Author Archives: christianjarrett

The Architecture of Happiness

We‚Äôre probably going to be seeing a lot of Alain de Botton in the coming months, as he‚Äôs out and about promoting his new book ‚ÄòThe Architecture of Happiness‚Äô. I‚Äôm a huge fan of de Botton, whose books such as ‚ÄòThe Consolations of Philosophy‚Äô have won widespread critical acclaim for making philosophy accessible and relevant […]

The Happiness Formula

There‚Äôs a new six-part series starting on BBC 2 this week called The Happiness Formula, and the companion website has all sorts of features including on-line video clips, happiness tests, and an article about the science of happiness. Glancing through, it looks like among the key contributors are well-being psychologist Ed Diener, positive psychologist Martin […]

They’re coming to take me away Ha Ha

How comedians have tackled the world of mental health head on, with contributions from Paul Whitehouse and psychiatrist Dr. Peter Byrne. Coming up on BBC Radio 4 (which you can listen to live over the net) at 11.30 BST and repeated on Monday at 0.15 BST.

Phantom paralysis

This month’s brilliant Out of Mind column in Prospect magazine, written by psychiatrist Robert Drummond and Alexanader Linklater, deputy editor of the mag, is about a cambonian woman with phantom paralysis. The woman’s husband died recently following a massive stroke. They’d been married 42 years. An earlier stroke had left him with a weak arm […]

Mind and brain on Research TV

I’ve just discovered ‘Research TV’ which features loads of free videos, or ‘vodcasts’, including several on psychology and neuroscience: Link to Scanning brainwaves to read the mind, about combining MEG and fMRI brain imaging techniques. Link to Hemianopia: looking into the dark. Link to A happy marriage helps beat flu. Link to Fit to fight […]

Little girl lost

Insight into self-harming from Lovisa Pahlson-Moller, a 22-year-old who said she first self-harmed when she was just six years old. She hasn’t cut herself for two years thanks partly to the relief that’s come from writing a book about her feelings. Interview and book extract. Also there’s an extended interview here with Chris Holley, the […]

A Sense of Scale

Psychiatric nurse and mixed media artist Ben Guiver’s experimental radio broadcast is available to download today. The show – a kind of remix of texts by Francois Roustang, Will Self, Hakim Bey, Adam Phillips and Jean Baudrillard – complements his exhibition of photographs and paintings at London’s Foundry called “A sense of Scale”, and will […]

The freakonomic take on bird flu

Steven Levitt, the economist, and Stephen Dubner, the journalist ‚Äì authors of Freakonomics ‚Äì appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday. The pair are (in)famous for their alternative explanations of historical phenomena, based on their application of economic tools of analysis to social patterns. For example, they‚Äôve argued that the 50 per cent […]

Cosmic ordering

Setting yourself achievable goals is a sensible step on the way to getting what you want in life. So why, in the twenty-first century, do people have to dress up such a simple idea with kookie language and daft explanations? TV presenter Noel Edmunds said his successful return to primetime TV was thanks to ‘cosmic […]

Observation balloons, mental break down, and female hysteria

“As soon as he started work at the hospital he became…fascinated by the differences in severity of break down between the different branches of the RFC. Pilots, though they did indeed break down, did so less frequently and usually less severely than the men who manned observation balloons. They, floating helplessly above the battlefields, unable […]

How World War I brought out men’s maternal side

“One of the paradoxes of the war – one of the many – was that this most brutal of conflicts should set up a relationship between officers and men that was…domestic. Caring. As Layard [a traumatised soldier Rivers hadn’t been able to help] would undoubtedly have said, maternal. And that wasn’t the only trick the […]

Treating shell-shock during World War 1

“In leading his patients to understand that breakdown was nothing to be ashamed of, that horror and fear were inevitable responses to the trauma of war and were better acknowledged than suppressed, that feelings of tenderness for other men were natural and right, that tears were an acceptable and helpful part of grieving, he was […]

A neuroscientist’s grief

Neuroscientist Ruth McKernan was a guest on Radio 4’s midweek this morning, talking about her father’s death from a mystery illness, and how her scientific background shaped her coping and grief, an experience she has described in her book Billy’s Halo. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s synopsis: Now, she tells the story of her […]

Can science explain religion?

Daniel Dennett‚Äôs been at it again, this time in a juicy online Prospect debate with Richard Swinburne (pictured right), Emeritus Nolloth professor of the Philosophy of the Christian religion at the University of Oxford. In the debate Swinburne suggests science can‚Äôt begin to study religion without first acknowledging that God exists. Dennett argues that religions […]

A Darwinian tiff

This had me in stitches. Apparently Darwinian philosopher Daniel Dennett (who’s out and about promoting his new book) has fallen out with fellow Darwinian, British-Born philosopher Michael Ruse. Ruse warns against taking evolutionary theory too far, so that it becomes an argument for atheism. Anyway, during the tiff (see here for detail) Dennett emailed Ruse […]

Dancing, religion and sex

Link to what you get when you mix a choreographer, six cognitive scientists, ten dancers and an anthropologist. Via The Quarter, where art, science and politics meet. Philosopher and neo-Darwinian Daniel Dennett has a new book out that attempts to explain the human penchant for religiosity in terms of memes. Guardian review here. Quick on […]


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