The bi-monthly Scientific American Mind seem to be making more of their feature articles freely available online after the first month has gone (and bravo to that!), and they’ve just opened-up two new articles: one on the psychology of boredom and the other on the use of psychedelic drugs to treat mental illness.
But before we start on the articles, have a look at the beautiful image on the right. Click for a larger version because the small size doesn’t do it justice.
It’s the image that accompanies the psychedelics article and it’s by Phil Wheeler, who, as it turns out, seems to specialise in wonderful psychological illustrations.
They’re psychological in both senses of the word, as some contain images associated with psychology, but also often contain hidden images, visual illusions and distortions.
His online gallery of images is really quite striking, and many of them meander between a sort of organic cyberpunk and a visual stream of consciousness.
The psychedelics article discusses the neuroscience and current research trials and looks at some of the main research compounds: LSD, ketamine, MDMA, and ibogaine, and, although it barely touches on psilocybin, is remarkably comprehensive for a feature article of its size.
The article on boredom does a really good job of investigating this under-appreciated mental state, and looks at research showing that having nothing to do is only part of being bored – personality factors, emotions and current interpretations all play a part.
It also makes a distinction between transient, situational boredom, and a more profound existential boredom stemming from a dissatisfaction with life.
A little ironically, it turns out there’s a surprising amount of fascinating research on boredom.