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Department of Psychology


Dr Doris McIlwain

Department of Psychology
Macquarie University
NSW 2109

Phone: 9850 9430

Last updated April 5


Language, like perfume, circulates to unpredictable effect. [Adam Phillips]

I'm a personality psychologist. I study personality styles, emotion, memory and movement.  My research areas span individual differences that make a difference to the way that we negotiate life tasks, and to the way the we experience others and ourselves.  In my movement research I am exploring the way that verbal instructions permit us to colonise the body in different ways; in this work I explore yoga practitioners from two traditions and explore novices and experts in their differing approaches to effort and skill, and have a paper coming out on that subject this year.. I am currently looking at the difference between rumination and reflection in accessing the personal past, with an interest in how depression and avoidant attachment might also play a role in making us live life more palely.

I research the links between Narcissism and such personality styles as Machiavellianism and psychopathy, with an emphasis on psychological mindedness; specifically the way that openness to vicarious feelings shapes morality. I research narcissistic leaders, cults and the way that they provoke powerful societal reactions. I am writing about benign and more dangerous forms of charisma with specific emphasis on the role that the uncanny plays in the more explosive forms of charisma  An enduring interest is in self-deception and the different forms that takes from the way that we sculpt an image of ourselves to present to others, right down to a motivated lack of insight into the beliefs we hold and the wellsprings of our own actions.  I have a book on new religious movements and charisma which came out in December, 2009.

I am currently doing research on rumination and reflection; specifically the content of what preoccupies us in such moments and with what affects they are imbued.

I teach an array of courses at Macquarie University: contributing a guest lecture to PSY 234, a second year course which addresses personality and social psychology.  I run two third year courses relevant to personality: PSY 336 - a Third year personality course, and a course on the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis (PSY 353)   I was part of the Sydney Silvan Tomkins Research Group into Tomkin's Affect Theory, and retain a keen interest in his work.  I am a foundational member of the Working Through Psychoanalysis group. I am a newly invited member of the Centre for Agency Values and Ethics, and the Center for Elite Performance Expertise and Training.

Research Teaching Outreach Wider interests

Recent talks & publications



with Anthony Arcuri

Semester One 2012

PSY 234

Check this out!
Harmful Social Science

PSY 353: Philosophy of Psychoanalysis

In the news:

Doris is a regular presenter on Modern Dilemmas - Radio National

Shame and intimacy

The bodily costs of narcissism

What your Profile Picture says about you

Article June 30, 2009 written by Fiona Smith on Charm

Historical outreach:

Peer talk:  talk

ABC Radio Program 

Radio program March 6: repression


Uni in a day - 2010 September 30 Year 11 students

Talks: by Doris

Talks in 2011

Scaffolding Clinical Insight

Living palely: reason & emotion (see from 21:21minutes onwards)

Traces of Shame - Details of POPIG talk June 30, 2009

Watch the video on short reading list as promised.

Talks by Psychoanalytic Scholars


Essay Book Reviews


Yoga & Psychology

 The Science of Love

The Pirate's code of Psychoanalysis

Semester Two 2012

PSY 336: Personality

Forthcoming April 17

Apartheids of Mind

with Prof Gill Straker, Prof Norman Duncan, Janaki Kozeluh, Dr Anne Monchamp, and Professor Catriona MacKenzie.


Watch this space.  I'm in the process of updating my webpage...ever...