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Me, myself and... why


When you think about it, the question ‘why?’ is key to every aspect of our lives. Why do we think, feel or act a certain way in certain situations? Why do we form particular relationships? Why are some things easy and others hard? And, not to get too metaphysical, why are we even here in the first place? I was definitely that annoying child that kept asking my parents “but why?” “Because I say so” was simply not an acceptable answer!


The desire to answer the question ‘why?’ undoubtedly drew me to the field of psychology. I graduated from UWE with 1st class honours, specialising in the areas of philosophy & consciousness, behavioural and forensic psychology. I wrote my final year dissertation on the psychological significance of fantasy role playing games, delving deep into Carl Jung’s work on archetypes, examining the aesthetics of games, the narrative, music, art and allegory. But I also looked at the impact games have on the mind, how they can be used as a tool for learning or social interaction and what happens when people become addicted to them. I then went on to do a master’s degree in how the principles of psychology can be applied to the workplace. And it’s been useful training because I apply psychology to my workplace every day!


Psychology is, in essence, the study of human behaviour and how this behaviour is affected by the physical, the mental, our environment, and perhaps most importantly, the people we interact with. I initially saw psychology as something of a super power. I mean if you can figure out what makes people tick, life and relationships should be much easier to navigate right? But there is so much we still don’t understand about the mind. Human beings are beautifully complex, nuanced, unpredictable, and fallible. But that won’t stop me from trying to figure out ‘why’?


I strongly believe my unique background brings a special dimension to my work. Whether that's connecting with a character to understand their hopes, fears and how they make sense of the world. Or understanding a client's brand, their customers and how best to engage with them. Even the ability to interpret copy, take direction or offer up subtle variations in style, tone and intonation. It is all born out of psychology. And if it isn’t, you should probably be asking… why? Or rather why not? If you aren’t thinking about things on a deeper level, how can you expect to connect with people on a deeper level? The same principle applies just as much to creating a compelling character as it does to consumer behaviour, creating brand loyalty and happy customers.


You’ve probably heard this saying, widely attributed to Aristotle, but it’s also a key component of Gestalt Psychology and I am reminded of it whenever I’m working on something. It’s particularly noticeable on a film set where there is generally a lot of waiting around. You start to notice all these people beavering away at seemingly unrelated tasks. The gaffer, the caterer, the person in the production office, the props guy. But the project as a whole cannot be successful unless everyone plays their part and understands why they are doing it.

When you think about it, it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done at all given how many barriers can be in our way. Yet somehow, together, we can create a wonderful piece of art that will move people, sometimes profoundly. It will outlive all those that played their part in it.


Art holds a mirror up to life. Great art opens a portal to the transcendent and reflected back is your own soul laid bare. What a privilege it is to be part of that process, however big or small. Or to be in the audience when you experience that synergy where everything comes together, as if it was just meant to be and the message was exactly what you needed to hear in that moment. I’m not sure even Psychology will ever adequately explain that.

So to use the actor’s cliché. What’s your motivation? Tell me your ‘why’? Or perhaps we’ll figure it out together and create something magical with thought, feeling depth and meaning.


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