Author Archives: vaughanbell

The celebrity analysis that killed celebrity analysis

Most ‘psy’ professionals are banned by their codes of conduct from conducting ‘celebrity analysis’ and commenting on the mental state of specific individuals in the media. This is a sensible guideline but I didn’t realise it was triggered by a specific event. Publicly commenting on a celebrity’s psychological state is bad form. If you’ve worked […]

Towards a nuanced view of mental distress

In the latest edition of The Psychologist I’m involved in a debate with John Cromby about whether our understanding of mental illness is mired in the past. He thinks it is, I think it isn’t, and we kick off from there. The article is readable online with a free registration but I’ve put the unrestricted […]

Spike activity 12-12-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The new trailer for upcoming Pixar movie Inside Out is very funny and has a remarkably accurate depiction of brain function. Neurocritic covers hipster neuroscience. Is the ‘bilingual advantage’ in cognitive performance a result of publication bias? Maybe, suggests the Science of Us. The […]

Snake oil salesmen selling torture

The US Government has just released its report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, aptly branded the “torture report”, which is available online as a pdf. It makes for appalling reading but sheds light on the role of two psychologists in the creation and running of what turned out to be genuinely counter-productive ‘enhanced […]

You won’t find the data in my pants

The journal contexts has an excellent article on the long history of exploring the sex lives of sex researchers as a veiled attempt to discredit their work. …these stories suggest a troubling pattern: they tend to focus on researchers’ alleged sexual proclivities, spinning them as deviant motivations which compromise the research. For example, James Miller’s […]

Madness, murder and mental healing

London’s innovative biomedical centre, the Wellcome Collection, have created a fascinating interactive story on how ‘mesmerism’ and hypnosis played an important role in the history of mind and madness. It’s written by the fantastic Mike Jay, who has penned many excellent books on the high-strangeness of the early science of the mind in the 1800s, […]

Spike activity 05-12-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: There’s a picture gallery from the abandoned Talgarth and Denbigh asylums at Wales Online. The Guardian has a piece on psychologist William Marston, polyamory, feminism and the genesis of Wonder Woman. Doesn’t mention he also invented the polygraph. The saga of the lost, maybe […]

3652 days

Mind Hacks is exactly 10 years old today. Here’s the first post where Matt announced that the book had started shipping. This is the 4950th post and Mind Hacks has been going for 3652 days which means we’ve published an average of 1.4 posts a day, every day, for the last 10 years. Apart from […]

Spike activity 28-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Pentagon publishes their plan for future war and they seem to have ripped off the plot from 1980s Rogue Trooper story lines. The Scientist has a basic guide to imaging white matter with diffusion MRI. Next week in The Scientist: Collar up or […]

Wankers and prankers on the suicide hotline

The New York Magazine‘s new Science of Us section has an interesting review of a new documentary on hotlines – whether they be for suicide support or phone sex. I was initially annoyed at the fact that the documentary puts both of these in the same category but it’s based on the interesting premise that […]

Spike activity 21-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: Wall Street Journal on The Future of AI: An Ubiquitous, Invisible, Smart Utility. A list of the 100 most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter compiled by the BPS Research Digest. And a mixed bag it is too. Student Science has a fantastic how-to […]

Vogue magazine continues neglect of cognitive science

Mind Hacks has been awarded the 2014 British Psychological Society’s Public Engagement and Media Award for its services to obsessive coverage of psychology and neuroscience. I think I can speak for both Tom and I when I say we were actually aiming for recognition by Vogue magazine but it’s better than a poke in the […]

Cushing’s abandoned brains

I’ve just found a great short documentary about the abandoned brain collection of pioneering neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing. The video describes how Cushing’s archives, which genuinely involved hundreds of brains in jars, as well as rare slides and photos of the early days of brain surgery, were rediscovered in the basement of Yale University and restored […]

An earlier illusory death

For such an obscure corner of the medical literature, Cotard’s delusion is remarkably well known as the delusion that you’re dead. This was supposedly first described by Jules Cotard in 1880 but I seem to have found a description from 1576. It’s worth noting that although Cotard’s delusion has come to represent ‘the delusion that […]

More on the enigma of blindness and psychosis

A long-standing enigma in psychiatry has been why no-one has been able to find someone who has both congenital blindness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The newest and most comprehensive archive study to date has just been published on exactly this issue although it raises more questions than it answers. Evelina Leivada and Cedric Boeckx […]

Spike activity 14-11-2014

Quick links from the past week in mind and brain news: The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent piece arguing for more focus on developing good theories of the brain amid the cascade of cash for neuroscience methods. Moving Beyond Left Brain, Right Brain, Neuroskeptic goes in-depth with Michael Corballis. More neuronerd goodness from […]

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