Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why we go doolally

Someone who acts strangely or ‘goes mad’ is often described as having gone ‘doolally’. The military origin of this curious term is discussed in an aside in an academic article published in Twentieth Century British History. The article discusses the changing concepts of how imprisonment during war impacts on soldiers’ mental health: POWs were originally […]

I probably shouldn’t say this

I have become concerned about Miley Cyrus. In her magnum opus, 7 Things, she discusses a recently ended relationship and highlights seven areas of dissatisfaction with her ex-partner. From this description, I notice that her ex-beau fulfils the diagnostic criteria for ‘borderline personality disorder’ or BPD. To quote Ms Cyrus’s concerns: You’re vain, your games, […]

The mystery of hanging

Hanging is a frighteningly efficient way of ending a life, as executioners can attest and suicides cannot, but surprisingly, we’re still not sure how it causes death. An intriguing study just published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences ponders current theories in light of historical research which has attempted to answer the question. In fact, […]

World without words

The latest edition of RadioLab is a fantastic exploration of how the world might be different if we experienced it without the benefit of words that shape our concepts. As always, it sounds effortlessly beautiful, and this episode takes a diverse look at the different ways in which we might understand our lives wordlessly. Essentially, […]

A neuroscientist’s psychosis

As well as publishing scientific papers about mental illness, Schizophrenia Bulletin also publishes personal accounts of psychosis and schizophrenia. I’ve just discovered this incredible 2006 article where a neuroscientist recounts her personal experience of becoming psychotic. It’s not only vividly descriptive but wonderfully lyrical as well, written with both honesty and insight. I was awash […]

The legend of Lester D

When searching for psychology research, I inevitably come across a study by ‘Lester D’, who is apparently a psychologist in an obscure college in New Jersey who seems to be interested in everything. Mostly, the things you’ve never thought of, and probably never even thought of thinking of, and perhaps don’t even have the capacity […]

Baby, Remember My Claim

If you want to make the findings of your scientific study seem more important, simply give the effect a catchy name to help people remember. A study just published online in Psychological Science found that naming research findings boosted their perceived importance, but only if people assume the name is to aid memory. On the […]

Online exits

A darkly fascinating excerpt from a recent article on the cultural psychology of ‘internet suicide pacts’ in Japan, published in the academic journal Transcultural Psychiatry. Several scholars and social commentators have drawn a connection between the rise in suicides and the negative influence of the Internet on Japanese youth. Part of the reason for a […]

The early years

If you’re interested in the psychology of children and how they develop, two new blogs have recently appeared which are doing a fantastic job of covering an area that has previously neglected by online writers. Child’s Play is a new blog on the Scientopia network that combines the talents of developmental psychologists Jason Goldman and […]

The origins of Mexico’s drug war

I’ve just listened to NPR’s series reporting on the drug war in Mexico and I was left completely stunned by the final part which explains how the current upsurge in violence was triggered. It turns out that it stems from a change in government, when the Institutional Revolutionary Party or the PRI were voted out […]

A surprising romantic reappearance

A few weeks before they are born most babies show a bias for turning their head to the right, rather than to the left. This bias continues for the first six months after birth. Behavioural biases to one side are interesting to psychologists. They are an example of exceptions to the general rule of symmetry […]

2010-08-06 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Time magazine has an excellent piece that tackles the myth that the only child is psychologically worse off due to a lack of siblings during development. The new blog Neurotic Physiology at the Scitopia network that has an excellent piece on Freud’s experiences with […]

Psychology narrowing its own mind

I’ve just discovered a stinging but insightful critique of modern scientific psychology from cognitive scientist Paul Rozin, who accuses the field of being blinded by fancy experimental methods while devaluing the importance of capturing new and interesting phenomena. The article, available online as a pdf, was published in Perspectives on Psychological Science and takes a […]

Tone deaf to the music of language

Amusia is a condition in which people can’t distinguish musical notes or tunes. This has been investigated for the first time in Mandarin Chinese, a language that relies on tones to convey meaning, with the study finding that music perception problems also affect the ability to distinguish spoken words in tone language speakers. One common […]

We interrupt your normal service

There will be a brief pause in postings while The Mind Hacks Blog moves to a new home. I’ve disabled comments while this is happening. Full details after we’ve successfully completed moving the furniture behind the scenes (clue: not too much will change).

Legal highs found to contain illegal drugs

‘Legal highs’ may actually contain illegal drugs, according to a study just published in the medical journal QJM. This new research provides a further insight into the foggy world of the ‘legal high’ industry, with particular reference to recent UK legislation which banned several previously ‘legal highs’ including a drug called mephedrone which was bizarrely […]


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