Monthly Archives: April 2013

Race perception isn’t automatic

Last week’s column for BBC Future describes a neat social psychology experiment from an unlikely source. Three evolutionary psychologists reasoned that that claims that we automatically categorise people by the ethnicity must be wrong. Here’s how they set out to prove it. The original column is here. For years, psychologists thought we instantly label each […]

Prescribe it again, Sam

We tend to think of Prozac as the first ‘fashionable’ psychiatric drug but it turns out popular memory is short because a tranquilizer called Miltown hit the big time thirty years before. This is from a wonderful book called The Age of Anxiety: A History of America’s Turbulent Affair with Tranquilizers by Andrea Tone and […]

2013-04-27 Spike activity

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Psychiatry needs its Higgs boson moment says and article in New Scientist which describes some interesting but disconnected findings suggesting it ‘aint going to get it soon. Wall Street Journal has an overenthusiastic article on how advances in genetics and neuroscience are ‘revolutionizing’ our […]

Deeper into genetic challenges to psychiatric diagnosis

For my recent Observer article I discussed how genetic findings are providing some of the best evidence that psychiatric diagnoses do not represent discrete disorders. As part of that I spoke to Michael Owen, a psychiatrist and researcher based at Cardiff University, who has been leading lots of the rethink on the nature of psychiatric […]

Like a part of me is missing

Matter magazine has an amazing article about the world of underground surgery for healthy people who feel that their limb is not part of their body and needs to be removed. The condition is diagnosed as body integrity identity disorder or BIID but it has a whole range of interests and behaviours associated with it […]

What does it take to spark prejudice?

Short answer: surprisingly little. Continuing the theme of revisiting classic experiments in psychology, last week’s BBC Future column was on Tajfel’s Minimal Group Paradigm. The original is here. Next week we’re going to take this foundation and look at some evolutionary psychology of racism (hint: it won’t be what you’d expect). How easy is it […]

A stiff moment in scientific history

In 1983 psychiatrist Giles Brindley demonstrated the first drug treatment for erectile dysfunction in a rather unique way. He took the drug and demonstrated his stiff wicket to the audience mid-way through his talk. Scientific journal BJU International has a pant-wettingly hilarious account of the events of that day which made both scientific and presentation […]

Amid the borderlands

I’ve got an article in The Observer on how some of the best evidence against the idea that psychiatric diagnoses like ‘schizophrenia’ describe discrete ‘diseases’ comes not from the critics of psychiatry, but from medical genetics. I found this a fascinating outcome because it puts both sides of the polarised ‘psychiatry divide’ in quite an […]

Why money won’t buy you happiness

Here’s my column for BBC Future from last week. It was originally titled ‘Why money can’t buy you happiness‘, but I’ve just realised that it would be more appropriately titled if I used a “won’t” rather than a “can’t”. There’s a saying that people who think money can’t buy happiness don’t know where to shop. […]

A cuckoo’s nest museum

The New York Times reports that the psychiatric hospital used as the backdrop for the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has been turned into a museum of mental health. In real life the institution was Oregon State Hospital and the article is accompanied by a slide show of images from the hospital […]

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