Category Archives: Remembering

Seeing ourselves through the eyes of the machine

I’ve got an article in The Observer about how our inventions have profoundly shaped how we view ourselves because we’ve traditionally looked to technology for metaphors of human nature. We tend to think that we understand ourselves and then create technologies to take advantage of that new knowledge but it usually happens the other way […]

The concept of stress, sponsored by Big Tobacco

NPR has an excellent piece on how the scientific concept of stress was massively promoted by tobacco companies who wanted an angle to market ‘relaxing’ cigarettes and a way for them to argue that it was stress, not cigarettes, that was to blame for heart disease and cancer. They did this by funding, guiding and […]

Memories of ‘hands on’ sex therapy

There’s an amusing passage in Andrew Solomon’s book Far From the Tree where he recounts his own experience of a curious attempt at surrogate partner therapy – a type of sex therapy where a ‘stand in’ partner engages with sexual activity with the client to help overcome sexual difficulties. In Solomon’s case, he was a […]

Nostalgia: Why it is good for you

The past is not just a foreign country, but also one we are all exiled from. Like all exiles, we sometimes long to return. That longing is called nostalgia. Whether it is triggered by a photograph, a first kiss or a treasured possession, nostalgia evokes a particular sense of time or place. We all know […]

Important peculiarities of memory

A slide from what looks like a fascinating talk by memory researcher Robert Bjork is doing the rounds on Twitter. The talk has just happened at the Association for Psychological Science 2014 conference and it describes some ‘Important peculiarities of memory’. You can click the link above if you want to see if the image, […]

Unsure memories of murder

The BBC News site has a special multimedia feature on a case of false confession to murder that has been been troubling Iceland from the 1970s and has recently erupted again. The Beeb have clearly gone a bit ‘Scandinavian detective drama’ on the whole thing but it is a gripping story, not least because it […]

Heartbreak among the roses

British Pathé, the vintage news organisation, have released all of their archive online including some fascinating newsreels on psychiatric institutions of times past. A particularly interesting film is Inside Rampton! a 1957 newsreel which focuses on Rampton Secure Hospital – which was, and still is, one of England’s three highest security psychiatric hospitals. The others […]

Stroop: an unrecognised legacy

The man who discovered the Stroop effect and created the Stroop test, something which is now a keystone of cognitive science research, never realised the massive impact he had on psychology. A short but fascinating news item from Vanderbilt University discusses its creator, the psychologist and preacher J. Ridley Stroop. J. Ridley Stroop was born […]

The Society of Mutual Autopsy

The Society of Mutual Autopsy was an organisation formed in the late 1800s to advance neuroscience by examining dead members’ brains and to promote atheism by breaking sacred taboos. It included some of the great French intellectuals and radicals of the time and became remarkably fashionable – publishing the results in journals and showing plaster-casts […]

The pull for lobotomy

The Psychologist has a fascinating article by historian Mical Raz on what patients and families thought about the effects of lobotomy. Raz looks at the letters sent between arch-lobotomist Walter Freeman and the many families he affected through his use of the procedure. Contrary to the image of the ‘evil surgeon who didn’t care about […]

Whatever happened to Hans Eysenck?

Psychologist Hans Eysenck was once one of the most cited and controversial scientists on the planet and a major force in the development of psychology but he now barely merits a mention. Whatever happened to Hans Eysenck? To start off, it’s probably worth noting that Eysenck did a lot to ensure his legacy would be […]

A quarter century of All in the Mind

A new series of BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind has just kicked off and to celebrate 25 years of broadcasting they’ve just had three great episodes looking back on the last quarter century of psychology, neuroscience and mental health. Each make for a interesting discussion of how science and attitudes have changed. As […]

Look before you tweak: a history of amphetamine

I’ve just found a fascinating article in the American Journal of Public Health on ‘America’s First Amphetamine Epidemic’ and how it compares to the current boom in meth and Ritalin use. The first amphetamine epidemic ran from 1929–1971 and was largely based on easily available over-the-counter speed in the form of ‘pep pills’, widely abused […]

Period architecture, majestic views, history of madness

Regular readers will know of my ongoing fascination with the fate of the old psychiatric asylums and how they’re often turned into luxury apartments with not a whisper of their previous life. It turns out, a 2003 article in The Psychiatrist looked at exactly this in 71 former asylum care hospitals. It’s cheekily called ‘The […]

A technoculture of psychosis

Aeon Magazine has an amazing article on the history of technology in paranoid delusions and how cultural developments are starting to mirror the accidental inventions of psychosis. It’s by the fantastic Mike Jay, who wrote The Air Loom Gang, an essential book that looks at one of the most famous cases of ‘influencing machine’ psychosis. […]

A notorious song

A song banned was banned by the BBC until 2002 because worries that it may cause a suicide epidemic. The piece is titled Gloomy Sunday and was written by the Hungarian composer Rezső Seress. The following abstract tip-toes around the point that there is no evidence it ever caused suicides but the history and hand-wringing […]

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