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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Dr Robert Blakey


Lecturer in Mental Health



I am a Lecturer in Mental Health at the Unit of Psychological Medicine in the Centre of Psychiatry and Mental Health. I have a background in Psychology and I am interested in the life that unfolds following trauma, as well as the neurobiological causes of violence – a field called neurocriminology. I completed a PhD on whether educating people in neurocriminology could reduce support for punishment and increase support for rehabilitation. In my research neurocriminology did not by and large shift public attitudes towards punishment. Next, I worked with women in prison and students on MSc programmes in forensic psychology and mental health; from these experiences I predict grief to be the thing that could increase support for rehabilitation over punishment. Hence the mental health of the population is relevant to explaining public support for punishment – people may find their mental health improves when their compassion increases because compassion for their past may result in compassion for the past of people who have offended in the context of trauma. Ultimately, I would like to test the hypothesis that grief breaks the intergenerational transmission of trauma.


Research Interests:

Depersonalisation/derealisation disorder (DPDR); borderline personality disorder (BPD); Mentalisation-Based Treatment (MBT).


I am happy to be contacted by potential PhD students interested in the dissociative subtype of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I am interested in post-traumatic stress – the role of heart rate variability in dissociation, including depersonalisation in insomnia and derealisation in social anxiety. I am also interested in post-traumatic growth – the impact of grief on heart rate variability and the capacity to maintain a mentalising stance in interaction. Overall, I am interested in the use of physical exercise to improve social cognition after grieving trauma.

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