Vol. II No. 11 Saturday 15 March - 21 March 2003
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Weekly Local Biography

 Dr. William (Bill) Jones

 

Dr. Bill Jones is an Australian psychologist, born in Newcastle, New South Wales. His early life would be noted by other psychologists as being exceptionally traumatic. Bill’s mother died during childbirth. Bill, when seven years old, was rejected by his new stepmother to the extent that his father was told that he had to choose between his son and his new wife and their family to be. Against that background, Bill was left to live with his paternal grandparents who were not well off financially, his grandfather invalided out from work through injury. Some start to life!

Bill Jones has then every reason in the world to look at life’s cards that had been dealt to him in a very negative way. He has the perfect ‘get-out’ and ‘excuses’ for any failures that he might have had in his life. However, Bill Jones is one of the happiest and most positively motivated people you could ever wish to meet.

Rather than say he was raised in poverty, he relates that he was raised in a home that was notable for its great love and kindness, wisdom and encouragement to succeed. He accepted his lot and even while very young began to make the best of it. By the time he was 14 years old he was working in a department store during school holidays, and then working part-time till he left school.

He took a scholarship to go to Teachers College. “We had absolutely no money, and this (scholarship) offered free study and three pounds, five shillings and tuppence a week!” On the face of it, this opportunity had to be taken.

He graduated successfully as a teacher, but then the Australian Army wanted a part of him as well, for that quaint practice called National Service, known colloquially as ‘Nasho’ in the sunburned country. Now Australia is well known for its adherence to the ‘Tall Poppy’ syndrome - anyone moving upwards has to be dragged down to herd level as soon as possible. Bill Jones had three months of ‘Nasho’ being called “Effing Teach” by his platoon corporal, but this didn’t get Bill down. “Army was fun. I just ran along with the nonsense. Enjoy this, I said to myself, this is crazy!”

After the boots and battledress he was posted to teach in country New South Wales in a place called Dungog Central for three years, where he found that he also became the Scout master. He enjoyed the time and became involved in international training courses for scout leaders, all of which brought him back to Newcastle.

It also brought him back to study. “The salaries for teachers was so low, but if you got three university subjects you got an increase in pay.” He looked at which subjects he could do at night that took up the least number of evenings, and one of those was Psychology. He ticked the box and began studying it and received a Distinction in Psychology 1 and just kept going. Perhaps through his own background, he became interested in gaining insight into how people thought. Without realizing it, he was becoming a psychologist. In retrospect, Bill admits he made the right career choice for all the wrong reasons!

Through seven years of part-time study he graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Psychology. To gain these qualifications he was forced to do an animal study and in this followed successions of rat populations that were fed normal, low protein or high protein diets. “I felt sorry for the rats in the study,” said Bill, showing the softer side of his nature, as the deprived group did not do well. Bill Jones is certainly an animal lover.

The next step up the ladder is a doctorate and he was paid to go to London by the university, to study there, being awarded his Doctorate of Philosophy following his studies in Social Cognition and Self Concept. This was human studies, and much more to the (now Dr.) Bill’s liking.

On returning to Newcastle, he continued lecturing at the university and also ran a psychology clinic out of a local GP practice. This in turn brought him into a face to face relationship with the problems being experienced by the general public, particularly with regard to chronic pain and its management. Applying himself to this brought him towards clinical hypnosis and the effects of meditation on chronic pain.

He began to study meditation, and Buddhist meditation in particular, becoming well known to the abbot of the Thai temple in Sydney, a Buddhist monk who came from Chiang Mai. “This honed my skills in meditation,” he said, and he then went further to bring western psychology practice and Buddhist philosophy together. “The Buddha was the first psychologist,” said Bill, with an obvious feeling.

By now he was becoming well known himself and was invited to give lectures all over the world, and he would stop over in Bangkok on these international lecture tours. “Thailand’s a Buddhist country and I wanted to learn Buddhist philosophy.” He also found that despite having been raised as a Christian, he felt more comfortable with Buddhist teachings, a faith that he adheres to today.

He also found that the Australian way of life had become less appealing and three years ago closed his practice and resigned from his university appointments. “It was time for a new adventure in life,” so he came to Chiang Mai, a decision he does not regret. “I’m very contented where I am. I don’t want to change anything. I’m enjoying the now.”

‘Now’ includes charity work and guest lecturing as well as reading, swimming, music and cooking!

It was the satirist Tom Lehrer who in the early 1960’s said, “Life is like a sewer. You get out of it, what you put into it!” Dr. Bill Jones has put buckets of positive thoughts and effort into his. He deserves the satisfaction and fun he is getting today.


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