Category Archives: Togetherness

A cultural view of agony

New Statesman has a fascinating article on the ‘cultural history of pain’ that tracks how our ideas about pain and suffering have radically changed through the years. One of the most interesting, and worrying, themes is how there have been lots of cultural beliefs about whether certain groups are more or less sensitive to pain. […]

The normality trap

I remember taking a bus to London Bridge when, after a few stops, a woman got on who seemed to move with a subtle but twitchy disregard for her surroundings. She found herself a seat among the Saturday shoppers and divided her time between looking out the window and responding to invisible companions, occasionally shouting […]

The genetics of intelligent radio

BBC Radio 4 has just concluded an excellent three-part series on the controversies over the genetics of intelligence and it’s one of the best and most nuanced discussions you’ll hear about the topic for many years. The series is called Intelligence: Born Smart, Born Equal, Born Different and it’s carefully put together, wide in scope […]

The poly themes of psychosis

The latest London Review of Books has an amazing first-person account of psychosis that illustrates the complex interlocking webs of ideas and perceptions that can occur in the more intense versions of the experience. As a description of the lived-experience of psychosis, it is actually quite rare, because most are written about relatively (and I […]

Coma alarm dreams

Intensive Care Medicine has published a wonderfully written and vivid account from a teenager who spent time brain injured and hallucinating in an intensive care unit. The writer describes how he was admitted to intensive care at the age of 15 after suffering a head injury and had intense and bizarre hallucinations which are, as […]

This is how stigma works

Sussex Police issue a statement about ‘Concern for missing Chichester man’, ITN News report it as ‘Police warn public over missing mental health patient’. Sussex police: Police are appealing for information about missing 43-year old Jason Merriman, who left The Oaklands Centre for Acute Care in Chichester on unescorted leave at 12.45pm on Friday 11 […]

Is there creative accounting in behavioural economics?

The Financial Times has an excellent article on the future of behavioural economics. Despite the fact that it is an incisive piece on a form of applied psychology that won Daniel Kahneman the Nobel Prize and has revolutionised political thinking, the FT has entitled the article ‘Behavioural economics and public policy’, to ensure it doesn’t […]

Respect is a medicine

Aeon magazine has an excellent article on how social interactions among medical team members affect clinical outcomes, patient well-being and the number of medical errors that occur. It’s probably worth saying that the vast majority of doctors and warm and respectful people but it remains one of the last professions where teaching though humiliation is […]

A reality of dreams

The journal Sleep has an interesting study on how people with narcolepsy can experience sometimes striking confusions between what they’ve dreamed and what’s actually happened. Narcolepsy is a disorder of the immune system where it inappropriately attacks parts of the brain involved in sleep regulation. The result is that affected people are not able to […]

Heroin, addiction and free will

The death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has sparked some strong and seemingly contradictory responses. What these reactions show is that many people find it hard to think of addiction as being anything except either a choice or a loss of free will. The fact that addiction could involve an active choice to take drugs but […]

Revenge is not sweet

An interesting paper in the snappily titled International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology examines what we know about the psychology of revenge. It has a fascinating section where it discusses how often people take vengeful actions and whether they actually bring any relief. It seems that taking revenge is rare, but when it […]

There probably isn’t an app for that

A man with drug-induced psychosis attempted to swallow his smartphone and the case was reported in the medical journal Internal and Emergency Medicine. A 35 year-old man with no significant past medical history presented to the emergency department (ED) after abusing phencyclidine (PCP). Responding to command auditory hallucinations, he attempted to swallow his 4 cm […]

Parental advisory: teenage kicks in progress

New York Magazine has an excellent piece on whether adolescence is really a time of turmoil for young people or whether it is actually the parents that find their kids’ teenage years the most challenging. The article is a brilliant alternative take on adolescence and looks into a range of studies on how teens develop […]

A sticking plaster for a shattered world

The last paragraph of this article from the American Journal of Psychiatry on people displaced by the Syrian conflict essentially sums up the entire practice of conflict-related mental health. Looking at this endless list of horrible stories from a psychiatrist’s perspective, I see only patients suffering from what my profession calls posttraumatic stress disorder. It […]

Is school performance less heritable in the USA?

A recent twin study looked at educational achievement in the UK and found that genetic factors contribute more than half to the difference in how students perform in their age 16 exams. But this may not apply to other countries. Twin studies look at the balance between environmental and genetic factors for a given population […]

Where data meets the people

Ben Goldacre might be quite surprised to hear he’s written a sociology book, but for the second in our series on books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health meet society, Bad Pharma is an exemplary example. The book could essentially be read as a compelling textbook on clinical trial methodology with […]

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