Dr Nicholas Beecroft BSc MBBS MRCPsych MBA
Dr Nicholas Beecroft is a Consultant Psychiatrist who has spent 25 years exploring the worlds of Medicine, Psychiatry, Business, Leadership, International Relations, Politics, the Military and Spirituality. He created the Future of Western Civilization Series of interviews with visionary leaders. He is author of Analyze West: A Psychiatrist Takes Western Civilization on a Journey of Transformation and New Magna Carta: A Psychiatrist’s Prescription for Western Civilization. This is his story:
I trained as a doctor at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Medical School in London. I did a BSc. in psychology at University College as part of my medical degree. After a year as a House Physician and House Surgeon, I went straight into psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry in London where I became a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
I’ve worked with the British Army, the Royal Navy and the National Health Service with a particular interest in organizational and military psychiatry.
I became frustrated with the dehumanizing machine-model of organization and developed an interest in what I came to call “Organic Leadership,” aligning organizations with human nature to unleash maximum human potential. I developed this through a combination of consulting, coaching and teaching across a wide range of organizations including McKinsey & Co., BP, Cable & Wireless, the National Health Service, British Gas and Johannesburg City Council. I taught Organizational Psychiatry and Psychology at the first Department of Organizational Psychiatry outside of the US at King’s College London.
I have had a lifelong interest in Foreign Policy, national identity, security and geopolitics. Midway through an MBA at the London Business School, I watched the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks live on television. This persuaded me that it was time to transform our Foreign Policy to include the human dimension, “Psyplomacy,” to perceive International relations as the interrelationships between individuals, groups and mass consciousness. I set about applying the knowledge and skills from clinical psychology, psychiatry and group dynamics to diplomacy and began to consult to diplomats, politicians and journalists.
I participated in dialogue on immigration into Europe, the Weaponization of Space, Western-Chinese relations, European Common Foreign and Security Policy, State-Building, British-German relations, Public Diplomacy, Peace Building, Islamic radicalization and Counter-terrorism.
I worked with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the British Embassy in Damascus where I put the British-Syrian relationship on the psychiatrist’s couch, analyzing the state of the relationship and devising a strategy to improve it.
I advised the British Council in London to shift their model of public diplomacy from a marketing model to a relationships-based model grounded in a clear identity, values and authentic dialogue. They launched a new policy closely aligned with the Psyplomacy model.
When the German Foreign Minister expressed his frustration at the treatment of Germany in the British media, he accepted my proposal to work with the German Embassy in London on a psychologically informed approach to public diplomacy to improve the British German relationship.
I promoted debate within the British government about patriotism and multiculturalism which has gradually been opening up over the last 10 years. I made a commitment to work behind the scenes on our counterterrorism strategy which I shared in a number of places including briefing two Foreign Secretaries, the Minister for International Development, the Ministry of Defense and the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
It became clear to me that “we” the British and, more broadly, “we” Western Civilization had lost our direction and self-confidence. I began with a series of interviews with people which I called “Britain on the Couch.” The key theme across the board was a perception of loss of confidence and authority. I interviewed teachers, doctors, nurses, military personnel and the general public to find out what’s the foundation of their authority? What most fascinated me was that, in spite of coming from a very broad range of backgrounds, the people spoke as one as if singing from the same hymn sheet, I could sense an inner compass and map and-there was a big wobble in it! The traditional order and self-confidence arising from clear beliefs and shared identity had been breaking down but hadn’t yet been replaced by a new set of beliefs and values. Culturally we have many old wounds and maladaptive beliefs which block our full potential. If we going to succeed at a time of unprecedented global change then we need to step up to the next level of cultural and personal evolution.
To survive and thrive in the face of the many challenges which we face, we’re going to have to sort ourselves out, to be clear about who we are, where we’re going, what we believe, what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s true, what’s false, to restore our self-confidence, vision and values around which we can align.
I realized that to rejuvenate our society we would need a strong spiritual foundation. I set about a journey of exploration through training in Energetics, Values analysis & facilitation, Transformative-Evolutionary Coaching, Vipassana meditation, Enlightenment Intensives, Tantra, Healing, Open Space Technology and Spiral Dynamics integral. I participated in a Circle of Trust Courage to Lead retreat, the New Warrior Training Adventure, the Mankind Project, the Culture of Honoring Initiatory Journey and have attended many workshops on improvisation and comedy.
There were three main conclusions that came out of all this. One was that for all the negativity in the media and public conversation about the huge range of problems and threats which exist, there are a many people working on inspirational and initiatives, ideas and visions in what’s a giant process of cultural evolution throughout emerging global consciousness. As Don Beck puts it, “No more prizes for predicting the rain. It’s time to build the Ark.”
The second main lesson was that it’s a massive waste of time and energy when we resist that which we don’t like. In a fierce battle with a Marxist, my opponent simply collapsed and dropped away when I asked him, “if everyone took up your ideas and if the world were the way you would like it to be, what would that be like?” He simply didn’t know. He’d never considered it. He only knew what he was against. He was like a windsock with no wind. I realized that to defeat all those cultural forces which I had so fiercely resisted head on, I could outflank them with that incisive question. The only problem was that I couldn’t answer the question myself!
The third main lesson was that we as individuals and a group have much of our power and potential locked away in our shadow, in our dark side, the wounds, the taboos, the dysfunctional beliefs, false dichotomies and the groupthink. To unlock our potential, we need to heal those wounds and shine a light on the dark side and integrate the healthy strands of all. The old false dichotomies such as left and right, male and female, love and power, freedom and control, security and openness, diversity and unity, cohesion and separation, judgement and non-judgement, truth and mystery, patriotism and globalism each have healthy and unhealthy strands which need sorting out and integrating into the whole.
In September 2011 I embarked on a project exploring the Future of Western Civilization to create a resource of interviews with visionary leaders at the evolutionary edge of our culture who can share their stories, experiences and inspirational vision is for the future. My aim is to play a part in rejuvenating the self-confidence and direction of our Civilization.
The last three years have been spent writing Analyze West and the New Magna Carta.