Category Archives: books

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 […]

An anatomy of The Anatomy of Melacholy

BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time tackled one of the most important books in the history of psychology, psychiatry and literature – Robert Burton’s classic 17th Century text The Anatomy of Melancholy. Although the book is commonly referred to by its abbreviated title it actually has the far more wonderful name of ‘The Anatomy of […]

A connoisseur’s list of essential psychology

Every month since 2008 The Psychologist magazine has run an interview with a leading psychologist where they ask them to name one book or journal article, either contemporary or historical, that all psychologists should read. The BPS Research Digest has compiled all the answers into handy and fascinating list. A few of the answers: Mistakes […]

The Rough Guide to Psychology

Friend of mindhacks.com and contributor to the original Mind Hacks book, Christian Jarrett has written the “The Rough Guide to Psychology“, published this month, and a right rip roaring read it is too. It’s a whistle-stop tour through all aspects of the science of mind and behaviour, which reveals just how diverse and rich the […]

The (cut price) Narrative Escape

My ebook The Narrative Escape is available at a reduced price for a limited time. Publishers 40kbooks have got a February special offer, meaning that you can read my 6000 or so words about dreams, stories and morality for less than a dollar. UK readers : that’s seventy-one pence! As if the price wasn’t enough […]

A new level of chutzpah in psychiatric ghostwriting

The New York Times has a revealing article about how a popular textbook for family doctors on how to treat mental illness, apparently written by two big name psychiatrists, was almost entirely written by a ghostwriting service under the direction of a large drug company. Two prominent authors of a 1999 book teaching family doctors […]

A history of friends in high places

I recently indulged in the outrageous luxury of placing an international order for the book High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture by Mike Jay and I’m very glad I did. If you want to get a feel for the sort of thing it tackles, the author has a fantastic video where he discusses […]

The Narrative Escape

Please excuse me if I interrupt Vaughan’s normal programming to blow my own trumpet: My ebook “The Narrative Escape” was published yesterday by 40k books. ‘The Narrative Escape’ is a long essay about morality, psychology and stories and is availble in Kindle format. From the ebook blurb: We instinctively tell stories about our experiences, and […]

The book of reality distortions

I’m happy to announce that I’ve just finalised an agreement with Penguin to write a book on what hallucinations tell us about the mind, brain and human nature. From the proposal: The mind and brain can generate fantastical visions and disembodied voices, illusory people and shifting landscapes, internal symphonies and sensed presences. These states happen […]

The McDonaldization of the Mind

Last week’s ABC Radio National All in the Mind had a fantastic interview with journalist Ethan Watters whose book ‘Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche’ has been making waves with its criticism of the cultural dominance of American psychiatry. I’ve promised a long overdue review of the book to The Psychologist so […]

On the brain train

Tom kindly sent me a copy of his new book The Rough Guide to Brain Training which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading. I don’t think you’re ever going to get the most objective review from someone who’s already an admirer of Tom’s work, but I shall do my best. I have to say, I’m not […]

Brain stories and neuronovels

n+1 has an excellent article on how neuroscience is making an increasing appearance in novels, not only as a subject, but also as a literary device to explore characters and explain their motivations. It marks the start of the trend from Ian McEwan‚Äôs Enduring Love and notes that in more recent years books such as […]

Where the wild things are

The Psychologist has an excellent article on the psychology behind the classic children’s book Where The Wild Things Are. It turns out that the author, Maurice Sendak, was heavily interested in psychoanalysis and intended the book to explore the inner life of children. The article is by psychoanalyst Richard Gottlieb who examines some of the […]

The English and the magical properties of tea

From p312 of anthropologist Kate Fox’s entertaining book Watching the English: Tea is still believed, by English people of all classes, to have miraculous properties. A cup of tea can cure, or at least alleviate, almost all minor physical ailments and indispositions, from a headache to a scraped knee. Tea is also an essential remedy […]

Mad, Bad and Sad: A Historical Romance

Lisa Appignanesi’s book Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present is a romantic tour through the last 200 years of psychiatry and the feminine, although probably not in the sense you’re thinking of. The romantic movement was a literary and artistic phenomena that emerged in […]

The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex is a hugely entertaining book on sex research that is chaotic, delightful and utterly compelling. The book is by science writer Mary Roach, whose past book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is one of my favourite science books of all time and when the publishers […]

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