Category Archives: Other People

An unusual form of the Babinski reflex

A curious anecdote about legendary neurologist Joseph Babinski accidentally hitting on the butler of famous physician Henry Head: Babinski [1857–1932] stayed with Henry Head in London. He spoke no English but on retiring wanted to use a bidet and summoned the butler who spoke no French; he therefore used sign language to indicate what he […]

Is medical school an empathotoxin?

Medical school seems to have a profound negative effect on empathy according to a research review just published in Academic Medicine. The review of 18 studies found that self-reported emotional understanding declines markedly during medical training. Counter-intuitively, the crucial downturn happens when medical students start seeing patients. Although the studies are almost completely based on […]

For Whom the Bell Tolls: A psychological autopsy

The Independent has an excellent article on the life and death of writer Ernest Hemingway based on an academic article that attempted a ‘psychological autopsy’ to understand the reasons for his suicide. Hemingway’s suicide has remained a sticking point for many of his biographers as it seemed incongruous with his adventurous, hard drinking and robustly […]

Carl Jung: a character of complexes

Carl Jung, the brilliant kaleidoscopic mind of psychoanalysis, died 50 years ago next week and The Guardian have the first part of a new series exploring his life and work. In the history of psychology, Jung lives as a intense sunburst of experiences and ideas. Sometimes the rays are so bright it’s hard to distinguish […]

A reflection of the greatest

A surprising study has just appeared in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology about whether narcissists realise what others think about their egotistical self-image. Narcissism is a trait where people are more concerned about themselves than others and tend to think they are better and more important than their peers. This has often been […]

The testing of Alan Turing

The Providentia blog has a brilliant three part series on Alan Turing, focusing on how his homosexuality was treated at the time both as a mental illness and a criminal act. As with all of the posts of Providentia it’s wonderfully written and captures the sad circumstances leading to the death of one of the […]

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 […]

Time flies when you’re having fun

The New Yorker has a fantastic profile of neuroscientist David Eagleman that captures both his playful approach to science and his intriguing work on how we perceive time. Eagleman is one of the most engaging thinkers in neuroscience – equally at home tackling fascinating areas of cognitive science and writing playful books about the afterlife. […]

From Both of Me to all 15 of You

While browsing through Flickr I just found this amazing signed photo that rocker Alice Cooper dedicated to his psychologist Eugene Landy. If you click on the image for the full version you can see the photo in all its Cooper-esque glory. It’s dated 1976, which is apparently shortly before Cooper was hospitalised to treat his […]

It’s just something inside my head

A remarkably accurate account of the learned helplessness theory of depression as recounted in the lyrics of downbeat hip-hop track ‘Something Inside My Head’ by London based rapper Akala. I wasn’t born this way My condition was learned Once bitten twice shy I don’t wanna be burned When you travel a passage That leaves your […]

A slice of the pusher man

New York Magazine has an in-depth article on a low-level drug dealer in the Big Apple who is trying, somewhat half-heartedly, to get out of the game. It is neither glamorisation nor condemnation, but is a carefully observed slice of life from a business minded, spreadsheet obsessed, upper middle class cocaine dealer. Lenny sighs, rubs […]

I can smell burnt toast

Pioneering neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield was the subject of one of Canadian television’s ‘Heritage Minutes’ in a melodramatic classic that celebrates his stimulating brain research. It really does just last one minute and looks like a cross between Hammer Horror and Gone With The Wind with the dramatic stares and hammy acting to match. Penfield is […]

Interview with Wade Davis: Part II – culture clashes

This is Part II of our interview with ethnobotanist and explorer Wade Davis where we discuss technology, culture and the slippery concept of human nature. Davis kindly spoke to myself and science journalist Ana María Jaramillo while visiting Medellín’s excellent science museum Parque Explorer and in Part I we discussed altered states of consciousness and […]

Interview with Wade Davis: Part I – altered states

Anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis recently gave a talk at Medellín’s fantastic science museum Parque Explorer and myself and science journalist Ana María Jaramillo managed to grab some of his time to discuss altered states of consciousness and cultural diversity. If you’re not familiar with Davis’ work, his TED talk on ‘Cultures at the far […]

Mental air

A poem by the great Irish writer William Butler Yeats on the difficulties of getting the balloon of the mind into its narrow shed. No, I’m not really sure what it’s about either, but I wonder if that’s the point. The Balloon Of The Mind by William Butler Yeats Hands, do what you’re bid: Bring […]

I’ve got a certificate in armchair psychology

The Guardian’s Lay Scientist blog has an excellent piece on the misguided and intrusive habit of getting psychologists to comment on the mental state of people in the public eye. Although the media must take some responsibility for encouraging such crass and unhelpful speculation the responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the psychologists and […]

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