Oliver James (psychologist)

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Oliver James (born 1953) is a psychologist, registered by the British Psychological Society.[1] He is a psychotherapist at The Bowlby Centre[2] (UKCP affiliated). He is an author, journalist, television producer and broadcaster.


He published several academic papers about the organisation of therapeutic communities. He has since published papers in the Psychologist Journal and in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (with Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson).

In 1982 he made his first TV series, for Granada for the ITV network, about childcare (Under Fives). He did two further educational series, one for Channel 4 (Sex With Paula, 1987), one for the ITV network (Men On Violence, 1988, for LWT). He originated, and was Associate Producer of, the ITV First Tuesday documentary about the Man Who Shot John Lennon.[3]

He was the interviewer and producer of the 44 interviews in Room 113[4] for the two series of the BAFTA-award winning Network 7 youth programme on Channel 4. Audience research revealed Room 113 was the most popular slot in the programme and the interviews were described by Chris Dunckley in the Financial Times as 'The most frank since John Freeman's Face-to-Face in the Fifties`. He originated and produced a programme about The Man Who Shot John Lennon.

In 1990 he produced a documentary for Channel 4 about the Mail on Sunday and in 1992 he contributed three films, two as Producer and one as Producer-Presenter, to the BBC2 Crime and Punishment season. Rape, for 40 Minutes, recorded the meeting of a rapist and a rape victim. Prisoner XYY/334422, also for 40 Minutes, plumbed the psychology of an imprisoned psychopath. Wot U Looking At?, for the science strand Horizon, presented his highly influential explanation (from his monograph Juvenile Violence in a Winner-Loser Culture) for why the poor are more violent than the rich and why violence has been rocketing since 1987 in the UK.

In 1995 he produced, directed and presented a forty-minute Late Show documentary for BBC2, Prozac Diary, in which artists took the drug to see how it affected their work.[5] In 1997, he produced and presented The Chair, a 7-part interview series for BBC2, including one in which Peter Mandelson MP famously shed a tear.

In 1998 he was the presenter of a 2-part series about his book, New Britain on the Couch, for Channel 4,[6] followed in 2000 by presenting a one-off documentary about infidelity, Affairs of the Heart. In each of 2004, 2005 and 2006 he has presented a series of programmes about childcare for This Morning, titled Through the Eyes of the Child.

In his 2012 book, Love Bombing - Reset your child's emotional thermostat, he describes a technique for parents to help their troubled children which he called "love bombing." It is described as, "dedicating one-on-one time spoiling and lavishing your child with love, and, within reason, pandering to their every wish."[7][8][9]

In his 2013 book, Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying, Backstabbing and Dirty Tricks, he identifies each of the three dark triadic personality traits personality traits (narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy) as typically being prevalent in the workplace (see also narcissism in the workplace, Machiavellianism in the workplace and psychopathy in the workplace).[10]

Speaking on Channel 4’s 2013 Psychopath Night, James described the credit crunch as a “mass outbreak of corporate psychopathy which resulted in something that very nearly crashed the whole world economy.”[11]

He currently writes an occasional column in the Family section of The Guardian. He has written columns for The Sun, the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Express, The Independent and most recently, The Observer magazine. He has also written for several magazines, including Options, Family Circle, Adbusters and Business Life (British Airways). He also contributes regularly to the Comment page of The Guardian, as well as occasional articles for the other broadsheets, daily and Sunday.


  • James, Oliver, 2012, Love Bombing - Reset your child's emotional thermostat, London: Karnac books
  • James, Oliver (2002). They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life. Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-7475-8478-8. 
  • James, Oliver (1998). Britain on the Couch – Why We’re Unhappier Compared with 1950 Despite Being Richer. Arrow Books. ISBN 0-09-924402-0. 

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