Monthly Archives: November 2010

Treating the most dangerous

If you only listen to one podcast this week, make it this one. The BBC World Service Exchanges at the Frontier has a compelling discussion with Gwen Adshead, a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the high security Broadmoor Hospital, who discusses on working with some of the most dangerous psychiatric patients in the country. I […]

2010-11-19 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The now expanded megalist of ‘Psychologists on Twitter’ is going strong over at The BPS Research Digest. New Scientist has a special section that collects coverage from the recent Society for Neuroscience annual megaconference. From orgasms to virtual reality. The debate over the earliest […]

I can’t hold it any longer

Sometimes, medical case studies tell as much of a story by what they omit as by what they include. This sentence, from a recent case study published in the Canadian Journal of Urology, is one such example: To complete the therapeutic approach, we focused also on the possible psychiatric implications of the self insertion of […]

Surgery beyond your wildest dreams

I’ve just read a fascinating 2009 study on dreaming during anaesthesia that looks at how different drugs can alter our unconscious reveries during surgery. One section was on ‘near-miss awareness’ where dreams incorporate the outside reality of the hospital because the patient is on the threshold of consciousness. This is the wonderful list of these […]

The forest of hope and despair

VBS.TV has a short poignant documentary on the Aokigahara forest in Japan, which has become one of the world’s most popular locations for people to commit suicide. The film is from the perspective of the warden who discusses why people are drawn to the forest and how people spend some of their most difficult moments. […]

I’ve got a certificate in armchair psychology

The Guardian’s Lay Scientist blog has an excellent piece on the misguided and intrusive habit of getting psychologists to comment on the mental state of people in the public eye. Although the media must take some responsibility for encouraging such crass and unhelpful speculation the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the psychologists and […]

An illusory tribute

Richard Gregory was a much loved and hugely influential perceptual psychologist who passed away earlier this year. Tom just alerted me to a wonderfully appropriate visual palindrome on his page of remembrance where his name reads perfectly well when either the ‘right way up’ on when ‘turned on its head’. If you can’t see it […]

The Ancient Egyptian mummy as a drug

I’ve just found an amazing 1927 article from the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine about the long history of using Egyptian mummies as drugs. The fact that powdered embalmed corpse from Ancient Egypt has never been shown to have any curative or mind altering properties hasn’t prevented an enthusiasm for the substance which […]

Voices amid the static

Dear Mind Hacks readers, I’m wondering if you can help me track down the source of stories I’ve heard about people hearing illusory voices amid the static in the early days of radio. A 2004 BBC Radio 4 documentary on ghostly voices captured on recording equipment called ‘Speak Spirit Speak’ started with a story about […]

2010-11-12 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Nature has put all of their schizophrenia special issue articles, features and podcast in one handy accessible page. There’s an extensive list of psychologists on Twitter over at The BPS Research Digest. Where else do you get to ask psychologists to free associate? Slate […]

A hazy memory of the happiness disorder

The ex-chief executive of the British Medical Journal has an amusing blog post where he notes how a Phillip Roth novel Sabbath’s Theater brilliantly ‘mimics’ a BMJ Group article on how happiness is a disease, seemingly unaware that his journal genuinely published the article in question. At one point in the book Mickey is visiting […]

A psychological rift in the perception of war

BBC Radio 4’s Analysis programme has a fascinating edition on how the public’s psychological perception of war is changing and how this is having an effect on the armed forces. It’s drawn from a UK perspective and its bookended by a bit of political stuff but the main part is full of interesting observations on […]


I think I may have found the only psychological analysis ever written on the scent of semen. The discussion is from a book called The Smell Culture Reader and it starts with a memorable anecdote about Oscar Wilde whacking off in jail. I realise none of you are actually reading any more, because you’ve all […]

Sliding into psychosis

This week’s edition of Nature is a special issue on schizophrenia and it includes an open-access feature article on the neuroscience of why the disorder only tends to appear in young-adulthood. One of the themes to come out of the piece is how symptoms of schizophrenia, like delusions and hallucinations, lie on a continuum – […]

Best of both worlds

I’ve just read an incredible article on conjoined twins Tatiana and Krista Hogan who have parts of the brain in common and may be sharing thoughts and perceptions. Adding to the conundrum, of course, are their linked brains, and the mysterious hints of what passes between them. The family regularly sees evidence of it. The […]

An embedded journalist for neuroscience

I’ve just discovered a new blog called The Brain Detectives by the writer-in-residence at the Montreal Neurological Institute, who has the wonderful job of hanging around and writing-up the most interesting things she hears. Although the writer, journalist Maria Schamis Turner, has just started, the project looks very promising. I honestly think that more research […]


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