Category Archives: Togetherness

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 […]

Hallucinated voices and the community inside us

I’ve long been fascinated by the experience of ‘hearing voices’ and long been baffled by the typical scientific approach to the experience. As a result, I’ve just had a paper published in PLOS Biology that focus on one of the most striking but ignored aspects of hallucinated voices. Here’s how I describe the central paradox […]

A life in the day of a medical morphine addict

AddictionBlog has an amazing article by a doctor and recovering morphine addict that describes the experience of injection, rush and withdrawal. It’s wonderfully written to the point of being painful and if you’re not good with needles, you’ll probably feel a bit queasy when reading it. Heroin, by the way, is just the prodrug of […]

Neuroscience and its place in the social world

This is the first of three posts that will cover three important books about how the science of mind, brain and mental health, interfaces with society at large. First off, I want to discuss an excellent book called Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind published this year by sociologists of […]

You are a data series in a profit-making algorithm

If you only read one psychology article in the next few months, make it the startling and unsettling Atlantic piece on how ‘people analytics’ is being applied to managing, selecting, and promoting employees. The idea behind people analytics is that job performance can be measured and predicted by analysing the huge amount of behavioural data […]

A ray directly from “Delhi University”

A series of ‘bizarre delusions’ from patients diagnosed with schizophrenia described in a new paper just published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine: “Some rays are there in me, which create magnetic field and I have the power to affect TV signals. Body is producing charge; whenever I touch anything I get electric current. […]

A universal difference

The author of Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters, has written an excellent article on whether there’s such a thing as ‘human nature’ for the latest edition of Adbusters. The piece tackles how scientific assumptions about the ‘universals’ of the human mind are having to be revised and discusses research which has shown how people from […]

A man called Dad

An eye-opening 2005 paper estimated the number of children who are not the biological offspring of their presumed father. Looking at studies from around the world, it concluded that the median number of kids who are not the children of the person they call ‘dad’ is 3.7% with studies typically finding a rate of between […]

Seeing synaesthetic stars during sex

A study in Frontiers in Psychology asked people who have emotional synaesthesia – they see colours when they have certain emotions – about what they experience during sex. There is a particularly lovely table that illustrates these experiences through the different stages of the sexual response cycle: Appentance phase “This phase has an orange character” […]

US Military PsyOps video appears online

A US Military PsyOps video has found its way onto the YouTubes and gives a interesting but clunky guide to ’90s psychological operations. It’s called The Invisible Sword and it’s a bit like watching a cable TV infomercial for psychological warfare complete with cheesy easy listening background music and stilted dialogue. “It all gets put […]

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