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Navigating Cancel Culture and Fostering Authenticity: A Psychologist's Perspective

This article has been adapted from episode 107 of The Aspiring psychologist Podcast. If you prefer you can listen here or watch here. 

A picture of Dr Marianne Trent with the text: cancel Culture and psychology
Cancel Culture and Psychology

Dr. Marianne Trent delves into the complexities of cancel culture, fear of speaking out, and the impact it has on individuals both personally and professionally. Joined by Dr. Deborah Kingston, the discussion highlights the challenges of expressing genuine opinions, especially in the realm of mental health and social dynamics.

Cancel Culture in Various Contexts: Dr. Kingston emphasises the prevalence of cancel culture in diverse settings, from professional engagements to personal interactions. She sheds light on instances where psychologists face resistance when addressing topics such as neurodiversity, creating an environment where open dialogue becomes challenging. The fear of negative reactions can hinder genuine conversations on crucial issues.

Generational Divides and Cancel Culture: The conversation expands to include the impact of cancel culture on generational divides, especially during family gatherings like Christmas. Dr. Trent and Dr. Kingston discuss how differing opinions within families can lead to suppressed voices, invalidating experiences, and the struggle to maintain authenticity. The dialogue urges psychologists and individuals alike to consider the importance of hearing diverse perspectives, especially during festive occasions.

Global Issues and Cancel Culture: The podcast explores the intersection of cancel culture with global issues, using the example of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Dr. Kingston highlights the challenges psychologists face in expressing nuanced views on such sensitive matters, emphasising the importance of understanding the humanity on both sides. The conversation extends to the impact of cancel culture on social media platforms, where expressing a balanced perspective can sometimes be met with hostility.

Cancel Culture's Impact on Mental Health: Dr. Kingston underscores the mental health implications of cancel culture, linking it to increased anxiety, self-harm, and a reduction in self-worth. Suppressing authentic expression can lead to a sense of disconnection and exacerbate feelings of shame. The conversation stresses the need for psychologists to create spaces where individuals feel heard, understood, and valued for their true selves.

Promoting Authenticity and Connection: The podcast concludes with a plea for fostering authentic conversations and connections. Dr. Trent emphasises the importance of seeking support from those who understand and accept individuals for who they truly are. Both psychologists encourage a shift towards a more balanced and inclusive approach to reduce discrimination in everyday life.

Closing Thoughts: As the episode concludes, Dr. Trent and Dr. Kingston leave listeners with a powerful message: the importance of understanding and embracing diverse perspectives, creating spaces for authentic expression, and challenging cancel culture to foster genuine connections. Stay tuned for the second half of this insightful podcast conversation.

As the podcast episode with Dr. Deborah Kingston continues, the discussion delves deeper into the challenges of cancel culture within the mental health profession, particularly focusing on the National Health Service (NHS). Dr. Kingston shares her experiences and perspectives on the obstacles faced when attempting to address issues within the system and the impact of cancel culture on professionals' ability to bring positive changes.

Cancel Culture and Resistance to Change: Dr. Kingston highlights how cancel culture played a role in her decision to step away from the NHS. She describes encountering resistance when challenging bureaucratic processes and management layers that hindered effective clinical work. The struggle to be heard and the perceived hierarchy between different healthcare professions, especially with non-psychologist managers, contributed to a stifling work environment.

The Divide in Private Practice: The conversation shifts to the challenges faced in private practice, where cancel culture is also prevalent. Dr. Kingston discusses the skepticism and suspicion faced by private psychologists in meetings, emphasising the need for recognition of their skills and ethical practices. The lack of title protection for psychologists adds to the complexity, as individuals from various backgrounds can use the term "psychologist," potentially compromising public safety.

Professional Regulatory Bodies and Cancel Culture: Dr. Marianne Trent and Dr. Kingston explore the role of professional regulatory bodies in mitigating cancel culture. They touch upon the potential risks associated with unqualified individuals providing mental health advice and the importance of public protection. The conversation underscores the need for media responsibility in promoting accurate representation and expertise within the mental health field.

Assistant Psychologists and Their Role: The discussion expands to the challenges faced by assistant psychologists, particularly regarding their role and level of support. Dr. Kingston emphasises the importance of understanding the assistant psychologist's role as an assistant to a psychologist and the need for appropriate supervision. The conversation prompts a suggestion for a future episode dedicated to exploring the optimal assistant psychologist role and its components.

Coping Strategies and Authenticity: Dr. Kingston offers advice for individuals who fear being genuine to themselves, especially during festive times. She suggests focusing on personal values, finding ways to express oneself authentically, and creating resourcing strategies to navigate challenging situations.

Closing Thoughts: As the podcast concludes, Dr. Trent and Dr. Kingston extend warm wishes for the holiday season and emphasise the significance of connecting with loved ones, whether biological or chosen family. The conversation encourages self-care and a sense of connection, emphasising that being alone can be challenging at any time of the year.

Epilogue: Dr. Trent expresses gratitude to the listeners, invites them to connect on social media, and encourages sharing podcast content with those who might find it beneficial. The episode ends with anticipation for more insightful discussions in future episodes.

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