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Leading psychologist aims to flush away taboo of toilet psychology

29 May 2012 British Psychological Society (BPS)

Excretion is a universal part of being human, yet it is seen as a taboo subject. Whilst other taboos such as sex and death have fallen by the wayside, what we do in the bathroom has been largely ignored. The June issue of The Psychologist, published today, 31 May 2012, looks to put this right by lifting the lid on toilet psychology.

Professor Nick Haslam, from the University of Melbourne, argues that what goes behind the door can be linked to a range of intense emotions, mental disorders, personality traits, social attitudes and linguistic practices. That it offers surprising insights into mind-body connections, culture and gender.

He says: "Psychologists have examined the psychobiology of eating, sleeping and sex at great length. Yet excretion is one of the most neglected and underappreciated topics in psychology.

"Contemplating the absence of excretion from contemporary psychology I wondered whether the topic was off limits. It turns out there is significant literature, but it is often obscure. In this feature I ask whether toilet psychology reveals something important about human concerns."

Also in the June issue, top psychologists report on the British Psychological Society Annual Conference 2012 which was held in April in London. Jenny Webb and Simon Whitaker address learning disability and question whether the right people are being labelled and supported. Arij Baidas interviews Linda Sakr, a therapist working in Dubai. Diane Lockley looks back at what life was like within Leicestershire's first lunatic asylum.

The Psychologist is the monthly magazine of the BPS.

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