Art school in New York was very different from art school in London.

For instance, one of our courses was Psychology 101 (that just means basic psychology).

You wouldn’t study psychology at an English art school, it’s got nothing to do with drawing or painting or design.

But in New York my course was majoring in advertising, and advertising starts with understanding people and how they behave, so psychology was seen as relevant to that.

However this was behavioural psychology, not clinical psychology.

Clinical psychology focuses on assessing and treating mental illnesses and abnormal behaviour, obviously that is not much use in advertising.

But behavioural psychology is the study and analysis of behaviour that is observable, it suggests that our environment shapes our behaviour which is learned via interaction with the environment, by processes such as conditioning and reinforcement.

So this is useful to someone working in mass communication with large numbers of people and hoping to change their behaviour.

I learned about different concepts that turned my thinking upside down.

One of these was R D Laing, a revolutionary anti-psychiatrist from Glasgow.

One of his main concepts was ‘love as violence’.

He said we have no idea of what a fully-formed human being would be like.

From the moment of birth, when parents are presented with a perfectly healthy baby, they set about performing emotional violence on it in the name of love.

The example he gave was beggars in the third world.

Beggars can only survive by having some physical deformity: blindness, a withered arm or leg, something that makes it impossible for them to work.

Otherwise people who are living close to poverty themselves won’t give them any money.

So the only way the beggars know how to survive is to have some visible deformity that will make people feel sorry for them.

Therefore, when a healthy child is born to a beggar its seen as a child who has no way to earn a living, no one will give it any charity and it will starve.

So, because the parents love the child and want it to survive, they break and wither its legs or arms, they love it so they give it what it needs to survive in the only world they know.

R D Laing says that’s what we do to our children, but we do it mentally and emotionally in the name of love.

We force our children to conform, to think and behave in acceptable ways.

We mentally and emotionally crush them the way beggars physically crush their children.

This is what he means by love as violence.

I’d never heard anything like it, it caused me to question everything.

To realise I’d been programmed by loving parents who did what they did in order to equip me to survive in the only world they knew.

It caused me to realise the world isn’t necessarily the way it seems, that the way I perceive it may just be the way I was trained, not reality.

It caused me to realise that reality is perception, and perception can be a choice.

Everyone thinks their perception is the only reality and anything different is an aberration.

In our job it’s disastrous to think like that.

How can we talk to people when we don’t even understand their reality?

So the first thing we must do is to discover the reality of whoever we’re talking to.

Discover what’s going on in their concept of the world.

Then we have some chance of communicating whatever we want to communicate.

All of which made advertising seem much more interesting and a much bigger game.

It made me realise there’s much more to advertising than just writing puns.