Between quotes from Freud and Jerry Springer’s final thoughts you might think you have the world of psychology covered. For those looking for something a little more discerning, Bobbie Lakhera speaks to Morgan Ereku who runs the monthly psychology book group at Brixton Library
Morgan was right. I couldn’t help myself. From the moment we started chatting I was spouting all sorts of unsubstantiated psychological theories, looking to him for reassurance that I had just unequivocally proven my heightened emotional intelligence.
“The reading group helps stop people driving their friends crazy,” he nodded at me sympathetically. “A lot of people into psychology analyse everyone and everything! They want to tell their friends about the books they’ve read, new studies they’ve come across, stuff they’ve read in the paper. Understandably, for the listening friends that can get a little tiresome.”
I nodded back solemnly, safe in the knowledge that my friends simply adore my repetitive dissections of the human psyche.
He salvaged my self-esteem by continuing, “There’s a great quote from one of the books we read [David Brooks, The Social Animal], ‘joining a book club that meets once a month produces the same psychic gain as doubling your income’. That’s some statement. I can’t say our book group delivers quite the same reward, but there’s a real benefit to connecting with people interested in exploring compelling ideas.
“I like to read psychology books, but talking about them too adds another element. It helps you retain information when you sit down with others and bounce ideas off them. Most importantly, it’s the enjoyment of meeting people who are fascinated by similar ideas. People come to the book group full of theories and different points of view. The conversation is pretty electric. It surprised me at first; people quickly feel at home which makes each session animated and lively.”
Born and bred in Brixton, it was the natural place and perfect “cultural melting pot” to set up the reading group when Morgan first thought of the idea back in September 2012. Eighteen months on, regulars attend from across the capital to debate the latest psychology books, studies and findings.
Morgan himself started out studying economics, but changed direction with an MA in psychology. This has led to his PhD at Brunel University researching dating expertise, identity, and why some are so good at attracting partners while others flounder.
Recently he co-presented the Love me, love me not Valentine’s event held at Brixton Library (reviewed on Brixton Blog by Lucy Binnersley), at which one of the oldest members of the audience won a vibrator, a more modern version to the one ‘allegedly’ designed by Cleopatra who put a swarm of bees in a penis-shaped receptacle which she then used to great effect. Cleopatra comin’ atcha.
Morgan said, “Every event I’ve been to at the library has been fantastic; they get a great, eclectic mix of people in. Brixton librarians Marie and Liz asked if I would get involved with Love me, love me not, they’re very persuasive so I couldn’t say no! Marie got all these prizes for the audience – she’s got good hustle!
“Go-to Brixton librarian Tim O’Dell fully backed the psychology book group from the outset. They get the books on our reading list making them available for our group. It’s more accessible and less costly for members. We’re really grateful for their support. The library is an excellent resource for the community.”
Books on the reading list include The Social Animal by David Brooks, Please understand me too by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, and Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. Morgan describes them as “exciting, even sexy, psychology that would captivate the most inquisitive minds, regardless of whether you’ve had a fondness for psychology in the past or not.” Topics explored are wide-ranging and those attending are often not working or studying in the field, but simply interested in psychology and personal development.
The group is growing in popularity but spaces are limited so you need to book in advance. The meetings are on the last Sunday of every month, 2 – 4pm, in Brixton Library, following which the group usually decamps to the Ritzy to continue the discussion. This allows people to join in afterwards in a more informal environment.
Lastly, Morgan. After making me wait under grey skies threatening rain, to make up for his tardiness he bought the drinks. So, not only did he sit through my cod-psychology, he paid for the wine that fuelled it. A seasoned host.
For further details on the psychology book group or to find out which book is up next, you can contact Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask at Brixton Library.