Category Archives: Togetherness

Culture of the digital playground

Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman has spent several years researching hacker culture, hanging out with coders, geeks and cypherpunks to understand the beliefs and boundaries of the community they inhabit. If you want a flavour of what Coleman has been working on her interview in Wired is a good place to start but the best place to […]

In the middle of a conflict

One of the things I quickly discovered while working for Médecins Sans Frontières in Colombia, was that while there is lots of research on people who have experienced armed conflict in the past, there was very little information on the mental health of people living in active conflict zones. With MSF colleagues, we’ve just published […]

Back to the old school

New York Magazine has a fantastic article on the psychological impact of high school and how it affects you through your adult life. It’s a fascinating subject because so much of developmental psychology has focused on childhood and yet our adolescent school years are probably the most formative for our view of the social world. […]

Intoxicating tendencies

The latest edition of BBC Radio 4′s Thinking Allowed is a special on ‘intoxication’ looking at the uses, abuses and social function of drugs through the ages. It’s a fascinating programme in itself but it is peppered with vivid excerpts from how drugs, altered states and drug users have been described historically and are discussed […]

A depressing financial justification

One of the most controversial changes to the recently finalised DSM-5 diagnostic manual was the removal of the ‘bereavement exclusion’ from the diagnosis of depression – meaning that someone could be diagnosed as depressed even if they’ve just lost a loved on The Washington Post has been investigating the financial ties of those on the […]

A smoother flow

BBC Radio 1Xtra has just broadcast a fantastic programme about the rapper Scorzayzee who disappeared from the UK scene after, as it turned out, experiencing psychosis and being diagnosed with schizophrenia. It’s a brilliant piece that not only tells the story of Scorzayzee but also cheekily tackles mental health in men – something which is […]

Relax ladies, I’m a scientist

A while ago I wrote a column in The Psychologist on why psychologists don’t do participant observation research – a type of data gathering where you immerse yourself in the activities of those you want to study. In response, psychologist James Hartley wrote in and mentioned a remarkable study from 1938 where researchers hid under […]

The grief problem

I’ve got an article in The Observer about the sad history of how psychologists have misunderstood grief and why it turns out to be much more individual than traditional theories have suggested. As well as the individual variations, it also riffs on the massive diversity of cultural grief and mourning practices. At the beginning of […]

The relative consuming disease

The Global Mail has an amazing story about how the last treks to find cases of kuru – a cannabalism-related brain disease – have been completed. Kuru was passed on by eating the brains of dead relatives – a long finished tradition of the Fore people in Papua New Guinea – and it infected new […]

Sex taboos: a brief and incomplete tour

Cultures around the world have restrictions or prohibitions on when sex is allowed which turn out to be quite amazing in their diversity. This is a fascinating section on the wide world of sex taboos from the Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: In some societies, sexual activity is prohibited during certain times of day. The […]

A cultural understanding of autism

Nature has a fascinating article on the diagnosis of autism and how it clashes with cultures that have different forms of everyday social interaction and different standards for how children should behave. In rural South Africa, young children may look at adults’ faces while having a conversation, but they don’t usually make direct eye contact […]

A brief reheating of the refrigerator mother

The Telegraph has a well-intentioned but confused article about how child neglect affects the brain and what can be done about it. What’s the difference between these two brains? asks The Telegraph. “The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children,” says the journalist, “is the way they were […]

Hark! What light through yonder neuron breaks

An unintentionally funny first line from a new study on the neuroscience of love. The lifetime prevalence of romantic love is extremely high, as romantic love strikes nearly 100% of the people at one or more times during their life. As a comparison, the lifetime prevalence of experiencing any mental disorder is “only” 46.4% (National […]

The neuroscience of sexual attractions

A recent edition of radio programme KERA Think has a fantastic discussion on development and the neuroscience of sexual attraction in its many forms. The programme is a discussion with Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist who raised a lot of eyebrows by finding differences in the brain structure of gay and straight men in a 1991 […]

Come hell or high water

The New York Times has an article on New York’s suicide cops who are tasked with talking down potential ‘jumpers’. If you want to read something that’ll restore your hope in humanity, give this article ten minutes of your time. In Midtown Manhattan or the financial district, for instance, pedestrians are more likely to yell, […]

I’m just here for the research

My latest Beyond Boundaries column for The Psychologist asks why psychologists don’t immerse themselves in the lives of people they study and whether sociologists think we’re wimps. Plus a bonus question about why strip clubs are so frequently researched. Sociologists must think we’re wusses. While we’re handing out questionnaires, scanning people in labs or measuring […]

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