Monthly Archives: January 2012

A treasure hunt for the mysteries of mind and brain

I’ve published a couple of free ebooks recently: Explore your blind spot shows you how to reveal the gap we all have in our visual experience of the world, and discusses what it means about consciousness that this gap is kept hidden from us most of the time. Control Your Dreams, co-written with Cathryn Bardsley […]

The peak experiences of Abraham Maslow

The New Atlantis has an in-depth biographical article on psychologist Abraham Maslow – one of the founders of humanistic psychology and famous for his ‘hierarchy of needs’. Maslow is stereotypically associated with a kind of fluffy ‘love yourself’ psychology although the man himself was quite a skeptic of the mumbo jumbo that got associated with […]

Gimme Shelter

The Rolling Stones launched their career in a social therapeutic club, designed to help troubled youth with communication skills. The club became legendary in rock ‘n roll history but its therapeutic roots have almost been forgotten. Eel Pie Island is a small patch on the River Thames famous for the underground club that earned a […]

A medical study of the Haitian zombie

We hear a lot about zombies these days – in films, in music and even in philosophy – but many are unaware that in 1997 The Lancet published a medical study of three genuine Haitian zombies. The cases studies were reported by British anthropologist Roland Littlewood and Haitian doctor Chavannes Douyon and concerned three individuals […]

A relationship through brain injury

The New York Times has an excellent article on the challenges faced by couples after one member survives brain injury. Carers sometimes say that, after brain injury, their partner is emotionally unresponsive, emotionally unstable or that their ‘personality has changed’. This can lead to a strain on the relationship that far outlasts the ‘obvious’ effects […]

Graffiti brain collision

An unfortunate case of a high-impact graffiti-based neurotrauma recorded this afternoon in Bogotá on the corner of Carrera 14 and Calle 26 near the Cementerio Central.  

The importance of penis panics to cultural psychiatry

The Boston Globe has an excellent article about supposedly culture specific mental illnesses and how they are an ongoing puzzle for psychiatry’s diagnostic manual. These conditions are called culture-bound syndromes in the DSM but they’ve always had a bit of ‘looking at the natives’ feel about them as many syndromes that are unknown in many […]

Christmas brain lectures available worldwide

This year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures were a fantastic trip through neuroscience and the brain – and you can now watch them online from anywhere in the world. The Christmas Lectures are a traditional event where a leading scientist is chosen to present the latest developments in a fun and engaging way to a lecture […]

The manual that must not be named

The American Psychiatric Association have used legal threats to force a critical blog to change its title because they didn’t like it being called ‘DSM Watch’. The ‘DSM Watch’ website, now called ‘Dx Revision Watch‘, is one of the better websites keeping track and critiquing the upcoming changes to psychiatry’s diagnostic manual, the DSM-5. On […]

Anesthesia as a consciousness scalpel

I’ve just written a piece for the Discover Magazine blog The Crux about a new study that used anaesthetics to “put people under” and test the limits of their conscious mind even after they’d stopped responding to the outside world. Doing psychology experiments on people undergoing anaesthesia is not a new idea but it has […]

Advertising through avatar-manipulation

The Psychologist has an article on the surprising effect of seeing a digital avatar of yourself – as if looking at your body from the outside. The piece covers a range of effects found in psychology studies, from increasing healthy behaviour to encouraging false memories, but the bit on deliberate avatar-manipulation for advertising caught my […]

A very brief guide to the DSM

The British Journal of Psychiatry’s ‘100 words’ series continues with a very brief guide to the DSM psychiatric manual and its ongoing revision. DSM is an American classification system that has dominated since 1980. It is disliked by many for reducing diagnostic skills to a cold list of operational criteria, yet embraced by researchers believing […]

The cowboy cure

The APA Monitor has an article on how ‘nervousness’ in 1800s America was treated by sending male intellectuals ‘out West’ for prolonged periods of cattle roping, hunting, roughriding and male bonding. This, I suspect, sounded a great deal more innocent in the 1800s. But nevertheless, this sort of intense deliberately masculine physical exercise was thought […]


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