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   Psychology in the Bathroom
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
08 Mar 2013
shadow on the quality of a democracy? One may wish to flush it away as irrelevant; but improvement in sanitation and consequent reduction in parasite stress has helped in building democratic societies with liberal values. Researchers have gone further to assert that countries with high levels of parasite-borne diseases were much less likely than others to have a robust democracy, individual freedom, equitable distribution of economic resources and gender equality. It might seem an unsavoury and puerile topic but development of human behaviour has lot to do with the practice of excretion.

A Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne, Nick Haslam kicks down the bathroom door to unravel a wide range of behaviors that are linked to excretory function. ‘Our intestines are not just meaty drainpipes through which our waste flows. They are emotional organs whose nerves communicate with the brain and respond to what it thinks, desires and perceives.’ In many ways, our personalities are manifest in our excretory habits.

The toilet is a space that is private but shared, anonymous but intimate, and linked in the mind to our bodies, our gender and our sexuality. Examining the psychological dimensions of all that is walled off from public gaze, from constipation to diarrhoea and from incontinence to toilet graffiti, Haslam provides cutting-edge research on the science of elimination. Without doubt, the bowel is an irritable organ that influences the brain in fascinating ways.

Bathroom have also been seen as natural laboratories for studying gender difference in ways of thinking, preoccupations, language use and communication styles. Loaded with earthy humour and clinical research, Psychology in the Bathroom opens a compelling window to the human psyche from hitherto unexplored perspectives. The topics covered in this amazing book are both intriguing and amusing. It uncovers ‘the irritable bowel’; has sympathy for ‘the nervous bladder’; considers ‘flatulence’ as a source of amusement; and views ‘latrinalia’ as a work of art.

Rarely have such diverse aspects of our private lives been documented and brought into public domain. Nick Haslam’s wonderful work deserves to be read widely.

Psychology in the Bathroom
by Nick Haslam
Palgrave MacMillan, UK
174 pages, £47.50

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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