Committee Room 3, Town Hall, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, Hendon, NW4 4BT
Philip Powell is an EPSRC-funded Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, UK. His research interests focus on emotion and its implications for our well-being, behaviour, and decision-making. He has two research foci: i) the role of empathy in interpersonal interactions; and ii) the emotion of disgust.
Phillip's PhD explored the concept of 'self-disgust' in the context of depression, and he continues to supervise projects in this area. He recently co-edited The Revolting Self: Perspectives on the Psychological, Social, and Clinical Implications of Self-Directed Disgust (Karnac, 2015).
"They'd kind of jump back so they didn't have to touch me and stuff … kind of the same thing you would do if there was a dog poo on the road, you'd just not touch it and stuff." – Traditionally, disgust has been an emotion tied to external causes, yet increasing clinical evidence suggests the emotion may be particularly problematic when it is directed toward the self.
While still a novel concept for psychological study, emerging research demonstrates that self-directed disgust may play a role in a number of mental health problems, including depression, eating disorders, sexual dysfunctions, post-traumatic stress, body dysmorphia, and borderline personality disorder.
Drawing on mixed-methods data from my PhD and ongoing work with people with cancer, I will introduce the idea of "self-disgust" as an investigable psychological construct. I will argue that, when maladaptive, self-disgust is best conceptualised as an enduring (dysfunctional) emotion schema, which appears to be associated with certain presentations of depression and a range of other psychological disorders. Issues around measurement, links with other psychological phenomena, and experimentally altering the construct will be discussed, as will some ongoing and future directions in the area.