Category Archives: books

Circumstances of the life and brain

Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh has written a philosophical, incisive and exasperated book about brain surgery called Do No Harm. It’s a hugely entertaining read as Marsh takes us through the practical and emotional process of operating, or not operating, on patients with neurological disorders. He does a lot of moaning – about hospital management, computerisation, administration […]

A detangler for the net

I’ve just finished reading the new book Untangling the Web by social psychologist Aleks Krotoski. It turns out to be one of the best discussions I’ve yet read on how the fabric of society is meshing with the internet. Regular readers know I’ve been a massive fan of the Digital Human, the BBC Radio 4 […]

A concise, solid grounding in neuroscience

I often get asked ‘how can I avoid common misunderstandings in neuroscience’ which I always think is a bit of an odd question because the answer is ‘learn a lot about neuroscience’. This is easier than it sounds, of course, but if you want a solid introduction, a book by Mo Costandi called 50 Human […]

A literary review of the DSM-5

Philosopher Ian Hacking, famous for analysing the effects of psychological and neuroscientific knowledge on how we understand ourselves, has reviewed the DSM-5 for the London Review of Books. It’s both an excellent look at what the whole DSM project has been designed to do and a cutting take on the checklist approach to diagnosis. It’s […]

Gotham psychologist

Andrea Letamendi is a clinical psychologist who specialises in the treatment and research of traumatic stress disorders but also has a passionate interest in how psychological issues are depicted in comics. She puts her thoughts online in her blog Under the Mask which also discuss social issues in fandom and geek culture. Recently, she was […]

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 […]

Control your dreams (ebook)

Anyone can learn to have lucid dreams, and this ebook tells you how. Lucid dreams are those dreams where you become aware you are dreaming, and can even begin to control the reality of the dream. Adventure, problem-solving and consequence-free indulgence await! And for those interested in the mind, lucid dreams are a great place […]

Explore your blind spot (free ebook)

I’ve written an ebook called ‘Explore your blind spot’. It’s about, er, exploring your blind spot! In the best tradition of Mind Hacks I take you from the raw experience to the cutting edge of scientific theory. The blind spot is a simple phenomenon of our visual processing, but one we don’t notice day to […]

A review of Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature

I’ve written an in-depth review of Steven Pinker’s new book on the decline of violence for the latest Wilson Quarterly I thought getting a free copy and working on a review would be great fun but was rather taken aback when the 848 page book landed on my doorstep. I shouldn’t have been because there […]

A case of simulated fragmentation

The New York Times has an excerpt of a book that claims to expose one of the most famous psychiatric cases in popular culture as a fraud. Based on an analysis of previously locked archives the book suggests that the patient at the centre of the ‘Sybil’ case of ‘multiple personality disorder’ was, in fact, […]

The father of Randle P. McMurphy

An article in the Journal of Medical Humanities has a fascinating look at one of playwright Samuel Beckett’s early novels – an exploration of madness and mental health care that foreshadowed One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest. Beckett is best known for Waiting for Godot, but his novel Murphy was previously one of the best […]

A profession with “no” at its core

I’ve just finished Randy Olson’s “Don’t be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an age of style” (after loving his article in New Scientist, “Top five tips for communicating science “). Olson is a marine biologist turned filmmaker, so knows the world of science from the inside, and from the outside perspective. This book is […]

Book review: Willpower by Baumeister & Tierney

“Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength”, Roy Baumeister & John Tierney, 2011 I’ve just finished this book, and yet I still couldn’t tell you what it was trying to claim. It’s a grab-bag of research on willpower, nearly all of it done by social psychologist Baumeister and colleagues, and including his celebrated experiments on ego-depletion. […]

Out of Mind online

Paul Broks is a British neuropsychologist who wrote a brilliant and insightful column on the brain and its disorders for Prospect magazine in the early 2000s, all of which are now freely available online. The ‘Out of Mind’ column ran for the best part of five years. Alternately whimsical, profound and poetic, it recounted ephemeral […]

Book review: Crazy Like Us

‘Cultures become particularly vulnerable to new beliefs about the mind and madness particularly during times of social anxiety or discord’, notes Ethan Watters in this compelling book. Watters sees social discord as making cultures ‘vulnerable’ to new beliefs, rather than simply ‘receptive’, and this sentence captures both the depth of insight in Crazy Like Us […]

Grief, mental illness and psychiatry’s sad refrain

Scientific American covers a coming shake-up in how grief is defined in relation to mental illness as the forthcoming DSM-5 diagnostic manual aims to radically redefine how mourning is treated by mental health professionals. It’s worth saying that the DSM-5 has yet to be finalised and will not appear until 2013 but the changes to […]

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