday moans and groans have given way to gratitude.

... people are finding joy in the margins of their lives. Clearly there are desperate tragedies (too and) it doesn't do to be Panglossian about this but there is a sense of cognitive dissonance about much of what is being reported.

A lot of the academic forecasting is little more than speculation with an apocalyptic spin .. (and) there are too many unknown factors for such predictions to have any currency...

But the most important factor missing from the predictions is an acknowledgement of the sheer strength of the humsn spirit. There is very little about Covid-19 that we get to control but we do get to control our response to the aftermath. It may be that anxiety levels are raised but people are also surprising themselves and their loved ones with their sheer resilience.

There is nothing I have seen in the last month - from the response to Captain Tom Moore's 100th birthday walk (nearly £25.5 million raised so far) to the soup being distributed to the homeless community locally who are now housed in a hotel - that mskes me pessimistic for the future.

We msy live in uncertain times but there is nothing hesitant or ambiguous about the wsy most are rising to the challenge."


Shall we discuss this as psychologists?

The last word in the Subject line of the newspaper comment piece just submitted by me for discussion should of course read "pandemic" - apologies!

Apologies also for the typos