Hardy Life at Its Worst

One of my favourite interests is literature. I managed to get hold of this course called “TTC – Classics of British Literature“. I have several courses of literature and this course is one of my favourites. The course is taught by Professor John Sutherland and as usual each lecture is 30 minutes long. The course contains around 48 lectures, so you will be spoilt for British culture and perhaps become a literature master.


Professor John Sutherland

I decided to look at lecture number “38 Hardy Life at Its Worst”. This lecture is on Thomas Hardy a great Victorian novelist and poet. He started out writing fiction, then moved on to more serious themes. He could not stand to ignore life’s harsh treatment of those who aspire to be something else.

Thomas Hardy, died in 1928, was considered a Great man of the novel.

But What kind of monument was Thomas Hardy? What did he leave behind?


Thomas Hardy

The lecture discuss the tug of war on Where Thomas would be buried. Eventually his heart went elsewhere, I think Wessex and his brain cremated at Woking.

Well lets look at why is this lecture about life at its worst?

The lecture gives us a brief overview of Thomas Hardy’s birth place Wessex. The region of Wessex was going through some great change and many was for the worst. Thomas Hardy never seemed to forget the difficulties of his childhood and this caused some divisions within himself.

What were those The divisions?

As stated before From 1860’s to 1890s he wrote fiction and novels. The later years, he wrote poetry.
Hardy wrote against morality and portrayed life at its toughest. One book was even banned by a bishop, I wonder what book that was?

One of Thomas Hardy’s book “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” described one of the women being raped. It was also known that readers criticised the book “Return of the native” as too grim. Thomas Hardy tailored the book to suit the audience needs.

Many of Thomas’s books including “Far from the madden crowd“, was criticised because people wanted more happier endings.

Eventually Thomas Hardy decided to write more on reality and moved away from fiction, during his later years.

The Lecture moves on to his life and looks at the relation of his life to his novels?
Hardy was born in the county of Dorset. He was born into political reform, Robert Peel the then Prime Minster began to reform of the corn laws. There was no more protectionism for British corn laws. Imports were now not so heavily taxed any more.

Such changes in rural farm life became an inspiration to Hardy’s book “The Mayor of Casterbridge“. It was heavily influenced by the decline of the farming industry around that time. The lecture moves on to study why Thomas Hardy was interested in science, especially Charles Darwin.

Thomas Hardy had no children in which due to later years upset him greatly. Thomas also had failed relationships. To make life more difficult for Thomas his best friend killed himself. Why is Thomas so pessimistic?

“Humans have an intelligent relation with nature, but there was always some struggle.”

The lecture moves on to one example of the hard life and how it is portrayed in another of Hardy’s book. The Theme of “Far From The Madden Crowd“, one of the characters Fanny dies destitute and unknown. However her death is not to be in vain as she resembles the Patron saint of loss causes.

Professor John Sutherland talks about how Thomas is interested in church architecture, but also mentions Thomas did not align himself to religion, but loved the design.

In 1898 Thomas moves off from fiction and wrote a poem for “the love of the church and its structure”, but still distanced himself from religious belief.

The lecture then talks a bit about another of Thomas Hardies book “Under the Greenwood Tree“.

Professor John then starts to read a Poem -> The Impercipient

THis lecture exams the friction between religion and Thomases belief

THAT from this bright believing band
An outcast I should be,
That faiths by which my comrades stand
Seem fantasies to me,
And mirage-mists their Shining Land,
Is a drear destiny.

Even though what is shown is just a small part of the poem, the lecture explains that the poem shows how difficult it is for Hardy to believe in faith due to what he has seen around him.

In 1862 Hardy now goes to London to try his fortune. He first Went to London as a architect and then moved on to writing. Hardys novels begins to show his pessimism. One of Hardy’s books “Jude the Obscure” exemplifies his use of tragedy.

The Discussion of book is about Jude and it starts in Wessex green which has become run down. Wessex shows the misery of peoples lives. Jude is an orphan and throughout the book we are shown the sad hard life of Incest, suicide and alcoholism.

Jude eventually becomes inspired by education and hope to be a great teacher one day. The lecture shows that Hardy sees things differently and warns us of the difficulties to come. Jude starts out well, he studies hard and dreams of university.

However Professor John states there are Obstacles to Jude’s dreams and fantasies.

One of the obstacles is the British class system
The other is that Sexual relationships causes Jude major problems

Prof John describes a passage of the book of Jude’s aspiration. His dreams and fantasies. Here the lecture describes how a maid puts end to Jude’s fantasies by trapping him into some marriage, but he still does not give up. Eventually Jude moves close to Oxford, but ends up in another relationship with someone outside his class, but Jude ends up drinking heavily and this causes them to part.

Jude eventually gives up his dream of education, and soon there is a tragic climax in the novel. One of Jude’s lovers Sue is pregnant, but she cannot find lodgings. Jude can take no more of life’s upsets.

The lecture read out Part of novel.

All of Jude’s three children murdered and his other child commits suicide. Jude’s lover Sue then has a miscarriage. All this is too much for Jude to bear. Jude dies due to alcoholism.

Another part of the Novel is read out describing Jude’s dead body.

The lecture shows the Irony of Jude’s funeral as it is done when there is a parade of Oxford students celebrating their last exam results. The lecture finishes up on Why do we like tragedy? How does Hardy create beauty out of suffering?

“We have to look at life as it really is, if we want to live life.”

If you enjoyed looking up on this lecture, you will be sure to enjoy the course. You will learn much from it.


Anxiety and Mood Disorder Lecture

Welcome to another review and description of an audio lecture I have collected over the years. This time we have another lecture series from The Teaching Company. This course is called “Psychology of Human Behaviour” and is taught by Professor David W. Martin.

I enjoy listening to this course, because my other job is a carer’s representative/consultant for carers. These carers care for those suffering mental health difficulties. You can learn a lot from this course, where lectures are again 30 minutes long and the lectures hit a massive 36 episodes.


Professor David W. Martin

Here I look at lecture number 8, which looks at Anxiety and Mood Disorders and their sub classifications. Be warned though, the new DSM book  is out, which is DSM-V, this lecture centres in on the classification off DSM-IV. What I mean by DSM is that it stands for “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”. It is a book used by psychiatrists or those studying in the field to recognise certain mental illnesses.

Professor David gives a quick run down of the illness and breaks things down to prepare you for the lecture material, just in case you do not want to listen to the whole of the lecture. He mentions that these two mental illnesses are a lot of what you see regarding mental health problems, however the good news is that many do not have not be institutionalised for these.

First the lecture describes Anxiety and its sub classification. Prof David discusses Phobias and OCD. OCD stands for obsessive compulsive disorder.


David then starts out that Anxiety used to be called neurosis, he mentions that Freud use to treat these. Such disorders have been around for a long while. sufferers have severe worry of a possible danger. David then talks about Phobias and what they are. I guess a general description is that they are undue fears and can cause avoidant behaviour. Such avoidant behaviour can actually reinforce the fear.

Prof David then breaks down the different types of phobias. We look at animal phobias. In fact the lecture mentions that evolutionary psychologists have also looked at this type of phobia. Such phobias actually effect a large population, it could be built into us as a survival instinct.

We then look at other phobias one category is Natural environments phobias, which are fear of earthquakes, floods, fires and so on. Still its not that it is an illness to be afraid of these, but only when there is a less chance of them and how we behave in order to protect ourselves. Then David discusses another phobia as fear of damage to the body, such as fear of blood, injection phobias and many more threats to the body.

We then look at situational phobias, such as flying in an air plane or being a passenger of a car and other situations where you would probably see in the Final Destination movies.

Phobias seems to be more present in women at 16% than in men at 7%, but this statistic can change, since this course is a little old now. Phobias Can be dealt with by using behavioural therapies, I am sure other remedies exist though.

We then look at another subcategory which is Panic disorders

Prof David states in the lecture that these tend to be set off by itself, for little or no reason.
He discusses the signs of panic and how it affects the body. Plus how they occur and can appear fast and then go away almost just as quickly.

A good example of a panic disorder is Agoraphobia, which is fear of crowds, which causes the suffer to stay at home.


Suffers range from 5% for women, 2% for men on panic disorders, which can be dealt by using cognitive behaviour therapies.

Next Prof David moves on to describing Generalized anxiety disorders. He breaks this down in what this means and how it affects suffers. Usually they have a chronic unhappy condition of life. This affects them by making them unhappy, have headaches and cause sleep disturbances. There are many other patterns. The lecture gives a good example of a suffer who had a bad upbringing. We then move on to the final sub category of anxiety disorder. This being OCD, which means Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

OCD causes some of the following being intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviour. A good example is Fear of germs, here the lecture mentions its first celebrity suffer being Howard Hughes who had a fear of germs. You can also suffer by having a fear of messing something up, but this is increased by 10 times. We then have another example of nurse with fear of AIDS. She washes herself almost continually.


Unfortunately some suffers have co-mobility, which is more than one condition. Treatments range from behavioural therapies to taking Prozac.

We then look at the next major category and its sub categories being Mood disorders. The lecture talks about unipolar depression and its classification. We notice that women get this more than men, suffers can get a life time suffering from this symptom.

Other similar illness are Dysthymia and suffers can be depressed for most of the day, then it can go up for 2 years. It can affect suffers by causing low self esteem and concentration problems. We also have depressed moods, even though nothing triggered it. Unfortunately it can be a real difficultly diagnosis problem. Since many suffer from depression, but how can you tell if its chronic?

It can affect suffers by fatigue, sleep problems, a sudden eating change, slow down of activity or thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts. Plus it can re-occur again. The lecture mentions what treatments can help suffers deal with the symptoms such as anti-depressant drugs, inhibitors, ECT which I believe stands for Electroconvulsive therapy and is very controversial.

The lecture next looks at bipolar depression, suffers tend to be about the same, for men and women. It is quite easy for most if not all people to get depressed, e.g. death of a loved one.

So what’s the difference?

Again it is probably the length of time one suffers from the illness.

Suffers can have depressed episodes or manic episodes and some get the swings of highs and lows. That meaning when they feel excited, full of energy and then next they are slow, depressed and lack of energy.

The lecture describes how it affects suffers. Then the lecture talks about Hypno mania. Some controversial issue is that some actually like being on a high, since it can cause a burst of creativity. Suffers tend not seek medication, one reason is that they ll feel they are on a low depending on side effects and loss of manic symptoms. Treatment can range from anti-depressive drugs, lithium for the manic phase. Suffers can actually hit into psychosis if mania is not dealt with soon enough.

Lastly the lecture looks at suicide. It interesting that the lecture mentions women try suicide at a higher rate than men, but men tend to actually have a higher rate of success when it comes to taking their own lives.


The lecturer tends to talk a lot more slowly in this lecture, so it is easier to grasp some concepts, but beware other lectures in this course are quite challenging. The course is recommended as a start out into looking into the world of psychology.