About this course

The Anna Freud Centre is launching a year-long free programme of public seminars  and inviting all to join us as we contemplate the future of children and young people’s mental health. The Transformation Seminars is an inaugural series of free lectures open to the public to celebrate the Anna Freud’s Centre’s new building, the Kantor Centre of Excellence (N1 9JH) and ask some of the most eminent names in mental health what would most contribute to a transformation of our approach to mental health. 

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This seminar

Sometimes and in some places we fit in, other times and places we don’t. Some children really don’t enjoy their school - and we now know that has an independent and much stronger negative effect on their outcomes than we once thought; others can’t wait to get to school. We all have a sense of what it means to fit in, or not, through the individual circumstances of our own lives and biographies. But might it be harder to fit in, in many ways, in a very economically unequal society, and could this be affecting many if not most of us. Or, alternatively, is it easier not to have to conform when there are already such differences between groups as are found in England? For example: Is it easier to be yourself in London as compared to Helsinki? Or is it actually more difficult?

In this talk Danny Dorling considers some of the more recent thinking that is bubbling up around the world in fields as divergent as biology, economics and archaeology that suggests that because human beings look for affirmation, a sense of fitting in really matters to most of us. What other animal might do such as a thing as clap? Clapping indicating that the person being clapped is approved of by the group clapping. A single synchronised clapping, instead, indicates chilling disapproval by the group. But not everyone is diminished by disapproval. A few appear to thrive on it. If the potential fear of being ostracised and found out is so strong in all of us; why do that tiny few seem to be immune to the disproval of the majority; and to what extent is the affirmation they receive from their own very small group of supporters and close family vital to them as they continue to be mavericks?

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Many of these questions are very hard to answer. But we can consider London as a case study. London became a place where it was easier to fit in (depending on who you were) during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. London became of the first places in the UK were it was okay not to be white, where women were in the large majority, and later where it was okay not to be straight. So why was London in particular, unlike any other single town or village in Britain in 1991, a place where the majority of adults could be single and not be frowned upon for being so (to give another example), a place where more and more people could fit in?

Finally, the talk ends by considering what is happening now to increasingly exclude those who might otherwise fit in, but who are not allowed to arrive anymore? Are we social cleansing by generation as the physical and metaphorical children of those who once fitted in, find – that at this time in this place - there is no space for them to fit in – not here not now – not in London 2020. Not until we do the right thing, again.


The format of our Transformation Seminars are:

17:00 - 17:15   Registration

17:15 - 18:00   Transformation Lecture

18:00 - 18:30   Q&A

18:30 - 19:00   Drinks and Nibbles