Aug 3 2009

Rent-a-quote psychologists

Now Dr Petra Boynton is a professional, eminent in her field and because of that is bound by professionalism and, er, eminence to talk euphemistically about a celebrity psychologist that she calls ‘Psychologist A’ in her blog here.

I, on the other hand, have no such shame and so can fairly confidently say; “Come on, Dr Petra, we all know you’re talking about Dr Linda Papadopoulos.” This shameless rent-a-quote academic will put her name to anything when not embarrassingly fronting a government campaign on the sexualisation of girls in British society (blogged on previously) or seemlessly moving to comment on Big Brother or My Big Breasts and Me. (Believe me I am aching to divulge her government ‘research’ but its not public, bites lip)

Dr Petra’s blog was inspired by a great article by Martin Robbins on celebrity psychologists, so I thought I’d return to Dr Linda and share a few more gems from her academic-reputation-for-hire.

Dr Linda, Celebrity Psychiatrist (sic), is naturally concerned by our consumerist-obsessed society that is fueling dissatisfaction and alienation. Her remedy? Why Lacoste’s new perfume ‘Love of Pink’ for women of course. Just as Dr Linda says:

“The color pink is, in a lot of ways, the essence of what it means to be a young woman – love, romance, femininity and youth are all punctuated by this color. When a young woman wears LACOSTE Love of Pink, she wears the color of love.”

Yeah, Linda, you are totally right. And I realise now that you are the PERFECT person for the government to employ to look into gender stereotypes which are fueling inequality and violence against women.

But it doesn’t stop at perfume, oh no. Remember, this woman is a serious academic. She does SCIENCE. And by science I mean research. And by research I mean stuff that a company makes up to sell shoes. Stuff like, the FACT that women’s heart rate increases when they buy shoes:

“Shoes have a particular draw to women as they are emotionally evocative items to them and they bring out women’s socializing and nurturing instincts,” the Mirror quoted [Dr Linda], as saying.

You know she’s right. A cute pair of Jimmy Choo’s actually makes my womb ache (sorry, she was actually being paid by Brantano, er, who?). In fact there is a direct link between the shoe part of my brain and my genitalia because I’m a woman and therefore incapable of abstract thought.

OK now, what’s missing? I’ve got my shoes. I stink like the changing rooms in Top Shop on a Saturday afternoon. But I’m still not happy. Dr Linda knows why:

“There is evidence that people are malfunctioning because they are not enjoying enough pleasure on a regular basis to be healthy happy people”

It appears that I have ‘Pleasure Deficiency Syndrome’ which is something that only exists when drinks company Bailey’s pays for a survey from YouGov and then pays Dr Linda to endorse the findings of the survey, make up a ‘syndrome’ and get people to drink more Bailey’s. Now I am actually not getting enough pleasure on a regular basis but the one thing that will make this fact inexorably worse would be having to drink Bailey’s.

Seems Dr Linda is frequently hawking her academic wares around to the highest bidder, be they Boots the Chemist, Tate & Lyle (pdf) or The National Lottery. And of course her own line of psychological face creams.

To think of the women who sacrificed so much to break through the glass ceiling of academia, who were the first to be admitted to male-only universities and colleges. And all so that in years to come, a lady psychologist can sell shoes, perfume and a creamy vomit liqueur.

Does this increase the public’s understanding of psychology and is this ethical as Dr Petra asks? Well no, I would argue that this devalues science, makes the public suspicious that academics will say whatever they are paid to say and perpetuates embarrassingly shallow gender stereotypes. However, when the government buys into the academic-PR complex that is Dr Linda, we achieve new heights of incredulity.