Two types

There are two types of people in the world. Those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t.

No idea where this quotation came from, but I always think of it whenever I come across black and white classifications in psychology.

Alternatively, McSweeney’s has a typology based on breakfast cereal.

Cannabis and psychosis – a causal link?

cjp-august-cover06.jpgThe latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has a comprehensive review of the evidence on whether cannabis contributes to causing psychotic mental illness – the best known being schizophrenia.

It has been known for a long time that there is a link between cannabis use and psychosis, but it was not known whether cannabis contributed to the development of psychosis, or whether people with psychosis were just more likely to smoke cannabis because it helps dispell some of the unpleasant emotions and feelings associated with the condition.

There is now good evidence that cannabis can contribute to the cause of psychosis, particularly during adolescence and early adulthood.

At a population level, this effect is detectable but small.

At the individual level, the effect seems to be quite variable. Recent research has suggested that the risk of developing psychosis when using cannabis is heavily influenced by what version of the COMT gene a person has.

The main conclusions of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry review are summarised in an editorial, but for those wanting the in-depth lowdown, the full paper is also available online.

Link to August 2006 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

Dreaming of the philosophy of Freud

Sigmund_Freud.jpgABC Radio’s The Philosopher’s Zone has just had two special editions on Freud and his relevance to modern day thinking.

The programmes look at two contrasting areas of his wide-ranging theories.

The first is on Freud’s contribution to philosophy and the second contrasts Freud’s theories of dreaming with modern dream science derived from neuroscience.

The discussion picks out theories which were seminal in igniting research, and those which have not stood the test of time.

For those wanting an almost entirely critical take on Freud, the Times Literary Supplement has a review of a Frederick Crews’ new book entitled Follies of the Wise (ISBN 1593761015), which attempts to show that even many of Freud’s more popular ideas are fundamentally flawed.

Taking pot shots at Freud is quite fashionable in this day and age. However, as Freud wrote so much and about so many different topics, it is easy to find something to criticise but difficult to dismiss all his ideas at once.

Link to Philosopher’s Zone on Freud the Philosopher.
Link to Philosopher’s Zone on The Dream Debate.
Link to TLS book review.

SciAm special editions on the senses and genius

SciAm_SecretsSenses.jpgScientific American has released Secrets of the Senses and Uncommon Genius, two new editions of their special collections relevant to mind and brain enthusiasiasts.

Ths special editions are collections of past articles from Scientific American on a single topic, that are available as an online pdf file for $5 dollars each.

The Secrets of the Senses edition has articles on everything from visual consciousness to phantom limbs, while the Uncommon Genius edition looks at special talents, perhaps linked with psychiatric or neurological disorders or other uncommon human variations.

Link to info on Secrets of the Senses edition.
Link to info on Uncommon Genius edition.

Books in the Bog reviews Mind Hacks

books_in_the_bog.jpgMind Hacks has been chosen as September’s book of the month by online review site Books in the Bog.

Mind Hacks is, fortunately for our toilet shelves, anything but an academic text book, yet manages to still do a great job in introducing how some of the mind’s systems work, though simple examples you can try at home (even in your loo if you don’t feel too odd occasionally taking in the odd volunteer).

The review also includes an interview with co-author Matt Webb on how he developed his own interest in the mind and brain, so head on over if you want Matt’s take on the book and his other favourite reads.

Link to Mind Hacks review.