Monthly Archives: May 2007

Down the barrel of a nail gun

The ANZ Journal of Surgery just published the summary of a conference paper describing 12 patients with head injuries caused by nail guns. It makes for some surprising reading. You might think brain injuries from nail guns would be rare, but there are a startling number of case studies in the medical literature. A recent […]

Skywalker: personality disordered or misunderstood?

Wired has picked up on the annual ‘psychiatrists diagnose fictional character’ story by noting that researchers have diagnosed Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, with borderline personality disorder. But is he genuinely disordered or just misunderstood? The diagnosis of personality disorder describes someone who is consistently emotionally unstable, impulsive and has difficulty forming stable relationships, often […]

2007-05-25 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The BPS Research Digest reports on yet another study on the cognitive benefits of meditation. CrimePsychBlog picks up on an interesting study on the etiology of the psychopathic serial killer. Core cognitive ability is mostly developed before adolescence, reports SciAm. Accidental Mind has some […]

Rainbow accessories

A man walks into a psychologist’s office. “Doctor”, he says, “I’ve fallen in love with two school bags and I’m worried I’m abnormal”. “There’s no need to be concerned”, says the psychologist, “I think you’re just bi-satchel”. (thanks Kevin!)

Narrative self, split brain

If you liked our recent post on what the stories of our lives say about us, Philosophy Now has an article on how the self might be based on our ability to create narratives. The article looks at how the self has been related to our ability to make narratives out of the disconnected events […]

Confronting suicide on campus and online

Two articles published yesterday examine youth suicide by focusing on the increasing number of suicides among US college students and how Korean authorities are trying to crack down on suicide websites and online pacts. An article in the The LA Times examined how student suicides are leading people to question the adequacy of campus mental […]

Headlong into brain injury and skullduggery

These completely passed me by last year but are well worth checking out: BBC Radio 4 broadcast a couple of excellent radio programmes – one on the effects and treatment of mild brain injury and other other on the doomed historical attempt to link intelligence to skull size. Mild traumatic brain injury doesn’t necessarily mean […]

The story of your life

The New York Times has an interesting piece on an often neglected area of psychology that looks at the significance of the stories we use to explain our lives to ourselves and others. A small but active area of research called ‘narrative psychology‘ has been examining how we make and use stories about our experiences […]

The irrational guide to gaming the system

The latest edition of Scientific American has a freely available feature article on how our decisions are often irrational in game theory terms, but can still be more beneficial than the supposed rational choice. Game theory tries to understand choices when individuals are working independently and each choice affects the other person’s gains or losses. […]

Encephalon 23 arrives

The 23rd edition of psychology and neuroscience writing carnival Encephalon has just been published, this time ably hosted by Madam Fathom. A couple of my favourites include a fantastic article on inducing slow wave sleep by stimulating the brain with magnets – from the wonderfully named Phineas Gage Fan Club, and some excellent coverage from […]

A Secret not worth keeping

If you roll your eyes every time you hear more media hype surrounding the pseudoscientific ‘think your way to victory’ film The Secret, Scientific American has a short, sharp, shock of a reply to its dodgy claims about the mind and brain. A pantheon of shiny, happy people assures viewers that The Secret is grounded […]

Is the mental health system racist?

BBC’s Newsnight programme just had an interesting video report on the renewed debate about whether mental health services are institutionally racist. While these accusations have been made for some time, what is new is that some black and ethnic minority mental health workers who work in these communities are starting to argue that this label […]

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

I’ve just found an entry on PubMed for a curious sounding case study: An unusual perversion: the desire to be injured by an automobile operated by a woman. American Journal of Psychiatry. 1960 May;116:1032. KEELER MH. I imagine it caused havoc during rush hour. Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t have a summary, and I’m not able […]

A report from LSD creator’s 100th birthday conference

Online science magazine Litmus Zine has a interesting report of one person’s experience of last year’s LSD conference that was convened to discuss the science of this curious molecule and celebrate discover Dr Albert Hoffman’s 100th birthday. The conference took place in Basel, Switzerland and the attendees were reportedly a strange mixture of neuroscientists, hippys, […]

Jerry Fodor’s aunt

Many thanks to Ulrich Mohrhoff for reminding me of the Jerry Fodor article I was trying to remember where he explains his theory of mental representation to his aunt. The article is called “Fodor’s Guide to Mental Representation: The Intelligent Auntie’s Vade-Mecum”, published in Mind, (New Series, Vol. 94, No. 373, Jan., 1985, pp. 76-100) […]

You can’t make metaphysics out of fudge

Philosopher Jerry Fodor has written a wonderfully entertaining review of Galen Strawson’s new book ‘Consciousness and Its Place in Nature’ for the London Review of Books. In his book, Strawson looks at the assumption that consciousness arises from the physical matter of the brain and comes to the startling but coherent conclusion that maybe everything […]


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