I’m writing this from a cafe in Antwerp, at the end of my first mini book tour abroad, having spent the last week doing talks and interviews in Amsterdam and Antwerp. My Dutch publisher, Regine, has been putting a lot into the promotion here – there’s even going to be a poster campaign around the Read more…

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There’s a new spirit of self-help and mutual improvement blowing through public health policy. I first felt its breeze in Scotland’s national mental health strategy, which was published in August, and which made much of its ‘person-centred approach’ to mental health in Scotland. One of the main themes of the strategy is “embedding more peer-to-peer Read more…

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I was at a drinks party of a history conference this week, talking to a young academic who was writing a PhD. ‘And what are you working on?’ she asked me. I said I was researching philosophy groups, and was interested in the role of support groups and self-help networks in education and health. ‘Oh’, Read more…

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A few newsletters back, I talked about the idea of the ‘mass intelligentsia’, and posted an interview I did with Melvyn Bragg about the term (he used it in this programme on class and culture back in March). I’ve been digging into this idea a bit more since then, for an academic research project I’m Read more…

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What do Marcus Aurelius and Bridget Jones have in common? The answer, of course, is that they both kept a journal, and used it in their efforts to change themselves. The first page of Bridget’s diary, on January 1st, shows her performing something of a ‘moral audit’ on herself after a two-day binge: 129 lbs. Read more…

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