Category Archives: Recent publications

NEW RESEARCH: Repression, defence, & the psychology of science

Boag, S. (2015). Repression, defence, & the psychology of science. In S. Boag, L. A. W. Brakel, and V. Talvitie (Eds.), Philosophy, Science, and Psychoanalysis (pp. 247-268). London: Karnac.

Boag 2015 Repression, defence, & the psychology of science download


In this chapter I propose that Freud’s theory of repression, broadly formulated, is essential for understanding the psychology of science. The possibility of self-deception and motivated ignoring in science is first discussed in the context of ‘turning a blind eye’, ‘blindness of the seeing eye’ and selective inattention. The relationship between human nature, unpleasure, and the aims of science is then addressed in the context of statistics, pathological science, and socially constructed blindness. Alfred Mele’s seminal work on self-deception is then considered and I propose that some account of Freudian repression appears to be required to satisfactorily account for selective inattention in self-deception. While determining whether any given scientist is engaging in self-deception is not easily determined, the in principle possibility of self-deception in science, is a serious concern for the discipline to acknowledge.

NEW RESEARCH: Psychodynamic approaches to Borderline Personality

Boag, S. (2014). Psychodynamic approaches to Borderline Personality DisorderACPARIAN, 9, 25-28.

Boag 2014 BPD


Psychodynamic approaches to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are particularly relevant to understanding the aetiology, treatment, and even prevention of BPD. Psychodynamic approaches contribute an understanding of the core deficits surrounding identity, object relations (self and other relationships), and emotion dysregulation in terms of personality organisation, motivational processes (e.g., attachment needs), affects, conflict, and defences. Psychodynamic approaches complement non-psychodynamic approaches to BPD. There are two major psychodynamic approaches to treating BPD: Transference-Focused Psychotherapy and Mentalisation-based Treatments. Both have demonstrated clinical utility and share common features with respect to the development of self- and other-reflection. Both the conceptualisation and classification of personality disorders have received longstanding criticism for various reasons, including comorbidity and poor reliability of assessment. Nevertheless, the view that personality (however conceptualised) can be disordered is generally accepted, and psychodynamic approaches have a long history of contributing to both our description and understanding of ‘character pathology’. Furthermore, psychodynamic accounts are particularly well-suited to understanding and guiding the treatment of personality disorders.

NEW RESEARCH: Ego, drives, and the dynamics of internal objects

Boag. S. (2014). Ego, drives, and the dynamics of internal objects. Frontiers in Psychoanalysis and Neuropsychoanalysis, 5, 1-13.

Boag 2014 Frontiers


This paper addresses the relationship between the ego, id, and internal objects. While ego psychology views the ego as autonomous of the drives, a less well-known alternative position views the ego as constituted by the drives. Based on Freud’s ego-instinct account, this position has developed into a school of thought which postulates that the drives act as knowers. Given that there are multiple drives, this position proposes that personality is constituted by multiple knowers. Following on from Freud, the ego is viewed as a composite sub-set of the instinctual drives (ego-drives), whereas those drives cut off from expression form the id. The nature of the “self” is developed in terms of identification and the possibility of multiple personalities is also established. This account is then extended to object-relations and the explanatory value of the ego-drive account is discussed in terms of the addressing the nature of ego-structures and the dynamic nature of internal objects. Finally, the impact of psychological conflict and the significance of repression for understanding the nature of splits within the psyche are also discussed.

NEW RESEARCH: How important is temperament? The relationship between coping styles, early maladaptive schemas and social anxiety

Mairet, K., Boag, S., & Warburton, W. (2014). How important is temperament? The relationship between coping styles, early maladaptive schemas and social anxiety.The International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 14, 171-189

Mairet, Boag & Warburton 2014


Young’s schema theory provides a theoretical framework that relates temperament, copingstyles and Early Maladaptive Schemas to social anxiety and Social Anxiety Disorder(SAD). The current study explored the relationship between these variables in a sample of360 non-clinical adults. Results indicated that individuals higher in social anxiety display higher levels of schemas themed
around Disconnection and Rejection than individuals low in social anxiety. Temperament appears to influence the type of coping style some individuals adopt with more introverted individuals utilising more avoidant strategies. Nevertheless, neuroticism appears to have a stronger relationship with  Disconnection and Rejection schemas than coping strategies linked to either avoiding or overcompensating for stressors. Path analysis was used to test three models of the data based on therelationships proposed by Young and colleagues. Results provide preliminary evidence that the impact of maladaptive schemas on coping strategies is stronger than the influence of coping strategies on such schemas. The implications of the findings for both theory and treatment concerning social anxiety and SAD are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.

NEW RESEARCH: Unifying psychology: Shared ontology and the continuum of practical assumptions

Marsh, T. & Boag, S. (2014). Unifying psychology: Shared ontology and the continuum of practical assumptions. Review of General Psychology, 18, 49-59.


Critics have described psychology as a science impaired by disunity. The most recent special issue of Review of General Psychology sought to specifically address this concern, seeking perspectives from a wide range of theorists, each of whom offered their tradition’s approach to how psychology as a whole may be integrated into a more unified whole. To continue this discussion, this article draws upon examples from the special issue, the disunity crisis literature, and wider writings in the philosophy of science, to explore the theoretical and conceptual divisions that foster ambiguity, confusion, and apparent irreconcilable differences between the disparate fields of psychology. The authors conclude that the majority of contemporary, scientific psychology is oriented toward a shared physical ontology, which can serve as a common grounding point from which the conceptual and theoretical differences of disparate fields may be meaningfully framed and evaluated. To this end, this article proposes that the various research traditions of psychology can be understood through their positions along a continuum of practical assumptions, which embodies the inherent conflict between two scientific priorities: metaphysical certainty (the safe end of the continuum) and practical experimental predictions (the risky end of the continuum). Three theoretical perspectives offered in the unification special issue are examined under this framework: situational realism (a distinctly safe approach), developmental evolutionary psychology (an intermediate approach), and the Tree of Knowledge unified theory (a relatively risky approach). The authors explore how the recommendations of each approach can be seen as a function of its position on the continuum of practical assumptions, and the implications of this understanding for future integrative efforts is discussed.

Congratulations to Tim Marsh

Congratulations to Tim Marsh who has just been awarded his PhD for his thesis titled ” “Empathy modulation and coalition management: An evolutionary theory of moral judgement and prejudice”. Tim’s thesis was an ambitious project that addressed philosophy of science,  evolutionary theory as an integrative framework for psychology, and devising a novel testing procedure for assessing moral prejudice via interactive scenarios. A sample of Tim’s work that was recently published can be seen here: Marsh and Boag 2013