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The untold story of how hereditary data in mental hospitals gave rise to the science of human heredity

https://press.princeton.edu/titles/11242.html



In the early 1800s, a century before there was any concept of the gene, physicians in insane asylums began to record causes of madness in their admission books. Almost from the beginning, they pointed to heredity as the most important of these causes. As doctors and state officials steadily lost faith in the capacity of asylum care to stem the terrible increase of insanity, they began emphasizing the need to curb the reproduction of the insane. They became obsessed with identifying weak or tainted families and anticipating the outcomes of their marriages. Genetics in the Madhouse is the untold story of how the collection and sorting of hereditary data in mental hospitals, schools for "feebleminded" children, and prisons gave rise to a new science of human heredity.

In this compelling book, Theodore Porter draws on untapped archival evidence from across Europe and North America to bring to light the hidden history behind modern genetics. He looks at the institutional use of pedigree charts, censuses of mental illness, medical-social surveys, and other data techniques--innovative quantitative practices that were worked out in the madhouse long before the manipulation of DNA became possible in the lab. Porter argues that asylum doctors developed many of the ideologies and methods of what would come to be known as eugenics, and deepens our appreciation of the moral issues at stake in data work conducted on the border of subjectivity and science.

A bold rethinking of asylum work, Genetics in the Madhouse shows how heredity was a human science as well as a medical and biological one.

Theodore M. Porter is Distinguished Professor of History and holds the Peter Reill Chair at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books include Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in a Statistical AgeTrust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life, and The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820–1900 (all Princeton). He lives in Altadena, California.

Reviews

"I suspect this bold, dauntingly well-documented book will prove difficult to dismiss."--David Dobbs, Nature
"By following the technologies of paperwork and data collection, Porter has unearthed a radically new history of human genetics, one that evokes not the double helix but the humble filing cabinet."--Emily M. Kern, Science
"Fascinating but scary. Genetics in the Madhouse . . . uses date collection in psychiatric hospitals to show the stages when research straddles subjectivity and science."--Liz Else and Simon Ings, New Scientist
"Porter takes a fascinating look at early attempts to tame unruly minds with big data and statistics."--Bruce Bower, Science News
"[An] absorbing account of the role played by mental illness studies in gaining an early understanding of human heredity."--Robin McKie, The Observer
"Genetics in the Madhouse provides a fascinating examination of investigations of human heredity, conducted long before DNA could be studied in laboratories."--Glenn Altschuler, Philadelphia Inquirer
 

Endorsements

"We’ve all been taught how genetics got its start in Mendel’s pea patch. But the real story is more complicated, and a lot more interesting. In Genetics in the Madhouse, Theodore Porter chronicles some of the early history of heredity—not in gardens, but in asylums. The book is a fascinating exploration of the long-running conviction that madness, criminality, and other mental traits can be passed down from parent to child."—Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity
 
"Porter’s masterful book casts the fresh light of sanity over a previously uncharted sea of data on madness. He brings analytical order to an intriguingly chaotic subject, illuminating the challenges of ‘big data’ from a past era when the plasticity of categorization resulted in data being deduced from conclusions, a problem with uncanny similarities to those we face today."—Stephen M. Stigler, author of The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom
 
"Porter brilliantly reveals the debt that the science of human heredity owes to the data gathering, numerical tables, and statistical interpretations that emerged from attempts to account for mental and physical disease among patients in asylums, hospitals, and prisons. Richly informed by archival sources, his book is masterfully argued, lucidly written, and boldly original. A landmark in the history of medicine, science, and mental illness."—Daniel J. Kevles, author of In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity
 
"Porter serves as a captivating and intriguing guide into the largely uncredited history of statistical and genetic data derived from the pre-Mendelian asylums, prisons, and schools. Genetics in the Madhouse succeeds in illuminating our present concepts of heredity and eugenics by leaning into the complexities of human science."—Aaron T. Beck, University of Pennsylvania
 
"Genetics in the Madhouse is a fascinating examination of the role played by big data in the history of genetics and its subsequent exploitation in the disgraced science of eugenics. Porter weaves together complex elements of historical influences, personalities, and seismic events almost like a novel, but the difference is that his story cannot have a neat and tidy resolution. Beautifully written and admirably researched, this is an enthralling book."—Catharine Arnold, author of Bedlam: London and Its Mad
 
"Important and original. Drawing on a wealth of archival research in many languages across many different national settings, Porter reexamines the role of psychiatry in the study of human heredity. Genetics in the Madhouse is an enormously impressive book."—Andrew Scull, author of Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine
 
"A very significant contribution to the history of the human sciences, statistics, and eugenics. Porter rewards readers not only with astonishing insights into nineteenth-century data collection on the mentally ill and feebleminded, but also with the pleasure of reading a good, intriguing story."—Staffan Müller-Wille, coauthor of A Cultural History of Heredity
 

Theodore Porter

http://www.history.ucla.edu/faculty/theodore-porter

Distinguished Professor of History & Vice Chair for Academic Personnel


 
 
I teach various topics pertaining more or less directly to history of science.

My first book, The Rise of Statistical Thinking (1986), was about the development of statistical ideas and methods in fields ranging from the social science of statistics to biological evolution and thermodynamics. This interest in the relations of the natural and the social is also central to my Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (1995). There I emphasize that effective quantification is never a matter simply of discovery, but always also of administration, hence of social and technological power. Quantitative objectivity is in a way a form of standardization, the use of rules to confine and tame the personal and subjective. Science did not always idealize this mechanical form of objectivity, but has come to do so (at least in its rhetoric) as an adaptation to modern political and administrative cultures—which it at the same time has helped to shape. In both of these books I invert the usual account of the relations between natural and social science, by showing how some of the crucial assumptions and methods of science arose within contexts of application. The history of quantification is the history of a social technology, reflecting a sensibility that is as closely linked to fields like accounting and cost-benefit analysis and to social science as to physics. The ethic of systematic calculation as a basis for social decisions—and often, as in inferential statistics, also for scientific demonstration—responds to a political culture marked by distrust of elites and even, in a way, of experts. 

In 2003, Dorothy Ross and I completed a book on the history of the social sciences, volume VII of The Cambridge History of Science volume on The Modern Social Sciences (2003). This is our pioneering effort to provide a synthetic history of social science since the eighteenth century, in relation to each other and to the sciences of nature. The volume tells a story not of detached knowledge, but of tools, theories, and images that have helped to create the modern world. 

My most recent book is Karl Pearson: The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age (2004). This is a biographical study of a scientist who was ever in revolt against the confines of this or any professional identity and who lived his life, with conscious reference to Goethe, as a bildungsroman. At the age of 23, after his German Wanderjahre, he published a fictionalized autobiography under the title The New Werther, and followed it with a passion play for the nineteenth-century. For a decade after that he threw himself into writings on socialism, on the cultural history of the German Reformation (he loathed Martin Luther), and on sexuality, friendship, and the status of women. I’ve been fascinated by the continuities between his works and experiences in these years and the statistical labors that absorbed him after about 1892. I am interested, too, in his deep relationship to nature as an object of passionate attraction, which yet, when approached in the true spirit of science, must always be remote. Pearson’s life displays a deep and revealing ambivalence between scientific method as a way of controlling the merely personal and science as an expression of individuality that is inseparable from wisdom and maturity. Finally, I think I have learned some new things about the relation of statistics to all of this, as well as to ether theories in physics and graphical methods in engineering instruction. 

I have advised or am advising graduate students working on a variety of historical topics: science and rational leisure; social science and colonial administration; nature and imperialism in the North Atlantic; Chinese mathematics; the British census; scientific exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean; psychical research; museums and ethnology in imperial Germany.. 

My current book project, which I intend to finish during my stay at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2013-14, is about this history of human heredity, and more particularly how insane asylums and related institutions became important sites for recordkeeping on conditions regarded as hereditary, and for research on their presumed inheritance. These institutions developed the ideologies and some of the research methods of eugenics decades before Francis Galton announced this biological human science. From the beginning it was a science of data and statistics. The history of data practices and analysis is as central to the history of genetics and genomics as is the more familiar story of Mendelian breeding, fruit flies, and the decoding of DNA. This project highlights the key role of social and medical institutions, and of the expansion of state activities, in the rise of genetics, and conversely of hereditary ideas and practices in the shaping of welfare states. 

On the back burner just now, but likely to develop before too long into a book, is a project on the contradictions of quantification at the intersection of science and government. An ethic of the simple fact, typically in numerical form, grew up over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, less as an export of science than as a political and bureaucratic role for which certain tools of science have been shaped. The ideal has been to reconcile central control with local autonomy, but the required faith in what I call “thin description” is often undermined by creative deception. Ambitions for “evidence-based” practices under the neo-liberal governance have formed an unprecedented vulnerability to Funny Numbers (my working title).

Direct download: raj_persaud_talks_to_theodore_porter_about_his_new_book.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:52pm UTC

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

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David Humbert discusses with psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud his new book on Violence in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock and uses a depth psychological analysis to show that there are often hidden layers of meaning behind the use of violence in film. This analysis also helps us understand ourselves better and why we turn to anger and violence ourselves.

 

http://msupress.org/books/book/?id=50-1D0-3FC2#.Wv_WB4iUuUk

Violence in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock
A Study in Mimesis
Parting ways with the Freudian and Lacanian readings that have dominated recent scholarly understanding of Hitchcock, David Humbert examines the roots of violence in the director’s narratives and finds them not in human sexuality but in mimesis. Through an analysis of seven key films, he argues that Girard’s model of mimetic desire—desire oriented by imitation of and competition with others—best explains a variety of well-recognized themes, including the MacGuffin, the double, the innocent victim, the wrong man, the transfer of guilt, and the scapegoat. This study will appeal not only to Hitchcock fans and film scholars but also to those interested in Freud and Girard and their competing theories of desire.
 
Subjects: Religion | Psychology | Film Studies
Publication Date: May 1st, 2017
210 pages| 6 in x 9 in
 
 
“This book is a brilliant response to a famous volume edited by Slavoj Žižek in which Jacques Lacan takes the place of René Girard. The author convinces us that one of the best guides to understanding Girard is Hitchcock’s filmography. The anguish of the wrongly accused, the irresistible escalation of violence, and the independence of desire from its object are all ingredients of the Hitchcockian suspense, and we follow the author’s analyses with the same pleasure as we watched the movies.”
Jean-Pierre Dupuy, author of The Mark of the Sacred

“Humbert’s commentary is an excellent introduction both to Girard’s thought and to Hitchcock. And a welcome addition to film studies. That postmodern garden has long since gone to weed, overrun by an ‘emancipatory’ obsession with sex that would draw us down the rabbit hole into the lost world of gender theory, where everything is fungible and whose motto must be, ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’ Humbert’s book begins to clear out the post-Freudian staleness with a breath of fresh critical air. This book is very well-written and easily accessible. Its interest is not confined to the specialist and academic, as postmodern theory is by definition, but generously welcomes the lay reader and the student as well. Highly recommended.”
Stephen GardnerAssociate Professor of Philosophy, The University of Tulsa
 
 
Direct download: raj_persaud_talks_to_david_humbert.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 7:59am UTC

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

The Voices Within

http://www.charlesfernyhough.com/tvw.html

 

 

The Voices Within is a book about the voices in our heads. It is published by Basic Books in the US and by Profile Books/Wellcome Collection in the UK.

The Voices Within was picked as a top neuroscience book of 2016 by Forbes and a science book of the year by the Observer and ABC. It was chosen as a top spring science book by Nature and selected as a summer reading pick in the Guardian and Times Higher Education. It was the subject of an essay-review in the New Yorker.

I spoke about the themes of the book on the Diane Rehm Show, and discussed them in this Q&A with The Atlantic. These pieces for TIME Ideas and the LA Times explore the benefits of talking to yourself. I spoke about these ideas on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week; you can listen again here. You can also see me speaking about the themes of the book in this talk for 5x15 and in this Royal Institution lecture. The book featured in a Guardian Books podcast. An abridged extract from the book was published by BBC Future.

Translation agreements have been concluded for German, Spanish, French, Turkish, Italian, Korean and simplified Chinese.

Order from the Guardian BookshopHive.co.uk or Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

'A lucid, authoritative survey of our current knowledge… The author’s investigations, at once scientific and humane, represent the discipline of psychology at its rare best.' Raymond Tallis, Wall Street Journal

'An intriguing and deeply humane book… particularly good when addressing the role of inner voices in creativity… In ‘The Voices Within’, [Fernyhough] has again rendered complicated mental experience without losing its human texture.' Casey Schwartz, New York Times Book Review

'Fernyhough’s book … provides enough science to ground the argument, but the real achievement here is the writing. The author is a psychologist and a novelist, and his prose has a narrative feel that separates it from most books on the psych shelf. The subject is one of the tough brain conundrums that’s far from settled; we’ll be trying to figure out the role of the inner voice long from now, but Fernyhough’s book is a readable take on what we know and where the questions may go next.' David DiSalvo, Forbes Brain Books of 2016.

'From explaining the hurdles of studying our internal dialogue to setting the record straight on schizophrenia and “hearing voices,” this book is a must-read for those seeking to understand the voices in their heads.' DiscoverMagazine

'Fernyhough has built up an interesting picture of inner speech and its functions… making a case for the role of inner speech in memory, sports performance, religious revelation, psychotherapy, and literary fiction.' The New Yorker

'This sophisticated and appealing work scrutinizes a tangled topic with aplomb and will leave readers permanently observing their own thought processes differently. Perfect for readers of Oliver Sacks and Malcolm Gladwell.' Booklist (starred review)

'After reading the book, I couldn’t help noticing my thoughts more closely—asking myself, Is this dialogic thinking? or What perspective was that voice taking?At one point, there’s mention of “the idea that, when we internalise dialogue, we internalise other people. Our brains, like our minds, are full of voices.” For me, at least for now, one of those voices is Fernyhough’s.' New York Magazine, The Science of Us

   

'Though the book is not about creativity per se, one of its highlights is its fascinating insight into the process of artistic creation, particularly writing. In another high point, the narrative gently prods readers into a wider and more empathetic view of pathologies such as aural hallucinations. Fernyhough's book is a valuable addition to the literature surrounding the unending human quest to understand the location—and the creation—of the self.' Publishers Weekly

'Fernyhough examines the phenomenon of "inner voices," which manifests in two broad components: the more or less ordinary business of talking to oneself and the more fraught existence of voices inside one's head... with much to say about how the brain works at the interface of thought and language.' Kirkus Reviews

'This expansive review offers a stimulating blend of theory, research, and insight on inner speech and voice hearing that will complement more prevalent behaviorist and biomedical perspectives.' Library Journal

'A book that will challenge some of our preconceptions about how we think and how "the voices within" may be plentiful, or infrequent, helpful or problematic and variable from person-to-person. This is a valuable book for those who want to understand one important aspect of our human mind.' New York Journal of Books

'Intriguingly challenges conventional assumptions about the self as unified and coherent, while also posing the question: how might that which we deem pathological be shaped by the mores of our times?' Christine Gross-Loh, Guardian summer reading picks.

'As enlightening as it is surprising… By entwining inner voice theories, research, and data into easy-to-digest literary, pop culture, and personal anecdotes, Fernyhough has (quite intentionally) crafted a book that reads like a novel but never strays from its carefully examined scientific foundation.' Kirkus Reviews author interview

'Charles Fernyhough isn't just a scholar and a scientist, he is also a novelist, and this book reflects his unusual combination of gifts. It is an engaging and humane exploration of the experience of voices in our heads, delving into the origin of these voices in children, their contribution to problem-solving, creativity, and religious experience, their role in madness, and much else. This is a beautifully written and fascinating work.' Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and author of Just Babies

'Perceptive, illuminating and humane.' Gavin Francis, author of Adventures in Human Being

'Fascinating and elegantly humane... [Fernyhough’s] book is refreshingly interdisciplinary in its insistence that philosophy and literature are going to be just as important investigative tools for this subject as clinical psychology and brain scan.' Steven Poole, Guardian

Fascinating… the book traces in detail (the footnotes are just as interesting as the text) the various attempts to pin down inner voices… an expert blend of the scientific and artistic.' Erica Wagner, New Statesman

'Persuasively unravels connections between the voices we hear inside and the words we say out loud... an elegantly written survey.' Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

'If Fernyhough is to be believed, there is a sense in which we are visited all the time by good or bad angels and it is the ability to question and discriminate that distinguishes creative thoughtfulness from madness... His book, The Voices Within, is the intriguing result of his research.' Salley Vickers, Observer

'Fascinating… thought provoking… intriguing… clear presentation of the slippery nature of both our inner and spoken worlds.' Suzanne O’Sullivan, Lancet

'Stimulating and fruitful... A fascinating tour d'horizon.' Mike Jay, Literary Review

'Profound and eloquent... an intriguing array of fresh findings and perspectives.' Douwe Draaisma, Nature

'Compelling… reassures those of us who worry that we have a chorus of voices jabbering in our heads.' Mail on Sunday

'This is a truly exceptional book for its scope, richness of detail and originality… a book that informs as well as provoking thought and reflection… It is quite simply a remarkable book.' British Journal of Psychiatry

'With its extensive illustrations of the creative effects of inner speech and voice-hearing, sane and mad, [The Voices Within] is a thought-provoking and engaging read.' Times Higher Education

'Fernyhough presents his work as a wide-ranging investigation, spanning psychological research – including the brain-plundering marvels of fMRI – as well as philosophy, spirituality, literature and the arts. If there’s a drawback to The Voices Within, it’s that it may make you spend even more of your waking hours listening to yourself think.' The Saturday Paper(Australia)

'Utterly fascinating... the main joy of Fernyhough’s book comes from watching him chase down the faintest conceptual ripples extending outward from the ideas he discusses.' The National (UAE)

'A surprisingly humanitarian approach to a necessarily human topic… a vital, illuminating, engaging exploration of the things that make us who we are.' Ilkley Gazette

'Most of us talk to ourselves. In fact, many people describe their thoughts as being like a conversation between the different voices of their consciousness. In his eye-opening new book, Charles Fernyhough explores this inner speech, revealing what purpose it serves, what it says about us, and what it can tell us about those who experience hallucinated voices.' BBC Science Focus

Biography

 

I was born in Chelmsford, Essex, in 1968, and educated at Brentwood School, Essex, and Queens’ College, Cambridge, where I read Natural Sciences.

I returned to Cambridge to study for a PhD in Developmental Psychology, which I was awarded in 1995.

My writing has been published in several anthologies, including New Writing 11 and New Writing 14, and my books have been translated into eleven languages.

 

 

 

Photo credit: Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images

 

My awards include a Time to Write Award from the Northern Writers’ Awards and an Arts Council of England Grant for the Arts

I have taught creative writing, with a particular focus on psychological processes in reading and writing, in a variety of contexts around the UK, including a short course on Creative Writing and Psychology at Newcastle University. Between 2004 and 2006 I worked as a mentor on the British Council’s Crossing Borders project for African writers.

I have appeared at festivals in Barcelona, Sydney, Durham, Newcastle, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Hay-on-Wye, LSE, Wigtown and Bath.

I work as a part-time Professor of Psychology at Durham University, with interests in child development, memory and hallucinations.

  photo credit, it’s Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Images


Dr Charlotte Hanlon is a British psychiatrist who lives and works in Ethiopia, linked to Addis Ababa University and King’s College London. Dr Hanlon provides clinical supervision to psychiatric trainees working in general adult psychiatry in Ethiopia. She co-ordinates a PhD programme in mental health epidemiology at Addis Ababa University, from which 6 Ethiopian students have graduated and a further 20 students are enrolled. Her research interests focus on public mental health, women’s mental health, cultural validity of measurement, intervention studies and health service and system implementation research. She is research director for the Programme for Improving Mental health carE  (PRIME:www.prime.uct.ac.za) which is developing evidence to support scale-up of integrated mental health care, and country lead for the ASSET project (health system strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa: https://www.healthasset.org) and PST project (adaptation and piloting parent skills training for child developmental disorders).

Dr Hanlon works to support efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health to scale up mental health care in Ethiopia and is a member of the Ministry’s technical working group on mental health. Dr Hanlon and Professor Vikram Patel have just co-edited a revised version of Where there is no Psychiatrist (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/where-there-is-no-psychiatrist/47578A845CAFC7E23A181749A4190B54) to support the delivery of integrated mental health care in primary care settings.

Dr. Hanlon received her PhD in psychiatric epidemiology from the University of London, a master's in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and her medical degree from the University of Oxford. 

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8



 


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Delusions-Understanding-understandable-Peter-McKenna-ebook/dp/B07314FDKD

Delusions, in their many different manifestations, are central to the concepts of madness and psychosis. Yet what causes them remains in many ways a complete mystery. McKenna's Delusions is the first comprehensive attempt to tackle one of the most arresting phenomena in psychiatry: an in-depth and critical review of what delusions are, the forms they can take and how they might be explained from both psychological and biological perspectives. Delusions covers key topics such as the clinical features of delusions, the disorders they are seen in, other oddities that resemble them in both health and disease and the different approaches that have been taken to try and understand them. It is an essential book for psychiatrists and psychologists who work with delusional patients, as well as being of interest to neuroscientists engaged in research into major psychiatric disorders.

Peter McKenna qualified in medicine in the university of Birmingham and has a degree in psychology and physiology from the university of Oxford. He worked as a clinical psychiatrist in Cambridge and then became professor of psychiatry in Glasgow. His research focuses on neuropsychological aspects of schizophrenia and other major mental disorders and their relationship to symptoms and brain function. He has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is the author of a book on schizophrenia (currently in its 2nd edition). He is also, with a linguist, Tomasina Oh, the co-author of a book on on disordered speech in schizophrenia. For the last five years he has worked as a senior researcher in FIDMAG and is a principal investigator in the CIBERSAM mental health research network.

You can also listen to this interview on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Could you live to 120 years old? Is all disease just a manifestation of a more fundamental biological process referred to aging? Why do we get old and get sick? A revolutionary new approach to aging and disease is being pioneered by one of the foremost authorities on longevity Dr Valter Longo. Dr Raj Persaud interviews him about his latest research and new book. Professor Longo's research suggests that living to 120 is entirely possible and that the average human lifespan could end up being 110 if the right diet and lifestyle is followed.

 

From https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/valter-longo/133188/

Biography 

 

Dr Valter Longo was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1967. He is one of the world leaders in the field of aging and aging-related diseases and has published over 120 papers which include the discovery of some of the genes responsible for longevity and the identification of a genetic mutation protecting humans from some of the most common diseases.

He is currently a professor of Biogerontology and Director of the Longevity Institute in the School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California in Los AngelesThis is his first commercial book.

Valter Longo, PhD, is the Edna Jones Professor in Gerontology and Professor in Biological Science. He is also the Director of the USC Longevity Institute. He is interested in understanding the fundamental mechanisms of aging in yeast, mice and humans by using genetics and biochemistry techniques. He is also interested in identifying the molecular pathways conserved from simple organisms to humans that can be modulated to protect against multiple stresses and treat or prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease and other diseases of aging. The focus is on the signal transduction pathways that regulate resistance to oxidative damage in yeast and mice.

Direct download: DR-100_0089.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 12:00am UTC

You can also listen to this podcast using the free app 'Raj Persaud in Conversation' for Android and Apple mobile devices; the app gives you access to more interviews with world class experts plus more free information and bonus content on the latest cutting edge psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, self-help, social science and neuroscience then any other app and is available free from itunes app store and Google Play Store - click on these links
 
 
 
 
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Why Enlightenment culture sparked the Industrial Revolution

press.princeton.edu/titles/10835.html

During the late eighteenth century, innovations in Europe triggered the Industrial Revolution and the sustained economic progress that spread across the globe. While much has been made of the details of the Industrial Revolution, what remains a mystery is why it took place at all. Why did this revolution begin in the West and not elsewhere, and why did it continue, leading to today's unprecedented prosperity? In this groundbreaking book, celebrated economic historian Joel Mokyr argues that a culture of growth specific to early modern Europe and the European Enlightenment laid the foundations for the scientific advances and pioneering inventions that would instigate explosive technological and economic development. Bringing together economics, the history of science and technology, and models of cultural evolution, Mokyr demonstrates that culture—the beliefs, values, and preferences in society that are capable of changing behavior—was a deciding factor in societal transformations.

Mokyr looks at the period 1500–1700 to show that a politically fragmented Europe fostered a competitive "market for ideas" and a willingness to investigate the secrets of nature. At the same time, a transnational community of brilliant thinkers known as the “Republic of Letters” freely circulated and distributed ideas and writings. This political fragmentation and the supportive intellectual environment explain how the Industrial Revolution happened in Europe but not China, despite similar levels of technology and intellectual activity. In Europe, heterodox and creative thinkers could find sanctuary in other countries and spread their thinking across borders. In contrast, China’s version of the Enlightenment remained controlled by the ruling elite.

Combining ideas from economics and cultural evolution, A Culture of Growth provides startling reasons for why the foundations of our modern economy were laid in the mere two centuries between Columbus and Newton.

[back cover bio]Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv. Joel Mokyr is the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University and Sackler Professor at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv. His many books include The Enlightened Economy and The Gifts of Athena (Princeton). He is the recipient of the Heineken Prize for History and the International Balzan Prize for Economic History.
 

A Culture of GrowthThe Origins of the Modern EconomyJoel Moky 

Direct download: Why_Do_Societies_Make_Progress3F_Is_Progress_Inevitable3F.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 10:32am UTC

 
 
Press Release•
Sat, November 04, 2017, 7:16 PM
 
You can also listen to this podcast using the free app 'Raj Persaud in Conversation' for Android and Apple mobile devices; the app gives you access to more interviews with world class experts plus more free information and bonus content on the latest cutting edge psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, self-help, social science and neuroscience then any other app and is available free from itunes app store and Google Play Store - click on these links
 
 
 
 
 
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Maurice Papworth - The story of one man’s battle against the medical establishment - by Joanna Seldon - University of Buckingham Press - Hardback £14.99 

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Maurice Pappworth’s seminal work Human Guinea Pigs (1967), the controversial book which unearthed shocking practices within the medical establishment including experimentation on humans. Despite ethical principles set up by the Nuremburg code, Pappworth uncovered increasingly invasive procedures on vulnerable groups including babies, pregnant women and cancer patients up until the 1970’s in Britain, the US and Canada. From deliberately inducing heart stoppage to achieve better X-Rays and oxygen deprivation on infants to the deliberate blistering of children’s abdomens, Pappworth named and shamed those that placed the pursuit of science above ethical practice and put lives at risk.

The Whistle-Blower is the first biography exploring the life of Pappworth, a physician who reshaped the medical establishment and helped change the face of medical ethics with Human Guinea Pigs. Brilliant, Jewish, already an outsider, Maurice Pappworth was recognised as the best medical teacher of his generation. Unafraid to speak his mind, Pappworth’s exposés were frequently covered in the press and eventually led to stricter codes of practise for human experimentation. From the Rights of Patients Bill to the establishment of ethical committees in the UK, The Whistle-Blower examines the impact Maurice Pappworth had on the medical establishment.

Maurice Pappworth’s daughter, the late Joanna Seldon, reassesses the importance of Human Guinea Pigs as a major milestone in the development of modern research ethics. The Whistle-Blower calls for a re-evaluation of the pioneering medical ethicist who compromised his own career for the protection of the patient.

About the Author

Dr Joanna Seldon, wife of historian, and political commentator, Sir Anthony Seldon, was an independent teacher and writer who died in 2016 after losing her battle with cancer. She was awarded the top first in her year reading English at Oxford University and went on to complete a Ph.D. She has published a range of novels, short-stories, poems and non-fiction titles including Still Crazy (2013), Squared (2014), Piper’s Hole (2014) and Waterloo to Wellington: From Iron Duke to Enlightened College (2015). 
 
 

Sir Anthony Seldon is a political historian and commentator on British political leadership as well as on education and contemporary Britain. He is also Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham.

He was previously the 13th Master (headmaster) of Wellington College, one of the country's most famous and historic independent schools. He was co-founder and first Director of the Institute of Contemporary British History. He is also author or editor of some 40+ books.

From http://www.anthonyseldon.co.uk/biographical-details/

Sir Anthony Seldon MA, PhD, FRSA, MBA, FRHisS

Anthony Seldon is a leading authority on contemporary British history and education and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham. He was formerly Master of Wellington College, one of the world's most famous independent schools. He is author or editor of over 40 books on contemporary history, politics and education and is the author on, and honorary historical advisor to, Downing Street.

After gaining an MA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Worcester College, Oxford, and a PhD at the London School of Economics, he qualified as a teacher at King's College, London, where he was awarded the top PGCE prize in his year.

In 1993, he was appointed Deputy Headmaster and, ultimately, Acting Headmaster of St Dunstan's College in South London. He then became Headmaster of Brighton College from September 1997 until he joined Wellington College in January 2006 as 13th Master. He left Wellington College in summer 2015 to become Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, the only independent university in the UK with a Royal Charter.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and King's College London. He was knighted in the Queen's 2014 Birthday Honours list for services to education and modern political history. He founded the Sunday Times (now Telegraph) Festival of Education and most recently the Festival of Higher Education, and is widely known for introducing and promoting happiness, wellbeing and mindfulness across education.

Portrait by Caroline Ayles

Portrait by Caroline Ayles

He founded, with Professor Lord Peter Hennessy, the Institute of Contemporary British History, the internationally renowned body whose aim is to promote research into, and the study of, British history since 1945.

He founded Action for Happiness with Professor Lord Richard Layard and Geoff Mulgan. He is governor of several bodies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is Chair of The Comment Awards.

Some of Anthony Seldon's books include:

Churchill's Indian Summer, which won a Best First Work Prize; Major, A Political Life, the authorised biography of the former Prime Minister; Conservative Century, the standard academic history of the Conservative Party; The Powers Behind the Prime Minister, co-written with Professor Dennis Kavanagh; Number 10: The Illustrated History, which he is currently updating for publication in 2016; The Foreign Office: A History of the Place and its PeopleBlair and Blair Unbound, his acclaimed two-part biography of the former Prime Minister; three volumes of edited books on the Blair governments; Trust: How We Lost it and How to Get it BackBrown at 10, with Guy Lodge; The Great War and Public Schools, with David Walsh; and The Architecture of Diplomacy: The British Ambassador's Residence in Washington, written with Daniel Collings. In March 2015 his new books, Beyond Happiness and The Coalition Effect 2010-2015, co-authored with Dr Mike Finn, were published. His latest political history, the authorised study Cameron at 10 with Peter Snowdon, was published in September 2015. The book is the inside story of the Cameron premiership, based on over 400 in-depth interviews with senior figures in 10 Downing Street, including the Prime Minister himself. He has also been historical consultant on the memoirs of several former Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries.

Sir Anthony is regarded as one of the country's most authoritative high profile commentators on contemporary history and on education and appears regularly on television and radio and in the press, and writes for several national newspapers. His views have regularly been sought by the government and political parties.

He was married to Joanna, who also taught and wrote, and they have three children, Jessica, Susannah and Adam. According to 'Who's Who, his interests are sport, directing plays, family and old English sports cars.

 

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From www.harpercollins.com/9780062692863/stick-with-it

About the Book

#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller

An award-winning psychologist and director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior shows everyone how to make real, lasting change in their lives in this exciting work of popular psychology that goes beyond The Power of Habit with science and practical strategies that can alter their problem behaviors—forever.

Whether it’s absent-minded mistakes at work, a weakness for junk food, a smart phone addiction, or a lack of exercise, everyone has some bad habit or behavior that they’d like to change. But wanting to change and actually doing it—and sticking with it—are two very different things.

Dr. Sean Young, an authoritative new voice in the field of behavioral science, knows a great deal about our habits—how we make them and how we can break them. Stick with It is his fascinating look at the science of behavior, filled with crucial knowledge and practical advice to help everyone successfully alter their actions and improve their lives.

As Dr. Young explains, you don’t change behavior by changing the person, you do it by changing the process. Drawing on his own scientific research and that of other leading experts in the field, he explains why change can be difficult and identifies the crucial forces that combine to make transformation permanent, from the right way to create new habits to how to harness emotional meaning to motivate change. He also helps us understand how the mind often interferes with creating lasting change and how we can outsmart it, including using "neurohacks" to shortcut the brain’s counterproductive instincts. In addition he provides a powerful corrective to the decades old science of habits, offering a next generation discussion of how habits can change behavior with the right approach.

Packed with pragmatic exercises and stories of real people who have used them successfully, Stick with Itshows that it is possible to control spending, stick to a diet, become more social, exercise regularly, stop compulsively checking e-mail, and overcome problem behaviors—forever.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071WWSP2Y/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

 

 

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From press.princeton.edu/titles/10923.html

Face ValueThe Irresistible Influence of First ImpressionsAlexander Todorov 

The scientific story of first impressions—and why the snap character judgments we make from faces are irresistible but usually incorrect

We make up our minds about others after seeing their faces for a fraction of a second—and these snap judgments predict all kinds of important decisions. For example, politicians who simply look more competent are more likely to win elections. Yet the character judgments we make from faces are as inaccurate as they are irresistible; in most situations, we would guess more accurately if we ignored faces. So why do we put so much stock in these widely shared impressions? What is their purpose if they are completely unreliable? In this book, Alexander Todorov, one of the world's leading researchers on the subject, answers these questions as he tells the story of the modern science of first impressions.

Drawing on psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, and other fields, this accessible and richly illustrated book describes cutting-edge research and puts it in the context of the history of efforts to read personality from faces. Todorov describes how we have evolved the ability to read basic social signals and momentary emotional states from faces, using a network of brain regions dedicated to the processing of faces. Yet contrary to the nineteenth-century pseudoscience of physiognomy and even some of today's psychologists, faces don't provide us a map to the personalities of others. Rather, the impressions we draw from faces reveal a map of our own biases and stereotypes.

Alexander Todorov is professor of psychology at Princeton University, where he is also affiliated with the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His research on first impressions has been covered by media around the world, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the New Yorker, the Daily TelegraphScientific American, PBS, and NPR. He lives in Princeton.

 

An interview with Alexander Todorov, author of Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions


What inspired you to write this book? 
I have been doing research on how people perceive faces for more than 10 years. Typically, we think of face perception as recognizing identity and emotional expressions, but we do much more than that. When we meet someone new, we immediately evaluate their face and these evaluations shape our decisions. This is what we informally call first impressions. First impressions pervade everyday life and often have detrimental consequences. Research on first impressions from facial appearance has been quite active during the last decade and we have made substantive progress in understanding these impressions. My book is about the nature of first impressions, why we cannot help but form impressions, and why these impressions will not disappear from our lives.

In your book, you argue that first impressions from facial appearance are irresistible. What is the evidence? 
As I mentioned, the study of first impressions has been a particularly active area of research and the findings have been quite surprising. First, we form impressions after seeing a face for less than one-tenth of a second. We decide not only whether the person is attractive but also whether he or she is trustworthy, competent, extroverted, or dominant. Second, we agree on these impressions and this agreement emerges early in development. Children, just like adults, are prone to using face stereotypes. Third, these impressions are consequential. Unlucky people who appear “untrustworthy” are more likely to get harsher legal punishments. Those who appear “trustworthy” are more likely to get loans on better financial terms. Politicians who appear more “competent” are more likely to get elected. Military personnel who appear more “dominant” are more likely to achieve higher ranks. My book documents both the effortless nature of first impressions and their biasing effects on decisions.

The first part of your book is about the appeal of physiognomy—the pseudoscience of reading character from faces. Has not physiognomy been thoroughly discredited? 
Yes and no. Most people today don’t believe in the great physiognomy myth that we can read the character of others from their faces, but the evidence suggests that we are all naïve physiognomists: forming instantaneous impressions and acting on these impressions. Moreover, fueled by recent research advances in visualizing the content of first impressions, physiognomy appears in many modern disguises: from research papers claiming that we can discern the political, religious, and sexual orientations of others from images of their faces to private ventures promising to profile people based on images of their faces and offering business services to companies and governments. This is nothing new. The early 20th century physiognomists, who called themselves “character analysts,” were involved in many business ventures. The modern physiognomists are relying on empirical and computer science methods to legitimize their claims. But as I try to make clear in the book, the modern claims are as far-stretched as the claims of the old physiognomists. First, different images of the same person can lead to completely different impressions. Second, often our decisions are more accurate if we completely ignore face information and rely on common knowledge.

You mentioned research advances that visualize the content of first impressions. What do you mean? 
Faces are incredibly complex stimuli and we are inquisitively sensitive to minor variations in facial appearance. This makes the study of face perception both fascinating and difficult. In the last 10 years, we have developed methods that capture the variations in facial appearance that lead to specific impressions such as trustworthiness. The best way to illustrate the methods is by providing visual images, because it is impossible to describe all these variations in verbal terms. Accordingly, the book is richly illustrated. Here is a pair of faces that have been extremely exaggerated to show the variations in appearance that shape our impressions of trustworthiness.

Most people immediately see the face on the left as untrustworthy and the face on the right as trustworthy. But notice the large number of differences between the two faces: shape, color, texture, individual features, placement of individual features, and so on. Yet we can easily identify global characteristics that differentiate these faces. Positive expressions and feminine appearance make a face appear more trustworthy. In contrast, negative expressions and masculine appearance make a face appear less trustworthy. We can and have built models of many other impressions such as dominance, extroversion, competence, threat, and criminality. These models identify the contents of our facial stereotypes.

To the extent that we share face stereotypes that emerge early in development, isn’t it possible that these stereotypes are grounded in our evolutionary past and, hence, have a kernel of truth? 
On the evolutionary scale, physiognomy has a very short history. If you imagine the evolution of humankind compressed within 24 hours, we have lived in small groups during the entire 24 hours except for the last 5 minutes. In such groups, there is abundant information about others coming from first-hand experiences (like observations of behavior and interactions) and from second-hand experiences (like testimonies of family, friends, and acquaintances). That is for most of human history, people did not have to rely on appearance information to infer the character of others. These inferences were based on much more reliable and easily accessible information. The emergence of large societies in the last few minutes of the day changed all that. The physiognomists’ promise was that we could handle the uncertainty of living with strangers by knowing them from their faces. It is no coincidence that the peaks of popularity of physiognomists’ ideas were during times of great migration. Unfortunately, the physiognomists’ promise is as appealing today as it was in the past.

Are there ways to minimize the effects of first impressions on our decisions? 
We need to structure decisions so that we have access to valid information and minimize the access to appearance information. A good real life example is the increase of the number of women in prestigious philharmonic orchestras. Until recently, these orchestras were almost exclusively populated by men. What made the difference was the introduction of blind auditions. The judges could hear the candidates’ performance but their judgments could not be swayed by appearance, because they could not see the candidates.

So why are faces important? 
Faces play an extremely important role in our mental life, though not the role the physiognomists imagined. Newborns with virtually no visual experience prefer to look at faces than at other objects. After all, without caregivers we will not survive. In the first few months of life, faces are one of the most looked upon objects. This intensive experience with faces develops into an intricate network of brain regions dedicated to the processing of faces. This network supports our extraordinary face skills: recognizing others and detecting changes in their emotional and mental states. There are likely evolutionary adaptations in the human face—our bare skin, elongated eyes with white sclera, and prominent eyebrows—but these adaptations are about facilitating the reading of other minds, about communicating and coordinating our actions, not about inferring character.

 
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from www.amazon.co.uk

cover image of more than happiness

Do you consider yourself stoical? Do a bit of meditation or mindfulness practice? Buddhism and Stoicism have a lot to offer modern readers seeking the good life, but they’re also radical systems that ask much of their followers. In More than Happiness, Antonia Macaro delves into both philosophies, focusing on the elements that fit with our sceptical age, and those which have the potential to make the biggest impact on how we live. From accepting that some things are beyond our control, to monitoring our emotions for unhealthy reactions, to shedding attachment to material things, there is much, she argues, that we can take and much that we’d do better to leave behind.

In this synthesis of ancient wisdom, Macaro reframes the ‘good life’, and gets us to see the world as it really is and to question the value of the things we desire. The goal is more than happiness: living ethically and placing value on the right things in life. 

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FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO 'STRANGER IN THE MIRROR - THE SCIENTIFIC SEARCH FOR THE SELF' BY ROBERT LEVINE (NEW PAPERBACK EDITION) PUBLISHED BY THE PRESS AT CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FRESNO

Introduction
Theseus’s Paradox
I used to subscribe to People.
Then I switched to Us.
Now I just read Self.
—My friend Lenny

I love hearing people talk about their “real” selves. I still remember my first girlfriend, the seemingly perfect Natalie Duberman,1
spooking me with the warning: “Be careful. You don’t know the real me.” Was she a werewolf? Could she be in the witness protection program? No, Natalie explained, “It’s just that I’m not this nice with guys I like.” She went on to detail how insecure, jealous, and passive-aggressive she had been with her first two boyfriends. I wondered what it would take for this new version of Natalie, the one I knew, to assume the mantle of “the real Natalie”? What if we were together for a year and, during that time, she never once became insecure, jealous, or passive-aggressive toward me? What if it stayed that way for ten years? How would she decide when the new
Natalie qualified as the real one?


Then there is my friend Lenny, who utilizes an infuriating twist on
Natalie’s warning. When Lenny acts badly—which, incidentally, is more or less constantly—he explains it away by saying, “Forgive me. I’m just not myself today.” Really? Who are you, then? Because I’d like to know the name of the guy I’m thinking about punching in the nose right now.


And when do you expect your real self to return? I’d like to lodge a complaint with him.

 

FROM AMAZON.CO.UK SITE

In Stranger in the Mirror, Robert Levine offers a provocative, wide-ranging, and entertaining scientific exploration of the most personal and important of all landscapes: the physical and psychological entity we call our self. Who are we? Where is the boundary between us and everything else? Are we all multiple personalities? And how can we control who we become?

Levine tackles these and other questions with a combination of surprising stories, case studies, and cutting-edge research--from biology, neuroscience, virtual reality, psychology, and many other fields. The result challenges cherished beliefs about the unity and stability of the self--but also suggests that we are more capable of change than we know.

Transformation, Levine shows, is the human condition at virtually every level. Physically, our cells are unrecognizable from one moment to the next. Cognitively, our self-perceptions are equally changeable: A single glitch can make us lose track of a body part or our entire body--or to confuse our very self with that of another person. Psychologically, we switch back and forth like quicksilver between incongruent, sometimes adversarial subselves. Socially, we appear to be little more than an ever-changing troupe of actors. And, culturally, the boundaries of the self vary wildly around the world--from the confines of one's body to an entire village.

The self, in short, is a fiction--vague, arbitrary, and utterly intangible. But it is also interminably fluid. And this, Levine argues, unleashes a world of potential. Fluidity creates malleability. And malleability creates possibilities.

Engaging, informative, and ultimately liberating, Stranger in the Mirror will change forever how you think about your self--and what it might become.

 

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 Soul Machine

THE INVENTION OF THE MODERN MIND

 

A brilliant and comprehensive history of the creation of the modern Western mind.

Taken from http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Soul-Machine/

Soul Machine takes us back to the origins of modernity, a time when a crisis in religious authority and the scientific revolution led to searching questions about the nature of human inner life. This is the story of how a new concept—the mind—emerged as a potential solution, one that was part soul and part machine, but fully neither.

In this groundbreaking work, award-winning historian George Makari shows how writers, philosophers, physicians, and anatomists worked to construct notions of the mind as not an ethereal thing, but a natural one. From the ascent of Oliver Cromwell to the fall of Napoleon, seminal thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Diderot, and Kant worked alongside often-forgotten brain specialists, physiologists, and alienists in the hopes of mapping the inner world. Conducted in a cauldron of political turmoil, these frequently shocking, always embattled efforts would give rise to psychiatry, mind sciences such as phrenology, and radically new visions of the self. Further, they would be crucial to the establishment of secular ethics and political liberalism. Boldly original, wide-ranging, and brilliantly synthetic, Soul Machine gives us a masterful, new account of the making of the modern Western mind. 

ENDORSEMENTS & REVIEWS

“An enlightening and gracefully written account of a vital aspect of our history that few of us are aware of—the replacement of the soul by the mind, and the struggle to understand its foundations in the brain.” — Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Stuff of Thought

“In this sweeping, authoritative, and lively account, George Makari chronicles the emergence of the modern mind as an appealing yet unstable object of scientific inquiry, and shows why the long-standing goal of establishing boundaries between it and the brain and even the soul has proven so elusive. Illuminating and highly engaging.” — Elizabeth Lunbeck, author of The Americanization of Narcissism

“An erudite exploration of the high-stakes struggle to make space in the modern world for that part of our being we call our minds.” — Anne Harrington, Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University and author of The Cure Within

“George Makari has written an all-encompassing and invigorated account of how we have come to think about the acts of thinking and feeling. This is a book brimming with knowledge and lucid observations, one that helps us to understand the evolution of our contemporary sensibility.” — Daphne Merkin, author of The Fame Lunches


FROM www.bloomsbury.com/uk/disenchantment-9781472949745/

About Disenchantment

Workplace disenchantment can cause major issues for organisations – productivity decreases, employees can turn actively destructive and individual health and well-being can deteriorate. Most people start a job happy enough and determined to do a good job – if they are lucky, they have found a job which suits their skills and values. They may be eager, hopeful and willing to be engaged. So when and why do they become disenchanted and demotivated? 

In this new book, Adrian Furnham and Luke Treglown look at several theories into job satisfaction and workplace motivation. They explore how much of a motivator money really is, and which personality profiles are more likely to lead to a disruptive, disenchanted employee. 

Disenchantment discusses the related and identifiable behaviours that very clearly lead to disenchantment, and how individuals and organisations can work to prevent this and boost motivation and engagement in a way that is practicable and sustainable. Keeping employees motivated takes more than just ensuring they're not unhappy, and Disenchantment outlines some of the ways that organisations can manage this.

Reviews

“Superb insight into one of the most difficult areas of the workplace. This book should be required reading for C-suite and HR professionals alike.” –  David Charters, Author and Founder of PartnerCapital

“Adrian and Luke's work is as timely as it is relevant, providing an analytical framework and practical advice to address disenchantment. Read this book to learn what motivates and what demotivates us at work.” –  Ernst von Kimakowitz, Director and Co-founder of the Humanistic Management Center

“A great reference guide for leaders and organizations in understanding why people react the way they do, and breaks some popular assumptions about how to get the best and avoid the worst we often see around us or experience ourselves.” –  Chris Roebuck, Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership, Cass Business School

“In this briskly written and keenly observed book, Adrian and Luke toss aside the prevailing myths regarding the alleged power of Anglo-Saxon management techniques to explain why 70% of the modern workforce hate their jobs.” –  Robert Hogan, CEO Hogan Assessments USA

“This book thoroughly explains causes and effects … and by implication suggests what can be done to change malpractices. The book is inspiring and well written and is hereby recommended.” –  Professor Oyvind Martinsen, BI: Norwegian School of Management

“Nails the key characteristics of poor managers, from arrogance and volatility through to habitual mistrust, and the consequence of this in the cultures and environments they create. This book gives a great insight into the shadow side of people, organizations and culture.” –  Chris Woodman, Founder of Leadenhall Consulting

“It is a very engaging, challenging and important book that should read by everyeone interested in managing and caring for people at work … a must-read for HR professionals.” –  Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester

“If you want the kind of things that money can't buy, then this book, another real page-turner from the Adrian Furnham stable, will come closest to buying you love and happiness.” –  Erik de Haan, Director of Ashridge Centre for Coaching & Professor of Organisation Development, VU University

“Adrian's and Luke's work is challenging, practical, thoughtful and accessible. Reading this work stimulates thinking about the challenges and complexities of managing people. It goes way beyond the simplistic solutions posed by many of their contemporaries.” –  Mike Haffenden, CEO Strategic Dimensions London

“A thought provoking read and good primer for being able to deal with reality as it unfolds.” –  Jason Devereux, PhD, Workplace Transformation Consultant, KPMG

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First published in 1946, Viktor Frankl’s memoir Man’s Search for Meaning remains one of the most influential books of the last century, selling over ten million copies worldwide and having been embraced by successive generations of readers captivated by its author’s philosophical journey in the wake of the Holocaust. This long-overdue reappraisal examines Frankl’s life and intellectual evolution anew, from his early immersion in Freudian and Adlerian theory to his development of the “third Viennese school” amid the National Socialist domination of professional psychotherapy. It teases out the fascinating contradictions and ambiguities surrounding his years in Nazi Europe, including the experimental medical procedures he oversaw in occupied Austria and a stopover at the Auschwitz concentration camp far briefer than has commonly been assumed. Throughout, author Timothy Pytell gives a penetrating but fair-minded account of a man whose paradoxical embodiment of asceticism, celebrity, tradition, and self-reinvention drew together the complex strands of twentieth-century intellectual life.

Timothy Pytell is Chair of the History department at California State University, San Bernardino. He published an abridged version of this biography, titled Viktor Frankl: Das Ende eines Mythos, in German in 2005.

REVIEWS

“Pytell’s perceptive study should be read by any student of the Holocaust and any student of the postwar history of humanistic psychology. Pytell judges Frankl, but does so with generosity and compassion. Frankl, too, was a victim of the Holocaust.” · Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“This work is a great case study in the intellectual history of the twentieth century and the impact of the Holocaust therein.” · Journal of Austrian Studies

“The book has extensive notes and a major bibliography that includes interviews, periodicals, and unpublished documents. Frankl’s logotherapy—from logos, meaning—emphasizes creativity, love, and our attitude toward ‘unalterable fate.’ Some critics view logotherapy as superficial, offering consolation more than challenge. Intellectually demanding, this is a scholarly, commendable biography and intellectual history. Lay readers will be challenged; psychologists and historians will be grateful.” · Library Journal (starred review)

“Pytell’s book fills an important gap in the literature on one of the most famous and, until now, least controversial psychotherapists of the twentieth century. Unlike earlier works on Frankl, this book avoids hagiography and places Frankl in the full political, social, historical, and intellectual contexts of his times. It is the first work to synthesize Frankl’s life and work in his time and place.” · Geoffrey Cocks, Albion College

From www.berghahnbooks.com/title/PytellViktor

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Russell Grant Foster, CBE, FRS FMedSci is a British professor of circadian neuroscience, the Director of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology and the Head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute.

www.ox.ac.uk/research/research-in-conversation/healthy-body-healthy-mind/russell-foster

'Fundamentally, what I'm excited about and trying to understand is how the core mechanisms of sleep and 24-hour circadian rhythms are generated and regulated within the central nervous system, and then use this fundamental knowledge for translational studies – to inform therapeutic approaches that will improve the quality of life for individuals and their family across a broad spectrum of health conditions where sleep is severely disrupted, from eye disease to mental illness.

Direct download: DR-100_0087.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10pm UTC

He was responding to a reappraisal of one of Oliver Sacks' lesser known books describing the doctor's own paralysis and body image disorder. He writes:
 
 
This is a timely reappraisal of one of Oliver Sacks' less well-known works. The authors argue that the sense of detachment from his leg that Sacks felt after his injury and surgery was ‘functional/psychogenic’. Stone and colleagues take Sacks' account at face value and are at pains to label it repeatedly as ‘genuine’. Their aim is to go beyond Cartesian dualism, a common aspiration but one hard to achieve in practice, such is the hold it has on our explanatory frameworks. Stone et al approach the ‘case’ like the good clinicians that they are and attempt to ‘get above the lesion’. There is no mind–brain divide but there is a hierarchy: from the peripheral nerves up through the neuraxis to the cortex. But that is as far as it goes: in the materialist world, there is nothing else. A disorder of will seems the best formulation and is made without implied criticism or facetiousness...
 
The piece continues and can be found at the link below - hear Professor Anthony David discussing his take on Oliver Sacks in this free to download podcast
 
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;83(9):869. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2012-303051
 

References

Direct download: DR-100_0085.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 5:30pm UTC

Are those sympathetic to violent protest and terrorism suffering from psychological problems?

Professor Kamaldeep Bhui works as a clinical academic psychiatrist in London. He qualified in Medicine at the United Medical Schools of Guy's & St Thomas in 1988, and subsequently worked at the Maudsley, Institute of Psychiatry, Guy's, King's, St Thomas' Hospitals and Medical Schools being appointed to his first consultant clinical academic post as a senior lecturer in 2000.

He was appointed Professor in 2003 at QMUL. Previously he was a Wellcome Training Fellow in Health Services Research and Senior Medical Officer in the policy research programme at Department of Health. He is Director at the Cultural Consultation Service at QMUL (Culturalconsultion.org) and Director of MSc Psychological Therapies, MSc Transcultural Mental Healthcare at QMUL and MSc Mental Health & Law.

He is also the co-founder of Careif (www.careif.org), an international mental health charity that promotes work for young people and their health through culture, sport and arts.

Professor Bhui is President of WACP and Public Health Lead at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

He is editor of British Journal of Psychiatry, and International Journal of Culture and Mental Health.

He is on the editorial board of Transcultural Psychiatry, Ethnicity and Health, Int.J.Social Psychiatry, and Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

His recent paper is titled: 

Pathways to sympathies for violent protest and terrorism

by 

Kamaldeep Bhui, Maria Joao Silva, Raluca A. Topciu and Edgar Jones

and is published in The British Journal of Psychiatry

 

From the paper:

Radicalisation is proposed to explain why some individuals begin to support and take part in violent extremism. However, there is little empirical population research to inform prevention, and insufficient attention to the role of psychiatric vulnerabilities. In this study a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women from two English cities were investigated. Depressive symptoms were associated with a higher risk of Sympathies for Violent Protest and Terrorism.

Direct download: raj_persaud_talks_to_kamaldeep_bhui.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:14pm UTC

Some surprising causes of mental illness - interview with Ardesheer Talati Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology (Psychiatry) at Columbia University Medical Center

Raj Persaud talks to Ardesheer Talati.

Ardesheer Talati’s research focuses on understanding long-term clinical, behavioral, and neurobiological problems in offspring that result from prenatal exposures.  Two particular areas of interest are tobacco and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant exposures during pregnancy. Although the rates of smoking have decreased in the general population, about 5-10% of women smoke during pregnancy today. On the other hand, the rates of antidepressant medication use have been rising. When used in pregnancy, both nicotine and SSRIs cross the placental and the blood-brain barriers and thus can enter the developing fetal brain.  His research focuses on trying to understand what (if any) the long term consequences of these exposures are, with a particular focus on brain development. For example, he tests whether maternal smoking or use of SSRIs during pregnancy impairs normative development of fetal brain structure, connectivity, and circuitry; and if so, whether those alterations persist through childhood development and increase risk for clinical or behavioral disorders.

American Journal of Psychiatry Volume 170, Issue 10, October 2013, pp. 1178-1185

Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder in Offspring

Ardesheer Talati, Ph.D., Yuanyuan Bao, M.S., Jake Kaufman, B.A., Ling Shen, Ph.D., Catherine A. Schaefer, Ph.D., and Alan S. Brown, M.D., M.P.H

 


Why are the children of depressed parents more likely to die earlier and from unnatural causes?

Dr Raj Persaud talks to Professor Myrna Weissman about what happens to the children of depressed people

HEADLINE FINDING OF THIS MAJOR NEW STUDY:

There was increased mortality in the children whose parents had serious depression (5.5% compared with 2.5%) due to unnatural causes, with a nearly 8-year difference in the mean age at death (38.8 years compared with 46.5 years in the control group - children of parents without depression).

 

From The American Journal of Psychiatry Volume 173, Issue 10, October 01, 2016, pp. 1024-1032

 

Offspring of Depressed Parents: 30 Years Later

 

Myrna M. Weissman, Ph.D., Priya Wickramaratne, Ph.D., Marc J. Gameroff, Ph.D., Virginia Warner, Dr.P.H., Daniel Pilowsky, M.D., M.P.H., Rajni Gathibandhe Kohad, M.D., M.P.H., Helena Verdeli, Ph.D., Jamie Skipper, M.A., Ardesheer Talati, Ph.D.

 

While the increased risk of psychological problems in the biological offspring of depressed parents has been widely studied and replicated, the long-term outcome through their full age of risk is less known. The authors present a 30-year follow-up of biological offspring (mean age=47 years) of depressed (high-risk) and nondepressed (low-risk) parents.

One hundred forty-seven offspring of moderately to severely depressed or non-depressed parents selected from the same community were followed for up to 30 years.

The risk for major depression was approximately three times as high in the high-risk offspring. The period of highest risk for first onset was between ages 15 and 25 in both groups. Pre-pubertal onsets were uncommon, but high-risk offspring had over 10-fold increased risk. The increased rates of major depression in the high-risk group were largely accounted for by the early onsets, but later recurrences in the high-risk group were significantly increased. The high-risk offspring continue to have overall poorer functioning and receive more treatment for emotional problems. There was increased mortality in the high-risk group (5.5% compared with 2.5%) due to unnatural causes, with a nearly 8-year difference in the mean age at death (38.8 years compared with 46.5 years).

The authors of the study conclude that the offspring of depressed parents remain at high risk for depression, morbidity, and mortality that persists into their middle years. While adolescence is the major period of onset for major depression in both risk groups, it is the offspring with family history who go on to have recurrences and a poor outcome as they mature. In the era of personalized medicine, until a more biologically based understanding of individual risk is found, a simple family history assessment of major depression as part of clinical care can be a predictor of individuals at long-term risk.


Could warming up the body cure depression?

Raising Body Temperature Relieves Depression Symptoms, Small Study Finds

 

www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/raising-body-temperature-relieves-depression-symptoms-small-study-finds/48472

 

Madison, Wisconsin — Raising the body temperature of depressed volunteers to the equivalent of a mild fever improved their symptoms of major depression for as long as six weeks after a single treatment, results from a new study show.

 

Researchers led by Dr. Charles Raison of the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a small, double-blind trial to test whole-body hyperthermia as a novel treatment for major depression.

 

They evaluated the depressed volunteers on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and found that 60 percent of them had a response and 40 percent met the criteria for remission of depression during at least one assessment after having received the treatment.

 

“Our hope is to find better and faster-acting treatments for depression than the antidepressants currently in use,’’ says Raison. “We think that using heat to stimulate the skin activates serotonin-producing cells in the mid-brain, which then produce a change in how the brain functions. In a way, one might think of this pathway from the skin to the brain as a deep-brain stimulator crafted by evolution. We tap into this pathway because heat makes the brain feel happy.”

 

The researchers used a whole-body hyperthermia device to raise the body temperatures of 16 volunteers to 38.5 Celsius, the equivalent of about 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Another 14 were randomized to a “sham” procedure that had them lie inside the hyperthermia device with fans and lights, but only a small amount of heat, not the intense infrared heat that produced the full treatment.

 

“Our sham intervention was so realistic that most of the participants (10 of 14) thought they were receiving the real treatment,’’ says Raison. That is important, because it suggests the antidepressant response was not due primarily to placebo factors associated with the treatment.

 

The real hyperthermic treatment improved depression scores by a mean of 5.67 points more than the sham at week one and a mean difference of 4.83 points at six weeks after the treatment. The HDRS rates scores of 0 to 7 to be normal, 8 to 13 to indicate mild depression, 14 to 18 to indicate moderate depression and 19 and above to indicate severe and very severe depression.

 

Researchers screened 338 volunteers and wound up with 34 patients with HDRS scores of 16 and above. The two arms began with 17 volunteers each, but with dropouts, 15 wound up completing the whole-body hyperthermia and 14 the sham treatment.

 

Those receiving the active treatment were in a type of tent, and were heated on their chest by infrared lights and on their legs with infrared heating coils. After their body core temperature reached 38.5 degrees Celsius (usually after about an hour and half) the heat was turned off and they were allowed to cool for an hour.

 

A week after treatment, researchers who were blinded to whether the volunteers had the real treatment or not assessed their depression levels using HDRS. Further assessments were made at two, four and six weeks. Self-reports also showed lessening of symptoms, although not as dramatic. Both groups reported only mild adverse effects.

 

“We were surprised to see that the effect (of reduced depression symptoms) was still present six weeks after the initial treatment,’’ Raison says.

 

Co-author Christopher Lowry, associate professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, showed in an earlier study that whole-body heating activates neurons in the brain that synthesize the neurochemical serotonin, an effect that is shared by antidepressant drugs. In addition, Lowry said, “We know that warming the skin activates areas of the brain where activity is low in depressed patients.”

 

One brain area activated by heating the skin, the medial orbitofrontal cortex, is involved in the regulation of mood. This area of the brain responds to pleasant sounds, smells, images, tastes and other stimuli. A premise of the research is that certain sensory pathways evolved to mediate antidepressant-like responses. Lowry says depression is associated with over-activity of the brain’s default-mode network, which is engaged when a person is ruminating.

 

But throughout evolution, certain conditions made such a state of mind “extremely maladaptive,” Lowry observes. Extreme heat would demand that people shift their attention from internal thoughts to the external world.

 

Raison says that the current study extends results from an earlier open-treatment study his group did in Switzerland in inpatient volunteers with major depression. Hyperthermia has been used for many years, primarily in Europe, as part of a cancer-fighting regimen, although whole-body hyperthermia to treat cancer typically raises the body temperature to temperatures much higher than used in the depression studies.

 

According to Raison, the results of the small study are encouraging, but he cautions that because the sample size was small, more research is needed to determine how hyperthermia should be optimally delivered in terms of the temperature used and the amount of time patients are exposed to the heat. Additionally, the results may have been confounded by volunteers’ expectations that the treatment would work.

 

Raison is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families in the UW School of Human Ecology. He is also a member of the psychiatry faculty in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

 

The study was conducted at the University of Arizona and funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the Depressive and Bipolar Disorder Alternative Treatment Foundation, the Institute for Mental Health Research, the Braun Foundation and Barry and Janet Lang and Arch and Laura Brown.

 

Clint Talbott, communications director at CU-Boulder’s College of Arts and Sciences, contributed to this report.


What roles do chance and luck play in our lives?

From the Princeton University Press site:

From New York Times bestselling author and economics columnist Robert Frank, a compelling book that explains why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in their success, why that hurts everyone, and what we can do about it

 

How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. In Success and Luck, bestselling author and New York Times economics columnist Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success—and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy.

 

Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones—and enormous income differences—over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.

 

But, Frank argues, we could decrease the inequality driven by sheer luck by adopting simple, unintrusive policies that would free up trillions of dollars each year—more than enough to fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage, fight global warming, and reduce poverty, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. If this sounds implausible, you'll be surprised to discover that the solution requires only a few, noncontroversial steps.

 

Compellingly readable, Success and Luck shows how a more accurate understanding of the role of chance in life could lead to better, richer, and fairer economies and societies.

 

Robert H. Frank is the H. J. Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell University's Johnson School of Management. He has been an Economic View columnist for the New York Times for more than a decade and his books include The Winner-Take-All Society (with Philip J. Cook), The Economic Naturalist, The Darwin Economy (Princeton), and Principles of Economics (with Ben S. Bernanke). He lives in Ithaca, New York.

Direct download: interview.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55am UTC

Does Extremism Protect You From Depression?

Professor Jeremy Coid completed medical training at Sheffield University and training in Forensic Psychiatry at the Maudsley and Broadmoor Hospitals.

 

He was trained in research at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, where he completed his MD.

 

As Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist he established the medium secure service to East London for mentally disordered offenders.

 

He has extensive experience of giving evidence in court as an expert witness in cases of serious violence, sexual offending, and on childcare. He has been an advisor to the Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defence on management of high risk offenders.

 

He was appointed Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry in 1987 and awarded a personal chair in 1995.

 

This Podcast focuses on the recently published paper entitled: ‘Extremism, religion and psychiatric morbidity in a population-based sample of young men’ published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by Jeremy W. Coid, Kamaldeep Bhui, Deirdre MacManus, Constantinos Kallis, Paul Bebbington and Simone Ullrich

Background (from the paper)

There is growing risk from terrorism following radicalisation of young men. It is unclear whether psychopathology is associated. Aims: To investigate the population distribution of extremist views among UK men. Method: Cross-sectional study of 3679 men, 18–34 years, in Great Britain. Results: Pro-British men were more likely to be White, UK born, not religious; anti-British were Muslim, religious, of Pakistani origin, from deprived areas. Conclusions: Men at risk of depression may experience protection from strong cultural or religious identity.

FROM THE PAPER:

 

The prevalence of depression was significantly higher among Pakistani and Black minority groups than UK-born White men...

The key finding was that men... with neutral or undecided views, were more likely to be depressed. Anti-British extremist views may have offered protection against depression, specifically among men of Pakistani origin. These findings correspond to the hypothesis that lack of personal identity and meaning, with unfulfilled need for belonging, create psychological vulnerability both to extremism and anxiety and depression. Within this theoretical framework, attributing blame, identifying responsible perpetrators, strong national or other cultural identity, and active support for or opposition to a cause, may protect against depression. For some men, depression may be a precursor to ‘mobilisation’, leading to active support for and consideration of involvement in terrorism or armed conflict along a pathway of radicalisation. Lack of identity and uncertainty, together with depression, may contribute to a vulnerable state in which personal crisis can act as a trigger, resulting in an opening for new beliefs and values, encouraged by people holding similar values that legitimise violence. Relatives’ and friends’ experiences of social exclusion, including poverty and reported experiences of racism, may have influenced these individuals to take a more active position. Factors such as turning to religion or new political beliefs triggered by a war (against people with similar cultural and religious characteristics) could result in a protective sense of empowerment involving new meaning, belief systems and identity along a pathway ultimately leading to violent action. However, since we cannot determine the direction of association in this cross-sectional survey, respondents with depression may simply have been less likely to fight for or against their country or to hold extreme views because of their depression.

 


EGO IS THE ENEMY - RYAN HOLIDAY IN CONVERSATION WITH RAJ PERSAUD

Ego Is The Enemy is a new book published by best-selling author Ryan Holiday and is a philosophical exploration of difficulties we create for ourselves in life. Early in our careers, Ryan argues, ego impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, ego can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, ego magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.

The book draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to history. Using the stories of people like William T. Sherman, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, all of whom reached the highest levels of power and success by conquering their own egos.

http://ryanholiday.net/announcing-ego-is-the-enemy-how-you-can-get-involved/

 

 

Direct download: DR-100_0081.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 11:07am UTC

If you hear voices - does that mean you are going to go insane?

Dr Kelly Diederen is a neuroscience researcher based at the University of Cambridge and has recently published a paper in the academic journal ‘Psychological Medicine’ which follows up a group of adults who hear voices but who are not formally diagnosed as psychotic – what happens to these people over a period of time?

 

Daalman K, Diederen KMJ, Hoekema L, van Lutterveld R, Sommer IEC (2016), “Five year follow-up of non-psychotic adults with frequent auditory verbal hallucinations: are they still healthy?” Psychological Medicine 1-11


The Psychiatry of 'Breaking Bad' - Crystalline methamphetamine use and abuse

Professor Michael Farrell FRCP FRCPsych is the Director of NDARC (National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre). He moved to Sydney from London in March 2011 following his appointment to NDARC. Prior to joining NDARC he was Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His extensive research interests include treatment evaluation, including the development of the National Treatment Outcomes Profile, a brief outcomes measurement instrument for drug and alcohol dependence. He has a long standing interest in drug dependence in prisons and within the wider criminal justice system. He has been a member of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug and Alcohol Dependence since 1995 and chaired the WHO External Evaluation of the Swiss Heroin Trial.

 

From the paper presented at the Annual Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

FROM AN ORIGINAL PAPER ENTITLED:

Crystalline methamphetamine use and methamphetamine-related harms in Australia

 

EXCERPT:

 

Concerns about crystal methamphetamine use and harm have increased in multiple countries. The harms of regular methamphetamine use include mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, dependence and psychosis, physical health problems, violent and aggressive behaviour, involvement in criminal activity, injecting and sexual risk, and in some cases, overdose deaths.

The types of methamphetamine used range from amphetamine-type-stimulant pills and amphetamine powder to high purity crystalline methamphetamine. ‘Ice’ is the street name given to the relatively pure preparation of methamphetamine hydrochloride salt because its translucent crystalline appearance resembles ice (also referred to by the street names ‘shard’, ‘crystal’ and ‘skates’). This pure preparation of methamphetamine originated in Taiwan and South Korea, and subsequently spread to the USA where it was dubbed the ‘drug of the 1990s’.

The increased use of crystal methamphetamine raises concerns because the high purity of the drug allows a new route of administration, inhalation. Crystal methamphetamine vaporises when heated, and can be inhaled, affording high bioavailability and an almost immediate drug effect because the drug is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream via the lungs, bypassing the metabolic processes that reduce the proportion of the drug that reaches the brain.

 

BY

Louisa Degenhardt1, Grant Sara2, Rebecca McKetin3, Amanda Roxburgh1, Timothy Dobbins1, Michael Farrell1, Lucinda Burns1 and Wayne D. Hall4,5

  1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

UNSW Australia

Sydney NSW Australia 2052

  1. Sydney Medical School

Northern Clinical School

University of Sydney

Sydney NSW Australia

  1. National Drug Research Institute

Curtin University

Perth WA Australia 6008

  1. Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research

University of Queensland

St Lucia QLD Australia

  1. National Addiction Centre

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

Kings College London

London England

 

Corresponding author: Louisa Degenhardt

l.degenhardt@unsw.edu.au

 

 

Direct download: DR-100_0079.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 10:37pm UTC

The Euthansia Program in Nazi-Psychiatry - Dr Michael Von Cranach talks to Dr Raj Persaud about German Psychiatry in the Nazi era.

The “Euthanasia “ Program in Nazi-Psychiatry

Dr Michael Von Cranach, an eminent German Psychiatrist, discusses with Dr Raj Persaud his research into the Nazi era, at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Annual Congress, London, 27th of June 2016.


More than 200000 psychiatric patients and handicapped persons where murdered in Germany between 1939 and 1945 by doctors and nurses. Alexander Mitscherlich, rapporteur of the Nuremberg Medical Trials wrote 1947, but published decades later,:
” Their atrocities were so unrestrained and at the same time organised with such technical bureaucratic coldness, malice and bloodthirstiness, that no one can read about it without feeling shame”.

Direct download: DR-100_0078.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:49am UTC

Prof Frank Schneider discusses mass murder of psychiatric patients during World War 2

Professor Frank Schneider, M.D., Ph.D. Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Aachen and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, also Past President of the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, talks to Dr Raj Persaud about the role of the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in the mass murder of psychiatric patients which occurred in Germany during the Second World War at the hands of Nazis and Nazi ideology. How was it that elite doctors and psychiatrists, caring and highly accomplished clinicians, could so rapidly be transformed into killing machines? Some 200,000 psychiatric patients eventually lost their lives, often at the hands of their own doctors – could the same thing happen again? The interview occurs at the Royal College of Psychiatrist Annual Congress 2016 just before Professor Schneider takes part in a panel discussion on how German psychiatric patients suffered during the Nazi era partly as a result of the rise in eugenics or genetic theories concerning the spread of mental illness. Is it possible that the modern rise of biological psychiatry could presage the same atrocities occurring again?

Direct download: DR-100_0077.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:20pm UTC

A victim of stalking describes her harrowing story

What is it like to be stalked? In this astonishing interview a victim of stalking describes in vivid detail what it feels like to be stalked. Do her experiences explain why stalkiing has been described as a kind of psychological rape or terrorism?

Direct download: raj_talks_to_eleanor_about_her_terrifying_stalking_experience.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18pm UTC

Does Eating More Fish Cure or Prevent Depression?

Walk into any health food shop and you would think that  omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) were a panacea for all ills - the hype for these dietary supplements arises from recent research which appeared to find various benefits but now a study published by Brian Hallahan and colleagues attempts to pool all the data accumulated on the subject and cut through to the truth.

From the original recently published paper by Brian Hallahan and colleagues

Efficacy of omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of depression* Brian Hallahan, Timothy Ryan, Joseph R. Hibbeln, Ivan T. Murray, Shauna Glynn, Christopher E. Ramsden, John Paul SanGiovanni and John M. Davis

The British Journal of Psychiatry 1–10. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.160242

Many randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have reported beneficial effects for omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) in bipolar and major depressive disorder, but others have reported essentially no effect.... possible explanatory factors: (a) that only eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant formulations of omega-3 HUFA have an antidepressant effect;37,38 and (b) that the putative antidepressant effects of omega-3 HUFAs only occur in episodes of diagnosed clinical depression...

The study found that:  

Among participants with diagnosed depression, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)-predominant formulations (450% EPA) demonstrated clinical benefits compared with placebo... whereas docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-predominant formulations (450% DHA) did not. EPA failed to prevent depressive symptoms among populations not diagnosed for depression.

 


Being A Syrian Refugee - is this the toughest test of anyone's mental health?

Interview with Ruth Wells - lead author on new paper on mental health of Syrian Refugees published in the British Journal of Psychiatry - From the introduction in the paper:

The United Nations (UN) has labelled the current Syrian conflict as the worst humanitarian crisis that has occurred within the first part of the 21st century. It is estimated that there are in excess of 4 million displaced Syrian refugees in the Middle East and over 629 000 who have been displaced to Jordan, the focus of this review. Although many displaced Syrians live in refugee camps, the largest being Za’atari camp which is home to over 120 000 people, the vast majority live in the host community. In Jordan, people from Syria have limited access to work permits and are often required to work in the informal sector to secure livelihood. Those registered with the UN are eligible to access some cash assistance, food vouchers and education and health systems, although the health system has struggled to keep up with demand. Stressors inherent in forced displacement,5 combined with exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs) during conflict, are likely to contribute to the development of heightened mental health difficulties in such settings.

 

From the introduction to this new paper

Psychosocial concerns reported by Syrian refugees living in Jordan: systematic review of unpublished needs assessments Ruth Wells, Zachary Steel, Mohammad Abo-Hilal, Abdul Halim Hassan and Catalina Lawsin

The British Journal of Psychiatry 1–8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.115.165084

Ruth Wells, BSc, University of Sydney, Australia; Zachary Steel, PhD, MClinPsych, School of Psychiatry, University New South Wales, The Black Dog Institute, Hospital Road, Prince of Wales Hospital, New South Wales, Australia; Mohammad Abo Hilal, MD, Syria Bright Future; Abdulhalim Hasan, MD, American Medical Center, Erbil, Iraq; Catalina Lawsin, PhD, Department of Behavioral Sciences, RUSH Medical Center, Chicago, USA


The Quotable Jung - Tony Woolfson taks to Raj Persaud about the latest book on Carl Gustav Jung

TONY WOOLFSON, PH.D.


Editor The Philemon Foundation

 

From the Philemon Foundation website: philemonfoundation.org/about-philemon/about-the-foundation/

Tony was a university teacher of arts and humanities until he decided to accompany his partner, Judith Harris, to Zürich where she trained at the C. G. Jung Institute. While in Zürich, Tony undertook intensive study of depth psychology and religion both independently and through attending classes at the Institute. He taught at the Zürich Institute and continues to study, write, and teach in the area of psychology and religion. He collaborated with Ernst Falzeder in the translation of Jung’s seminar on Children’s Dreams (Philemon Series), the Jung-Schmid correspondence (Philemon Series), and Jung’s German 1931 seminar (Philemon Series, forthcoming).

The Quotable Jung
Collected and edited by Judith Harris
With the collaboration of Tony Woolfson

 

From the Princeton University Press website

press.princeton.edu/titles/10550.html

 

Hardcover | 2015 | $29.95 | £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691155593
376 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 

eBook | ISBN: 9781400873340

 

C. G. Jung (1875–1961) was a preeminent thinker of the modern era. In seeking to establish an interdisciplinary science of analytical psychology, he studied psychiatry, religion, mysticism, literature, physics, biology, education, and criminology. He introduced the concepts of extraversion and introversion, and terms such as complex, archetype, individuation, and the collective unconscious. He stressed the primacy of finding meaning in our lives.

 

The Quotable Jung is the single most comprehensive collection of Jung quotations ever assembled. It is the essential introduction for anyone new to Jung and the Jungian tradition. It will also inspire those familiar with Jung to view him in an entirely new way. The Quotable Jung presents hundreds of the most representative selections from the vast array of Jung’s books, essays, correspondence, lectures, seminars, and interviews, as well as the celebrated Red Book, in which Jung describes his own fearsome confrontation with the unconscious. Organized thematically, this collection covers such topics as the psyche, the symbolic life, dreams, the analytic process, good and evil, creativity, alchemical transformation, death and rebirth, the problem of the opposites, and more. The quotations are arranged so that the reader can follow the thread of Jung’s thought on these topics while gaining an invaluable perspective on his writings as a whole.

 

Succinct and accessible, The Quotable Jung also features a preface by Judith Harris and a detailed chronology of Jung’s life and work.

  • The single most comprehensive collection of Jung quotations ever assembled
  • Features hundreds of quotes
  • Covers such topics as the psyche, dreams, good and evil, death and rebirth, and more
  • Includes a detailed chronology of Jung’s life and work
  • Serves as the ideal introduction to Jung and the Jungian tradition

 

Judith Harris is President of the Philemon Foundation and a Jungian analyst in private practice. She is a supervising and training analyst at ISAPZURICH and a senior analyst at the Ontario Association of Jungian Analysts. She is the author ofJung and Yoga: The Psyche-Body Connection. She lives in Zürich and Toronto.

Endorsements:

"An ideal resource for anyone seeking to find Jung’s most fertile ideas succinctly and powerfully stated."--John Beebe, author of Integrity in Depth

"This comprehensive selection of quotations provides a pathway into the complex world of Jung’s thought while never reducing his ideas to oversimplified formulas. The Quotable Jung is an extremely useful volume for anyone coming to Jung for the first time."--Paul Bishop, author of Reading Goethe at Midlife: Ancient Wisdom, German Classicism, and Jung

 

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen are joint podcast editors for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now have a free app on iTunes and Google Play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

Download it free from these links:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.raj(link is external)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id9274662(link is external)

Dr Raj Persaud’s new novel, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, is based on a unique UK police unit that really does protect Buckingham Palace from fixated obsessives. The psychological thriller poses the question: Is love the most dangerous emotion?

coverimage2

Direct download: Raj_Persaud_talks_to_Tony_Woolfson.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 10:33am UTC

What's wrong with modern psychiatry?

Hugh Middleton discusses his new book 'Psychiatry Reconsidered', with Dr Raj Persaud - his book is a n exciting critique of many of the serious problems with modern psychiatry, including fundamental questions he raises over issues such as diagnosis, treatment and the medical model.

Hugh Middleton is both an Associate Professor of the School of Sociology and Social Policy and an NHS Consultant Psychiatrist. Hugh qualified in medicine in 1974 (Cambridge and St George's), became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1976, completed an MD (Cambridge) in 1980, became a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1986 and was elected a Fellow in 2009.

Hugh led organisation of the third and fourth Qualitative Research in Mental Health conferences which took place in Nottingham in 2010 and 2012, contributed to the fifth in 2014 and is due to give a keynote address at the sixth in May 2016, which will be held in Crete. He has organised a monthly University of Nottingham seminar providing "Critical Perspectives on Health and Social Care" in the form of visiting speakers and multidisciplinary discussion and debate. He has supervised six successful PhDs exploring various aspects of mental health difficulty from a social sciences perspective and his undergraduate teaching is a popular elective third module, "Sociological Perspectives of Medicine: the Case of Psychiatry".

From Palgrave Macmillan website:

http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137411365

Psychiatry Reconsidered

From Medical Treatment to Supportive Understanding

Psychiatry suffers a lot of criticism, not least from within its own scientifically founded medical world. This book provides an account of mental health difficulties and how they are generally addressed in conventional medical circles, alongside critical reviews of the assumptions underpinning them to encourage more humanitarian perspectives.

Direct download: DR-100_0076.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 9:56pm UTC

Electro-Convulsive or 'Shock' Therapy - what is it like to revceive it?

Dr Raj Persaud talks to a lady who received ECT or shock treatment after a prolonged and severe bout of depression. What is it like to be treated with this therapy? What kind of problems lead doctors to consider using it? Are there side-effects? In the long-run is it worth it? Does this treatment work? Is the reality of such a treatment anything like it's portrayal in Hollywood films? All these questions and more are tackled in this rare interview with someone who has actually received ECT. 

 

Follow Dr Raj Persaud on Twitterwww.twitter.com/(link is external)@DrRajPersaud

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen are joint podcast editors for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now have a free app on iTunes and Google Play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

Download it free from these links:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.raj...(link is external)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id9274662...

Direct download: ect_and_raj.mp3
Category:(3) EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES of severe emotional turmoil -- posted at: 10:26pm UTC

Why do authors write fiction? Professor James Hynes discusses with Dr Raj Persaud

From The Great Courses website:

 

http://www.thegreatcourses.co.uk/courses/writing-great-fiction-storytelling-tips-and-techniques.html

 

Whether you’re huddled around the campfire, composing an email to a friend, or sitting down to write a novel, storytelling is fundamental to human nature. But as any writer can tell you, the blank page can be daunting. It’s tough to know where to get started, what details to include in each scene, and how to move from the kernel of an idea to a completed manuscript.

 

Writing great fiction isn’t a gift reserved for the talented few. There is a craft to storytelling that can be learned, and studying the fiction writer’s techniques can be incredibly rewarding—both personally and professionally. Even if you don’t have ambitions of penning the next Moby-Dick, you’ll find value in exploring all the elements of great fiction.

 

From evoking a scene to charting a plot to selecting a point of view, Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques offers a master class in storytelling. Taught by acclaimed novelist James Hynes, a former visiting professor at the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Michigan, these 24 insightful lectures show you the ins and outs of the fiction writer’s craft.

 

Raj Persaud talks to Professor James Hynes on why people write.

 

http://www.thegreatcourses.co.uk/courses/writing-great-fiction-storytelling-tips-and-techniques.html

 

Professor James Hynes is a published novelist who has taught creative writing as a visiting professor at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Michigan, The University of Texas, Miami University, and Grinnell College. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Michigan and a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Professor Hynes is the author of five works of fiction: Next, which received the 2011 Believer Book Award from the Believer magazine; Kings of Infinite Space, a Washington Post best book for 2004; The Lecturer’s Tale and Publish and Perish, which were both New York Times Notable Books of the Year; and The Wild Colonial Boy, which received the Adult Literature Award from the Friends of American Writers and was a New York Times Notable Book for 1990. In addition to his work as a novelist, he has also written book reviews and literary essays, which have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Boston Review, Salon, and other publications.

Professor Hynes has received several literary grants and teaching fellowships, including a James Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa, a Teaching-Writing Fellowship from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Michigan Council for the Arts writer’s grant. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, and is writing a new novel.

 

For more information on Professor Hynes and his books:

 

http://www.jameshynes.com/

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

 

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

 

 

 

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

Direct download: james_hynes_rp_Why_writers_write.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 3:48pm UTC

Can philosophy heal a divided world? Raj Persaud talks to Carlos Fraenkel

Raj Persaud Talks to Carlos Fraenkel - an academic philosopher at the University of McGill in Canada about his new book - Teaching Plato in Palestine.​


From the Princeton University Press website: 

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/104...

Teaching Plato in Palestine is part intellectual travelogue, part plea for integrating philosophy into our personal and public life. Philosophical toolkit in tow, Carlos Fraenkel invites readers on a tour around the world as he meets students at Palestinian and Indonesian universities, lapsed Hasidic Jews in New York, teenagers from poor neighborhoods in Brazil, and the descendants of Iroquois warriors in Canada. They turn to Plato and Aristotle, al-Ghazālī and Maimonides, Spinoza and Nietzsche for help to tackle big questions: Does God exist? Is piety worth it? Can violence be justified? What is social justice and how can we get there? Who should rule? And how shall we deal with the legacy of colonialism? Fraenkel shows how useful the tools of philosophy can be—particularly in places fraught with conflict—to clarify such questions and explore answers to them. In the course of the discussions, different viewpoints often clash. That’s a good thing, Fraenkel argues, as long as we turn our disagreements on moral, religious, and philosophical issues into what he calls a “culture of debate.” Conceived as a joint search for the truth, a culture of debate gives us a chance to examine the beliefs and values we were brought up with and often take for granted. It won’t lead to easy answers, Fraenkel admits, but debate, if philosophically nuanced, is more attractive than either forcing our views on others or becoming mired in multicultural complacency—and behaving as if differences didn’t matter at all.

Carlos Fraenkel teaches philosophy and religion at the University of Oxford and McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of Philosophical Religions from Plato to Spinoza, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Nation, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other publications.

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Review:

"What unites [the classroom conversations] is [Fraenkel's] skill in the art of posing questions designed to perplex and provoke. He lets us overhear the Socratic form of dialogue that Plato invented and that Mr. Fraenkel practices much to his students’ pleasure, and ours."--Benjamin Balint, Wall Street Journal

"Fresh, iconoclastic, stimulating debates."--Kirkus

"The author urges religious people who aren’t bound by literalism, secularists who don’t dismiss all religion as anachronism, and inquisitive types of all persuasions to try something. First, accept freedom of expression, recognize your fallibility and prepare yourself to revise received assumptions. And then plunge into debates about morality, faith, governance, rights and other matters that divide us . . . the discussions you engage in, as suggested by his and his students’ experiences, will likely broaden your horizons and nourish your intellect."--Rayyan Al-Shawaf, Toronto Star

"If you read one book published this year, then you might make it Teaching Plato in Palestine: Philosophy in a Divided World."--Aminatta Forna, The Independent

Endorsement:

"Carlos Fraenkel thinks that philosophy is essential to a culture of debate that gets us out of our cultural, religious, and intellectual cloisters. We understand ourselves by arguing with others, and understand others by arguing with ourselves. Fraenkel takes these convictions out of the classroom and tests them around the world—from Makassar to East Jerusalem, from Bahia to Brooklyn. The result is a wonderful, engaging, and readable book about the power of philosophy."--Joshua Cohen, coeditor of The Norton Introduction to Philosophy

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/104...

Direct download: Raj_Persaud_talks_to_Carlos_Fraenkel.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 2:29am UTC

Delusions - psychiatrist Dr Matthew Broome takes a philosophical perspective?

Dr raj persaud talks to dr matthew broome on latest thinking about delusions

Dr Raj Persaud talks to Dr Matthew Broome at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Annual Conference and International Congress - Birmingham 2015. Dr Broome was chairing a session on the very latest developments in thinking about delusions and discussed the presentations after the conference session.

are delusions a kind of 'emergency treatment' by which the mind seeks to take care of a crisis but it has unfortunate longer term consequences?

 

FROM http://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/team/PIs/matthew-broome

matthew broome is a SENIOR CLINICAL RESEARCH FELLOW

  • Consultant Psychiatrist
  • Associate College Tutor, Oxfordshire

Research into the early detection of mental illness brings clear benefits as not only may new cases be prevented, but those who do develop the disorder yet are able to receive appropriate early treatment may have better clinical outcomes, including lower rates of admission and suicide, as well as greater function.  Such an approach is not only clinically advantageous, but economically brings cost benefits to the NHS.

Current ongoing work involves collaborations with colleagues in the Department of Psychosis Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry using multi-modal imaging techniques to examine those at risk of developing psychosis, funded by the EU and the Wellcome Trust, and, with Stephen Wood in Birmingham, a new MRC-funded study looking at structural brain changes serially over time.  Additionally, with Nick Dale at Warwick, I am working on developing a bedside technique of examining D- and L-Serine, a marker of the NMDA receptor function, dysfunction of which has been implicated in schizophrenia. Together with Steven Marwaha, we are beginning to pilot measures of mood instability in clinical populations with different diagnoses to try and determine whether the experience is the same in different disorders and continue our work examining mood instability in the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey.

Until 2012, I was Chair of the Philosophy Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and am part of the Maudsley Philosophy Group and have an active interest in the philosophy of psychiatry and neuroscience.  I recently co-edited The Maudsley Reader in Phenomenological Psychiatry and have an ongoing programme of work examining delusions as well as responsibility in mental illness with Lisa Bortolotti at the University of Birmingham.  I am one of the series editors for International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry and on the editorial board for the British Journal of Psychiatry.

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

photo of matthew broome from http://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/team/PIs/matthew-broome

Direct download: DR-100_0073.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52am UTC

Prof Richard Bentall - can delusions be explained? Talking to Dr Raj Persaud

Raj Persaud talks to Richard Bentall at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Annual Conference and International Congress - Birmingham 2015. Professor Bentall was taking part in a session on the very latest developments in thinking about delusions and discussed his presentation after the conference session.

The conversation begins with Professor Bentall reminding us that how to understand what a delusion is, and what it isn't, in terms of strange beliefs, is not so straightforward, in certain 'tricky cases'.

Richard Bentall is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Liverpool University and has previously held chairs at Manchester University and Bangor University. He graduated with a BSc and then a PhD in experimental psychology at the University College of North Wales (now Bangor University) and then completed his clinical training at Liverpool University. He also holds an MA in philosophy applied to health care awarded by University College Swansea (now Swansea University). His research interests have mainly focused on psychosis. He has studied the cognitive and emotional mechanisms involved in psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoid delusions and manic states, using methods ranging from psychological experiments, and experience sampling to functional magnetic resonance imaging. Most recently, his research has focused on why social risk factors (for example childhood adversities such as poverty, abuse, and bullying) provoke the cognitive and emotional changes that lead to these symptoms. In collaboration with colleagues at Manchester and elsewhere he has also conducted large scale randomized controlled trials of psychological interventions for people diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and prodromal psychosis. He has published over 200 peer-review papers and a number of books including Madness explained: Psychosis and human nature (Penguin, 2003) and Doctoring the mind: Why psychiatric treatments fail (Penguin, 2009).

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

 

 


Direct Current Stimulation as a treatment in Psychiatry

Dr Philip Wilkinson talks to Dr Raj Persaud about Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation - a new promising treatment in Psychiatry?

from http://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/team/senior-researchers/philip-wilkinson

Dr Philip Wilkinson: I am a consultant old age psychiatrist with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Related to my work with inpatients, I have an interest in the management of late life depression and am currently working with colleagues in the Neurobiology of Ageing Group on transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

 

I have an interest in psychological treatments with older people. I have recently worked with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre on developing a mindfulness intervention in dementia care and am a Trustee of the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation.

 FROM:  http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/psychiatry/specialty_areas/brain_stimulation/tdcs.html

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is a non-invasive, painless brain stimulation treatment that uses direct electrical currents to stimulate specific parts of the brain. A constant, low intensity current is passed through two electrodes placed over the head which modulates neuronal activity. There are two types of stimulation with tDCS: anodal and cathodal stimulation. Anodal stimulation acts to excite neuronal activity while cathodal stimulation inhibits or reduces neuronal activity. 

Although tDCS is still an experimental form of brain stimulation, it potentially has several advantages over other brain stimulation techniques. It is cheap, non-invasive, painless and safe. It is also easy to administer and the equipment is easily portable. The most common side effect of tDCS is a slight itching or tingling on the scalp.

Several studies suggest it may be a valuable tool for the treatment of neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain. Research has also demonstrated cognitive improvement in some patients undergoing tDCS. Currently, tDCS is not an FDA-approved treatment.

 

You can listen to the interview with Dr Philip Wilkinson via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 


How to Explain Delusions

Raj Persaud talks to Phillip Corlett Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University about the latest thinking on delusions.

From http://psychiatry.yale.edu/people/philip_corlett.profile:

Dr. Philip Robert Corlett trained in Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychiatry with Professors Trevor Robbins and Paul Fletcher at the University of Cambridge. He won a Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship and completed his PhD on the brain bases of delusion formation in the Brain Mapping Unit, Department of Psychiatry. After a short postdoc, he was awarded the University of Cambridge Parke- Davis Exchange Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences which brought him to the Yale University Department of Psychiatry to explore the maintenance of delusions with Professors Jane Taylor and John Krystal. He was named a Rising Star and Future Opinion Leader by Pharmaceutical Marketing Magazine and joined the Yale faculty in 2011 where he will continue to explore the cognitive and biological mechanisms of delusional beliefs as well as predictive learning, habit formation and addiction.

From: http://medicine.yale.edu/lab/corlett/

Delusions are odd beliefs. They accompany many psychiatric illnesses, notably schizophrenia. A major challenge is to understand delusions in terms of changes in brain function. 

Our lab attempts to meet this challenge by investigating the neural basis of human associative learning and belief formation, relating these processes to the formation of delusional beliefs. 

Dr. Corlett’s findings have shaped the development of a novel mechanistic model of delusion formation.

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Brain Inflammation Explains Psychosis?

Dr Paola Dazzan Reader in Neurobiology of Psychosis explains to Dr Raj Persaud the latest theory that psychosis may be related to an inflammation of the brain.

 

Inflammation and metabolic changes in First Episode Psychosis: Preliminary results from a longitudinal study

Contribution to journal › Article

Original language English
Journal Brain Behavior and Immunity
Journal publication date 19 Jun 2015
DOIs
State Published

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.

King's Authors

 

Abstract

Metabolic abnormalities are commonly observed in patients with psychosis, and may confer greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life. Such abnormalities are associated with inflammation in the general population, and there is increasing evidence for elevated inflammation in patients with first episode psychosis (FEP). The aim of this preliminary study is to examine the effect of changes in inflammation, as measured by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), on metabolic changes in a three-month longitudinal study in a FEP sample. Fifty-three FEP patients from in- and out-patient services in South London, England, were included in this longitudinal study. Social and clinical data were collected, and fasting blood samples and anthropometric measurements (weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), lipid profile and gluco-metabolic parameters) were obtained at baseline and at three-month follow-up. Correlation analyses showed that those with increases in hsCRP over the three-month period also had increases in triglyceride levels (r = 0.49, p = 0.02). No association was observed with other lipid profile, or gluco-metabolic parameters. Increases in weight and BMI were also associated with increases in triglyceride levels (r = 0.33, p = 0.02; and r = 0.31, p = 0.03, respectively); however, a multiple linear regression analysis found that the effects of inflammation on triglycerides were independent from the effect of changes in weight, and from the baseline inflammatory state. Our preliminary findings suggest that those patients experiencing greater increases in inflammation early on in the course of their illness may be at greater risk of developing short-term metabolic abnormalities, in particular dyslipidaemia, independent of weight-gain. Future work should investigate the use of inflammatory markers to identify patients in greater need of physical health interventions.

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 


'The Chimp Paradox' - Professor Steve Peters explains his 'chimp' model of human behaviour

From http://chimpmanagement.com/thechimpmodel.html

The Chimp Model is a Model for understanding and managing the functioning of the mind. The Model is not a hypothesis nor strict scientific fact but based on the neuroscience of the brain. The model is fun but meant to be taken seriously when it comes to applying it.

The model sees the brain as being divided into three teams. The first team is you, the Human (headed up by the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). You are a conscious thinking analysing being that works with facts and truth and then makes deductions using logical thinking. The second team is the Chimp, an independent thinking brain that is not under your control. It works with feelings and impressions and then puts the ‘information’ together using emotional thinking. The third team is the Computer. This is really a brain that is at the disposal of the Human and Chimp to put information into for reference. It acts as a memory and can also act as an automatic thinking and acting machine that is programmed to take over if the Chimp or Human is asleep or if they allow it to run ahead of them with preformed decisions and beliefs that it can act with.

As the resident psychiatrist at GB cycling, Steve was described as a genius by Dave Brailsford. Working in several sports, he has an unparalleled reputation for giving people an edge – as well as the confidence to overcome defeat. As in his book The Chimp Paradox, Steve shows how to deal with fear and ‘become the person you want to be’. He explains how to visualise and break each challenge into small stages, focusing on the process rather than the outcome.

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation - what you need to know

Dr Lena Palaniyappan qualified as a medical doctor from Stanley Medical College, Chennai, India along with a concurrent BA in Psychology. Since 2004 he has trained as a clinical psychiatrist, initially at the Maudsley Hospital, London and later at Nottingham where he obtained his M.Med.Sci. in Clinical Psychiatry. Between 2007 and 2009 he worked as an Academic Clinical Fellow (NIHR funded) at the Regional Affective Disorders Unit at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Following a HEFCE funded clinical lecturer post during which he coordinated a MRC funded neuroimaging study in psychosis led by Prof. Liddle, he obtained a Wellcome Trust funded Clinical Research Fellowship in Translational Neuroimaging in Psychiatry.

He recently assumed the role of Associate Director of the Centre for Translational Neuroimaging in Mental Health. He is also a member of the editorial board for Frontiers in Neuropsychiatric Imaging and Stimulation. As a consultant psychiatrist, he works with young people who experience a psychotic episode for the first time in their lives.

My present clinical research aims to apply brain imaging to investigate symptom burden, treatment response and prognostic accuracy in major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

To this end, my work focuses on understanding the intrinsically organized, large-scale brain networks in psychosis using structural, functional and electrophysiological imaging techniques. I am interested in the clinical application of neuroimaging observations made at an individual level (rather than group level) using advanced statistical approaches and mathematical models. I am also interested in developing hypothesis-driven neuromodulatory approaches that target resistant symptoms of depression and psychosis through the manipulation of dysfunctional brain networks (e.g. using magnetic stimulation and cognitive training approaches).

The major goal of my work is to understand the pathways that lead to poor long-term outcome in certain individuals with serious mental disorders.

PLEASE SEE BONUS CONTENT GIFT WRAP ICON AT TOP OF PAGE ON THE APP FOR A DOWNLOAD OF AN ORIGINAL PAPER ON TMS PUBLISHED IN THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Opening Up To Self-Disclosure

Anna Ruddle and Sarah Dilks consider whether therapists should talk about themselves in therapy

 

Psychologists Anna Ruddle and Sarah Dilks discuss with Psychiatrist Dr Raj Persaud when therapists should talk about themselves, and whey they shouldn't.

 

FROM THE ORIGINAL PAPER PUBLISHED IN THE PSYCHOLOGIST

 

As psychologists, we are increasingly encouraged to work

as equal partners with people to overcome problems or facilitate

recovery, as defined by the individual. There is an emphasis

on the common human experience of all parties. So should we be

behaving differently with clients, opening up more, sharing our own

experiences of stress, anxiety and resilience? Or would this be

considered unprofessional and even risky?

 

PLEASE SEE BONUS CONTENT GIFT WRAP ICON AT TOP OF PAGE ON THE APP FOR A DOWNLOAD OF THE ORIGINAL PAPER

 

You can listen to the interview via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Obsessional Compulsions over Order - what can Helen teach us about OCD?

What can Helen teach us about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Interview with Helen Barbour by  Dr Raj Persaud

 

In the new novel ‘The A To Z of Normal’ by Helen Barbour - Clare Thorpe's need for order and symmetry governs everything she owns - from tins and toiletries, to cushions and clothes. Yet she has always managed to hide the compulsions dominating her world. Until now. When long-distance boyfriend Tom proposes, her secret life begins to unravel. How can she share a future with the man she loves, if she can't even share her space? And when the only way forward brings a threat greater than any compulsive behaviour, do they have a future together at all? A poignant and humorous story of love, family, secrets...and military precision.

 

The book is available to order here:

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-To-Normal-Helen-Barbour/dp/178132381X

 

Helen's blog 'The Reluctant Perfectionist' is available here:

 

http://helenbarbour.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Reviews

 

'Clare loves her boyfriend, Tom. So why is she panic-stricken when he asks her to marry him? Because marriage means living together. And that means he will find out what she’s really like...

 

In The A-Z of Normal, Clare inhabits a world in which extreme order and ritual rule. She arranges her belongings with military precision. The simplest of acts have to be done in a particular manner with dizzying attention to detail. It’s no wonder that keeping her compulsive behaviour secret from those closest to her proves exhausting. She wants to change. She tries to change. As she searches for a ‘cure’, however, her life becomes ever more complicated and, at times, she appears bent on throwing away her happiness. The way she is going it seems less and less likely she will ever make things work with Tom.

 

Helen Barbour understands the nature of obsessive behaviour and writes about it brilliantly. She explores a tricky subject with sharpness and humour. I found myself willing Clare on, wishing she could free herself from the stranglehold of her destructive compulsions. The A-Z of Normal is a funny and poignant story. If ever anyone deserves their happy ending, it’s Clare.'

 

Maria Malone, Author and Ghostwriter (Cheryl Cole, Tony Hadley, Eamonn Holmes, Mica Paris), www.mariamalonebooks.com

 

‘I loved The A-Z of Normal, by Helen Barbour. The author uses an intelligent blend of both humour and poignancy to journey with the protagonist through something inherently challenging. It's an intriguing exploration and clever observation of a challenging and touching personal struggle that leaves the reader satisfied...and yet hungry for more by the end of the book. I hope there will be a sequel!’

 

Tina Cadwallader

 

‘The A to Z of Normal is a well-paced book which I found difficult to put down.

 

Clare is finding it difficult to overcome her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviour before she marries Tom. Her family, each occupied with issues in their own lives, know nothing of her struggle so are unable to offer her any help. She joins a group in the hope that others suffering from OCD can offer support and there she meets Michael who creates additional problems in her life.

 

This captivating story explores the difficulties faced by OCD sufferers in a sensitive and humorous way.’

 

Carol Sampson

You can listen to the interview with Helen Barbour via a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

 

 


Can Zombies Explain the Brain?

Raj Persaud talks to Timothy Verstynen about his new book on what Zombies can teach us about the brain, co-authored with Bradley Voytek

 

Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?
A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain
Timothy Verstynen & Bradley Voytek 


 

Winner of the 2015 PROSE Award in Biomedicine & Neuroscience, Association of American Publishers

Hardcover | 2014 | $19.95/ £13.95 | ISBN: 9780691157283

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10305.html

Even if you’ve never seen a zombie movie or television show, you could identify an undead ghoul if you saw one. With their endless wandering, lumbering gait, insatiable hunger, antisocial behavior, and apparently memory-less existence, zombies are the walking nightmares of our deepest fears. What do these characteristic behaviors reveal about the inner workings of the zombie mind? Could we diagnose zombism as a neurological condition by studying their behavior? In Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, neuroscientists and zombie enthusiasts Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek apply their neuro-know-how to dissect the puzzle of what has happened to the zombie brain to make the undead act differently than their human prey.

 

Combining tongue-in-cheek analysis with modern neuroscientific principles, Verstynen and Voytek show how zombism can be understood in terms of current knowledge regarding how the brain works. In each chapter, the authors draw on zombie popular culture and identify a characteristic zombie behavior that can be explained using neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and brain-behavior relationships. Through this exploration they shed light on fundamental neuroscientific questions such as: How does the brain function during sleeping and waking? What neural systems control movement? What is the nature of sensory perception?

 

Walking an ingenious line between seriousness and satire, Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? leverages the popularity of zombie culture in order to give readers a solid foundation in neuroscience.

 

Timothy Verstynen is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University. Bradley Voytek is assistant professor of computational cognitive science and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. They are both members of the Zombie Research Society and are preparing grant applications to research the coming zombie apocalypse.

Review:

"If you've ever wondered which pathologies are responsible for the stiff and murderous personalities of zombies, this actual scientific explainer is the book for you."--Mental Floss

"Verstynen and Voytek's entertaining book uses zombies to help illustrate human neuroscience. . . . Zombie fans will want this book, and anyone concerned with neuroscience will find the topic made accessible by this lighthearted exploration."--Library Journal

"Neuroscientists and zombie enthusiasts Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek have recently come out with a new book called Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?, in which they apply their neuroscience backgrounds to an investigation of the undead. It's filled with pages of increasingly nerdy explorations of zombie behavior, and I highly recommend it, but what really caught my eye was the authors' conclusion: All the walking dead have Consciousness Deficit Hypoactivity Disorder, or CDHD."--Kyle Hill, Nerdist

"Voytek and Verstynen serve up an introduction to neuroscience but through the guise of zombies. Each chapter tackles a different zombie behavior and breaks it down through the current neuroscientific understanding of it. It's a kind of Neuroscience 101 that tackles complex ideas in a fun, enjoyable manner."--KPBS.org

"[Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? is] a quick, cheeky read told by the sort of people who toss out punchlines while watching films such as 28 Days Later and World War Z."--Gary Robbins, U-T San Diego

"[Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?] is smart, informative, historically riveting, well referenced, and like all good zombie stories, wonderfully fun. . . . If you want a sophisticated primer of neuroscience, coupled with a Halloween spin, then there can be no other book."--Steven C. Schlozman, Science

The interview on the neuroscience of zombies can be listened to on a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


The Truman Show Delusion. The Truman Show Delusion and other curiosities - Dr Joel Gold talks to Dr Raj Persaud

Dr Joel Gold, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, talks to Dr Raj Persaud about his new book which includes vivid descriptions of what may be a completely new delusion - The Truman Show Delusion - where a patient delusionally believes they are taking part in an all-encompassing reality TV show where they are the unwitting star as in the Jim Carrey movie 'The Truman Show'.

 

Suspicious Minds

How Culture Shapes Madness

 

A new book By Psychiatrist Dr Joel Gold and Philosopher Professor Ian Gold

 

What if you woke up with the alarming suspicion that you were being watched?

 

One day in 2003, a patient unlike any other that Dr. Joel Gold had seen before was admitted to his unit at Bellevue Hospital. This man claimed he was being filmed constantly and that his life was being broadcast around the world like The Truman Show—the 1998 film depicting a man who is unknowingly living out his life as the star of a popular soap opera. Over the next few years, Dr. Gold saw a number of patients suffering from what he and his brother, Dr. Ian Gold, began calling the “Truman Show delusion,” launching them on a quest to understand the nature of this particular phenomenon, of delusions more generally, and of madness itself.

 

The current view of delusions is that they are the result of biology gone awry, of neurons in the brain misfiring. In contrast, the Golds argue that delusions are the result of the interaction between the brain and the social world. By exploring the major categories of delusion through fascinating case studies and marshaling the latest research in schizophrenia, the brothers reveal the role of culture and the social world in the development of psychosis—delusions in particular. Suspicious Minds presents a groundbreaking new vision of just how dramatically our surroundings can influence our brains.

 

Order the book from here: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Suspicious-Minds/Joel-Gold/9781439181553

 

A related article which may be of interest:

 

Was it a Psychotic Episode in L. Ron Hubbard That Led Him to Found the Church of Scientology?

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/scientology-l-ron-hubbard_b_1656883.html

 

by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

 

A French Psychoanalyst, Dr Thierry Lamote, claims in a book (La Scientologie déchiffrée par la psychanalyse. La folie du fondateur, Universitaires du Mirail Press), and in a paper just published in the academic Journal 'L'Évolution Psychiatrique', that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the religious group, The Church of Scientology, suffered a psychotic episode, which appears to be the foundation for the multi-million pound worldwide movement.

 

 

Scientology claims a host of celebrity followers, such as film star Tom Cruise. The unswerving devotion of many adherents alarms some people. Jenna Miscavige Hill, said to be an ex-Scientologist whose uncle is a Scientology Church leader, is quoted inThe Daily Telegraph Newspaper on 6 July as having publicly warned Katie Holmes, currently divorcing Tom Cruise, that Scientology was "no place for an innocent child", like her daughter Suri. Cruise and Holmes are said to be starting a custody battle, and it's possible that Cruise's high profile following of Scientology, might become a factor in the dispute.

 

 

Analysing the founder of Scientology's writings and biographical material, Dr Lamote's research contends it was Ron Hubbard's battle with psychotic symptoms that partly drew him to therapy approaches advocated by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. It seems he then exploited Freud to create a movement which its adherents would find difficult to leave.

 

 

In his paper entitled 'Scientology: A systematized delirious inspired by Breuer and Freud's Studies on hysteria', Dr Lamote claims Hubbard subsequently re-named various old techniques and ideas used by Freud (some dating from before Freud founded psychoanalysis) and incorporated them into Scientology. Part of the continuing power of the movement may lie in these Freudian approaches, Dr Lamote's analysis suggests. Supposedly unlocking and exploring the unconscious, can become psychologically 'addictive', explaining why so many find themselves drawn into Scientology, become dependent on it, and then are unable to understand why so many others remain suspicious of the movement.

 

 

Towards the end of the 1930s, Dr Lamote writes that Hubbard had a tooth extracted under nitrous oxide, also referred to as "laughing gas", used during general anaesthesia, but which can cause disturbing mind-altering effects. Lamote then points out that Hubbard, in a letter written on 1 January 1938, and other writings, relates a set of strange experiences as result, including hearing voices repeating enigmatic sentences such as, "Do not let him know!". They could sound like the kind of hallucinations Doctors associate with a psychotic illness.

 

 

Lamote found that Hubbard frequently returned to this painful experience, indicating how profoundly important it was to him, maybe a turning point.

 

 

Dr Lamote contends a psychotic process within Hubbard's mind had begun, but lay largely undetected by the outside world until possibly 1943 when Hubbard was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He was put in charge of a naval gun ship, the USS PC-815, a submarine chaser. In what remains a controversial episode, Lt. Hubbard, shortly after setting to sea, appears to have heard things through the sonar and hydrophone indicating contact with an enemy submarine.

 

 

Over the next three days, he launched 37 depth charges, and claimed to have sunk an enemy submarine, while critically damaging another. But no other official in the Navy seems to have agreed. Instead Dr Lamote's research suggests that Hubbard was fighting a battle with delusional enemies.

 

 

Dr Lamote wonders if this was part of his developing a paranoid picture of the universe?

 

 

Around this crucial time, Dr Lamote's paper points out, the exploding of the Hiroshima bomb perhaps profoundly shook and maybe further destabilised him. Formerly a science fiction writer, Hubbard appears to have become disillusioned, even perhaps frightened by the power of science. This combined with his mounting anxiety that society needed to be controlled, otherwise war and total annihilation was inevitable, possibly laid the seeds for the controlling nature of the movement he founded.

 

 

Lamote's paper contends that Hubbard turned to the science of cybernetics of control, in order to build a religious movement at the heart of which would be control over large numbers, in order to reduce the risk of self-destruction, which appeared to him to be mankind's destiny.

 

 

Into this mix Lamote believes Hubbard threw in teachings from psychoanalysts' Freud and his colleague Breuer, who were some of the earliest proponents of the idea that psychological distress arose out of repressed memories from earlier in life, which required access, through therapy, in order for us to achieve well-being. Hubbard had many physical symptoms and Lamote wonders whether the early psychoanalytic idea, that some physical symptoms had a psychological cause buried deep in the unconscious, may have influenced him. Through this approach, he may have found relief from his own physical symptoms.

 

 

Dr Lamote argues that Hubbard pioneered an idea of an 'engram' which is a kind of memory of pain which goes back so far into the past to include the pain of cell division, when we first started as an organism, but could retreat even further, to past or parental lives. The techniques of Dianetics, contends Dr Lamote's paper, include many which resembled counterparts in psychoanalysis such as hypnosis and abreaction, where past trauma is encouraged to be emotionally ventilated.

 

 

Tom Cruise did jump up and down in apparent agitation on Oprah's sofa during a televised interview.

 

 

It is this borrowing from psychotherapy and psychoanalysis that Dr Lamote work suggests partly explains the powerful appeal of Scientology to so many, and ironically enough, its founder Ron Hubbard. Just as therapy can be addictive, so can Scientology, because it borrows similar techniques but re-labels them. Like psychoanalysis it offers a universal therapeutic method, supposed to solve all human ills.

 

Dr Lamote points out there is almost a sense in which Freud has been re-discovered and re-packaged by Scientology.

 

 

Back in 2005 Tom Cruise was reported to have condemned the actress Brook Shields after she went public on the benefit she received from anti-depressant medication, while suffering from serious postpartum depression. Scientology is traditionally virulently anti-psychiatry, and anti-psychiatric treatments such as its medication.

 

 

It might be ironic, therefore, if Hubbard, founder of a strongly anti-psychiatric movement had been heavily influenced right back in the beginning, by what some would regard as the most famous psychiatrist of all, Sigmund Freud.

 

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen are joint podcast editors for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now have a free app on iTunes and Google Play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

Download it free from these links:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

Books by Raj Persaud are available on amazon.co.uk here:

 


Can God Lie? Dallas Denery discusses his new book 'The Devil Wins'

The Devil Wins:
A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment
Dallas G. Denery II

 

From the Princeton University Press website: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10323.html

 

 

Is it ever acceptable to lie? This question plays a surprisingly important role in the story of Europe’s transition from medieval to modern society. According to many historians, Europe became modern when Europeans began to lie—that is, when they began to argue that it is sometimes acceptable to lie. This popular account offers a clear trajectory of historical progression from a medieval world of faith, in which every lie is sinful, to a more worldly early modern society in which lying becomes a permissible strategy for self-defense and self-advancement. Unfortunately, this story is wrong.

 

For medieval and early modern Christians, the problem of the lie was the problem of human existence itself. To ask “Is it ever acceptable to lie?” was to ask how we, as sinners, should live in a fallen world. As it turns out, the answer to that question depended on who did the asking. The Devil Wins uncovers the complicated history of lying from the early days of the Catholic Church to the Enlightenment, revealing the diversity of attitudes about lying by considering the question from the perspectives of five representative voices—the Devil, God, theologians, courtiers, and women. Examining works by Augustine, Bonaventure, Martin Luther, Madeleine de Scudéry, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and a host of others, Dallas G. Denery II shows how the lie, long thought to be the source of worldly corruption, eventually became the very basis of social cohesion and peace.

 

Dallas G. Denery II is associate professor of history at Bowdoin College. He is the author of Seeing and Being Seen in the Later Medieval World: Optics, Theology, and Religious Life and the coeditor of Uncertain Knowledge: Scepticism, Relativism, and Doubt in the Middle Ages.

Review:

"[The Devil Wins is] an informative, sophisticated, and thought-provoking account of the efforts of theologians and philosophers from the early Christian era to the Enlightenment to define lies and understand their ethical, social, and political implications."--Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today

"Denery explores analyses of an enormous variety of deceptions, and does so with an erudition that is never pedantic or monotonous. He is an entertaining writer, with a healthy skepticism about the dogmatic condemnation of lying as always, or even mostly, morally blameworthy. . . . I think Nietzsche would have loved this book."--Clancy Martin, Chronicle of Higher Education

Endorsement:

"In this exquisitely written book, Denery draws on centuries of rumination on the moral issues surrounding lying to address the question of how we should live in a fallen world. The serpent in the Garden of Eden led humankind astray with lies. The Devil is the father of lies. Premodern sources agonized constantly over the act of lying. Denery not only superbly narrates the long history of this obsession, but also locates the conditions that reveal an Enlightenment shift toward a not entirely comfortable modernity."--William Chester Jordan, Princeton University

"Can God lie? Are women ‘born liars’? These are just two of the questions Denery asks--and answers--in his wide-ranging, erudite study. Written in an engaging and accessible style, The Devil Wins sheds a new and fascinating light on a mendacious world stretching from the Book of Genesis to the dawn of the Enlightenment."--Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, author of Poets, Saints, and Visionaries of the Great Schism, 1378–1417

 

If you are viewing this podcast from inside the free mobile phone app 'Raj Persaud in Conversation' you can click on the 'gift box' icon which might be on the top right hand corner of your screen to download bonus content - an original paper by Dallas Denery "From Sacred Mystery to Divine Deception: Robert Holkot, John Wyclif and the Transformation of Fourteenth-Century Eucharistic Discourse,"  Journal of Religious History, June 2005:129-44.

Article in PDFPDF»

You can also find this bonus content in the initial main menu screen that comes up when you open the app on the top right hand corner of the screen under a menu icon that reveals 'extras' - click on extras to see the bonus content.

A related article which may be of interest first published in The Huffington Post by Raj Persaud and Aldert Vrij

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/how-to-tell-who-is-lying-to-you_b_1550456.html

 

How to Tell Who is Lying to You - The Latest Psychological Research

 

Syria's UN envoy has condemned what he called a "tsunami of lies" being told by some members of the United Nations Security Council. Bashar Jaafari is arguing Syrian forces were not to blame for a massacre in which 108 people were killed and 300 injured, but for which the UN blames heavy weapons by Syria's government.

In the face of what can seem like a 'tsunami of lies' on every horizon, we appear in dire need of the skill to spot who is actually telling the truth, to keep our heads above the rising tide. For example, the Leveson Inquiry continues to pursue the facts, yet some newspapers now prefer body language analysis when reporting what witnesses have said, apparently in order to glimpse the reality behind the words.

The latest psychological research on deception detection casts doubt as to whether the way the inquiry poses questions is likely to penetrate the defences of dissemblers.

It may come as a surprise that so-called experts are not good at spotting lying, but a review of 39 scientific studies by Professor of Applied Social Psychology, Aldert Vrij, a world authority on the science of deception, reveals an average accuracy rate of just 56.6% - in other words for over a third of the time lies go undetected. Men and women are no better than each other, Professor Vrij reports, and professional lie catchers such as police officers and customs officers are generally no superior to the lay public in detecting deceit.

One of the reasons we are so bad at spotting deception is there are widespread erroneous beliefs about what behaviours betray the telling of lies. For example, one of the commonest mistakes is that liars increase their body movements, the famous shiftiness, gaze aversion and fidgeting of a dissembler. In fact scientific research on this demonstrates the opposite is more true, liars more often decrease their body movements and tend to hold your gaze.

So can we learn from the psychological research into deception, to improve our ability to detect deception, and can these techniques help inquiries such as Leveson to sift fake answers from truth?

In fact there are many psychological strategies pioneered by experts such as Professor Vrij, who is based at the University of Portsmouth, which would help us all become better lie detectors, and many are detailed in his book Detecting lies and deceit: Pitfalls and opportunities (published by Wiley). Space only allows two to be mentioned here, both of which are notable in their absence from the style of questioning thus far in the Leveson Inquiry.

The first is called the 'Baseline Method', and it's based on the important principle that there is in fact no one behaviour that is universally characteristic of liars, but when any particular individual starts to stray from the truth, various cognitive, emotional and physiological processes kick in, which it is possible to detect.

But you can only spot these if you already have the 'baseline' of how someone behaves when they are telling the truth, and then compare that with the moment when you wonder if they have begun to lie.

Professor Vrij quotes a real-life example of a videotaped police interview with a murderer being asked to describe a whole day, not just the key moment the police believed he committed the homicide. Detailed analyses of the tape revealed a sudden change in behaviour as soon as the suspect started to describe his activities during the particular time of forensic interest. It was the contrast between his description of times when he didn't have to lie as he spoke, as no crime had occurred then, compared with the period the police were most interested in which was significant.

During his description of the part of the day when the police knew the murder had occurred, he spoke slower, added more pauses, and made fewer movements, compared to the baseline, the other parts of the day the police had patiently asked in detail about. He met the victim and killed her during the period where his behaviour changed when covering up.

Professor Vrij cautions that often interrogators misunderstand the true subtlety of this research finding and misapply it. Crucial in the use of the baseline technique is that correct parts of the interview are compared. Unfortunately, too often in police interviews 'small talk' at the beginning is used to establish a baseline. This is an incorrect way of deploying the technique as small talk and the actual police interviews are totally different situations. Both the guilty and innocent tend to change their behavior the moment the actual interview starts, not least because both are bound to become more nervous then.

Another psychological technique for better spotting lies pioneered by Professor Vrij and colleagues is called 'Devil's Advocate'. Interviewees are first asked questions inviting them to argue in favour of their personal view (eg "What are your reasons for supporting the US in the war in Afghanistan?"). This is followed by a Devil's Advocate question that asks interviewees to argue against their personal view (eg "Playing Devil's Advocate, is there anything you can say against the involvement of the US in Afghanistan?").

The 'Devil's Advocate Question' is an attempt to flush out what the interviewee truly believes, as if they are lying about their position on the war in Afghanistan, for example, the Devil's Advocate Question is actually what they really believe, but are covering up. As we think more deeply about, and are more able to generate, reasons that support rather than oppose our beliefs, this leaks out during the answer to the Devil's Advocate Question.

In effect, for liars the Devil's Advocate approach is a set-up where they first lie when answering the opinion-eliciting question, and are then lured into telling the truth when answering the Devil's Advocate question. Normally we aren't very good at giving reasons for a position we don't hold, so most people aren't good at being a 'devil's advocate' in this situation. Liars however are caught out because they now tend to give fuller and better answers in response to being asked to be a devil's advocate than non-liars. Using this technique Professor Vrij and colleagues found 75% of truth tellers and 78% of liars could be classified correctly.

But before we are too quick to judge those in the headlines who find themselves accused of lying, the psychological research indicates that ordinary people tell an average of 1.5 lies a day, but this rate can climb dramatically because how likely you are to deceive depends a lot on the situation you find yourself in. For example, studies find that 83% of students would lie to get a job and 90% are willing to lie on first dates to secure favorable impressions.

Raúl López-Pérez and Eli Spiegelman, academic Economists, point out in their paper entitled Why do people tell the truth? Experimental evidence for pure lie aversion, soon to be published, that one of the downsides of living in an acquisitive free market economy is how much we constantly gain materially by providing false information.

From doing our accounts, auditing, insurance claims, job interviews, negotiations, regulatory hearings, tax compliance, and all sorts of other situations we stand to gain if we lie, these economists point out, and indeed we are penalised if we are honest.

Given all the incentives to lie, López-Pérez and Spiegelman from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Université de Québec a Montréal, believe the more interesting question is not why do we lie, but instead, why do some people tell the truth? Perhaps more precisely, why do some stick to the truth even when it's not in their interests?

In their research 38.76% of subjects taking part in their experiments, chose to tell the truth even when they would suffer a penalty as a result. López-Pérez and Spiegelman come up with an intriguing new theory of lying where they believe there is a minority of the population who suffer from what they call 'pure lie aversion'. This means some tell the truth because of an innate abhorrence for lying.

López-Pérez and Spiegelman argue this is a significant force behind honesty which has hitherto been neglected by science. It's certainly a factor we should perhaps look for more in our politicians, but then again, maybe we get the lying leaders we deserve because we're constantly seduced into voting for the best con artists. Perhaps all electorates should become more educated in Professor Vrij's techniques before casting their vote.

López-Pérez and Spiegelman also found that those who lied were significantly more likely to believe that others would lie as well. This means the more our politicians and authority figures, even friends or colleagues lie, the more deception will continue spreading.

Dr Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist based in London and Aldert Vrij (PhD) is a Professor of Applied Social Psychology who has published almost 400 articles and 7 books on the above topics, including his 2008 book Detecting lies and deceit: Pitfalls and opportunities (published by Wiley), a comprehensive overview of research into nonverbal, verbal and physiological deception and lie detection.

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

 

 


Committed to an Asylum. Claire explains what it's like to be committed to a psychiatric hospital against your will

What is it like to be committed to a psychiatric hospital against your will? This is surely one of the most frightening experiences anyone could endure? Claire was placed under a variety of sections of the Mental Health Act and as a result found herself committed on several occasions to various psychiatric institutions. Raj Persaud talks to her to get her story out to the world on what it's like to be 'sectioned'. The interview was organised thanks to assistance from Mind - the mental health charity. Many thanks to Aimee Gee of Mind for assisting in making this interview possible.

A related article which may be of interest first published in The Huffington Post by Raj Persaud and David James

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/nhs-complaints_b_4108370.html

How Having, or Not Having, an NHS Psychiatric Bed Can Kill You

An investigation by BBC News and Community Care magazine into 53 of England's Mental Health Trusts reveals that 1,711 mental health beds have been closed since April 2011, including 277 between April and August 2013, representing a 9% reduction in the total number of mental health beds available in 2011/12.

 

 

The BBC News website reports possible consequences including the tragic case of 39-year-old Mandy Peck who told clinicians she was feeling suicidal, but her local mental health service centre initially claimed no beds were vacant. She jumped to her death from a multi-storey car park shortly afterwards.

 

 

As psychiatrists who have worked in the NHS, we have both experienced the chaos of trying to find a bed for a patient who needs one urgently.

 

 

The enormous pressure on the staff to find a bed means that the modern NHS becomes a constant fight for beds, creating stressful conflict with other clinicians. Even if you (eventually) secure an admission for your patient, this is at the expense of the patient who was previously in that bed, who, in order to accommodate the new admission, gets moved to another part of the country, or is discharged, or sent on leave prematurely.

 

 

Providing any kind of therapy in this frenzied environment is not possible. Admitting someone in a fragile mental state into this siege atmosphere means you are only arranging an admittance to prevent suicide or harm to others, rather than offering help to the mentally ill in need of care. You have become a form of warder, not a clinician.

 

 

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness at the University of Manchester, published in July 1013, reports that during 2001-2011, in England, 13,469 deaths (28% of general population suicides) were patient suicides. These are persons who had been in contact with mental health services in the 12 months prior to death.

 

 

There has been a projected rise in 2011 (the last year for which data is available). In 2001 there were 1261 suicides by people in contact with mental health services and this figure had risen to a projected number of 1333 by 2011, during a period when it now looks like more beds were being lost.

 

 

Patrick Keown, Gavin Mercer and Jan Scott published a recent analysis in the British Medical Journal, finding that between 1996 and 2006 in England the number of NHS psychiatric beds decreased by 29%. Entitled Retrospective analysis of hospital episode statistics, involuntary admissions under the Mental Health Act 1983, and number of psychiatric beds in England 1996-2006, their investigation found involuntary patients occupied 23% of NHS psychiatric beds in 1996, but 36% in 2006.

 

 

The authors conclude that inpatient care transformed considerably in the decade from 1996 to 2006; more involuntary admissions to fewer NHS beds. The case mix shifted further towards psychotic and substance misuse disorders, altering the atmosphere of inpatient wards.

 

 

One interpretation of this data, and our personal experience supports this, is that the ambience on wards has changed, and for the worse, in terms of providing a therapeutic environment. Psychiatric in-patient units are now much more likely to be precarious containment areas for the extremely seriously mentally ill, not a haven, nor asylum from stress for those who need help.

 

 

For these reasons, being admitted to a psychiatric ward today may in fact be an added source of stress - not a therapeutic experience at all.

 

 

Some evidence for this comes from a recent investigation of a consecutive series of individuals aged 18 to 65 who died by suicide between the 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2006 in England, the date of death being within seven days of the date of admission to a psychiatric ward.

 

 

The study entitled, Suicide in recently admitted psychiatric in-patients: A case-control study, found around a quarter of all in-patient suicides occurred within the first week of admission to psychiatric in-patient care. 46% of cases died on the ward itself; the majority by hanging. 40% of suicide cases died within the first three days of admission. A fifth of all suicides were on authorised leave at the time of death, but 34% were off the ward without staff agreement, compared to only 1% of controls.

 

 

The authors, Isabelle Hunt, Harriet Bickley, Kirsten Windfuhr, Jenny Shaw, Louis Appleby and Nav Kapur, conclude that contrary to previous relevant research, this investigation examining wards in England found a short length of illness (less than 12 months duration) was independently predictive of suicide in the immediate admission period.

 

 

The study, published in the 'Journal of Affective Disorders' in 2013, contends that it may be that receiving a psychiatric diagnosis requiring in-patient treatment is particularly stressful, plus the experience of entering an environment that patients have described as ''frightening'' and ''intimidating' probably increases, rather than diminishes, suicidal feelings.

 

 

The authors considered there could also be an association between being admitted to a psychiatric ward and a heightened sense of being stigmatised.

 

 

Given that those on authorised and unauthorised leave account for such a large proportion of in-patient suicides from their data, the authors of this study point to two recent court cases in England after the suicide of a detained patient who absconded (Savage v. South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, 2008) and a voluntary patient who died by suicide whilst on leave (Rabone v. Pennine Care NHS Trust, 2012).

 

 

The authors of the study point out that these cases were viewed as a breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (which safeguards the right to life), resulting in a new obligation for health authorities and hospital staff to protect patients where there is a ''real and immediate'' risk of suicide.

 

 

The danger of the current headlines over fewer beds is that it's not just the numbers that are important - the quality of the bed, as it were, is vital. What is the point of offering a bed if the quality of the experience is so poor, aspects of it contribute to feeling worse?

 

 

The NHS neglects quality of care, which has been sacrificed on the altar of numbers, because numbers are so political.

 

 

Numbers of beds dominates the debate - and numbers are important because we have had too few beds for the system to be safe for some time now. And the decline in bed numbers appears to continue inexorably. But we should be looking beyond numbers to human beings, focusing as well on the quality of what patients get, when they actually get anything at all.

 

 

 

 

Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Harley Street, London UK and author of several best-selling books including ‘The Mind: A Users Guide’ published by Bantam Press. Dr David James is an eminent Forensic Psychiatrist.

 

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

 

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

His books are available on amazon.co.uk here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mind-A-Users-Guide/dp/0593056353

 


Are you in control of you? How much control do we have over our own lives? Magda Osman talks to Raj Persaud

If you are viewing this podcast from inside the free mobile phone app 'Raj Persaud in Conversation' you can click on the 'gift box' icon which might be on the top right hand corner of your screen to download bonus content - the original paper by Magda Osman published in 'The Psychologist' entitled 'Does our Unconscious rule?' You can also find this bonus content in the initial main menu screen that comes up when you open the app on the top right hand corner of the screen under a menu icon that reveals 'extras' - click on extras to see the bonus content.

From the Palgrave Macmillan website:

http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/futureminded-magda-osman/?K=9781137022264

Future-Minded

The Psychology of Agency and Control

Magda Osman

 

What drives us to make decisions?

Future-Minded explores the psychological processes of agency and control. If you've ever wondered why we think of coincidences as matters of fate rather than the result of the laws of probability, this book provides the answer. From memory and reasoning to our experiences of causality and consciousness, it unpicks the mechanisms we use on a daily basis to help us predict, plan for and attempt to control the future.

ISBN 9781137022264
Publication Date March 2014
Formats Paperback Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) Hardcover 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

 

Future-Minded

 

A related article which may be of interest first published in The Huffington Post 02/08/2012 16:32 BST

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/inside-the-mind-of-the-ol_b_1731758.html

 

Inside the Mind of the Olympic Gold Medal Winner

By Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham

Winning the Gold Medal in the Olympics appears a pinnacle in any elite athlete's career, but physical fitness or technical skill may not, in fact, be the crucial factor. Increasingly sports scientists are becoming convinced that it's grit and determination, resilience and desire, which separates winners from losers.

Motivation triumphs over muscle.

But what precisely are these mysterious, hidden, but crucial mental aspects which separate the winners from the rest, who appear to be trying just as hard? Can the rest of us benefit as well from the psychological strategies of our Olympic Gold Medal winners?

Dr David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarkar, sport and performance psychologists at Loughborough University, (where much of the science behind the training of Team GB's current medal campaign has been developed) have just published one of the most in-depth studies ever, getting inside the mind of Olympic Gold Medal winners.

The investigation, published in the academic journal 'Psychology of Sport and Exercise', involved an analysis of 12 Olympic Gold Medal winners' accounts to the researchers of how they used their minds to win.

The first startling finding is that all these champions' lives were not dominated by accomplishment before getting Gold. Instead they constantly encountered obstacles and set backs on the path to success, yet it was their mental resilience in the face of adversity, which is what seemed to separate them from the rest of the field, and pulled them through to eventual victory.

One champion's reaction to being de-selected for a major international competition illustrates relentless optimism and a proactive approach, characteristic of Olympic Gold Medal winners; 'There were four of us challenging for these final two places and I got told I was on the reserve list. And at the time it was devastating but it's one of those things; if you don't take a ticket in the raffle, you're never going to win a prize. So you have to take the ticket that's part of life and it just makes you think "well, what can I do differently to make sure I do get success"?

Paradoxically, not being selected for major international competitions was frequently cited by Gold Medallists as the foundation for increased endeavour and exertion. Competition losses were viewed as learning opportunities, enabling future improved performances. Set-backs were re-interpreted in ways which meant they merely re-doubled their efforts, and didn't become disheartened.

Failure didn't break them - it made them.

One of the most intriguing findings from Fletcher and Sarkar's study is that while journalists love to wheel out the cliché of 'sacrifice' when invoking elite performance, it wasn't a concept these Gold Medal winners understood.

Instead the world's best athletes take huge personal responsibility for their choices, and are surprisingly uncomplaining about how much they forfeit for their sport. They accepted they actively chose the challenges they encountered, and as a result endured a wildly different work/life balance to the rest of us, as one commented to the researchers; 'We all worked. But in terms of the build up to the Olympics, we didn't bat an eyelid in doing it... it was our choice to do it. I don't like the word sacrifice... Sacrifice to me is about last resort and there's no alternative... that's rubbish. We made a choice to do that and I think that choice in what we did we highly valued and I think that inspired us, motivated us to perform on the pitch and as a group.'

One Gold Medal winner's reaction to training during unsociable hours is characteristic; 'I remember one of my coaches saying to me what was I doing over Christmas and I said 'Oh, I'll be training twice on Christmas Day . I know [opponent's name] won't be training on Christmas Day twice and that will give me the edge'. It was more the mental side of things because I knew that I'd be doing something that he wasn't doing.'

These private dimensions of winning tend not to be confided to the microphones thrust in winners' faces as they step down from the victory podium. Their sharing of such intimate secrets to success is therefore what makes this Loughborough University study so rare and valuable.

An example of their incessant thinking and re-thinking of every fine detailed aspect of their lives is this quote from a champion cyclist to the researchers; 'Initially, training was just something to get out of the way. And then gradually I'd do training and I'd think, "Am I getting the most out of this? Am I exploiting the session?" And, you know, if I did take a bad lift in the gym I'd think, "I could have done that better. That's a missed opportunity. What have I got to do to be better?" So I had an obsession on getting everything right rather than just waiting for the day of the final and then hoping. It was about getting everything right before the final so I had all the tools ready for when I was racing.'

Another undisclosed aspect of the mind of winners is what almost seems a sense of destiny - as this comment to Dr David Fletcher and Mustafa Sarkar illustrates; 'I don't know if there is going to be a theme where timing and luck have been in the right place, but I'm a great believer in it. I wasn't selected for the original trip... and on the Thursday night before they [the team] were leaving, I was called up because an individual's wife had gone into labor [and I was told] 'be at [the airport] the next day: we're playing [country] on the Saturday'.

They believe they make their own luck and that those who persevere will eventually benefit from chance.

Perhaps the greatest shock that is going to come from Fletcher and Sarkar's study entitled, 'A grounded theory of psychological resilience in Olympic champions', is that these Olympic Gold Medal winners were not as fixated, as the media and the nation appears to be, on winning gold.

Instead, it was fulfilling their athletic potential which primarily motivated them, rather than becoming an Olympic champion. Some involved in this research pointed out, amazingly, that their gold medal performance was not, in their view, the most outstanding moment in their career.

The following comment illustrates an athlete's viewpoint on her gold medal performance in the 2000 Olympic Games; 'This may come as a bit of a shock but I didn't have a great competition in Sydney. I was consistent... but it wasn't a great performance... '

The research on competitors who are most likely to cheat, via doping or any other means, is that if it's being on the podium, waving the Gold Medal and soaking up the applause which is what is primarily driving you, then you will be tempted to take a short cut to get there.

But there are competitors, and this may sound strange after a week when the nation became obsessed with getting a Gold, for whom the Gold Medal doesn't represent what it does for the rest of us praying for one. Instead the Gold Medal to these elite performers is merely an acknowledgement of excellence, and it's that total mastery of self and sport which has always been the primary ambition. For these athletes coming first would still be vital, no matter if there was no audience, no media and no medal.

The medal is merely a measure, not a goal.

These contestants, research has found, are much less likely to cheat in any way, no matter what temptation is placed in front of them.

In a week where various forms of 'cheating' have dominated the sports news agenda, there is a danger in our obsession for Gold, that we could forget this fundamental aspect of the Olympic ideal.

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Hospitalized against your will. Margaret was committed to a Psychiatric Institution against her will

Margaret talks to Raj Persaud about her frightening experience of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital against her will with no idea as to why this was happening. This interview was made possible by 'Mind' - the mental health charity and particular thanks go to Aimee Gee of 'Mind', for her assistance in making it possible.

 

A related article which may be of interest:

 

Should Anorexics Be Force-Fed?

 

By Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

 

first published in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/should-anorexics-be-force_b_1608531.html

 

Should Anorexics be force fed? The latest legal ruling could kill the patient - but doing nothing might also condemn her to death.

 

The Daily Telegraph has reported that a leading judge who sits in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, has ruled that a former medical student suffering from severe anorexia nervosa, and who is at a life-threatening low weight, should be force-fed against her wishes by doctors.

 

Dr Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat MP and member of the British Medical Association's ethics committee, is quoted by the Daily Telegraph to have responded: "The implications of force-feeding are really significant because she would need restraining or sedation and the treatment would last a year... It might not succeed and is itself life-threatening. To impose that on a patient who might be competent in refusing treatment is a very major step."

 

The 32-year-old woman is described as not having eaten solid food for a year and her parents are reported by the Daily Telegraph to have told the court: "It upsets us greatly to advocate for our daughter's right to die... We feel she has suffered enough..."

 

Mr Justice Jackson is reported by the newspaper to have conceded the woman stood only a 20% chance of recovery even if she was put on an invasive force-feeding programme that would last at least a year.

 

Is it really true that medical intervention can be as dangerous as leaving people with an eating disorder to starve themselves to death? And is it also true that it's pretty pointless anyway?

 

In a 2010 study by Dr Marie Vignaud from the University Hospital of Clermont-Ferrand, France, all patients with Anorexia Nervosa admitted to 11 Intensive Care Units in France between 2006-2008 were investigated, and of 68 admissions, seven died during the admission.

 

The study published in the academic medical journal Critical Care, found the commonest cause of death was 'Refeeding Syndrome'. This is a potentially fatal shift in fluid and electrolyte levels (minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium which are distributed around the body where the delicate balance across cell membranes is vital for life) that may occur in the malnourished receiving artificial nutrition.

 

Precisely because of the dangers of re-feeding, Dr Vignaud and colleagues contend oral re-feeding is the best approach to weight restoration. But faced with absolute refusal to eat, or in cases with extreme malnutrition, feeding via a nasogastric tube may be life-saving, the authors argue. In even more extreme cases, or when the digestive tract itself is no longer functioning, intravenous feeding should be used despite the risks, they believe.

 

 

Vignaud and colleagues point out the dangers of medical re-feeding have to be balanced against the fact that Anorexia Nervosa is in itself one of the most fatal psychiatric disorders, with a mortality rate of almost 6% for every 10 years of having the illness; 12 times the rate expected for similar age- and gender-matched groups.

 

 

It's perhaps sobering to realise in the light of these statistics that rates of anorexia appear to have been going up since the 1930's. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry by a group lead by Anna Keski-Rahkonen at the University of Helsinki, Finland, found that up to 50% of Anorexia Nervosa cases remain undetected by healthcare systems. Current estimates are that lifetime prevalence rates for Anorexia Nervosa in 20-40-year-old women are estimated between 1.2% and 2.2%. The rates for other milder eating disorders would be much higher.

 

 

In a study yet to be officially published, Daniel Rigaud and colleagues from the Service d'Endocrinologie-Nutrition, in Dijon France, followed up 41 severely malnourished anorexia nervosa patients and compared them with 443 less malnourished Anorexia Nervosa patients. The severely malnourished group of 41 had reached an average seriously low weight of 26 kilograms (four stones 1.3 pounds) with an average height of 160 cm (5.2 feet) which translates to an average Body Mass Index of 10 (bear in mind the normal healthy range is roughly 20-25).

 

 

Body Mass Index is the measure nutritionists use to calculate whether your weight is healthy as it takes into account your height. The formula is your weight in kilograms divided by your height in metres squared. A BMI lower than 10 kg/m2 in adults is widely considered incompatible with life.

 

Rigaud's study, due to be published in the academic journal 'Clinical Nutrition', found that all of the 41 severely malnourished anorexia patients received tube-refeeding: but during the in-patient stay, one patient died, two others suffered from myocardial infarction, two others from acute pancreatitis, and five from mental confusion.

 

 

Compared with the other 443 less severe Anorexia Nervosa patients (average weight in this less severe group was 40 kg or six stone 4.2 pounds), the 40 remaining patients (one died shortly after admission) had a worse six year outcome: a further two died (7% versus 1.2% in the 443 less ill group), and only 41% recovered (versus 62% in the less ill group).

 

 

Rigaud and colleagues conclude that in Anorexia Nervosa patients with a Body Mass Index of less than 11 kg/m2, prudent tube-refeeding could avoid short-term mortality, but long-term, the prognosis remains ominous.

 

 

Perhaps part of the problem lies in the very battle against the fervent desire of the anorexic; perhaps something is being missed. Jill Holm-Denoma and colleagues at the University of Vermont, USA, in 2008 proposed a theory that the high death rate in anorexia nervosa may be linked also to an especially high suicide motivation, which may have been previously missed by clinicians and relatives. Their study is based on previous research which finds the risk of death by suicide among anorexic women is approximately 57 times the expected rate.

 

 

The study, published in the 'Journal of Affective Disorders', considered the suicides of nine women with Anorexia Nervosa. They were found to be more likely to use highly lethal methods, with low rescue potential, that would likely kill anyone. Three died by throwing themselves in front of a train, and two more died by hanging.

 

 

Another reason courts may have to intervene against the wishes of severely anorexic patients, doctors argue, is their brains are likely to be incapable of reasoning rationally because the mind itself begins to be affected by the malnutrition. Brain imaging studies find reduced cerebral volume and the greater and faster the weight loss, the smaller the total brain volume. Refeeding, if it leads to weight gain, can largely reverse this brain shrinkage.

 

 

The latest study to report this kind of finding was conducted by a group lead by Boris Suchana from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, in a study published in the journal 'Behavioural Brain Research' in 2010. This intriguing brain imaging study found a particular reduction in gray matter density with anorexia sufferers in a specific part of the brain associated with body size misjudgement. This raises the possibility that sufferers from anorexia get caught in a vicious cycle whereby losing weight might produce brain changes which in turn alter perception, and thus encourage more weight loss.

 

 

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious and complex disorder for which treatment must be tailored to the needs of the individual, but where 'the system' seldom allows this. Life saving intervention is required more than in most other psychiatric disorders.

 

 

Patrick Keown from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, and colleagues, published in the British Medical Journal in July 2011 an analysis on the impact of the dramatic reduction in UK NHS psychiatric hospital beds between 1988-2008 - a period when alternatives to hospital admission in the form of community care was supposed to be provided.

 

 

Keown and colleagues found the rate of involuntary admissions (being 'sectioned' under the Mental Health Act) per year in the NHS increased by more than 60%, while the provision of mental illness beds decreased by more than 60% over the same period. The authors calculated the closure of two mental illness beds contributes to an additional involuntary admission in the subsequent year. This data referred to all of psychiatry - not just eating disorders - but it might also contribute to our understanding of why anorexia has ended up in the courts, and in the news now.

 

 

A dramatic rise in the use of compulsory admissions over the last two decades does not mean that psychiatric disorders have in their nature got worse, but that the prospects for those who have them seem more bleak.

 

 

This is because a progressively starved, more disorganised NHS is less effectively caring.

 

 

Those desperately trying to look after patients who've reached the end of this road, are therefore forced to seek help from sources outside the health service.

 

So now we dispense with the doctors, and retain the lawyers.

 

 

Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Harley Street, London UK and author of several best-selling books including ‘The Mind: A Users Guide’ published by Bantam Press. 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled ‘Raj Persaud in conversation’, which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

His books are available on amazon.co.uk here:

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mind-A-Users-Guide/dp/0593056353

 


An Atheist's History of Belief - Matthew Kneale discusses his new book with Raj Persaud

An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention

Matthew Kneale

From Random House website:

 

http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/an-atheists-history-of-belief-understanding-our-most-extraordinary-invention/9781448163311

 

What first prompted prehistoric man, sheltering in the shadows of deep caves, to call upon the realm of the spirits? 

And why has belief thrived ever since, leading us to invent heaven and hell, sin and redemption, and above all, gods?

Religion reflects our deepest hopes and fears; whether you are a believer or, like Matthew Kneale, a non-believer who admires mankind's capacity to create and to imagine, it has shaped our world. And as our dreams and nightmares have changed over the millennia, so have our beliefs - from shamans to Aztec priests, from Buddhists to Christians: the gods we created have evolved with us. 

Belief is humanity's most epic invention. It has always been our closest companion and greatest consolation. To understand it is to better understand ourselves.

 

 

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

a related article which may be of interest:

 

Does 'Pure Evil' Exist? Psychologists Investigate the Devils (and Angels) Amongst Us

 

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham

originally published in The Huffington Post 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/does-pure-evil-exist_b_4134835.html

 

Are these examples of pure evil? Anders Breivik bombed buildings in 2011 killing eight people, then shot 69 others, mostly teenagers. He showed no remorse and took pride in his actions. In May 2013, three women and one six-year-old girl were rescued from kidnapper, Ariel Castro, having been held in captivity for around a decade in the USA. Following over 900 criminal counts, he killed himself just one month into a prison term of 1,000 years.

 

Psychologists Russell Webster and Donald Saucier have just published the most comprehensive scientific investigation into our beliefs over whether unadulterated wickedness exists. One interpretation is that accepting the existence of 'Pure Evil', reveals the true nature of deepest malevolence itself.

 

Those who believe in 'Pure Evil' consider bad or criminal behaviour is wilful, conscious and driven primarily by the wish to inflict harm, merely often for pleasure.

 

The psychologists, based at North Central College and Kansas State University in the USA point out that the 'Belief in Pure Evil' holds profound consequences for believers. As there would be no point in being patient, tolerant and understanding, when confronted with unalloyed villainy, then the only response should be eliminating such evil-doers, even if extreme actions are required.

 

If you believe in 'Pure Evil', you also deem that evil-doers will implacably continue being dangerous. This necessarily follows if certain culprits are indeed the embodiment of undiluted viciousness. On both sides of conflict, if each sees the other side as 'evil', this inevitably results in reciprocal and escalating prejudice with violence.

 

Perhaps scientists had been reluctant to study evil before because it seems religious, yet Russell Webster and Donald Saucier point out that cultures all over the world and throughout history, have a surprisingly similar "personal archetype of evil". This includes the conviction that "behind evil actions must lie evil individuals".

 

Their study entitled Angels and Demons Are Among Us: Assessing Individual Differences in Belief in Pure Evil and Belief in Pure Good, focused on the shape of malevolence in people's minds. The research found beliefs over the existence of 'Pure Evil' could reveal key aspects of character.

 

The series of investigations involving hundreds of participants found believing that others can be completely immoral, in turn leads to more aggressive plus hostile attitudes and behaviour. Believers in the existence of 'Pure Evil' are more pessimistic generally, see the world as a more vile and dangerous place, are more opposed to equality, endorse torture, the death penalty and pre-emptive military aggression.

 

Believers in 'Pure Evil' consider that trying to understand evil is futile, because 'Pure Evil' is a deeply ingrained part of character, and understanding will only foster greater empathizing with perpetrators, condoning their harmful behaviour.

 

This most comprehensive investigation, to date, into our views on deep malevolence, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, also found 'Belief in Pure Evil' was not associated with being religious.

 

Instead another conviction - the 'Belief in Pure Good' was. It appears from this study that those who believe in 'Pure Good' are fundamentally different from those who believe in 'Pure Evil'.

 

Believers in 'Pure Good' accept the existence of pure altruism, that some people, though rare, intentionally help others just for the sake of helping, with no personal benefit or hidden agenda. They also judge that even the most ghastly perpetrators - ie wayward criminals, can see "the error of their ways" and reform, ie they are not 'Purely Evil'. Those who more strongly believed in 'Pure Good', supported criminal rehabilitation and opposed the death penalty.

 

Those who score higher in 'Belief in Pure Good' are more likely to believe that doing good means not harming others (unless one's country or allies are directly endangered). People scoring higher in 'Belief in Pure Evil' feel that pre-emptive violence and aggression are justified to root out evil-doers.

 

'Belief in Pure Good' was associated strongly with being religious, as well as those reporting more secular volunteering. The authors speculated that 'Belief in Pure Evil' and religiosity were not as strongly associated as might be expected, because organized religions may recently be downplaying the role of battling evil. But perhaps the sample studied did not contain enough evangelical or fundamentalist participants.

 

Believing strongly in 'Pure Good' was related to less aggression, supporting diplomacy over violence as an approach to foreign affairs, and being against torture.

 

Russell Webster and Donald Saucier point out that part of the belief in 'Pure Good' is that it surely cannot be corrupted by the forces of evil. 'Pure Good' can resist temptations over joining the "dark side" (using 'Star Wars' terminology).

 

Yet apparent do-gooders like Mother Theresa and Gandhi, may have had their reputations tarnished in recent years by various re-evaluations, casting doubt that both these characters, (and many others apparently 'Purely Good'), were in fact as virtuous as first thought.

 

This modern drive to doubt that 'Pure Good' really does exist, could have grave and far-reaching implications, in terms of our pessimism about each other.

 

Doubting 'Pure Good' exists may justify people's apathy over helping others: If 'everybody is selfish', then theoretically we need not feel guilty about our own self-interested behaviour, or endeavour to be more helpful.

 

Believers in 'Pure Good' tended to think more deeply about the causes for other's behaviour, while believers in 'Pure Evil' scored significantly lower on this.

 

So, do you know of selfless good work epitomizing pure good ("angels")? Or are you aware of others who because of their selfish hostility appear to display pure evil ("demons")?

 

If you believe 'angels' and 'demons' live amongst us, that pure good and pure evil exist, this conviction has just been found by this research to profoundly influence your own behaviour and outlook on life.

 

If you believe in 'Pure Evil' it seems you are not convinced 'Pure Good' exists - perhaps because you suppose it will be overcome by 'Pure Evil'. If you feel there is 'Pure Good', then it appears you tend not to accept 'Pure Evil'; maybe you consider 'Pure Good' will triumph over 'Evil'.

 

If you believe in 'Pure Evil' you are more likely to react aggressively to wrong-doing, while if you deem 'Pure Good' exists, you're more optimistic about human nature, and believe that the bad can change, supporting programmes that see the better side of people.

 

One interpretation of this study is that Believers in 'Pure Good' and 'Pure Evil' end up behaving a bit like the angels and demons they perceive as existing in the world.

 

We become the very Demons and Angels we think exist.

 

We make them come true.

 

Direct download: RP_Matthew_Kneale.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 11:39pm UTC

Virtual Reality Therapy. Will Virtual Reality replace therapists? Raj Persaud talks to Leanne Casey and Wesley Turner

Will therapists be replaced by Virtual Reality Technology? Psychiatrist Raj Persaud talks to psychologists Wesley Turner and Leanne Casey from Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia who have just published an analysis of how effective the latest Virtual Reality psychological treatments are.

 

Their study is entitled 'Outcomes associated with virtual reality in psychological interventions: where are we now?' and is published in the academic journal Clinical Psychology Review (Volume 34, Issue 8, December 2014, Pages 634–644)

 

If you are a professional and interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, particularly from listening to this podcast, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

After listening to this podcast if you go to the College site and answer the mcq questions there about the interview, you can obtain on line CPD points.

 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/religious-beliefs-and-depression_b_5165183.html

 

 

A recent article on other ways new technology is changing psychiatry and psychology:

 

 

Does Brain Scanning Research Reveal Your Real Religious Belief - More Than Church Attendance?

 

RAJ PERSAUD AND PETER BRUGGEN

A new brain scanning study has found that high personal importance of religion or spirituality in your life is associated with thicker cortex in several brain regions.

 

Some of these same regions were found to be associated with a higher risk for developing clinical depression, if that part of the brain cortex was thinner.

 

The study, entitled, Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality - A Study in Adults at High and Low Familial Risk for Depression, concludes that a higher importance of religion or spirituality was associated with thicker cortex in certain brain regions, possibly conferring greater resilience to the development of depressive illnesses.

 

The study, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association - Psychiatry, focused on those with a high or low familial risk for developing clinical depression, because of a previously strong family history of this psychiatric diagnosis.

 

The team of academics who conducted this Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study, led by Dr Myrna Weissman, from Columbia University, argue that this brain finding could account for why being religious or spiritual, in certain circumstances, might contribute to improved resilience to depressive psychiatric illnesses.

 

Being religious or spiritual, possibly by expanding a physical brain reserve, counters to some extent the vulnerability that brain thinning in those areas poses for developing depression that runs in families.

 

For those attending church services this Easter weekend it may be surprising that the study found it was the personal importance of religion or spirituality in your life, but not the frequency of attendance of church, that was associated with thicker brain areas. In a sense the brain scans revealed your true faith more than church attendance did.

 

The same team had previously reported a 90% decreased risk, assessed over a 10-year period, of developing clinical depressive disorder in those from families where there was a high incidence of depression, if religion or spirituality was highly important to the adult studied.

 

Several others studies have found that intensity of religious experiences is associated with increased blood flow in similar brain regions found to be structurally thicker in this study.

 

The authors of this new study, Lisa Miller, Ravi Bansal, Priya Wickramaratne, Xuejun Hao, Craig Tenke, Myrna Weissman and Bradley Peterson, found that, oddly, a high frequency of attendance of religious services was not associated with brain thickness, yet rating religion or spirituality as personally important in your life was.

 

This appears a paradox - people who go to church a lot were not reaping the same benefit in their brains, in terms of protecting from depression, as those who believed that religion or spirituality was important to them.

 

The authors point out that although some may go to church in order to promote their spirituality, others may attend whether or not religion is genuinely personally important to them. In this study 49 participants reported high church attendance, yet only 21 of those also reported high importance of religion or spirituality in their lives. The remaining 28 participants may be attending services for a host of non-religious reasons, which may include social support. 

 

This research found that the participants who frequently attended religious services were in fact at increased risk of depression, suggesting that a subset of participants may attend religious services for comfort or management of depressive symptoms.

 

Although frequent attendance may express, sustain, and cultivate personal importance of religion or spirituality, these findings suggest that religious beliefs and experiences, and not overt behavior (such as attending church a lot), are associated with brain thickness.

 

That going to church might not be the key to the protective effect of religion or spirituality on those predisposed to depression, through a high risk family history, is further bolstered, according to Myrna Weissman and her colleagues, by other recent research. For example, those who regularly meditate also have certain thicker brain regions. Another recent study found that meditation training for eight weeks increased cerebral gray matter density in specific brain areas.

 

The authors of this study, from Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, are not claiming that religion or spirituality generally protects you from depression. Instead, they are suggesting that if you consider that religion or spirituality in your life are important, then that appears to confer a neuroanatomical resilience. And that is in those who otherwise are predisposed to developing depressive illness, due to a strong family history for this kind of psychiatric problem.

 

Previously, we reported some other new research, from a team of academics led by Professor Michael King from University College London, where over 8,000 people were investigated, revealing that those who held a religious or spiritual understanding of life, had a higher incidence of depression compared with those with a secular life view.

 

Entitled Spiritual and religious beliefs as risk factors for the onset of major depression: an international cohort study, the investigation had been published in one of the most respected academic psychiatric journals, Psychological Medicine.

 

Perhaps one way of resolving the differing results is that the Psychological Medicinestudy was conducted on populations outside the USA - in the UK, Spain, Slovenia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Portugal and Chile. It could be that how important religion is in your country and culture, as well as the particular population studied, also has an impact on your brain and psychology.

 

Generally speaking Europeans are perceived as less religious than North Americans.

In the Psychological Medicine study, their findings varied by country; in particular, people in the UK who had a spiritual understanding of life were the most vulnerable to the onset of major depression. Yet, regardless of country, the stronger the spiritual or religious belief at the start of the investigation, the higher the risk of onset of depression over the next year.

 

In the specific situation of where you inherit a brain that might be predisposed to developing depression, it appears that higher importance of religion or spirituality in your life, perhaps in the USA at least, could be protective. It is also notable that the more recent brain scanning study found it was sustained interest in religion or spirituality, over a longer period, which was most strongly associated with thicker brain structures, rather than reporting a high level of spirituality at only one point in time.

 

However, given the not dissimilar findings on the brain effects of meditation, whether these structural brain changes and protective effect of religion or spirituality, are something specific to beliefs in God, is open to question.

 

Science is revealing that merely attending religious services may not deliver brain or mental health benefits, instead these appear linked to what you really believe.

 

Neuroscientists might now be able to tell, by examining your nervous system using the latest brain scanning technology, what you really believe, in the inner depths of your 'soul', but which you keep hidden from the rest of the congregation.

 

A private inner space that was supposedly only before accessible to God?

 

 

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

Download it free from these links:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


The police use of tasers - discussion between firearms police officers and Raj Persaud

Most people tend to become compliant when ordered to do so by a police officer in a high-stakes type of predicament. But perhaps those suffering severe mental illnesses are more likely to be non-compliant - maybe due to decreased awareness of what is going on around them? Could this explain the seemingly apparent proneness for tasers to be used by the police in these predicaments? Dr Raj Persaud - consultant psychiatrist - discusses the way the metropolitan police use tasers with police officers Matthew Fox and Adam Smith of the Specialist Firearms Command.

 

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

Check out the taser website for the metropolitan police: 

 

http://content.met.police.uk/Site/taser

 

FROM THE MET POLICE TASER WEBSITE:

A Taser is a non-lethal single shot weapon used by MPS officers to temporarily incapacitate a suspect through the use of an electrical current. It is a hand-held weapon similar in shape and size to a pistol, but is bright yellow and black in colour.

 

 

 

 

 

ALSO FROM THE MET POLICE TASER WEBSITE:

Welcome to the Taser site

Welcome to the Taser website. I’m Dave Musker, Commander in charge of armed policing and Taser within the Metropolitan Police.

Taser has been available in the UK since 2003 and is probably one of the most discussed and controversial topics on the use of force agenda. It is with this in mind that I think its essential we provide as much information we can regarding Taser through all forms of media and this website.

The Metropolitan Police has acknowledged the controversy surrounding Taser and have implemented a raft of measures to ensure we get it right. I believe we have the best training in the world with extremely robust policies and procedures to manage the day-to-day operational deployment of the device.

Whilst we are confident we have such comprehensive procedures in place, we are not complacent and we have a dedicated team of officers who continually review what we do and how we do it. I am also keen to continue to engage with all communities and interested parties in London as this will help us to understand the concerns that are out there and deal with any emerging issues.

We have formed a Taser Reference Group with a wide, independent and constructively critical membership to help me oversee the use of taser in London - see related link within Professional training and scrutiny section.

I would also like to point you in the direction of some interesting documents and pages in this website. You will find a recent document published by the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee called ‘Arming the Met’ - see related documents.   We are engaging with the committee to ensure we meet, discuss and address the recommendations within. We are grateful to the Committee for their suggestions which are constructive and provide a good direction for the MPS to follow.

The College of Policing website, which details how police officers across the UK are trained is also a valuable source of information - see related link for College of Policing website.

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists - you can listen to this conversation and others with a new free app on iTunes and Google Play Store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

Download it free from these links:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

 

THE ARTICLE BELOW MAY BE OF INTEREST - ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE HUFFINGTON POST

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/great-train-robbery-villians-as-heroes_b_3718501.html

 

Does The Great Train Robbery Explain How Villains Became the New Heroes?

RAJ PERSAUD

The anniversary of the Great Train Robbery is being marked in various ways - The Times newspaper reports that a Monopoly set, played by the Great Train Robbers using real cash, while they eluded capture by hiding on a farm, has turned up on the TV programme Antiques Roadshow. Apparently, The Times reports, it was fingerprints on this board game, which later helped convict the gang.

That such an item could become revered, might be part of a modern glamorisation of villainy. Ronnie Biggs and fellow gang members began to be portrayed as romanticised folk heroes. Was the Great Train Robbery the beginning of a process which lead to popular TV series such as The Sopranos and Dexter, where hero and villain often appear inverted?

If heroes were supposed to be moral enough to still do the right thing, despite facing difficult predicaments, does the modern transformation of criminal to hero reveal something deeply troubling about our era?

Psychologist Derek Rohleder has published a dissertation entitled The shadow as hero in American culture: A Jungian analysis of the villain archetype transformed.His thesis is that in modern popular culture the villain has frequently been transformed into a heroic figure. Dr Rohleder uses examples including Hannibal Lecter the cannibal psychiatrist who has become the 'hero' of blockbuster movies including The Silence of the Lambs.

The 'rogue' or 'rebel' has long been a key element of heroic character in fiction and real life, perhaps part of the confusion here is that we assume the outlaw is naturally an underdog.

George Goethals and Scott Allison from the University of Richmond, Virginia, USA, in their analysis of who the public regards as heroic, have found that a key ingredient is the notion of the underdog. In a paper entitled Making Heroes: The Construction of Courage, Competence and Virtue, they state how they found people root for, identify with, and are most fond of, underdogs. Those who must struggle to achieve their objectives.

Their paper published in the journal Advances in Experimental Social Psychologyexplains that this liking and rooting for perceived underdogs, is so deep-rooted, it even holds for inanimate objects, whose movements on a computer screen activate scripts of struggle and effort against more powerful rivals.

They discovered in their own surveys of the public that when asked if they had any heroes, 95% listed at least two heroes, and two-thirds listed six or more in just a few minutes. Roughly a third of heroes, from this research, are family members, a third are real public figures, but the last third are fictional, often from TV and film.

This indicates the media representation of heroic status is extremely important.

Political strategists now make a standard attempt to cast even the most wealthy, institutionalised candidates as actually battling rebels, fearlessly taking on vested interests.

Our deep psychological needs for heroic individuals to idolise, who triumph over adversity, is revealed by the structure of modern popular stories in fiction and film. It's never 'systems' or 'committees' which ride out of the sunset, to the rescue of those in distress, but instead it's the rebel loner.

Disobedience and defiance are also deliciously childish pleasures, which the Freudians would probably contend are part of the romantic allure of those who disregard rules.

Modern cynicism about our rulers is revealed in anti-heroes who dissent and refuse to follow edicts.

The rise of the vigilante hero - who takes the law into their own hands and meters out justice themselves, without waiting for due process to creak into action, also reveals a lack of faith in 'the system' to see injustice is punished.

But the reality of criminals, beneath the veneer of glamour which Hollywood and paperback fiction likes to gloss over them, is that these are often the immature and inadequate who want to take short-cuts.

They yearn for comfort and luxury without sweating through hard work or delaying gratification required by scrimping and saving. There is a part in all of us who is attracted to the short cut, which might partly explain the allure of the criminal as hero. It's the same draw as 'get rich quick' schemes.

However, Hollywood blockbusters today depict heists of labyrinthine complexity, requiring such complex skills and hard work from the heroic con artist or criminal, one wonders why they didn't just get a high paying job that rewarded them legitimately for their breath-taking sophistication.

Instead, the plots require us to believe that being an outlaw, dodging and diving outside the system, might be an inherently preferable. The villain as hero is also more free than the law-abiding rest of us, they don't care what others think of them and this liberty from constraint or judgement suggests they possess an independence of spirit, the rest of us crave.

The irony is that in pursuing this supposed self-determination, the criminal ends up behind bars. How free is a fugitive anyway - someone who has to keep looking behind his shoulder?

But the recent inversion of criminal and hero is important if the heroic are vital in guiding and inspiring us. Should our idols become those who are self-indulgent and selfish, we should beware. True heroes are those who make huge personal sacrifices for noble causes.

In the film Casablanca, at first it seems that Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, will not assist the Allied war cause. He famously declares "I stick my neck out for nobody" and "I'm the only cause I'm interested in". He appears the archetypal anti-hero, sulky, self-centred and running what appears to be a shady night-club.

But in the climax of the story, he makes huge personal sacrifices for someone he loves, and the Allied side.

It's psychologically intriguing that for Bogart to play one of the greatest cinematic heroes of our time, he has to at first appear bitter, selfish, dodgy.

The danger is, if we get confused over who are true heroes, as opposed to those who just look rebellious, dangerous and glamorous, we will lose out on truly inspiring figures.

We will end up being robbed.

Direct download: DR-100_0066.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 6:21pm UTC

The funny die first. Why do the funniest comedians die first? Dr Gil Greengross discusses with Raj Persaud

Raj Persaud discusses new research on the mortality of comedians with Dr. Gil Greengross an evolutionary psychologist and anthropologist at Concordia University in Montreal and formerly at the University of New Mexico. His interdisciplinary research bridges traditional fields of study such as psychology, anthropology and biology, and his studies focus on the adaptive value of humor and laughter, mainly in the context of sexual selection and mating.

 

Dr. Greengross is also fascinated by the life and personalities of stand-up comedians as we can learn a lot from people who have extreme humor ability.

 

Dr. Greengross won the 2007 Graduate Student Award at the International Society for Humor Studies conference and was invited to give two lectures at the International Summer School and Symposium on Humor and Laughter. He has also designed and taught several popular college level classes on the psychology of humor.

 

Dr Raj Persaud is now joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. You can hear this interview on the app and read the article below on this subject.

 

Download it free from these links:

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

Why the funniest comedians die first

 

Raj Persaud and Professor Adrian Furnham

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/comedian-early-deaths_b_6269176.html

 

A study about to be published in the ‘International Journal of Cardiology’ has found that the funniest comedians suffer dramatically reduced longevity, compared to their relatively less funny counterparts.

 

The research, from the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia, analysed the life span of 53 male British comedians born between 1900 and 1954. A key finding is that the higher the score by which the comedian was rated as funny, also the higher the mortality rate. 

The Psychology of Comedians

Of the 23 ‘very funny’ comedians, 78% had died, versus 40% of the rest. Average age at death for the comedians adjudged as ‘very funny’ was 63.3 years old versus 72.3 for the rest.

 

Those working in comedy duos (e.g. Morecambe and Wise) or teams (e.g. Monty Python) were also designated, for the purposes of this research, as the “funny” or “straight” man in that comedy team.

 

Within comedy teams, those identified as the funnier member(s) of the partnership were more than three times more likely to die prematurely when compared to their more serious comedy partners. 

 

Examples that bear out this newly established macabre law that the funny man in a comedy team always dies first, include Ernie Wise being the straighter comedian in the duo, living to 73, while his funnier partner, Eric Morecambe died at 58. Ronnie Barker died at 76 while his straight man Ronnie Corbett is still alive and now past 84 years old.

 

Graham Chapman died at 48, while all the other original members of the Monty Python comedy team, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones remain alive, yet it is widely understood that Chapman was the most surreal, or the funniest, of this uniquely surreal comedy team. 

 

For example, perhaps the most famous Monty Python sketch of all, the ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch started off being written by John Cleese as about a man returning a toaster, and it is reported that it was Chapman who inspired the idea it should be about the attempt to return a dead parrot.

 

The findings of this study are particularly intriguing because, consistent with the inherent nature of comedy tandems and teams, individual members were predominantly born around the same time, and come from the same social class and economic background.  

 

The authors of the study, Dr Simon Stewart and Dr David Thompson, conclude that elite comedians are at increased risk of premature death, compared to their less funny counterparts. 

 

The study involved ranking all 53 comedians according to their ability to make people laugh on a scale of 1 to 10. Those scoring 5 and below were considered to be relatively funny, 6-7 pretty funny and 8-10 ranging from very funny to hilarious. This last group would be considered ‘elite’ comedians and include John Cleese and Billy Connolly.

 

 

The study used a popular website that ranks the best of only British and Irish Comedians, on purpose, because the researchers focused on a group of comedians from one geographical part of the world. This ensured the similarity of background meant the key issue being investigated was whether there was something about purely being funnier, as opposed to any other differences between comedians, is linked to higher mortality rates.

 

Dr Simon Stewart and Dr David Thompson argue that a preliminary examination of the comedy scene outside of the UK suggests that their study reveals a more universal phenomenon. 

 

For example, the survival profiles of famous and celebrated comedy duos such as Abbott (funny man who died aged 52) and Costello (straight man who died aged 78) suggest these findings may hold true across the Atlantic. 

 

Dr Simon Stewart and Dr David Thompson point out that previous research has established that comedians score high on measures of psychotic traits, and display an unusual personality structure characterised by ‘introverted anhedonia’ combined with ‘extraverted impulsiveness’. 

 

One theory is that there is something about the kind of personality and psychology involved in being particularly funny, which is also linked to this high mortality rate. 

 

The authors of the study point out that many comedians have publically admitted to being depressed, or manic, or sometimes even both. 

 

Examples include John Cleese, Peter Cook, Stephen Fry, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan and Kenneth Williams. In the case of some like Tony Hancock (widely regarded as a genius comic) this resulted in taking his own life. 

 

The study was partly inspired by the recent suicide of comedian Robin Williams.

 

But suicide alone cannot account for this finding, as many of the comedians who died early, did so from natural or medical causes, not suicide, including the recent death, aged just 56 years old, of funny man Rik Mayall. 

 

However, it may be they manifest self-destructiveness in some more long term ways – Graham Chapman died of cancer possibly secondary to smoking, and was reportedly a heavy drinker.

 

 

Psychologists Gil Greengross and Geoffrey  Miller from the University of New Mexico, United States, compared the personalities of 31 professional stand-up comedians with those of nine amateur comedians, 10 humour writers and 400 college students.

 

The study entitled, ‘The Big Five personality traits of professional comedians compared to amateur comedians, comedy writers, and college students’ found that, surprisingly, comedians are more introverted than other people. 

 

Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller argue that you would expect comedians’ pursuit of fame and attention to mean they are bound to be highly extravert, like we know actors tend to be. 

 

The intriguing result, published in the journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’, suggests that comedians do not seek fame the same way as actors. 

 

While the authors of the study acknowledge that the public perceive comedians as ostentatious and flashy, perhaps their persona on stage is mistakenly seen interchangeably with their real personality.

 

The jokes they tell about their lives might be considered by many to contain a grain of truth in them, however, the results of this study suggest that the opposite is true. 

 

Gil Greengross and Geoffrey Miller speculate that perhaps comedians use their performance to disguise who they are in their daily life. Comedians may portray someone they want to be, or perhaps their act is a way if defying the constraints imposed on their everyday events and interactions with others.

 

The authors speculate that ‘impulsive dis-inhibition’ is at the core of the comedic personality, and is necessary to come up constantly with weird new ideas that are funny. Comedians also need this to violate social rules by publicly declaring unconventional sentiments. But does this ‘impulsive dis-inhibition’ end up killing them, because they then don’t look after themselves properly?

 

The very funniest, who bring the house down, also seem to pull the curtain down early.

 


The story of the novel - Michael Schmidt converses on his new book - 'The Novel: A Biography'

Michael Schmidt is editor of a new book entitled: 'The Novel
A Biography' published by Harvard University Press.

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.ph...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Novel-Bio...

Amongst the topics of conversation with psychiatrist Raj Persaud include: whether novelists are more prone to mental illness - why do we appear to have an insatiable psychological appetite for stories - can novels serve a psychological function - can they cheer us up? Can they be therapeutic? Novels are meant to be about the human condition, or human conditions, and yet so also are psychology and psychiatry, but the two don't seem to intersect - novels don't drive psychological research and are novelists moved by developments in psychology and psychiatry?

From the Harvard University Press Website: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.ph...

The 700-year history of the novel in English defies straightforward telling. Geographically and culturally boundless, with contributions from Great Britain, Ireland, America, Canada, Australia, India, the Caribbean, and Southern Africa; influenced by great novelists working in other languages; and encompassing a range of genres, the story of the novel in English unfolds like a richly varied landscape that invites exploration rather than a linear journey. In The Novel: A Biography, Michael Schmidt does full justice to its complexity.

Like his hero Ford Madox Ford in The March of Literature, Schmidt chooses as his traveling companions not critics or theorists but “artist practitioners,” men and women who feel “hot love” for the books they admire, and fulminate against those they dislike. It is their insights Schmidt cares about. Quoting from the letters, diaries, reviews, and essays of novelists and drawing on their biographies, Schmidt invites us into the creative dialogues between authors and between books, and suggests how these dialogues have shaped the development of the novel in English.

Schmidt believes there is something fundamentally subversive about art: he portrays the novel as a liberalizing force and a revolutionary stimulus. But whatever purpose the novel serves in a given era, a work endures not because of its subject, themes, political stance, or social aims but because of its language, its sheer invention, and its resistance to cliché—some irreducible quality that keeps readers coming back to its pages.

 

A related article which may be of interest - first published in The Huffinton Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/edinburgh-international-science-festival-aliens_b_2951974.html

 

At the Edinburgh International Science Festival: Aliens as Revealed by Hollywood

 

By Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham

 

Janne Korhonen from the Department of Organization and Management at Aalto University in Finland has just published an academic paper exploring whether we should really be trying as hard as we currently are, to make contact with extra-terrestrial intelligences; our assumption that aliens 'out there' would be benign, could be wrong.

The history of our own planet is that civilizations boasting advanced technologies have subjugated and exploited the vulnerable. Should that guide our thinking on how aliens might treat us?

The paper, published in an academic journal, 'Acta Astronautica' (sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics and devoted to the scientific study of space) advocates that we should be getting inside the minds of extra-terrestrial intelligences, before we naively continue to send probes, and high powered communications, out into space, attempting to make contact with whoever, or whatever, might be out there.

The possibility that extra-terrestrial intelligences (ETIs) could be hostile means we should be lying low, and not signalling our presence to the universe.

One theory as to why when we currently peer into deep space, we can't see any evidence of other civilisations, although statistically speaking just our own galaxy should be teeming with life, is that everyone else out there is camouflaged, and hiding.

All except us in the universe have already calculated the inherent risks of making contact with strangers.

The paper entitled, 'MAD with aliens? Interstellar deterrence and its implications' contends that the risks of an extra-terrestrial attack are not properly debated because of an assumption that we cannot analyse the decision making of an alien civilization.

Janne Korhonen argues, however, we can draw some inferences from the history of deterrence and war on our planet. The acronym 'MAD' in the title of the paper comes from 'Mutually Assured Destruction' - which was the poker game that appeared to keep the Soviet Union and the USA from blowing the world to bits during the Cold War.

In particular, Korhonen advocates special caution for proposed interstellar missions, as star-faring capability itself might be seen as a threat. Paranoid ETIs might also consider the possibility that our messages are a deception designed to lure out hostile civilizations, and pre-emptively destroy them. This would explain why no one has been answering us back, as we try ever harder to make contact.

Even if a superior civilization found our technology appeared puny compared to theirs - it's possible they might be wary - considering this a classic military deception strategy. We could be appearing weak and vulnerable to draw out the enemy, before striking with overwhelming previously concealed firepower.

Novels and movies have portrayed aliens as compassionate and helpful (eg ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind), but extra-terrestrials don't have to be particularly paranoid or xenophobic, according to Korhonen, for it to be simply logical to preventively destroy other species, before they can pose a threat.

Korhonen analyses the risks of the most disquieting scenario: that an ETI would, upon detecting advanced civilization on Earth, launch an unprovoked preventive attack, aimed at destroying humanity.

The paper points out an expansionist civilization which is busy 'strip-mining' solar systems for resources, is unlikely to be interested in our fragile globe, as the resources available across galaxies are so vast.

However, a species of extra-terrestrial confined to just a few planets would likely feel more vulnerable.

Korhonen assesses that just ordinary interaction between two inter-galactic adversaries could inadvertently destroy or seriously damage one of them, through transmission of diseases, invasive species, computer viruses or even, merely undesirable information (there is no God).

Also any spacecraft capable of interstellar voyages in reasonable time becomes an inadvertent weapon of mass destruction through sheer momentum. Relatively simple interstellar probes -within our capability soon - would be devastating warheads.

To illustrate this argument Korhonen calculates the kinetic energy for each 1000 kg of spacecraft mass at different velocities, demonstrating how easily one simple probe could exceed the entire global nuclear stockpile. So even primitive interstellar probes, travelling at an appreciable fraction of light speed, could be extremely dangerous to planet-bound civilizations.

Given human history's tendency for 'cock up' as a cause of killing, it is easy to imagine a scenario where a human 'fly-by' probe to a supposedly uninhabited system accidentally damages a civilization that had chosen to remain quiet, perhaps due to paranoid fear of detection. Said civilization might strike back in order to stop further ''attacks.''

But Korhonen contends it's the possibility of retaliation which renders preventive attacks a flawed strategy. Interstellar civilizations would be disinclined to knowingly initiate hostilities using this logic.

Yet this reasoning appears to have escaped those here on earth who are currently planning a pre-emptive strike against Iran, and who launched these against Iraq and Afghanistan. The psychology of war-mongering governments is to persuade the public to sanction pre-emptive strikes. This is achieved by avoiding considering post attack consequences in the propaganda for war.

Korhonen acknowledges his analysis does not cover irrational attacks - including those motivated by ideology or xenophobia - but why might alien civilizations not be prone to the same irrationalities as we have been?

Korhonenn relies on previous calculations from astronomers and planetary scientists that there may be between a hundred thousand to one million other civilisations in our galaxy alone. In which case the key question is not why have we not detected other civilizations out in space, but how come we haven't yet been eradicated?

He believes the aliens have made a critical calculation - which is around fear of retaliation. This is the essential deterrence and also explains why no state has yet initiated a preventive nuclear attack against another on our own planet. Deterrence is reliable if it can inflict ''unacceptable'' damage to the attacker.

Apparently in the poker game of 'Mutually Assured Destruction' between the Soviet Union and the USA, it was the capability to destroy any ten cities in retaliation after a surprise attack, which was seen as reliable and adequate nuclear deterrent.

However, the miscalculation of those who advocate pre-emptive strikes is that survivors and witnesses, in the longer term, take revenge and eventually strike back. This is why we must discourage our leaders from the irrationality of pre-emptive strikes. We are still alive today, and have not been wiped out by a bolt from the sky, because intelligence in outer space has already calculated the foolhardy nature of the pre-emptive strike.

If Korhonen is right, we do have something to learn from the silence of the aliens.

If you are interested in taking part in a brief on-line psychology experiment in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Science Festival, exploring how Hollywood handles science with the implications for us - plus attend a talk on the subject - visit this link here www.sciencefestival.co.uk/whats-on/categories/talk/creating-a-monster-geeks-on-film

 

 

Download it free from these links:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

Direct download: DR-100_0065.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 1:11am UTC

Cowardice - Chris Walsh bravely discusses his new book with Raj Persaud

Cowards and Cowardice - Chris Walsh bravely discusses with Raj Persaud his new book Cowardice - a brief history - published by Princeton.

 

FROM PRINCETON PRESS WEBSITE

 

Coward. It’s a grave insult, likely to provoke anger, shame, even violence. But what exactly is cowardice? When terrorists are called cowards, does it mean the same as when the term is applied to soldiers? And what, if anything, does cowardice have to do with the rest of us? Bringing together sources from court-martial cases to literary and film classics such as Dante’s InfernoThe Red Badge of Courage, and The Thin Red Line, Cowardice recounts the great harm that both cowards and the fear of seeming cowardly have done, and traces the idea of cowardice’s power to its evolutionary roots. But Chris Walsh also shows that this power has faded, most dramatically on the battlefield. Misconduct that earlier might have been punished as cowardice has more recently often been treated medically, as an adverse reaction to trauma, and Walsh explores a parallel therapeutic shift that reaches beyond war, into the realms of politics, crime, philosophy, religion, and love.

 

Yet, as Walsh indicates, the therapeutic has not altogether triumphed—contempt for cowardice endures, and he argues that such contempt can be a good thing. Courage attracts much more of our attention, but rigorously understanding cowardice may be more morally useful, for it requires us to think critically about our duties and our fears, and it helps us to act ethically when fear and duty conflict.

 

Richly illustrated and filled with fascinating stories and insights, Cowardice is the first sustained analysis of a neglected but profound and pervasive feature of human experience.

 

order the book here: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10318.html

 

Chris Walsh is associate director of the College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program at Boston University and has also taught at Emerson College, Harvard University, and the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. His work has appeared in Civil War HistoryEssays in CriticismRaritan, and the Yale Review.

 

 

A related article which may be of interest

 
 
Inside the Mind of the Twitter Troll

 

 

 

Raj Persaud

 

Under headlines such as ‘McCann 'Twitter troll' found dead in hotel’, the media have widely reported that Police were called after the body of a woman was found in a Leicester hotel room.

 

 

The woman, now reported in the press as found ‘likeable’ by her neighbours and ‘churchgoing’, had been confronted by a reporter, who put to her she had posted many messages attacking the McCann family on Twitter.

 

 

A few days earlier, in response to the widespread internet abuse they have suffered from numerous ‘trolls’, and following reports that police were reviewing a dossier of abusive social media messages, Gerry McCann, gave an interview declaring, ‘Clearly something needs to be done about the abuse on the internet’.

 

 

But new research suggests that if trolling arises out of deeply ingrained and very ‘dark’ personality dispositions, it may be more difficult for the law to be effective.

 

 

The press have tried to probe the background of the woman, only to find her behaviour largely mysterious and inexplicable, given her benign public persona in her home village.

 

 

The latest scientific study on internet trolls finds them to suffer from a unique constellation of manipulativeness (cunning, scheming, unscrupulous), sadism (pleasure from inflicting pain on others) and psychopathy (lacking empathy  and remorse), which may only be properly illuminated by psychological testing.

 

 

Rather than subject this particular case to trolling, as speculation rages over the web and in the press over motivation, what has been revealed about the psyche of internet trolls from objective research?

 

 

The motivation which lies behind the apparently growing phenomenon of internet trolling has been recently explored by the first psychological research to examine comprehensive personality profiles of trolls.

 

 

This study was titled ‘Trolls just want to have fun’, and was published by academics at the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg and the University of British Columbia, Canada, involving  1215 respondents completing personality tests, and an investigation of their internet commenting styles.

 

 

The first finding of the study, published in the academic journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’, is that trolls and trolling are a real and rather ‘dark’ psychological phenomenon of particular personalities, not just random behaviour from a group who might dabble in this a bit, and then move on to other more innocuous internet activities.

 

 

Strong positive associations emerged among frequency of online commenting, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity. The Daily Telegraph reports that the woman currently at the centre of press interest sometimes posted more than 50 tweets a day, beginning at 7 am and going on until midnight.

 

 

Trolling in this new study, published in September 2014, was found to be surprisingly strongly associated with what are widely considered by psychologists to be the ‘darkest’ aspects of personality - including sadism, psychopathy, and manipulativeness.

 

 

Of all personality measures, however, it was sadism which showed the most robust associations with trolling. And, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behaviour. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism.

 

 

The authors of the study, psychologists Erin Buckels, Paul Trapnell and Delroy Paulhus conclude that cyber-trolling is an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.

 

 

If sadism is a feature of your personality psychologists describe you as disposed to enjoy hurting others. You would tend to respond in the affirmative to test questions such as ‘‘Hurting people is exciting’’ and ‘‘I enjoy hurting people’’. You are also likely to suffer from vicarious sadism (e.g., ‘‘In video games, I like the realistic blood spurts’’).

 

 

But trolls also scored high on manipulativeness or  Machiavellianism (e.g., ‘‘It’s not wise to tell your secrets’’), and subclinical psychopathy (e.g., ‘‘Payback needs to be quick and nasty’’). These two personality features may explain some aspects of trolling which have hit the headlines over the recent alleged case, including the use of internet names which disguise identity, and possibly the pursuit of revenge.

 

 

Some might be surprised that receiving national attention or notoriety would be linked with an adverse outcome, but in fact this study found that of all the ‘darker’ aspects of personality there was one on which trolls did not score highly, and this was narcissism.

 

 

Trolls tend not to be narcissists. Narcissists love attention and tend to answer affirmatively to questions such as ‘‘I have been compared to famous people’’. So trolls don’t appear to be performing for the attention.

 

 

Because the associations between sadism and trolling were particularly strong, the investigators tested a theory that sadism leads to trolling, because those behaviours are pleasurable, and the data provided some support for this.

 

 

As sadists tend to troll because they enjoy it, this might explain why victims revealing their suffering might merely further encourage trolls.

 

 

The authors found that the association between sadism and trolling was so strong that they conclude it might be said that online trolls are ‘prototypical everyday sadists’.

 

 

The authors suggest that their findings add to accumulating evidence that excessive technology use is linked to anti-social attitudes. The antisocial might deploy technology more than others because it facilitates their nefarious goals.

 

 

However, some psychologists go further to argue that use of internet technology actually pushes us in an anti-social direction. If this is the case then the internet could be said to be turning a significant proportion of recent generations into psychopaths.

 

 

This is because for the first time in human history a universally accessible anonymous environment has been created, where it is easy to seek out and explore one’s niche, however idiosyncratic.

 

 

The authors of this study point out that the antisocial now have greater opportunities than they ever did to connect with similar others, and to pursue their personal brand of ‘‘self expression’’. The problem is both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others and this is now unfettered.

 

 

The web may also provide an opportunity to shape and develop an aspect of our personalities which might otherwise remain more hidden from our neighbours and friends. Online we can construct a new identity which may be more antisocial and may reflect parts of us we normally suppress from the outside world.

 

 

 

This 'double-life' idea might help us understand how extreme stress could follow exposure:  the 'internet' persona may be compared with the 'real life' one, leading to the sort of tragedy which seems to have happened.

Raj Persaud is now joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

Direct download: Chris_Walsh_talks_about_Cowardice_with_Raj_Persaud.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 12:07am UTC

Sado-Masochistic Sex. Psychology of Sado-Masochism and S/M Sex

In conversation with Ummni Khan - Sado-Masochism in popular culture and the law.

Ummni is the author of a new book entitled 'Vicarious Kinks - S/M in the socio-legal imaginary'

FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS WEBSITE:

Who decides where “normal” stops and “perverse” begins? In Vicarious Kinks, Ummni Khan looks at the mass of claims that film, feminism, the human sciences, and law make about sadomasochism and its practitioners, and the way those claims become the basis for the legal regulation of sadomasochist pornography and practice. Khan’s audacious proposal is that for film, feminism, law, and science, the constant focus on taboo sexuality is a form of “vicarious kink” itself.

Rather than attempt to establish the “truth” about sadomasochism, Vicarious Kinks asks who decides that sadomasochism is perverse, examining how various fields present their claims to truth when it comes to sadomasochism. The first monograph by a new scholar working at the juncture of law and sexuality, Vicarious Kinks challenges the myth of law as an objective adjudicator of sexual truth.

Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary

 

http://www.utppublishing.com/Vicarious-Kinks-S-M-in-the-Socio-Legal-Imaginary.html

 

 If you are viewing this podcast from inside the free mobile phone app 'Raj Persaud in Conversation' you can click on the 'gift box' icon which might be on the top right hand corner of your screen to download bonus content - an article by Raj Persaud and Professor Adrian Furnham on the psychology of attraction. You can also find this bonus content in the initial main menu screen that comes up when you open the app on the top right hand corner of the screen under a menu icon that reveals 'extras' - click on extras to see the bonus content.

Women's Sexual Fantasies - the Latest Scientific Research

 

 

Dr Raj Persaud and Dr Jenny Bivona

 

A team of psychologists led by a woman has uncovered some surprising findings on one of the most secret aspects of female sexual fantasy.

 

While almost everyone has sexual fantasies, previous research into the subject has found between 31 and 62% of women have rape fantasies. To be sexually aroused by such an imagined scenario represents a psychological mystery. Why fantasise about a criminal act which in reality is repulsive and harrowing?

 

To investigate these and other riddles at the heart of female erotic fantasy, a team of researchers based at the University of North Texas and the University of Notre Dame studied 355 young women.

 

A part of the research involved the participants being read a rape fantasy scenario over headphones, to investigate how aroused they became.

 

In the study, published in the academic journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, participants were instructed to close their eyes while listening and to try to imagine themselves as the woman described in the narrative. This scenario was derived from story lines typically found in much women's romance literature, so it portrayed an erotic rape fantasy, rather than a literal portrayal of actual assault.

 

This was the scenario: a male acquaintance is strongly attracted to the female character. He expresses a yearning for sex with her, but she's clearly unresponsive. He attempts without success to convince her. When she continues to openly refuse, he overpowers and rapes her.

 

The female character is resistant throughout the interaction and at no time gives consent. However, as the man is attractive and he provides erotic stimulation, she does experience gratification from the forced sex. The scenario places more emphasis on the use of coercion than on the sexual pleasure.

 

The results of the study, (which also explored other sexual and aggressive fantasies, self esteem, attitudes to sex and other personality testing) are that 52% of the women had fantasies about forced sex by a man: 32% had fantasies about being raped by a man: 28% - forced oral sex by a man: 16% - forced anal sex: 24% - incapacitated: 17% - forced sex by a woman: 9% - raped by a woman: 9% - forced oral sex by a woman. Overall, 62% reported having had at least one of these fantasies.

 

The team of researchers lead by Dr Jenny Bivona, based at the University of North Texas found that overall, 62% of participants reported having a rape fantasy of some type.

 

Of the women who reported having the most common rape fantasy rape fantasy, ''being overpowered or forced by a man to surrender sexually against my will,'' 40% had it at least once a month and 20% had it at least once a week. The authors conclude these results indicate rape fantasies play a significant role in the sexual fantasy lives of many women.

 

It's important to note that while headline writers may focus on the fact women have sexual fantasies about coercive sex, this research finds it's an occasional daydream, not a preoccupation. It would be similarly unfair to tar men with the brush of an occasional fantasy they may have. When these female fantasies are erotic in character, the male protagonist is always described as highly attractive or otherwise desirable.

 

According to this study, entitled Women's Rape Fantasies: An Empirical Evaluation of the Major Explanations, a previous common psychological theory as to why women should fantasise about rape or forced sex was termed 'sexual blame avoidance'. This theory was about women avoiding taking responsibility for sexual desires. The hypothesis argued that women have been socialised by our culture to work hard at not being perceived as promiscuous or overly sexual. For example, stigmatising labels, such as ''tramp'' and ''slut,'' are invoked which control or restrict female sexuality.

 

'Sexual blame avoidance' theory argues that, for some women therefore, fantasies of consensual sex could generate self-blame, guilt, and anxiety. So by letting the fantasy take the form of rape, the woman in the fantasy is being forced to do something she doesn't want to. It follows then she can't be blamed for the occurrence of sex. In contrast to a consensual sexual fantasy, a forced sex theme enhances sexual gratification by allowing the fantasiser to avoid blame and guilt.

 

The results of this study found no support for this theory.

 

The authors of this new ground-breaking research concede that 'sexual blame avoidance' may have been true in the past when we lived in more sexually repressed times, so it's possible that over recent decades changes in attitudes to sex means the stress for women of being viewed as overly sexual has disappeared. Now few women appear to have rape fantasies to avoid blame from having openly consensual sexual fantasies.

 

In direct contrast to 'sexual blame avoidance', is the 'openness to sexual experience' theory. Instead of being driven by repressed sexuality, this supposition is rape fantasies derive from a generally open, tolerant and guilt-free attitude toward sex. It was this theory which received the strongest support in this new research by Dr Bivona and colleagues.

 

A notable finding is that women who reported being less repressed about sex were more likely to have rape fantasies, but were also more open to fantasy in general, more likely to have consensual fantasies, and more likely to report a higher level of arousal to rape fantasies.

 

Interestingly, the women who reported having frequent rape fantasies were also likely to report having fantasies about "overpowering or forcing a man to surrender sexually against his will."

 

Fantasising about being a stripper also predicted a tendency to fantasise about rape. Another intriguing result is women who report rape fantasies were more likely to have high self-esteem.

 

These results suggest that having fantasies about things we would never endorse or choose to do in reality, are not necessarily signs of psychological disturbance. In fact, according to this research, women who have rape fantasies also tend to have more positive attitudes toward sex, high self esteem, and more frequent consensual sexual fantasies.

 

This study in no way condones or tries to justify rape, which remains a violent and reprehensible crime no matter what the research on sexual fantasy of either gender might turn up. While some may even believe that publishing results such as these is going to assist some rapists in justifying their actions, the reality is these violent criminals are not scanning erudite academic research searching for justifications for assault. The editors and armies of academics who consider research submitted for publication in academic journals such as Archives of Sexual Behaviour also clearly believe this kind of study deserves publication, and wider dissemination in the field.

 

Fantasy is a deeply problematic area for many people and for psychiatry and psychology - why do some people convert strange ideas into actual deeds - as in the case of Brievik the Norway mass murder scenario - while others just enjoy their vivid, creative and somewhat unusual imaginations without taking action. Why do various individuals become disturbed about fantasies of which they don't approve? As a result much psychosexual therapy involves exploring and confronting the mysteries of sexual fantasy.

 

We don't yet know the answers to many of these questions, but this kind of scientific investigation is assisting in our search for understanding.

 

Dr Raj Persaud is a Consultant Psychiatrist based in London, Dr Jenny Bivona graduated from the University of North Texas and now works as a clinical psychologist.

 

 

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx


The Psychology of Optimism

In conversation with Rebecca Mcguire-Snieckus - what is optimism - is it good for you? A lecturer in Psychology at Bath Spa University, she talks about a recent paper Rebecca has published in Psychiatric Bulletin on the Psychology of Optimism.

Issues discussed include:
 
What is optimism?
 
What is the famous positivity bias that has been found in general populations?
 
What is the role of optimism in depression?
 
Why and how is optimism seen as a part of psychotherapy in CBT?
 
What is the role of optimism in therapy?
 
Are you an optimist?

 

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at  

www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

After listening to this podcast and podcasts like this it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD site and after completing some questions gain CPD points on-line.

 

McGuire-Snieckus, R. (2014). Hope, optimism and delusion. Psychiatric Bulletin. http://pb.rcpsych.org/content/early/2014/01/27/pb.bp.113.044438#BIBL

 

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dr-Raj-Persaud-Latest-Users/dp/B0082XNF40

 

A related article from The Huffington Post which may be of interest:

 

 

 

Can Psychologists Predict Whether Just-Christened George Is Heading for a Happy or a Meaningful Life?

 

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/prince-george-christening_b_4150586.html

 

http://rajpersaud.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/can-psychologists-predict-whether-just-christened-george-is-heading-for-a-happy-or-a-meaningful-life-raj-persaud-and-adrian-furnham/

 

Parents, friends, relatives and God Parents gather for a christening - which like a wedding and other religious rituals is associated not just with happiness, but also imbued with meaning.

 

But are a happy life and a meaningful life the same thing? Can pursuing one lead to less of the other? The choice of God Parents to a future Monarch might reveal the parents thinking on the pursuit of happiness or meaning, in terms of future guidance for their child.

 

This is a question which has also just been investigated by a large psychology study entitled 'Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life'; about to be published in the 'Journal of Positive Psychology'.

 

The researchers let participants define the happy, or meaningful life. Happiness appeared linked to having needs and desires satisfied, and leading an existence largely free from unpleasant events.

 

A meaningful life, in contrast, appeared linked to some over-arching purpose. Often it meant sacrifice and being devoted more to improving the welfare of others, rather than yourself.

 

The authors of the new study, Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Vohs, Jennifer Aaker and Emily Garbinsky, point out it is possible to have a meaningful but unhappy life (e.g. being an oppressed political activist). Attaining the 'holy grail' of the happy and meaningful life appeared possible, from the findings of this study, but not as straightforward as previously might have been thought.

 

Happiness flows from benefits you receive from others. Meaningfulness, instead, is associated with the benefits that others receive from you.

 

This new psychology research finds that while being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, there are important differences. A national sample of 397 adults were surveyed; results revealed that satisfying one's needs and wants increased happiness, but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness.

 

Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went more with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to more meaningfulness, yet lower happiness.

 

It might come as no surprise that the results reveal finding one's life to be relatively easy was linked to more happiness. But considering life a struggle was positively related with meaningfulness. Some people endure highly meaningful yet not very pleasant lives, perhaps because their meaningful activities require strenuous and unpleasant effort.

 

The authors, from Florida State University, University of Minnesota and Stanford University, conclude finding one's life easy or difficult is a matter of happiness, but not of meaning.

 

Not having enough money reduced both meaningfulness and happiness, but the effect was considerably larger on happiness than meaningfulness. Monetary scarcity was 20 times more detrimental to happiness than to meaning. Having sufficient money to purchase objects of desire (both necessities and luxuries) was important for happiness, but made little impact on whether life was meaningful.

 

The more time people devoted to thinking about the past and future, the more meaningful their lives were - and the less happy. Thinking beyond the present moment, into the past or future, was a sign of the relatively meaningful but unhappy life. Happiness is not generally found in contemplating the past or future, and is much more about living for the present.

 

The more people thought only about the present, the happier they were.

 

Spending time with friends was positively related to happiness. Time spent with loved people was significantly linked with meaning, but surprisingly irrelevant to happiness, possibly because loved ones can be difficult at times. People with more meaningful lives also agreed that 'relationships are more important than achievements'; this sentiment was unrelated to happiness.

 

For parents, the more time they spent taking care of children, the more meaningful their lives were, yet looking after children also reduced happiness.

 

The authors argue these findings illuminate the so-called 'parenthood paradox,' which is that most people want to be happy, and desire to become parents, but those two goals are in fact in conflict.

 

Becoming a parent has been shown by a raft of research to often reduce happiness. Roy Baumeister, the lead author of the current study, has proposed that the 'parenthood paradox' can be resolved by proposing that we seek not just happiness but also meaning. People become parents because the gains in meaningfulness offset any losses in happiness.

 

This latest research has profound implications for positive psychology, because it suggests that people will pursue meaningfulness even at the expense of happiness.

 

The more that people regarded arguing as something that reflects them, the more meaningful but the less happy their lives were. The effects of arguing were similar to those of helping others.

 

The authors of the study propose that meaningfulness comes in part from being involved in things one regards as important, and sometimes one has to argue for these. But the unpleasantness of arguing may contribute to lower happiness. Happy people may prefer not to argue and arguing is something they might do only reluctantly, rather than as a frequent expression of their inner self and values.

 

It's again perhaps not surprising that more worrying was linked to lower happiness, but greater frequency of worrying was associated with higher levels of meaningfulness. People with very meaningful lives worry more and have more stress than people with less meaningful lives.

 

The authors suggest worrying comes from involvement and engagement with important activities that go beyond the self, and beyond the present, and so worrying may often be an unavoidable part of a meaningful life, even though it detracts from happiness.

 

The psychologists offered brief composite sketches of the unhappy but meaningful life and of the happy but meaningless life - were these relevant for the future King George?

 

The unhappy but meaningful life is seriously involved in difficult undertakings. It's marked by ample worry, stress, argument, and anxiety. These people perceive themselves as having had more unpleasant experiences than others. In fact 3% of having a meaningful life was due to having had bad things happen to you.

 

Although these individuals may be relatively unhappy, they could make important positive contributions to society. High meaningfulness despite low happiness was associated with being a giver rather than a taker. These people were more likely to say that taking care of children reflected them, as did buying gifts for others.

 

The highly happy but relatively meaningless life is characterised by seeming rather carefree, lacking in worries and anxieties. If these people argue, they do not feel that arguing reflects them.

 

They are takers rather than givers, and such happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desires are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.

 

Given the picture this latest research paints, is there a clue as to Kate's and William's values in their choice of God Parents?

 

 

Which life did the various adults at the christening ceremony largely pursue - the happy or the meaningful?

 

 

We can only hope that George, or any child, experiences both.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Staying-Sane-Dr-Raj-Persaud/dp/0553818988

 

 

 

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx

Direct download: DR-100_0050.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm UTC

Freud on the Brain. Latest neuroscience research supports Freud?

Can neuroscience prove the existence of the Unconsious?

 

Dr Raj Persaud in conversation with Institute of Psychiatry neuropsychiatrist Professor Tony David: Does the latest neuroscience research support Freud?

This podcast is based on a paper recently published entitled:

Neural correlates of recall of life events in conversion disorder.

Aybek S, Nicholson TR, Zelaya F2, O'Daly OG, Craig TJ, David AS, Kanaan RA.

JAMA Psychiatry. 2014 Jan;71(1):52-60. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2842.

The paper is a brain imaging investigation of conversion disorder or hysteria. The study probes a neuroscience explanation for conversion symptoms, where a traumatic experience is transformed into a symptom, such as paralysis of a leg.

 

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

A related article which may be of interest originally published in The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/can-you-completely-forget-who-you-are-as-a-man-with-almost-total-amnesia-grabs-the-headlines---what-it-reveals-about-us_b_5577306.html

 

Can You Completely Forget Who You Are? As a Man With Almost Total Amnesia Grabs the Headlines - What It Reveals About Us

 

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

The UK media reports that a man with severe amnesia, who still cannot remember even his own name, or where he comes from, but who was discovered in Peterborough, suffering from severe amnesia two months ago, is baffling mental health experts.

 

They are now appealing to the public for help, in the hope that someone might recognise him.
'Robert' is reportedly suffering from an upsetting and very severe case of amnesia where he cannot recall any details of his life, including his own name, age, where he is from; or his job.

 

One key clue is that although 'Robert' (a name given to him by hospital staff) speaks English, his accent seems to be eastern European, and he also appears to understand some Lithuanian and Russian.

 

Similar cases, which could explain this mysterious incident, include a clinical case report, published in 2010, entitled 'Running towards a different life: A case of Dissociative Fugue', by Dr M. Santos and Dr E. Gago from Hospital Magalhães Lemos, Portugal.

 

The paper, published in the academic journal 'European Psychiatry', explains that the diagnosis of fugue in psychiatry derives from the Latin word for flight-- fugere. Dissociative fugue is an extremely rare psychological condition - the sufferer suddenly and without warning travels far from home, completely unable to recall their past.

 

These episodes are usually linked, explain Santos and Gago, with severe stress or trauma, such as disasters, losses of loved ones or intolerable burdens at work or home. The amnesia appears completely genuine, with patients displaying no conscious understanding of the psychological reason for the flight. This is usually accompanied by muddles over personal identity and sometimes even complete assumption of a new self.

 

Santos and Gago report that the journeying associated with 'Dissociative Fugue' can last for several months. Some patients travel thousands of miles from home while in this state.

 

Another recent study entitled 'Dissociative memory impairments and immigration' also published in 'European Psychiatry' in 2010, by Dr A. Staniloiu, Dr S. Borsutzky and Dr H.J. Markowitsch, suggest there is even a possible link between this kind of psychological problem and immigration.

 

The authors from the University of Bielefeld, Germany, argue that stressful experiences arising during migration could precipitate these symptoms, though a delayed onset at times occurs reflecting an 'incubation' effect.

 

Another recent study suggests an effective treatment for 'Dissociative Fugue' which appears to have fallen out of favour recently, which might explain why it may not have been used in more current cases.

 

The case study entitled 'Amytal interview using intravenous lorazepam in a patient with dissociative fugue', reports a middle-aged white female picked up by emergency medical services in the USA, who could not remember her name, address, and did not know the name of the city.

 

Lorazepam (a sedative drug a bit like Valium) was given intravenously by the psychiatrist. Although relaxed and sleepy the patient was kept awake by asking her to restate the name of her present in-patient psychiatrist, whom she had become close to. She was led back in fantasy to the gas station where she was picked up and was requested to identify it. Once she successfully named a location from her personal history, she was led to give her name, hometown, birthday, social security number, employment, motherhood and marital status.

 

The investigation, published in the journal 'General Hospital Psychiatry' in 2006, reports that after she awoke the patient described past and recent sexual assaults. The recent rape was about 10 days before hospitalization. A final diagnosis of Dissociative Fugue was made, and the patient was discharged to outpatient follow-up and the Victims of Violent Crime clinic.

 

The authors of this paper, Dr Sunday Ilechukwu, from the Ann Arbor Health Care System and Dr Thomas Henry, then at Wayne State University, USA, argue that procedures like this provide the patient with an opportunity for the recall and review of recent emotional crisis, linkage to past trauma and provision of context to current experience.

 

The authors contend that the simple but critical process of naming her identity under sedation, probably helped her come to terms with the precipitating conflict.

 

The authors also argue care needs to be taken to minimize the risk of introducing false or distorted memories. The use of video-recorded feedback may also help consolidate gains made during the interview.

 

The authors conclude that the so-called 'sodium amobarbital' interviews have been in use for about 70 years and refers to the use of an older barbiturate type drug, could be brought back into modern psychiatric practice. The study suggests that such pharmacological-facilitated interviews continue to be a useful procedure with such cases, but that a safer more modern drug, such as lorazepam, can be used as an alternative.

 

But why should trauma lead some people to forget even who they are? Another study entitled 'A case of persistent retrograde amnesia following a dissociative fugue: Neuropsychological and neurofunctional underpinnings of loss of autobiographical memory and self-awareness', argues that, since memories can be vivid, threatening and painful, they may be removed from consciousness as a way of protecting the self-concept.

 

The authors, Kristina Hennig-Fast, Franziska Meister , Thomas Frodl , Anna Beraldi , Frank Padberg, Rolf Engel , Maximilian Reiser , Hans-Jürgen Möller and Thomas Meindl, brain scanned an individual suffering from these fugue like symptoms. The results highlighted the key role of visual and emotional properties of autobiographical memory in the maintenance of this kind of amnesia.

 

 

The study published in the journal 'Neuropsychologia', found reduced neural activity within the brain network producing autobiographical memory retrieval. The authors based at Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany, posit a protective defence mechanism caused by neuronal inhibition that serves to prevent an overflow of intensive aversive emotions.

 

 

The authors suggest that visual imagery plays a central role in the recall of autobiographical memories. Defects in the way the brain visually processes memory which might help explain puzzling phenomena such as Dissociative Fugue.

 

 

Their patient regained only three remote and strongly negative childhood memories dating from the time before the dissociative fugue. All were highly negative, vivid and fragmented episodes comparable to frozen images, e.g. of the coffin at his grandfather's funeral.

 

 

It must surely be one of the most disturbing experiences of all, not to recall anything of our past except alarming fragments. Psychiatric investigation of this kind of suffering is helping to reveal how the normal sense of personal identity is achieved. Visual aspects of memory may be more important than we previously realised. The fact that it can be lost suggests we shouldn't take it for granted.

 

 

Trying to uncover who 'Robert' really is, could also help us find ourselves.

 

 

 

If you are a psychiatrist, or a similar clinical professional, who is collecting Continuing Professional Development Points, after listening to this podcast and podcasts like this, it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD web site, and after completing some questions (plus registering with the site), gain CPD points on-line.

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

 

 

 


10,000 suicides. Did the recession lead to 10,000 excess suicides?

Did 10,000 people kill themselves because of the last recession?

 

Raj Persaud in conversation with Oxford University Sociologist Aaron Reeves - how did the recession lead to 10,000 excess suicides?

 

Aaron Reeves is a post-doctoral researcher and an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford. He is also a post-doctoral research fellow at Nuffield College and his research interests include: political economy of health, social protection, social and cultural exclusion, and quantitative sociology.

 

He is currently working with Dr. David Stuckler examining natural experiments in relation to poverty-reduction and health as well as exploring the impact of the recession and austerity on health outcomes. In addition to this he is also working on projects analysing the association between social position and the intergenerational transference of cultural practice.

 

Dr Reeves completed his PhD in Applied Social & Economic Research with the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex and has published several articles linking healthcare and the economy.

 

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

A related article which may be of interest

 

http://rajpersaud.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/after-the-robin-williams-tragedy-will-there-by-copycats-raj-persaud-and-professor-sir-simon-wessely-president-of-the-royal-college-of-psychiatrists/

 

After the Robin William’s tragedy – will there be copycats? Raj Persaud and Professor Sir Simon Wessely (President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists)

 

Raj Persaud and Professor Sir Simon Wessely (President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists)

 

 

 

Robert Enke, a very famous German football goal keeper, killed himself on the railway on 10th November 2009.

 

 

 

The number of railway suicidal acts, in the following two weeks, more than doubled in Germany.

 

 

 

The study which uncovered this is entitled ‘One followed by many?—Long-term effects of a celebrity suicide on the number of suicidal acts on the German railway net’, and is recently published in the ‘Journal of Affective Disorders’. There was also an increase of railway suicides of 19% in the following two years, as compared to the two years before this tragic event.

 

 

 

The authors of the study,Ulrich Hegerl, Nicole Koburger, Christine Rummel-Kluge, Christian Gravert, Martin Walden and Roland Mergl, found the 25% increase of fatal railway suicides between 2007 and 2010 was significantly greater than the 6% increase in the total number of suicides in Germany over the same period.

 

 

 

The authors based at the University of Leipzig, and Deutsche Bahn AG (the German Railway Company), conclude that Enke’s suicide probably led to copycat suicidal behaviour on the railways.

 

 

 

 

 

The authors point out that the media attention of the footballer’s suicide was exceptional and enduring, and this may have had an impact. For example, television broadcasts of a public mourning ceremony, held in the team’s stadium, were viewed by almost 7 million German viewers.

 

 

 

30 railway suicidal acts occurred in the two-week interval before Encke’s suicide, 71 railway suicidal acts in the two week interval following this event; an increase of 137%.

 

 

 

But what is more ominous is that this research found an elevated long-term ‘attractiveness’ of railway suicidal acts after Enke’s suicide.

 

 

 

The authors conclude that their findings are a strong argument for improving media coverage of suicides, and community suicide preventive programs.

 

 

 

A study entitled ‘To What Extent Does the Reporting Behavior of the Media Regarding a Celebrity Suicide Influence Subsequent Suicides in South Korea?’, just published in the journal ‘Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior’, investigated the world record copycat effect thus far. This was the suicide of the Asian star actress Choi Jin-shil; starring in 18 films, she has been described as South Korea’s equivalent of Julia Roberts .

 

 

 

The authors, Jesuk Lee, Weon-Young Lee, Jang-Sun Hwang and Steve Stack, found her death on 2 October 2008 was subsequently associated with 429 additional suicides in South Korea, which is a record copycat effect.

 

 

 

Another recent investigation entitled, ‘Changes in suicide rates following media reports on celebrity suicide: a meta-analysis’, examined 10 studies from around the world, probing for similar copycat effects, examining 98 suicides by celebrities.

 

 

 

The team of authors, led by Thomas Niederkrotenthaler,  King-wa Fu, Paul Yip, Daniel Fong, Steven Stack, Qijin Cheng and Jane Pirkis, report a change in suicide rates of on average roughly almost three suicides per 1000 000 population, in the month after a celebrity suicide across the world.

 

 

 

Extrapolating from these figures, the worse case scenario would be an additional almost 200 suicides over the next month, in the UK, with approaching 1000 in the USA. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but these non-celebrity suicides are unlikely to make the headlines.

 

 

 

 

 

The study, published in the ‘Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health’, report suicides by an ‘entertainment celebrity’, across the planet, had the greatest impact of all in Europe, in terms of copycat incidents, followed by a slightly smaller impact in the USA.

 

 

 

The authors based at the Universities of Vienna, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Wayne State, found a particular celebrity impact on copycat behaviour by entertainment celebrities, as opposed to other prominent people, such as politicians.

 

 

 

Thomas Niederkrotenthaler and co-authors argue the suicide of an entertainment celebrity is so influential perhaps because of audience identification.

 

 

 

Celebrities are revered and may therefore act as particularly strong role models even when it comes to taking their own lives.

 

 

 

Guidelines for media reporting of suicide include that detailed discussion of the particular method should be avoided, and as images of the death scene are highly influential, these should not be broadcast. For details see http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/press/Samaritans%20Media%20Guidelines%202013%20UK.pdf. These and similar links may be of special interest for journalists reporting about suicides

 

 

 

But by writing this article are we ourselves violating the media guidelines? Not so, we contend, because the recommendations do not say there should be no media reporting, but that it should be sober and responsible.

 

 

 

Thomas Niederkrotenthaler points out that not all celebrity suicide reporting is associated with increases in suicides subsequently. This is exemplified by the suicide of Rock Star Kurt Cobain. His suicide was widely reported, but there was no copycat phenomenon afterwards, Dr Thomas Niederkrotenthaler maintains.

 

 

 

This may be due to Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, expressing both her sadness and anger about her far too early loss, in the media, and contacts to support services were published, along with her statements, immediately after his suicide. Indeed, research showed that these mental health services experienced an increase in clients, but there was no upsurge in suicides.

 

 

 

Perhaps the celebrity obsession of the media is in fact a reflection of a deeper problem with journalism, of which suicide reporting is merely a symptom. Reporting of celebrities lives in general tends to remain somewhat naïve. Being rich and famous, according to the classic simplistic media analysis, inoculates against any serious psychological problems.

 

 

 

In a study entitled ‘Psychological strains found in the suicides of 72 celebrities’, the tensions experienced throughout the lives of 72 celebrities were systematically investigated.

 

 

 

The authors, Jie Zhang, Jiandan Tan and David Lester found of 72 ‘celebrity’ suicides, only one had no ‘strains’ at all.

 

 

 

 

 

The authors, from Shandong University School of Public Health and Central University of Finance and Economics, China, and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA, found the most common pressure was ‘aspiration strain’ – found in 97% of the lives of celebrities who kill themselves.

 

 

 

‘Aspiration strain’ was defined in this study, published in the ‘Journal  of Affective Disorders’, as a gap between an individual’s aspiration and the reality of their life. For example, wishing to be much richer than you actually are.

 

 

 

The study found 30 celebrities who killed themselves suffered at least two contrasting life strains, while 36 had endured three different ‘strains’.

 

 

 

Perhaps the take home message should be that despairing sadness may happen to anyone, irrespective of fame or wealth.

 

 

 

But what many people still do not know is that depression, and also other mental health problems, including personal crises, can be treated, and that there is help available.

 

 

 

That should be the headline story.

 

 

 

 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you may find the following of help: Samaritans Helpline: 08457 90 90 90 http://www.samaritans.org

 

 

If you are a psychiatrist, or a similar clinical professional who is collecting Continuing Professional Development Points, after listening to this podcast and podcasts like this, it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD web site, and after completing some questions (plus registering with the site), gain CPD points on-line.

 

Raj Persaud is now joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Does Meditation Work? The Scientific Evidence.

Latest research on whether meditation works with surprising findings

 

Dr Raj Persaud in conversation with Dr Madhav Goyal from Johns Hopkins University USA on scientific research investigating whether meditation has psychological benefits

A recent review of research on meditation comes to surprising conclusions about whether it actually works in terms of mental health objectives - Raj Persaud discusses the findings with lead author Dr Madhav Goyal from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr.Goyal is an assistant professor in the division of general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University.  He is a practicing internist, with research interests in patients dealing with chronic pain and non-pain symptoms that have been refractory to conventional care.  

He completed his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, medical school at UC San Diego, masters in public health at Harvard School of Public Health, and his fellowship in General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins.

If you are a psychiatrist, or a similar clinical professional who is collecting Continuing Professional Development Points, after listening to this podcast and podcasts like this, it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD web site, and after completing some questions (plus registering with the site), gain CPD points on-line.

 

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/usefulresources/publications/cpdonline.aspx

 

 

Can meditation cure depression and improve well-being? The latest medical research gives pause for thought - an article by raj persaud and peter bruggen explaining Madhav Goyal's paper

 

Can Meditation Help Depression and Improve Well-being? The Latest Medical Research Gives Pause for Thought

 

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

 

 

The most recent comprehensive review of research on the benefits of meditation concludes that rigorous clinical trials find only, 'small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress'.

 

'Mantra' based meditation programs such as 'Transcendental Meditation' did not significantly improve any of the outcomes examined. Transcendental Meditation, unlike other meditation techniques, emphasizes the use of a mantra in such a way that it 'transcends one to an effortless state where focused attention is absent'.

 

This latest analysis entitled 'Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis', was published in the prestigious 'Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine'. It was conducted because many now use meditation to treat stress-related conditions and promote general health.

 

Madhav Goyal, Jennifer Haythornthwaite, and a team from Johns Hopkins University and Medical School in the USA, reviewed 47 separate studies with 3515 participants. Their analysis found that 'Mindfulness' meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety, depression, and pain, but low evidence of improved stress and mental health-related quality of life. They found no evidence that Transcendental meditation improved any outcomes.

 

These relatively small effects of 'Mindfulness' meditation are comparable with what would be expected from the use of an antidepressant, but without the associated toxicities. The review did conclude that meditation does appear free of possible harms or harmful side-effects compared with other treatments.

 

'Mindfulness' meditation derives from aspects of Buddhism, and involves learning to become aware of thoughts and internal states, but not be affected emotionally by them - so-called non-judgemental awareness. Mindfulness has been described as the next new wave in psychological treatment - following on from CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

 

This latest review however found there was little to no evidence of any significant effect of any kind of meditation on positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep, and weight. There was no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (ie, drugs, exercise, and other behavioural therapies). Behavioural treatments tend to emphasise performing an action eg confronting what is making you anxious - while 'Mindfulness' meditation appears to encourage facing challenges, but from a different mental angle - you aren't judging it, you are not reacting to it.

 

'Mindfulness' meditation techniques did appear most effective in dealing with a particular kind of pain referred to as 'visceral', in other words pain coming from organs such as the stomach or bowels, but it was less effective with pain from muscles and bones. This suggests that perhaps certain techniques of meditation may be useful in particular conditions, but they are not universal panaceas.

 

In 20 Randomised Controlled Trials examining comparative effectiveness, mindfulness and mantra programs (such as Transcendental Meditation) did not show significant effects when the comparison was a known treatment or therapy. In some cases it appeared that the meditation program may have been as effective as the known therapy, and in other cases less effective than it.

 

The authors of this new review ended up excluding an enormous number (18,706 studies) because, for example, many of the studies did not adequately allow for possible placebo effects, by using an adequate comparison group. Also much of the research didn't randomise people in to groups having meditation, or a placebo, as properly conducted drug trials should.

 

Just studying people who have themselves chosen meditation, is prone to another bias. The problem of 'self-selection' - people who believe in the benefits of meditation are more likely to enrol in a meditation program, and then perhaps report positively. Allowing for this bias involves allocating subjects randomly to meditation or comparison treatments. This takes out the self-selection bias of just studying those who had already themselves already chosen meditation, and therefore might be more highly motivated or biased to declare it helpful.

 

Because of such self-selection problems, randomisation is now a key part of properly conducted clinical trials on treatments such as drugs.

 

The authors of this latest review point out that medical research may end up being unfair to meditation. There are challenges in acquiring such mental skills or meditative states, and Randomised Controlled Trials tend to be time-limited.

 

Meditation is a skill or state learned and practiced over time, increasing awareness and gaining insight and understanding into the various subtleties of existence. Training the mind in awareness, in nonjudgmental states, or in the ability to become completely free of thoughts or other activity are 'daunting accomplishments'. The authors of the study recommend longer term trials with an emphasis on greater amounts of mental training.

 

They also point out that the interest in meditation that has grown during the past 30 years in Western cultures derives from Eastern traditions emphasizing lifelong growth. The West may have fundamentally misunderstood the basic point of meditation, and trying to do short term trials just compounds the misunderstanding.

 

On the other hand, Kristin Barker of the University of New Mexico, has just published a critique of 'Mindfulness' meditation, pointing out several inherent contradictions in the practice. Her paper entitled 'Mindfulness meditation: Do-it-yourself medicalization of every moment', points out that 'Mindfulness' meditation contends one is healed through accepting things as they are, even (or especially) in the presence of illness; yet many of the books and recordings advocating the technique boast descriptions of seemingly phenomenal cures through mindfulness.

 

Published in the academic journal 'Social Science & Medicine', the critique points out a host of contradictory phrases arising from 'Mindfulness': "One needs to try less and be more" and "intentionally cultivating the attitude of non-striving", and, one must engage in "doing nothing, on a regular basis, on systematic basis, in a disciplined way".

 

Madhav Goyal, Jennifer Haythornthwaite and the team from Johns Hopkins University conclude from their review that meditation programs could help reduce anxiety, depression and pain, but only in some people.

 

They argue that doctors should still be prepared to discuss with patients the role that a meditation program could have in addressing some strains, particularly pain, anxiety and depression. These were the conditions for which 'Mindfulness' meditation was found to be most effective.

 

 

If you are a psychiatrist, or a similar clinical professional who is collecting Continuing Professional Development Points, after listening to this podcast and podcasts like this, it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD web site, and after completing some questions (plus registering with the site), gain CPD points on-line.

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 


How To Spot Talent

Is talent not as easy to find and keep as we think?

 

Raj Persaud in conversation with Professor Adrian Furnham about his new book on how to spot talent 

Organisations (including the NHS and Football Teams) are notoriously bad at spotting, nurturing, developing and retaining talent or talented people. Professor Adrian Furnham - a distinguished professor of psychology at University College London has just published an important new book on talent - co-authored with Ian MaCrae. The book is entitled High Potential - How to Spot, Manage and Develop Talented People at work and is published by Bloomsbury Press.

 

If you are a psychiatrist, or a similar clinical professional who is collecting Continuing Professional Development Points, after listening to this podcast and podcasts like this, it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD web site, and after completing some questions (plus registering with the site), gain CPD points on-line.

 

A related article which may be of interest originally published in The Huffington Post:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/success-intelligence-could-the-secret-of-succe_b_1405457.html

 

Could the Secret of Success Lie In Being a Little Bit Less Clever?

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham 

 

 

If you had a choice, would you rather be a good brain surgeon, or a good parent? Would you rather be a good corporate executive, or a good friend? Evolutionary Psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa poses these questions in his new book The Intelligence Paradox, arguing too much store is placed on intelligence and academic success.

 

 


Evolutionary Psychology is a branch of science which contends that any feature of a person, such as their physique or indeed their personality, such as intelligence, must have evolved and spread across Homo Sapiens, because it produced 'survival of the fittest' benefits.

 

But why then does such huge variability in IQ in the population persist? Why the famous Bell Curve? A question many a weary job interviewer must have asked themselves following along day of stupid answers to simple questions. 

 

Dr Kanazawa, a lecturer at the London School of Economics, notes that those not blessed with a high IQ still seem to learn a lot without ever needing to be formally taught. It's just that they're good at learning things our formal education system never bothers to teach, grade or value.

 

Gang members who are expelled from school without any qualifications, seem to intuitively know how to make and keep friends, without ever having to be instructed. Indeed they may be better at forming strategic affiliations than those techies and nerds who remain top of the class, destined to be made partners.

 

Is it possible that the ability to make friends held just as much survival significance, if not more, than a high IQ in our evolutionary past? Do we forget this at our peril? Evolution is about strategies which endure successfully across millions of years, not just one or two business cycles.

 

We evolved to make affiliations because for an extended part of our evolutionary history, it was what enabled survival. Having strong and supportive friendships predicted continued existence despite predators and warring tribes in our distant past, rather than a facility with algebra. Everybody then can make friends, everyone that is, contends Kanazawa, except for the academically successful, who end up at the top of hierarchies and running our societies, because IQ is overrated as the solution to life's problems.

 

Kanazawa uses a famous psychological study of the most academically gifted to back up his argument.The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth tracks the lives of more than 5,000 individuals in the USA who have been identified as truly gifted, with an IQ score higher than 155 - when the national average is 100 and the average graduate scores 120.

 

More than half of this elite group (51.7% of men and 54.3%of women) have earned a doctorate (Ph.D., M.D.), compared to the population baseline in the USA of 1%. More than a third of the men and about a fifth of the women earn more than $100,000 a year in 2003-2004 in their early 30s. Additionally, 17.8% of the men and 4.3% of the women have earned patents, compared to the population baseline in the US of 1%.

 

In stark contrast to theirstellar successes in education and employment, this elite do not do very wellin domains of marriage and parenting, according to Kanazawa, indeed on various measures they even fall below average. Kanazawa can find no evidence of superior functioning in friendship, parenting or family life for those with high IQs across swathes of psychological research.

 

Another branch of behavioural science - Swarm Intelligence - is now also asking some new troubling questions about the disadvantages of ultra elite IQ. The term 'Swarm Intelligence' arose out of the observation that while an individual bee may not seem that clever, the whole hive possesses an aptitude way beyond the sum of each individual bee's IQ. But corporations may be making a fatal error if they think the Swarm Intelligence of their organisation is simply a summation ofthe individual brainpower of each member. Because of a poor hiring strategy, it could often be a lot lower.

 

So the latest research on Swarm Intelligence - the study of the IQ or ability of groups, as opposed to the capabilities of individuals, suggests intriguing disadvantages groups of the dazzlingly talented suffer from, as opposed to more diverse ability ranges, which might help avoid financial bubbles and crashes in the future.

 

After all one deep puzzle of the last fiscal collapse was why so many brilliant 'experts' failed to anticipate the problem, and therefore botched acting early enough to prevent it. It's a deeper paradox for this last crash than all previous ones, given the very brightest and best coming out of the education system are lured into finance these days, more so than ever before.

 

The answer could lie in thelatest finding from Swarm Intelligence research, which finds in some situations diversity trumps ability.

 

 

A group of researchers led by Stefan and Jens Krause from Germany, collaborating with academics at the Universities of Bath, Glasgow, Leeds have recently conducted a series of intriguing experiments in some of which, groups of 'experts' performed worse in judgement tasks, than the average population.

 

In one study carried out by the team led by the Krauses, at the University of Leeds during an Open Day, visitors were asked to estimate the number of beans in 10 differently shaped jars. Each jar contained a randomly generated number of beans between 80 and 1000. Using statistical techniques to analyse the results of this and other similar experiments, groups consisting of'experts', or groups where more weight was attached to an expert opinion, tended to do worse than collectives which were more diverse.

 

 

Diversity trumped ability. This strange result is explained possibly by the tendency of experts in this scenario (and others in the real world) to be biased in a certain trend - they tend to make errors in one direction, so pushing their averaged answer to be more wrong than when a group of non-experts' results were averaged. The diverse group tended to make more random errors, or mistakes in all directions, thus cancelling each other out.

 

This latest Swarm Intelligence study, published in the journal Animal Behaviour (not widely read in Economics common rooms) and entitled 'Swarm intelligence in humans: diversity can trump ability' also explored whether there were particular kinds of problems where more diverse Swarm Intelligence doesn't defeat groupsof experts. Perhaps dilemmas where background technical expertise is essential.

 

German subjects were asked to estimate how many times a coin needs to be tossed for the probability that the coin will constantly show heads each time, to achieve roughly as small a probability as that of winning the German lottery (have a guess - the correct answer is at the end of the article). The results do indeed show that expert collectives are better than diverse groups at this kind of question - technical knowledge is needed as opposed to judgement, but the problem in other scenarios where diversity beats ability could be that experts tend to overestimate how much of any conundrum is 'technical' as opposed to 'judgement'. After all this bias justifies their demanding the big bucks in exchange for expertise.

 

But we all exist and survive in groups, from companies to families, and these latest findings point to the most robust teams featuring a mix of talents, rather than a narrow range. Our education system and those who hire, appear focused too much on individual elite talent, rather than what is much more important, how your contribution boosts the team's performance. The essence of good management is after all to select, form, motivate and get the best out of a team with different talents.

 

So elite financial institutions in seeking out only the most talented should beware they are adopting astrategy which mother nature itself has rejected over hundreds of thousands of years of our species evolution. But the human race is now running the largest natural experiment in history - with millions and their livelihoods at stake - which tests whether diversity trumps ability; and that experiment is called - China.

 


If you are sceptical of these latest research findings from Swarm Intelligence, then you'll be backing the narrow elite that runs China to beat the more diverse democratic decision-making of the West and India. If diversity trumps ability, China's system must inevitably fail a 'survival of the fittest' test against democratic and freer competitors. Your investment strategy in relation to China might reveal what your really think in this debate, but, remember, according to this Swarm Intelligence research, evolution has already made up her mind.

 

The next time you wander out of the narrow confines of the city, look around you, what you see is diversity.

(RE: Coin toss problem - the correct answer is 24)

 

 

If you are a psychiatrist, or a similar clinical professional who is collecting Continuing Professional Development Points, after listening to this podcast and podcasts like this, it is possible to visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD web site, and after completing some questions (plus registering with the site), gain CPD points on-line.

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8


Can A Single Session Cure? Can a single session of therapy produce a cure? Professor Windy Dryden talks to Raj Persaud

The assumption that therapy should always be long term has been challenged repeatedly over the last twenty five years.

The difficulty is that Single Session Therapy has become associated in many therapists minds with being “money driven”, “superficial” and “poor quality”.

Professor Dryden builds on the work of a number of researchers and practitioners – from Moshe Talmon’s work on Single Session Therapy via Ost’s One Session CBT Treatment for Phobias and more recently, Andrea Reinecke's single session exposure based treatment of panic attacks at Oxford University.

Professor Dryden advocates an integrated approach combining belief and inference challenge with mindfulness and acceptance strategies.

Windy Dryden

Professor of Psychotherapeutic Studies

Windy Dryden, Emeritus Professor of Psychotherapeutic Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London was one of the first people in the UK to be trained in CBT, and was the first Professor of Counselling in the UK.

The author or editor of 200 books and over 700 scholarly articles on CBT and Counselling – from “The Handbook of Brief Cognitive Behaviour Therapy” through to “Ten Steps To Positive Living”

He offers a uniquely informed perspective on CBT and psychotherapy as its practiced today and where it is heading in the future.

A RELATED ARTICLE WHICH MAY BE OF INTEREST - FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE HUFFINGTON POST:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/new-years-resolutions-psychology_b_4522926.html

 

Psychologists Find the Best Way to Achieve New Year's Resolutions - Is to Not Make Any by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

 

 

New Year's resolutions commonly involve resolving to end bad habits - for example giving up alcohol or smoking.

However the latest psychological research suggests that, paradoxically, trying hard to not do something, might render it more likely you will perform negative habits.

This effect is referred to as ironic mental control. The 'ironic' part refers to the fact that trying not to do things, in particular trying not to think of something, or endeavouring not to have desires, seems to, paradoxically, bring them on more strongly.

If the theory is correct it explains why every year we make New Year's resolutions only to break them quite soon.

The theory of ironic mental control, it is suggested by some, might have been inspired by writer Fyodor Dostoevsky observing in his 'Winter Notes on Summer Impressions', (an 1863 account of his travels in Western Europe): "Try not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute."

Harvard psychologist, Daniel Wegner and colleagues in a famous experiment published in the 'Journal of Personality and Social Psychology', then found thoughts of a white bear were more likely to recur for those who initially suppressed thoughts of a white bear, than for participants who had not been asked to suppress such thoughts.

The study entitled, 'Paradoxical effects of thought suppression', found people were amazingly unsuccessful at prohibiting thoughts of a white bear, with at least one 'white bear thought' occurring each minute, despite explicit instructions not to think about a white bear. When told to try to think about a white bear in a subsequent period, these same participants reported even more thoughts of a white bear than participants who hadn't suppressed initially.

In other words, there is even a re-bound effect - which is when liberated to finally allow yourself to think of something you have been suppressing - you tend to go overboard and do even more of it than you would otherwise. So the problems with trying hard not to do something include even if you succeed temporarily, you are vulnerable to periods of lack of restraint, succumbing to splurge or binge even more than before.

One of the very latest studies entitled, 'Why the white bear is still there: Electrophysiological evidence for ironic semantic activation during thought suppression', measured brain electrical activity changes using scalp recordings, when suppressing different words.

The study, recently published in the journal 'Brain Research', has established that trying to suppress thoughts doesn't just produce the opposite effect, this occurs at a fundamental brain activity level.

The authors of the investigation Ryan Giuliano and Nicole Wicha from the University of Oregon and the University of Texas at San Antonio, conclude that thought suppression may be a causal factor in a vast array of psychological problems. It could be a human instinct to actively seek to avoid distressing thoughts, but unfortunately this strategy appears to backfire, resulting in the resurgence of the very thoughts one is attempting to avoid.

Given weight control is such a large part of many people's resolutions, a study entitled 'The ironic effects of weight stigma' by Brenda Major, Jeffrey Hunger, Debra Bunyan and Carol Miller from the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Vermont, USA, might explain the frequent failure of New Year's Resolutions over weight. Women were randomly assigned to read a news article about stigma faced by overweight individuals in the job market or to read a control article.

The study published in the 'Journal of Experimental Social Psychology' found weight-stigmatizing news articles caused self-perceived overweight women, to consume more calories and feel less capable of controlling their eating than exposure to non-stigmatizing articles.

The answer to the paradox of New Year's Resolutions might come from a recent study inspired by the common experience that internal dialogue in golfers to avoid hitting the ball into the pond often ends with a splash.

The study entitled 'Unwanted effects in aiming actions: The relationship between gaze behavior and performance in a golf putting task', asked participants to perform a golf putting task with instructions to land the ball on the hole (neutral instructions), avoid putting too short, and avoid putting too long.

The authors, Olaf Binsch, Raoul Oudejans, Frank Bakker and Geert Savelsbergh from VU University, Amsterdam, and Manchester Metropolitan University, found that when participants gazed for longer at a specific area, the ball was more likely to land there.

The investigation, published in the journal 'Psychology of Sport and Exercise' concludes that the negative instruction, for instance, not to putt past a hole, influences mental processes during the putt. Thinking about a behaviour increases the likelihood of engaging in that response, even when the person is trying to avoid it.

Daniel Wegner and Daniel Gold showed this effect applied even to thoughts of past lovers, where they investigated the futility of the desire to put departed relationships out of mind. It seems that the harder one tries to suppress the thoughts of an 'old flame', the more one is disturbed by them.

The study entitled, 'Fanning Old Flames: Emotional and Cognitive Effects of Suppressing Thoughts of a Past Relationship', found that the suppression of thoughts of an old flame promotes the persistent psychological presence of the ex in our minds.

The authors argue, in their study published in the 'Journal of Personality and Social Psychology', that one possible explanation is that thoughts which return to mind following suppression tend to be particularly intrusive. Thoughts that pop into mind in this way seem to create greater emotional disturbance than thoughts that follow from an intentional train of thought.

Daniel Wegner, one of the pioneers in the field of ironic mental control is quoted as arguing that the secret of making successful New Year's Resolutions is to keep them affirmative and positive. Don't resolve to give up smoking - resolve instead to become more fit.

Taking up running is likely to help you give up smoking as pursuing one goal becomes incompatible with the other. Pick goals that are irreconcilable with bad habits. Positive resolutions (do's) might be easier to control than negative ones (don'ts). Don'ts require constant effort and battling with distractions.

So rather than resolving not to do something this New Year, instead determine to be more positive and do something.

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

 


What is a disorder of Attention? What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Raj Persaud in conversation with Heidi Feldman Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University

Professor Heidi Feldman discusses her recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on ADHD

Attention Deficit--Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents Heidi M. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael I. Reiff, M.D. N Engl J Med 2014; 370:838-846February 27, 2014

ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or a combination of these symptoms, which compromise functioning. Management includes medications (shown to improve core symptoms but not necessarily functional outcomes) and behavioral therapies.

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

Personal bio 

Heidi M. Feldman MD PhD holds the Ballinger-Swindells Endowed Professorship in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and serves as the Medical Director of the Mary L Johnson Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Clinical Programs at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. She earned a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in Developmental Psychology and an MD at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. She is currently combining neural imaging techniques and behavioral measures to understand the outcomes of children and adolescents born preterm. She has taught Developmental Disabilities: From Biology to Policy in Human Biology at Stanford University. Dr. Feldman is also a dedicated yoga enthusiast and yoga teacher. 

 

A related article first published in The Huffington Post which may be of interest

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/childrens-mental-health_b_4068424.html

 

Is our children's mental health worse than ours? If so - why?

 

Raj Persaud and Professor Sir Simon Wessely (President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists)

 

Under a headline: 'Children as young as five suffering from depression', The Daily Telegraph Newspaper recently declared that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)  reported 80,000 children in the UK with severe depression, including 8,000 below the age of 10. Children as young as five can suffer from the psychiatric disorder; NICE affirms more identification of these children is needed.

 

A few days later The Daily Telegraph's new headline was: ''Toxic childhoods’ blamed for 22,000 self-harm cases' - beneath the headline was a byline: 'More than 22,000 children and teenagers were treated in hospital for self-harming in 2012, according to official figures which experts said showed the “toxic” effects of social media and a society obsessed with body image'.

 

Might it be more relevant that the UK currently has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe? At least one in three children here experience parental separation before the age of 16 years. Between a third and a half of all children in the UK have a non-resident parent, usually the father, during some part of their childhood?

 

A study entitled 'Trends in adolescent emotional problems in England: a comparison of two national cohorts twenty years apart', compared large samples of youth 20 years apartusing identical symptom screening in each survey. Twice as many young people reported frequent feelings of depression or anxiety in 2006 as in 1986.

 

Stephan Collishaw, Barbara Maughan, Lucy Natarajan, and Andrew Pickles from Cardiff University and the Institute of Psychiatry, London concluded was there has has indeed been a real and substantial increase in adolescent emotional problems in England over recent decades, especially among girls. The proportion of girls with five or more psychological symptoms doubled.

 

Published in the 'Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry', the study found that whether or not they were raised in an intact or socially advantaged family was associated with girls' mental health, but not boys'. 

 

Iryna Culpin from the School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol led a team which conducted a major study entitled, 'Father absence and depressive symptoms in adolescence: Findings from a UK cohort', whose results are just about to be published.

 

This team of researchers, including J. Heron, R. Araya, R. Melotti and C. Joinson, followed up 5631 UK children, and found an association between father absence during the first 5 years of life and increased depressive symptoms at 14 years. But father absence experienced during middle childhood (5–10 years) was not associated with increased depressive symptoms at 14 years.

 

The study - to be published in the medical journal 'Psychological Medicine', found that the association between father absence during the first 5 years of life and depressive symptoms at 14 years was stronger in girls than boys.

 

But exactly why girls are more sensitive to father absence during early childhood remains a mystery. The authors of the current study point to previous work which found father absence during the first 5 years is associated in daughters with earlier timing of first period, increased rate of sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, which are, in turn, associated with increased levels of depressive symptoms in girls.

 

Dr Benjamin Baig, Clinical Lecturer, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, points out that the age of first period has become younger by one year over the last 80 years. He suggests that modern childhood appears to mean becoming biologically older at a younger age, and displaying adult type psychiatric symptoms, chronologically earlier.

 

Karen Schepman, Stephan Collishaw, Frances Gardner, Barbara Maughan, Jacqueline Scott and Andrew Pickles in another study, posed the specific question, 'Do changes in parent mental health explain trends in youth emotional problems?'” English adolescents in 2006 were considerably more likely to be exposed to maternal emotional problems than their counterparts in 1986. The study published in 'Social Science and Medicine' found maternal emotional problems increased across all socio-demographic groups between 1986 and 2006, mirroring increases in adolescent emotional problems over this period. 

 

So if it's not so much bad parenting - but poor maternal mental health - which could be a major culprit, should another favourite media whipping boy - new technology - also still be in the frame for rising childhood mental health problems?   

 

A study just published entitled 'Older Versus Newer Media and the Well-being of United States Youth: Results From a National Longitudinal Panel', followed 719 nationally representative young people, ages 14-24 years in the USA, and found use of older media was more related to school grades. Television was negatively, and book readingpositively related to academic performance. 

 

The authors of the study, Daniel Romer, Zhanna Bagdasarov, and Eian More from the University of Pennsylvania, conclude that despite concerns that excessive use of new media is harmful to adolescent development, it's actuallytelevision which most detracts from academic performance and book reading which most supports it. 

 

Heavy use of the Internet and video gaming may in fact be more a symptom of mental health problems than a cause. The authors of the study, published in the 'Journal of Adolescent Health' point out that withdrawal from social activity, which is a symptom of depression, leads many young people to turn to media use as a replacement for hanging out with friends.

 

Depression in adolescents is linked with clinical low mood in adults, strengthening the case for early intervention if possible  

 

Yet Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists at the country's largest mental health trusts point out they face 30% cuts over the next two years.

 

Jane Costello, Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University in the USA, comments on the predicament: 'The bottom line is that services are so scarce that it hardly matters how many kids need them—the gap between need and availability is so huge.'

 

Cycles of unhappiness repeat themselves. Parental depression is associated with child and adolescent emotional problems, via a variety of pathways, and certainly not just genetic.

 

Given that parental mental health problems are amongst the strongest predictors of child and adolescent emotional disordersthis raises the prospect of a ‘vicious cycle’ of inter-generational transmission of anxiety and depression.

 

More support for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, is an investment not just for the present, but for the future.

 

49th Maudsley Debate: ‘Sick Children or Sick Society?’

 

“What should we make of the seemingly inexorable rise in psychiatric diagnoses in children?” Tuesday 15th October 2013, 6pm to 8pm (refreshments served from 5.30pm) Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Institute of Psychiatry Main Building, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF. All Welcome.

 

 


Improve your body language. Can better body language improve your career?

Body Language in Business

Decoding the Signals

Raj Persaud in conversation with Prof Adrian Furnham

Body Language in Business

Decoding the Signals

Adrian FurnhamEvgeniya Petrova

 

This book is about body language: signals we send and receive, messages we transmit and decipher, and 'statements' we make about ourselves nonverbally. Body language is the most primitive system of communication that we share with other species in the animal kingdom. We also use it in the board room and the salesroom to great or little effect. It is the language that we all speak regardless of background or upbringing. It is in our 'DNA': it is a part of our human nature, the very stuff of communication. 

 

In this book we seek to clarify a few issues. Firstly, we pose and answer the question what does it entail to communicate via body language. Secondly, we deal with the issues of how body language can be used and, regrettably, sometimes abused, to communicate. There is much confusion (and dare we say nonsense) about how to interpret nonverbal signals. Finally, we choose to concentrate on practical applications of these facts and observations to the world of work and business. Body language is important at work from the selection interview to the farewell speech. Nonverbal communication is also the essence of political propaganda, PR, marketing and advertising, and understanding of how these silent signals work can be a crucial asset to business as well as to consumers' education. 

 

This book will give you practical tips and advice about how to become better and more successful in business by reading and displaying the right body language.

 

A related article which may be of interest - does body language explain why women are found more attractive in high heels?

 

First published in The Huffington Post 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-raj-persaud/why-do-high-heels_b_3691829.html

 

Why do high heels make women more attractive?

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham.

 

High heels are fashionable, but uncomfortable, and can even lead to chronic foot damage. It doesn't make sense to favour footwear which harm and hurt feet, plus render it difficult to run from ancient and modern predators.

 

 

But if wearing high heels makes women more attractive, allowing them to be more choosy over a larger number of higher quality males competing for their attention, this could explain the evolutionary advantages of this fashion statement.

 

 

What's chic, what's in and what's out, should be predicted by evolutionary theory. Otherwise it will be judged by history as just a passing phase. Eventually as outmoded as shoulder pads from the 1980's.

 

 

Psychologists Paul Morris, Jenny White, Edward Morrison and Kayleigh Fisher from the University of Portsmouth, in the UK, have recently proposed a novel evolutionary theory about why women favour high heels.

 

 

As women normally walk differently from men, high heels may help exaggerate the particularly feminine aspects of gait. What these shoes do is make women walk even more like women.

 

 

Male gait involves greater velocity, longer stride length and slower rate. There are also differences in side swing. Men present more movement of the head and greater upper body side sway, whereas women display increased hip movement.

 

 

Gait is studied using point-light displays representing the body as a series of markers placed on key landmarks on limbs. In these experiments, the perceiver is presented with a pattern of dots on a screen. Because all they are seeing are dots moving, any impact on preferences or attractiveness has to be something to do with movement patterns, and not static physical appearance.

 

 

Perceivers are remarkably good at making sense of the patterns of movement of point-light display dots, and are able to distinguish between male and female gait. Just looking at moving dots representing movement of the whole body, it's possible reliably to allocate the walker as male or female.

 

 

In their recent study, entitled 'High heels as supernormal stimuli: How wearing high heels affects judgements of female attractiveness' the psychologists compared ratings of women walking in flat shoes, with the same women walking inhigh heels, in order to establish whether or not walking in high heels enhances the attractiveness of gait.

 

 

Thirty second video clips of the point-light displays of walkers in high heels and flat shoes were presented on a standard computer monitor.

 

 

The study, published in the academic journal 'Evolution and Human Behavior' found that for all walkers attractiveness was much higher in heels compared with the flat shoes condition. Both males and females judged high heels to be more attractive than flat shoes. Males and females also agreed which were the attractive and unattractive walkers.

 

 

The authors of the study conclude that high heels are an important part of the contemporary female wardrobe - the minimum number of high heeled shoes owned by those taking part in the experiment was four, and the maximum 25.

 

 

The results indicate that the female walk is perceived as much more attractive when wearing high heels than not. One, conscious or unconscious, motivation for women to wear high heels might therefore be to increase their attractiveness.

 

 

The effect seems highly consistent for each individual walker (i.e. all walkers were judged to be more attractive in the heels condition). The biomechanical results are also consistent with the theory that wearing high heels makes women look more attractive by making them more feminine, as the effect of heels was to exaggerate some sex specific elements of female gait including: greater pelvic rotation, increased vertical motion at the hip, shorter strides and higher number of steps per minute.

 

 

The authors of this new study contend that high heels appear to act in a similar way to  what is referred to in evolutionary theory as a 'super releaser'. For example, some birds prefer large artificial eggs that they cannot even sit on, to their own normal size eggs. Female Baboons with a larger than normal swelling of the bottom associated with the sexually receptive period of their cycle, arouse greater sexual interest in males.

 

 

High heels similarly exaggerate the sex specific aspects of the female walk which could cause sexual arousal in males. The normal stimulus of a woman walking is exaggerated by the wearing of high heels, producing a supernormal stimulus.

 

 

But there have been numerous fashions that have not been congruent with an evolutionary model. For example, female shoulder pads in the 1980s emphasised a particularly male aspect of the body. Flapper dresses in the 1920s didn't emphasise the female figure, the authors of this study point out.

 

 

Fashions by their very nature are ephemeral, but trends that endure (such as high heels for females) emphasise sex specific aspects of the body. Other styles, such as shoulder pads, will reoccur infrequently over time, as they are poorly matched with our biology. So predicts Evolutionary Psychology.

 

 

But genes, biology and evolution are not the only accounts of our preferences.

 

 

Maybe as the 1980's saw Britain's first female Prime Minister and the rise of women to positions of power, female fashion 'aped' men by shouting status and power to blend into the boardroom. As women took charge, they had to become 'masculine' in dress and appearance. Broad shoulders = alpha male = power and status.

 

 

'Workwear' for women still mimics male apparel eg sombre trouser suits. But this should also be a transient fashion if more women achieve high status roles.

 

 

 

Then they won't need to 'ape' men any more.

 

END

 

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx

 

 

Raj Persaud is joint podcast editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also now has a free app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

Direct download: Body20Language20for20Business.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 6:18pm UTC

Mental Illness in the Movies

Can Hollywood help us understand psychological problems, or do films just stigmatise mental illness?

 

 

Professor Danny Wedding is an eminent Professor of Psychology and Director of Behavioral Sciences for the American University of Antigua, a Caribbean medical school. He previously served as the Associate Dean for Management & International Programs at the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), Alliant International University for four years.

 

 

He is the co-author with Ryan Niemiec of an exciting new book entitled: 'Movies and Mental Illness - Using Films to Understand Psychopathology' published by Hogrefe.

 

If you are viewing this podcast from inside the free mobile phone app 'Raj Persaud in Conversation' you can click on the 'gift box' icon which might be on the top right hand corner of your screen to download bonus content - an article by Raj Persaud published in 'Eastern Eye' on how film might be influencing the psyche and the economy of a nation. You can also find this bonus content in the initial main menu screen that comes up when you open the app on the top right hand corner of the screen under a menu icon that reveals 'extras' - click on extras to see the bonus content.

 

Danny Wedding's new book

 

You can listen to this conversation between Raj Persaud and Professor Danny Wedding on a new free to download app on iTunes and google play store entitled 'Raj Persaud in conversation', which includes a lot of free information on the latest research findings in mental health, plus interviews with top experts from around the world. Download it free from these links

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dr-raj-persaud-in-conversation/id927466223?mt=8

 

Get the book from here:

http://www.amazon.com/Movies-Mental-Illnes-Understand-Psychopathology/dp/0889374619/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416471582&sr=1-1&keywords=movies+and+mental+illness+4

http://moviesandmentalillness.blogspot.co.uk/

 

FROM AMAZON:

 

The popular and critically acclaimed teaching tool - movies as an aid to learning about mental illness - has just got even better! Now with even more practical features and expanded contents: full film index, 'Authors' Picks', sample syllabus, and more international films. Films are a powerful medium for teaching students of psychology, social work, medicine, nursing, counseling, and even literature or media studies about mental illness and psychopathology. "Movies and Mental Illness", now available in an updated edition, has established a great reputation as an enjoyable and highly memorable supplementary teaching tool for abnormal psychology classes. Written by experienced clinicians and teachers, who are themselves movie aficionados, this book is superb not just for psychology or media studies classes, but also for anyone interested in the portrayal of mental health issues in movies. The core clinical chapters of "Movies and Mental Illness" each use a fabricated case history and Mini-Mental State Examination along with synopses and scenes from one or two specific, often well-known films to explain, teach, and encourage discussion about the most important disorders encountered in clinical practice. Each chapter also includes: Critical Thinking Questions (to consider when viewing the core movie/s); "Authors' Picks" (Top 10 Films); 'What To Read if You Only Have Time to Read One Book/Paper'; and, suggested topics for class discussions. Other features of the new, expanded edition include: Full index of films; Sample course syllabus; Ratings of more than 1,250 films (expanded by 25 per cent!); and, other fascinating appendices, such as 'Top 50 Heroes and Villains', psychotherapists in movies, misconceptions about mental illness in movies, and recommended websites.

A related article previously published in The Huffington Post which may be of interest:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/world-war-z-psychology-horror-films_b_3489235.html

 

What the Psychology of World War Z - And Horror Films in General - Tell Us About Ourselves

 

RAJ PERSAUD AND DAVID JAMES

 

The latest Brad Pitt block-buster movie World War Z - about a zombie apocalypse sweeping the world - has just opened in the UK. But does the immense global popularity of horror genre films like these reveal something dark lurking in our psyches? 

 

In a paper entitled Monsters Evolve: A Biocultural Approach to Horror Stories, Mathias Clasen from Aarhus University, recently argued that evolution has programmed our brains to be alert to, and fascinated by, violent danger in our environments. There was survival value in such hyper-vigilance.

 

The paper published in the academic journal Review of General Psychology, points out that the best way to get a sense of what life was like for hundreds of thousands of years for our ancestors, is to look at the everyday experiences of modern day so-called, primitive, hunter-gatherer tribes. A recent study of such foragers in Paraguay found 55% of all deaths were due to violence in one form or another.

Horror films, according to this theory, exploit our brains being wired up by our evolutionary past, to be gripped by any possibility of violence. 

 

What is particularly powerful about this evolutionary theory is that it follows that what scares us is remarkably similar, no matter what culture across the world we hail from. This is very different from what makes us laugh.

 

 

If you try watching a comedy film in a foreign language and from another culture, you're unlikely to find it anywhere near as amusing as one where you understand the language and the way of life. However, try watching a horror film under similar conditions, and even if you know nothing of the speech or society about which it's made, you're still likely to become scared.

 

But are there even murkier psychological reasons for why horror films are regarded within the industry as the most consistently performing Hollywood genre at the box office?

 

A study of 50 'Slasher' Horror films released in North America between 1960 and 2007, entitled Sex and Violence in the Slasher Horror Film: A Content Analysis of Gender Differences in the Depiction of Violence, found female characters were more likely, compared to male, to be victimized in scenes involving a concomitant presentation of sex and violence. 

 

The study by Dr Andrew Welsh, from the Department of Criminology and Contemporary Studies at Laurier Brantford University in Canada, argues that the origins of the modern 'slasher' movie can be traced back to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho(1960).

 

 

It's infamous shower scene introduced the basic plot elements of the male killer and the helpless female victim. These were to recur again and again in subsequent lucrative Horror film franchises including the Texas Chainsaw MassacreHalloween, and Friday the 13th.

 

Welsh argues that frequent depictions of nudity and immoral behaviour by victims, unfamiliar locations, sudden death scenes designed to maximize shock, have defined the slasher film formula since 'Psycho', and were all present in the original.

 

Welsh's study selected randomly 50 slasher horror films from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and 1960 was chosen as the starting point because Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, generally regarded as the first 'slasher' horror film, was released then. 

 

The findings of the study, published in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, include that forms of psychological aggression, such as intimidation, stalking, or chasing, disproportionately involved female characters compared to male. Violent interactions involving female victims were significantly longer in duration as compared to those involving a male victim. 

 

The study concludes that female characters in slasher horror films are significantly more likely to be victims in scenes involving sex and violence, as compared to male characters. Female characters are far more likely to be partially or fully naked and, when sexual and violent images are present, a woman is more likely to be the victim of attack.

 

This study of slasher horror films, reinforces concerns about women being frequently depicted in states of abject terror and helplessness. 

 

But the slasher horror 'formula' also includes the final surviving character usually being a woman. This is so common that she is referred to as the 'Final Girl'. Welch points out that other researchers are concerned that the surviving female character tends to possess 'idealized virginal qualities', distinguishing her from other non-surviving female characters. The underlying message is that female characters who defy traditional gender roles by engaging in assertive and/or promiscuous sexual behaviour, are punished.

 

This plot device appears to be echoed back in the original horror slasher movie -Psycho.

 

Zombie movies have also been subject to similar psychological analysis, and it's notable that ancient evolutionary fears of predation, contagion and the dead are all neatly combined by zombies. Such creatures being unequivocally bad and requiring terrific violence to dispatch them, might also appeal to unconscious aggressive motivations within us.

 

Christian Jarrett writing in The Psychologist, published by the British Psychological Society, points out in an article entitled, 'The lure of horror', zombies actually originated in Haiti. In reality they appear to have been the seriously mentally ill.

 

The fact horror films violate all everyday moral codes may be precisely their attraction. They provide a playground where we can indulge in the fantasy of not being governed by ethical complexity and rules. 

 

Because when you are facing death, life becomes refreshingly simple.

END

 

If you are interested in joining a conversation on the theme of mental illness in the movies, visit http://www.meetup.com/The-UK-CBT-Group/events/213809652/  to book tickets for a screening of ''A Dangerous Method' starring Kiera Knightley followed by a discussion open to the public chaired by Raj Persaud. In the audience will be members of the public as well as psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists, at the Royal College of Psychiatrists HQ, Prescott Street, Aldgate London, on 9th December at 6.30 for 7.00 pm - wine and canapés will be served.

 

 

 

 

Direct download: raj_persaud_in_conversation_with_danny_wedding.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm UTC

The Punisher's Brain
In conversation with Trial Judge Morris Hoffman - author of 'The Punisher's Brain'
 
A new book 'The Punishers Brain' authored by US Trial Judge Morris Hoffman, forms the basis of this discussion and podcast from Raj Persaud, Podcast Editor for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, on the latest neuroscience and psychology research about telling right and wrong. 
 
Dr Raj Persaud - Consultant Psychiatrist from London - talks to Morris Hoffman adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, about his fascinating new book entitled 'The Punisher's Brain' published by Cambridge University Press, which mounts various surprising arguments about how we decide what is right and what is wrong, and what we then do about it. Included in the conversation is a discussion about how some group therapy prison programs actually seem to make psychopaths worse, because they learn about human psychology from the group therapy, which they then exploit for their own ends! 
 
This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx

 
WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE OR DEVICE? DOWNLOAD THE FREE APP - RAJ PERSAUD IN CONVERSATION
 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud
 
 
From the Cambridge University Press Website:
 
Why do we punish, and why do we forgive? Are these learned behaviors, or is there something deeper going on? This book argues that there is indeed something deeper going on, and that our essential response to the killers, rapists, and other wrongdoers among us has been programmed into our brains by evolution. Using evidence and arguments from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Morris B. Hoffman traces the development of our innate drives to punish - and to forgive - throughout human history. He describes how, over time, these innate drives became codified into our present legal systems and how the responsibility and authority to punish and forgive was delegated to one person - the judge - or a subset of the group - the jury. Hoffman shows how these urges inform our most deeply held legal principles and how they might animate some legal reforms.
 
Reviews & endorsements
 
'A thought-provoking and engaging look at one of the oldest questions in morality and law - what is the point of punishment? With advances in the biological study of human nature, increased awareness of long-term historical progress in our attitudes toward retribution, and new concerns about current incarceration practices, this is an especially timely and important book.' Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature
 
 
A related article from The Huffington Post which may be of interest:
 

Does 'Pure Evil' Exist? Psychologists Investigate the Devils (and Angels) Amongst Us

 

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham

 

 

Are these examples of pure evil? Anders Breivik bombed buildings in 2011 killing eight people, then shot 69 others, mostly teenagers. He showed no remorse and took pride in his actions. In May 2013, three women and one six-year-old girl were rescued from kidnapper, Ariel Castro, having been held in captivity for around a decade in the USA. Following over 900 criminal counts, he killed himself just one month into a prison term of 1,000 years.

 

Psychologists Russell Webster and Donald Saucier have just published the most comprehensive scientific investigation into our beliefs over whether unadulterated wickedness exists. One interpretation is that accepting the existence of 'Pure Evil', reveals the true nature of deepest malevolence itself.

 

Those who believe in 'Pure Evil' consider bad or criminal behaviour is wilful, conscious and driven primarily by the wish to inflict harm, merely often for pleasure.

 

The psychologists, based at North Central College and Kansas State University in the USA point out that the 'Belief in Pure Evil' holds profound consequences for believers. As there would be no point in being patient, tolerant and understanding, when confronted with unalloyed villainy, then the only response should be eliminating such evil-doers, even if extreme actions are required.

 

If you believe in 'Pure Evil', you also deem that evil-doers will implacably continue being dangerous. This necessarily follows if certain culprits are indeed the embodiment of undiluted viciousness. On both sides of conflict, if each sees the other side as 'evil', this inevitably results in reciprocal and escalating prejudice with violence.

 

Perhaps scientists had been reluctant to study evil before because it seems religious, yet Russell Webster and Donald Saucier point out that cultures all over the world and throughout history, have a surprisingly similar "personal archetype of evil". This includes the conviction that "behind evil actions must lie evil individuals".

 

Their study entitled Angels and Demons Are Among Us: Assessing Individual Differences in Belief in Pure Evil and Belief in Pure Good, focused on the shape of malevolence in people's minds. The research found beliefs over the existence of 'Pure Evil' could reveal key aspects of character.

 

The series of investigations involving hundreds of participants found believing that others can be completely immoral, in turn leads to more aggressive plus hostile attitudes and behaviour. Believers in the existence of 'Pure Evil' are more pessimistic generally, see the world as a more vile and dangerous place, are more opposed to equality, endorse torture, the death penalty and pre-emptive military aggression.

 

Believers in 'Pure Evil' consider that trying to understand evil is futile, because 'Pure Evil' is a deeply ingrained part of character, and understanding will only foster greater empathizing with perpetrators, condoning their harmful behaviour.

 

This most comprehensive investigation, to date, into our views on deep malevolence, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, also found 'Belief in Pure Evil' was not associated with being religious.

 

Instead another conviction - the 'Belief in Pure Good' was. It appears from this study that those who believe in 'Pure Good' are fundamentally different from those who believe in 'Pure Evil'.

 

Believers in 'Pure Good' accept the existence of pure altruism, that some people, though rare, intentionally help others just for the sake of helping, with no personal benefit or hidden agenda. They also judge that even the most ghastly perpetrators - ie wayward criminals, can see "the error of their ways" and reform, ie they are not 'Purely Evil'. Those who more strongly believed in 'Pure Good', supported criminal rehabilitation and opposed the death penalty.

 

Those who score higher in 'Belief in Pure Good' are more likely to believe that doing good means not harming others (unless one's country or allies are directly endangered). People scoring higher in 'Belief in Pure Evil' feel that pre-emptive violence and aggression are justified to root out evil-doers.

 

'Belief in Pure Good' was associated strongly with being religious, as well as those reporting more secular volunteering. The authors speculated that 'Belief in Pure Evil' and religiosity were not as strongly associated as might be expected, because organized religions may recently be downplaying the role of battling evil. But perhaps the sample studied did not contain enough evangelical or fundamentalist participants.

 

Believing strongly in 'Pure Good' was related to less aggression, supporting diplomacy over violence as an approach to foreign affairs, and being against torture.

 

Russell Webster and Donald Saucier point out that part of the belief in 'Pure Good' is that it surely cannot be corrupted by the forces of evil. 'Pure Good' can resist temptations over joining the "dark side" (using 'Star Wars' terminology).

 

Yet apparent do-gooders like Mother Theresa and Gandhi, may have had their reputations tarnished in recent years by various re-evaluations, casting doubt that both these characters, (and many others apparently 'Purely Good'), were in fact as virtuous as first thought.

 

This modern drive to doubt that 'Pure Good' really does exist, could have grave and far-reaching implications, in terms of our pessimism about each other.

 

Doubting 'Pure Good' exists may justify people's apathy over helping others: If 'everybody is selfish', then theoretically we need not feel guilty about our own self-interested behaviour, or endeavour to be more helpful.

 

Believers in 'Pure Good' tended to think more deeply about the causes for other's behaviour, while believers in 'Pure Evil' scored significantly lower on this.

 

So, do you know of selfless good work epitomizing pure good ("angels")? Or are you aware of others who because of their selfish hostility appear to display pure evil ("demons")?

 

If you believe 'angels' and 'demons' live amongst us, that pure good and pure evil exist, this conviction has just been found by this research to profoundly influence your own behaviour and outlook on life.

 

If you believe in 'Pure Evil' it seems you are not convinced 'Pure Good' exists - perhaps because you suppose it will be overcome by 'Pure Evil'. If you feel there is 'Pure Good', then it appears you tend not to accept 'Pure Evil'; maybe you consider 'Pure Good' will triumph over 'Evil'.

 

If you believe in 'Pure Evil' you are more likely to react aggressively to wrong-doing, while if you deem 'Pure Good' exists, you're more optimistic about human nature, and believe that the bad can change, supporting programmes that see the better side of people.

 

One interpretation of this study is that Believers in 'Pure Good' and 'Pure Evil' end up behaving a bit like the angels and demons they perceive as existing in the world.

 

We become the very Demons and Angels we think exist.

 

We make them come true.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Direct download: Raj_Persaud_in_conversation_with_Morris_Hoffman.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm UTC

Are we all narcissists now? 'The Americanization of Narcissism'

Are we all narcissists now?

 

Discussing her new book with psychiatrist Raj Persaud, Professor Elizabeth Lunbeck explains 'The Americanization of Narcissism' published by Harvard University Press.

 

This is an important tome because it critically tackles the way the modern age thinks of itself. 

 

Lunbeck identifies some key moments in the notion that this is a particularly narcissistic age. One seems to be the publication of Christopher Lasch’s ‘Culture of Narcissism’, while another is Jimmy Carter’s late 1970’s, so called ‘malaise’ speech, which was a critique of modern North America. 

 

Lunbeck documents that the popular media seems to have got somewhat obsessed with the idea we are more narcissistic than ever before, but she also points out that psychoanalysts contend, there is this thing called healthy narcissism. 

 

We seem currently caught between two ideas – that high self-esteem is good for you but narcissism is bad? Are these contradictory positions resolvable?

 

We also now seem to believe that wealth inevitably leads to narcissism? And also that capitalism inexorably encourages narcissism? 

 

Given that narcissists are generally found good company and attractive, is it possible that the real problem is the 'failed' narcissist? 

 

There is also an important chapter in the book on identity  - perhaps what is genuinely different about the modern age is we are freer to choose our identity more than ever before? 

 

Is there a national anxiety about this?

 

To purchase this fascinating book visit these sites:

 

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674724860

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Americanization-Narcissism-Elizabeth-Lunbeck/dp/0674724860

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dr-Raj-Persaud-Latest-Users/dp/B0082XNF40

 

 

A related article from The Huffington Post which may be of interest: 

 

'I Should Like to Thank the Academy...' - The Psychology of Acceptance Speeches at the Oscars

 

Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/the-oscars-psychology_b_4886414.html

 

http://rajpersaud.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/i-should-like-to-thank-the-academy-the-psychology-of-acceptance-speeches-at-the-oscars-raj-persaud-and-peter-bruggen/

 

A recent study by Cheryl Morrier at Adelphi University, USA, investigated student and semi-professional female and male actors. Actors emerged as significantly more narcissistic than the general population. Entitled 'Success in acting: The roles of narcissism, depression and attractiveness', the research found the more narcissistic actors were also more physically attractive.

 

So those most in love with themselves maybe had partly an objective reason to be so?

 

Narcissism consists of feeling superior to everyone else, accompanied by a sense of entitlement to success and accolades.

 

Possibly the highest concentration of narcissism in the world each year assembles on the red carpet at the Oscars ceremony, because narcissists believe they are special people deserving of fame and recognition. As a result they tend to pursue careers where they are the centre of attention. Narcissists suffer an unrequited need for admiration, so their choice of work usually serves these ends. But after a while, they become difficult to bear because they are so grandiose, self-centred and demanding.

 

Narcissists are great on a first date but terrible at marriage.

 

It is precisely because they tend to score low on being team-players that they become eventually unpopular with those close to them. This might also partly explain the notoriously high divorce and relationship breakdown rate in Hollywood.

 

So a hidden pressure of Oscar night is the psychological tightrope narcissists tread on the red carpet. Convention requires they give an acceptance speech which thanks others and indicates humility - acknowledging the contribution of colleagues to their own success.

 

But deep down do narcissists really believe this?

 

Yet they must give an acceptance speech which makes them look good. So they should appear surprised at winning when the cameras turn to them, and they mustn't seem bitter at losing. Acting humble serves the inevitable narcissistic project of seeking admiration.

 

They mustn't in their acceptance speech, at all costs, inadvertently go over to the 'dark side'. Psychologists refer to the 'dark triad' of personality features likely to be found in this group as being manipulative (acting humble), psychopathic (no remorse over back-stabbing) and narcissistic (self-obsession).

 

A clue as to how difficult is the paradox narcissists must confront in the acceptance speech comes from a recent study entitled 'Are Narcissists Sexy? Zeroing in on the Effect of Narcissism on Short-Term Mate Appeal'. 61 single hetero-sexual men were asked to approach on the street 25 women whom they would genuinely like to get to know better.

 

The men had the aim to gather personal contact information from the women. In the experiment, published in the journal, 'Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin', research assistants debriefed the women after the study, collecting ratings about the man and the interaction. The higher the approaching man scored on narcissism, the more personal contacts they received from unacquainted women, and the more appealing they were rated by these women.

 

The authors of the study, Michael Dufner , John Rauthmann, Anna Czarna and Jaap Denissen found that it was the social boldness and their tendency to 'self-enhance' while in conversation that explained their greater appeal for a romantic relationship. So 'bigging yourself up' in fact does seem to make you more attractive - at least in the shorter term.

 

Psychologists Robert Raskin and Robert Shaw, then at the University of California at Berkeley, found those who score higher on narcissism tend to use more first-person-singular pronouns (words like 'I', 'me' and 'myself') compared to other pronouns. So this study entitled 'Narcissism and the use of personal pronouns', published in theJournal of Personality, suggests that how narcissistic the actor giving the acceptance speech really is, despite their best efforts to manipulatively hide it, may be revealed by how often they use first person singular pronouns.

 

Perhaps a new psychology game on Oscar night is for the audience to count the number of references to 'I', 'me' and 'myself', as the acceptance speaker apparently eats humble pie.

 

A study entitled, 'I'd Like to Thank the Academy, Team Spillovers, and Network Centrality', analysed films released between 1936 and 2005, used Academy Award nominations for acting, to investigate how much an actor really owes their success in the Oscars to colleagues and collaborations.

 

The authors of the study, Gabriel Rossman, Nicole Esparza and Phillip Bonacich, argue that narcissists might be right - it could be their 'star power' which determines whether they get an Oscar or not. Star power might be measured by prominence in credits and billing on Film Posters for example.

 

The study published in American Sociological Review found actors' billing could be vital. For example, Judi Dench had only eight minutes of screen time in the filmShakespeare in Love (1998), but nonetheless was one of only five names on the film's poster, and she won an Oscar for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I.

 

The rank order in credits, the authors of the study argue, represents a casting director's estimate of an actor's star power and bargaining clout in negotiating rank. It's therefore a good measure of status.

 

However, there is competing theory which is that it's working with the right people which helps you get the Oscar.

 

The authors of the study, based at the University of California - Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, consider the actor Robert Forster, who had a long but mostly obscure career as a character actor. Yet in 1998 he was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for the role of bail bondsman Max Cherry in the movieJackie Brown (1997). The film was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino who had previously been nominated for best director and best original screenplay (winning the latter) for Pulp Fiction (1994).

 

Forster's co-stars included prior nominees Samuel L. Jackson and Robert DeNiro. Forster's career apparently immediately returned to relative obscurity after Jackie Brown, demonstrating how much his nomination for that film benefited from Tarantino, Jackson, and DeNiro.

 

However, even actors who are themselves major stars may benefit from working with strong teams, argue the authors of the study.

 

Leonardo DiCaprio might be an A-list actor, but his first nomination came from collaboration with an Academy-nominated director (Lasse Hallstrom) and his second from collaboration with Hollywood's top director (Martin Scorsese) and an Academy-nominated writer (John Logan).

 

The study found star power did have an effect on Academy Award success, but that the prestige and merits of a film actor's collaborators, particularly the writer and director, greatly increased chances for Academy recognition.

 

The authors of the study conclude that there is a very good reason that Academy Award acceptance speeches are so long--they should be - an actor's collaborators might be largely responsible for the achievement.

 

On the other hand, maybe the narcissists have the last laugh - you earn good team-mates by being seen as worthy of them.

 

But before we look down on narcissists and their mind games, perhaps due humility would suggest we all acknowledged the role of others in any success of ours.

 

Yet how often do we do that?

 

Read more on the hidden psychology of the Academy Awards:

http://rajpersaud.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/hidden-psychology-of-the-academy-awards-reveals-a-bias-against-actresses-by-raj-persaud-and-adrian-furnham/

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/oscars-2013-bias-against-actresses_b_2757259.html

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motivated-Mind-Raj-Persaud/dp/0553813455/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411993712&sr=1-1&keywords=the+motivated+mind

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx


When planes go missing. Psychology explains missing Malaysian Airlines Jet?

Should the mental health of pilots be of more concern? 

Dr Raj Persaud in conversation with Professor Robert Bor - a Professor of Aviation Psychology

Pilot suicide has been implicated in the controversy surrounding the missing Malaysian Airlines Jet and one of the foremost world authorities on pilot psychology, Professor Robert Bor, discusses with Raj Persaud the nature of Pilot Suicide.

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aviation-Mental-Health-Psychological-Transportation/dp/0754643719/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411244735&sr=1-12&keywords=robert+bor

 

A related article on The Huffington Post which may be of interest:

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/pilot-suicide_b_5027742.html

 

How Likely Is Pilot Suicide a Cause of the Malaysian Airlines Crash - In the Opinion of Mental Health Experts?

Dr Raj Persaud and Dr Peter Bruggen

The current theory apparently being promoted by officials is that the crash of the Malaysian plane may have been an act of suicide, most probably by a pilot.

 

But do mental health experts agree that this is the most likely explanation of this deepening mystery?

 

Professor Robert Bor is a Clinical and Specialist Aviation psychologist, co-editing with Todd Hubbard, the key book on the subject of pilot mental health: entitled 'Aviation Mental Health'. It is published by Ashgate.

 

The book considers the psychological assessment, management, treatment and care of pilots as well as other professional groups within aviation.

 

Professor Bor, in response to the latest theory of pilot suicide in the case of the Malaysian Airlines Jet, is careful not to rule out the suicide possibility, but cautions that this is incredibly rare. When it happens, it is much more commonly in private pilots, who are not licensed to carry passengers.

 

But Professor Bor concedes that incidents involving commercial pilots are not unknown, and he points to the example of an Air Botswana pilot, who in 1999 crashed his plane into other aircraft on the ground of an airport in an apparent suicide mission.

 

The act appeared to be by a disgruntled employee, angry with the airline and his employers, wanting to take revenge. This suggests that if a commercial pilot kills themselves in this way, grievance towards the airline could be a key motivation.

 

This is probably being covertly investigated right now in the Malaysian Airlines case.

 

The Air Botswana pilot flew a commercial plane without permission and without passengers. He may have been angry and despairing that he had been grounded due to ill health. He may have thought he was never going to fly again. During negotiations with the tower, as he flew around the airport, he was said to have threatened to fly into the Air Botswana Office Building.

 

Within 24 hours of the Air Malaysian Flight going missing, Professor Bor explains that inquiries into the backgrounds of the two pilots would have been initiated, to investigate a similar suicide motive.

 

He elaborates that investigations into the pilots' mental health profiles would review spending patterns, possible relationship difficulties, drug use and any other behavioural disturbances.

 

But the Air Botswana incident involved a key life event, being grounded and discovery of a career-threatening health problem, none of which appears to have yet emerged in the Malaysian scenario. This reduces the possible likelihood of suicide, in Professor Bor's opinion. However, he concedes anything, at this stage, is possible. 

Another problem with the suicide theory is that, in the Air Botswana case, as reported by sources quoted by Reuters news agency, the pilot threatened suicide not just during the flight itself: he had repeatedly warned authorities that he was going to kill himself.

 

Professor Bor points out, 'no one wakes up one morning and suddenly decides to kill themselves', usually the intent emerges over a longer time. Yet given pilots are probably the most scrutinised profession on earth, it seems unlikely that even minor aberrations would have gone undetected before.

 

Commercial pilots don't just have frequent medical checks, they are being closely observed by colleagues on the flight deck as well as by other professionals, during, before and after flights. (Some planes haven't been allowed to leave the ground because the dispatcher smelt alcohol on the breath of a pilot.)

 

Professor Bor points to another case which may provide clues as to what happened.

 

In 1994, a Federal Express cargo Flight flying across the USA became the victim of an attempted hi-jacking by an employee facing dismissal. He boarded as a passenger with a case hiding several hammers. He intended to disable the aircraft's systems so that events were not properly recorded and, once airborne, to kill the crew using the hammers so injuries would appear caused by the crash. The plan was then to collide the aircraft, so the perpetrator would appear just another employee killed in an accident. His family would become eligible for a $2.5 million Federal Express life insurance policy.

 

But despite severe injuries, the crew fought back, restrained the perpetrator and landed the plane safely.

 

Dr Jennifer Morse, a consultant in Aerospace Psychiatry and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at University of California San Diego Medical School, co-authored with Professor Robert Bor the chapter on the mental health of pilots in the book 'Aviation Mental Health'.

 

In their joint chapter they draw attention to Egypt Air Flight 990 which crashed in 1990, and where the relief first officer was recorded as saying 'I rely on God' just before disengaging the autopilot. He then went on to make the statement 11 times during the plane's impending crash, without any apparent emotion. While suicide seems the most likely cause, the precise motive remains mysterious.

Morse and Bor report an estimate between 0.72% and 2.4% of general aviation accidents are as a result of pilot suicide, and a history of psychiatric or domestic problems have been found in such post-crash inquiries and investigations.

 

Morse and Bor point out that one possible reason why a commercial suicidal pilot might choose to crash their plane, is that the evidence it was a suicide might be thus destroyed, so protecting their family, and the memory of the pilot, from the 'shame' of suicide. 

 

Using the plane as the instrument of death might also be psychologically entwined with resentment against the stress of the job, or grudges against the airline employer.

 

But Professor Bor also points out that psychology is crucially involved in the search for the plane and investigation of the cause, given the danger of a psychological phenomenon termed 'confirmation bias'.

 

Confirmation Bias occurs when you've already made your mind up and this biases the way you approach the evidence. The search for this plane may have been fatally hampered by a series of 'confirmation biases'.

 

It's vital, Professor Bor argues, that crash investigators remain open-minded and don't start looking merely for confirmation of a prior held theory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx


Russia abuses psychiatry. Russia Returns to Political Abuse of Psychiatry?

Is Psychiatry a Political Tool of the State?

 

Why are professional psychiatric organisations in the rest of the world reluctant to be critical of Russian Psychiatry, when it abuses diagnosis and turns it into a political tool?

 

A new paper in the academic journal 'International Psychiatry' published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists explores the issue: 'Is there a resumption of political psychiatry in the former Soviet Union?' by Robert van Voren

 

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PUB_IPv11n3.pdf

 

Robert van Voren (1959) is Chief Executive of the Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry (FGIP) and Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Ilia State University in Tbilisi (Georgia) and at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas (Lithuania). He is a Sovietologist by education and graduated from Amsterdam University (modern and theoretical history + Russian language) in 1986, and defended his doctoral dissertation in Kaunas (Lithuania) in October 2010. 


Starting in 1977 he became active in the Soviet human rights movement. For many years he traveled to the USSR as a courier, delivering humanitarian aid and smuggling out information on the situation in camps, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. The information was used in Western campaigns for the release of Soviet dissidents. Van Voren led the international campaigns against the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR, as well as in defense of individual political prisoners such as Irina Grivnina and Anatoly Koryagin. He also organized eight annual Sakharov Congresses in Amsterdam as a contribution to the campaign to bring about the release of this Nobel Peace Prize winner.

 

In 1980 Robert van Voren co-founded the International Association on Political Use of Psychiatry (the predecessor of GIP) and became its General Secretary in 1986. He was Director of the Second World Center in Amsterdam and board member of many organizations in the field of human rights and mental health.

 

In 1997 Robert van Voren was elected Honorary Fellow of the British Royal College of Psychiatrists, and in 2003 he was given Lithuanian citizenship in recognition of his contribution to a democratic Lithuanian State. In 2005 he was knighted in the Order of Oranje-Nassau on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of GIP. Van Voren has written extensively on Soviet issues and, in particular, issues related to mental health and human rights, and published more than a dozen of books.

FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION OFFICIAL DOCUMENT:

PSYCHIATRY AS A TOOL FOR COERCION IN POST-SOVIET 

COUNTRIES 

Abstract

During the 1960-1980s in the USSR, psychiatry was turned into a tool of repression. Soviet psychiatry was cut off from world psychiatry and developed its own - highly institutional and biologically oriented – course, providing at the same time a “scientific justification” for declaring dissidents mentally ill. Since the collapse of the USSR there have been frequent reports of persons hospitalized for non-medical reasons, mostly in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. 

 

 

The abuses are caused by an underdeveloped mental health profession with little knowledge of medical ethics and professional responsibilities of physicians; by a system that is highly abusive and not able to guarantee the rights of patients; because of corrupt societies where also psychiatric diagnoses are for sale; because of lack of financing and interest by the authorities and in some cases because of a deteriorating political climate in which local authorities feel safe to use psychiatry again as a tool of repression. 

 

 

Through targeted interventions from outside the situation could be considerably ameliorated and a clear break with the past could be made possible. In this respect the European Parliament can play a crucial role in empowering those who wish to make a clear break with the Soviet past.

 

Is there a resumption of political psychiatry in the former Soviet Union?

 

Robert van Voren

 

INTERNATIONAL PSYCHIATRY VOLUME 11 NUMBER 3 AUGUST 2014

 

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PUB_IPv11n3.pdf

 

ABSTRACT

 

After the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 

the spring of 2014, the former Soviet Union 

again became front-page news. The sequence 

of events led to an atmosphere reminiscent of 

the Cold War. In Russia itself it led to a hunt 

for ‘national traitors’ and ‘foreign agents’ and 

observers both inside the country and abroad 

fear a return to Soviet-style repression. For the 

outside world this may come as a surprise, but 

human rights activists have been ringing the 

alarm bells for a few years. Ever since Vladimir 

Putin took power, the human rights situation 

has deteriorated. One of the warning signs was 

the return of the use of psychiatry for political 

purposes, to ‘prevent’ social or political activism 

or to ostracise an activist.

 

A RELATED ARTICLE IN THE HUFFINGTON POST WHICH MAY BE OF INTEREST

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/ameila-earhart_b_4964304.html

 

Does the Disappearance of Ameila Earhart's Aeroplane, and Similar Enigmas, Reveal Your Psychology?

 
RAJ PERSAUD
 
When puzzling things happen which cannot be readily explained by official accounts - how does the public decide what to believe? What you end up accepting as true, about what really happened when a plane goes missing, for example, might reveal more about your personality, than you realise.

New research has examined in unprecedented detail the public's beliefs over the disappearance of famous aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, 70 years ago. This remains one of the most notorious flight disappearances. Speculation over what happened to their missing plane has spawned a small industry in books and theories.

Psychologists investigating pubic beliefs about what truly happened to Amelia Earhart have now found that conjecture over similar events, is associated with your intelligence, and even how agreeable your personality is.

Amelia Earhart, was an aviation pioneer, the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross; setting numerous aviation records. In 1937 Earhart attempted to fly around the world with second navigator Fred Noonan. On July 2, Earhart and Noonan departed from Lae, New Guinea, destined for Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean. But radio transmission with them was lost, and, despite an unprecedented search, no physical evidence of Earhart, Noonan, or their aircraft was found.

Explanations for the disappearance range from those generally accepted by researchers and historians (that they ran out of fuel and crashed at sea, or landed on an uninhabited island), to unsupported claims (that Earhart and Noonan were in fact spying on the Japanese in the Pacific), to the bizarre (that they landed safely and assumed new identities or were abducted by aliens).

Viren Swami and Adrian Furnham investigated the beliefs, over what really happened to Amelia Earhart's missing plane, of 433 women and 481 men from London.

The study entitled 'Examining Conspiracist Beliefs About the Disappearance of Amelia Earhart', found that only 32% of participants in fact selected the most plausible explanation, as ranked by experts with knowledge about Earhart or aviation history. This theory is that their aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed at sea, not far from Howland Island.

The research published in 'The Journal of General Psychology', found just under 13% of the public shun this most accepted view, and believe instead that the pair survived the flight, returned to the United States, and assumed new identities (a theory deemed relatively implausible by historians), while 4.5% believed that Earhart and Noonan were abducted by aliens.

Almost 10% of the public believe Earhart and Noonan intentionally downed their aircraft near Japanese occupied territory, so that the US Navy could spy on the Japanese during the subsequent rescue mission, and were safely picked up by the Navy.

When official or mainstream accounts struggle to account for a significant event, so-called 'conspiracy theories' offer alternative explanations.

Conspiracy theories might offer a voice for the powerless or disadvantaged, particularly during crises when mainstream accounts have become erroneous or unreliable - a chink in the armour of the oppressors.

On the other hand, 'conspiracy theories' may serve to bolster self-esteem - 'I'm cleverer than the official man on TV because I can work out what's really going on'. The ability to express an arresting alternative account might impress an audience, and gain attention as well as respect socially.

But do such alternative theories about what really happened merely reveal the believer to be paranoid?

This study suggests it is personality and other psychological traits that are associated with conspiracist ideas.

Perhaps the more mistrustful believe in a vast, insidious, effective international conspiratorial network, perpetrating fiendish acts. Evidence that believing in conspiracy theories simply means more paranoia, rather than deeper insight, comes from studies which find those who subscribe to conspiracy theories, are more likely to start believing plots that are definitely fictional. These are conspiracy theories that have been made-up for the purposes of conducting psychology experiments on them, but do not in fact exist outside the laboratory.

Previous psychological research has found that being attracted to conspiracy type theories, for example, over what really happened when a plane goes missing, might be associated with greater alienation from those around you, more distrust in authority, elevated political cynicism, a deeper sense of powerlessness and lower self-esteem.

The new study, from authors based at University College London and the University of Westminster, on what people consider really happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, found that believing in less plausible, or less accepted, theories was associated with your personality being more 'disagreeable', which means your character could be more suspicious and antagonistic.

The study also found that that trust in less reputable explanations for the disappearance of the plane was associated with faith in other conspiracies, and possibly with lower intelligence.

It has been suggested that the more simplified explanations of complex phenomena offered by conspiracy theories, are more readily accepted by those with lower intellectual ability.

Perhaps the most sobering finding of the Amelia Earhart study is that only 32% of participants selected the most plausible explanation for her missing plane, as ranked by Earhart or aviation experts.

This minority might indicate a significant, and even growing gap, between official or expert accounts of mysterious or unexplained phenomena, and what the public believe.

One should be cautioned against drawing links between the Amelia Earhart example and the missing Malaysian Airlines Jet, as they are very different types of event.

But Governments are concerned about the spread of rumours, when official explanations struggle to convince. This can cause panic, undermining public confidence in leaders and social order. 'Someone's suppressing the truth' begins to grow as a conviction explaining this type of enigma.

So significant puzzles that gain world attention, even after the mystery is resolved, could have wider repercussions.

Perhaps missing planes and similar incidents are evidence that the authorized versions of reality need to be scrutinised a lot more closely, than we would otherwise routinely feel comfortable, given how much we rely on official reassurance over what is safe, and what isn't.

It's only if we are prepared to confront this discomfort, that we might discover, the truth is not always as it is presented.

 

WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE OR DEVICE? DOWNLOAD THE FREE APP - Raj Persaud in Conversation

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rajpersaud.android.rajpersaud

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx

Direct download: DR-100_0064.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm UTC

Funeral Mania explained. Is there such a thing as 'Funeral Mania'?

It is said some go high at funerals - is this a real phenomenon?

Raj Persaud in Conversation with Katherine Keyes. 

Katherine Keyes is Associate Professor of Epidemiology Columbia University and with serveral colleagues had published a study in the 'American Journal of Psychiatry' investigating what happens when people suffer one of the worst stresses of all - the unexpected death of a loved one. She talks to Consultant Psychiatrist Raj Persaud about her study which with colleagues appears to have verified there really is such a thing as 'Funeral Mania'.

The Burden of Loss: Unexpected Death of a Loved One and Psychiatric Disorders Across the Life Course in a National Study

Katherine M. Keyes, Ph.D.; Charissa Pratt, M.P.H.; Sandro Galea, M.D., Dr.P.H.; Katie A. McLaughlin, Ph.D.; Karestan C. Koenen, Ph.D.; M. Katherine Shear, M.D.

Am J Psychiatry 2014;171:864-871. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13081132

Abstract

Objective  Unexpected death of a loved one is common and associated with subsequent elevations in symptoms of multiple forms of psychopathology. Determining whether this experience predicts novel onset of psychiatric disorders and whether these associations vary across the life course has important clinical implications. The authors examined associations of a loved one’s unexpected death with first onset of common anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders in a population-based sample.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dr-Raj-Persaud-Latest-Users/dp/B0082XNF40

 

A related article from The Huffington Post which may be of interest:

 

 

Do Near Death Experiences Finally Confirm the After-life?

RAJ PERSAUD AND PETER BRUGGEN

A new near death experience study, widely reported in the media this week, found high levels of brainwaves at the point of death in rats. Published in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the University of Michigan research discovered in the 30-second period after the rodent's hearts stopped beating, there was a sharp increase in high-frequency brainwaves.

'Near death experience' or NDE research remains a key divide between religion and science - can consciousness function independently of the human body, and therefore, survive bodily death? Could this then prove the existence of a 'soul', and confirm ghosts, plus other paranormal or spiritual phenomena?

A near death experience is defined as unusual recollections associated with a period of unconsciousness during either serious illness or injury, or resuscitation from a cardiac or respiratory arrest. Some people who might have been technically dead, seem to report experiences 'near or beyond death'.

Dean Mobbs from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge and Caroline Watt from the University of Edinburgh Department of Psychology, recently published a paper entitled, There is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences: how neuroscience can explain seeing bright lights, meeting the dead, or being convinced you are one of them, which vigorously rejects any spiritual account.

Published in the journal 'Trends in Cognitive Sciences', Dean Mobbs and Caroline Watt explain that while 3% of Americans declare near-death experiences, such as feeling the soul leaving the body, approaching a bright light and entering another reality, where love and bliss are all encompassing, there are other scientific accounts for all these phenomena.

They report over 50% of those who recount near-death experiences were not in fact in that much mortal danger, so a serious problem for the spiritual account is that, for many experiencers, NDE's aren't revealing what happens near death, but merely what happens when one believes one is in danger of dying.

The lead author of the rat study so widely reported this week, Dr Jimo Borjigin, suggested that the dying brain was also not shutting down as might be expected, but instead, "If anything, it is much more active during the dying process than even the waking state."

Dean Mobbs and Caroline Watt also point out that psychiatric phenomena such as 'Cotard' or 'walking corpse' syndrome, named after the French neurologist Jules Cotard, which results in the feeling and conviction of being dead, could explain some of the peculiar sensations reported in Near Death Experiences.

Mobbs and Watt report that in NDEs, 50% experience being dead, 24% said that they had had an out-of-body experience, 31% remembered moving through a tunnel, and 32% reported meeting with deceased people. Mobbs and Watt contend that electrical stimulation of brain regions can result in a sense of presence (i.e. someone is standing behind us). Meeting deceased people could therefore be hallucinations due to compensatory over-activation in brain structures near areas damaged by whatever is causing death.

But other academics vigorously disagree with Mobbs and Watts attempts to explain Near Death Experiences invoking a purely scientific or non-spiritual account.

For example, in a paper entitled Seeing Dead People Not Known to Have Died: "Peak in Darien" Experiences, Bruce Greyson from the Division of Perceptual Studies, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia Health System, argues that in his collection of 665 NDEs, 138 (21%) included a purported meeting with a deceased person, whereas only 25 (4%) included an encounter with a living human.

While this discrepancy might be viewed as evidence of post-mortem survival of the persons seen, it might also be no more than an expression of the dying person's expectations of imminent death.

But Bruce Greyson points out that more troubling for the scientific account of Near Death Experiences is where those on their deathbeds see, and often express surprise at meeting, a recently deceased person, of whose death neither they nor anyone around them had any knowledge. This excludes the possibility that the vision was a hallucination related to the experiencer's expectations.

Such NDEs are termed "Peak in Darien" cases, after a book by that name published in 1882 by Frances Power Cobbe. The title is taken from a John Keats poem describing the shock of the Spaniards, who, after scaling a peak in Darien (in what is now Panama), expect to see a continent, but are confronted instead with another ocean.

Bruce Greyson reports in his paper, published in the academic journal 'Anthropology and Humanism', many examples, including that of Physician K. M. Dale who related the case of 9-year-old Eddie Cuomo, whose fever finally broke after nearly 36 hours of anxious vigil on the part of his parents and hospital personnel. As soon as he opened his eyes, at 3:00 in the morning, Eddie related that he had been to heaven, where he saw his deceased Grandpa Cuomo, Auntie Rosa, and Uncle Lorenzo. Then Eddie added that he also saw his 19-year-old sister Teresa, who told him he had to go back. His father became agitated, because he had spoken with Teresa, who was attending college in Vermont, just two nights ago. Later that morning, Eddie's parents learned that Teresa had been killed in an automobile accident just after midnight, and that college officials had tried unsuccessfully to reach the Cuomos at their home.

Bruce Greyson relates many other examples, including cases in which the deceased person seen was someone whom the experiencer had never known. For example, Greyson reports cardiologist Maurice Rawlings describing the case of a 48-year-old man who had a cardiac arrest. In a NDE he perceived a gorge full of beautiful colours, where he met both his stepmother and his biological mother, who had died when he was 15 months old. His father had remarried soon after his biological mother's death, and this person had never even seen a photo of her. A few weeks after this episode, his aunt, having heard about this vision, brought a picture of his mother with a number of other people. The man picked his mother out of the group, to the astonishment of his father.

In response to Bruce Greyson's critique that the non-spiritual account of near death experiences ignores difficult to explain phenomena as above, Dean Mobbs points out that such cases Greyson has marshalled are all anecdotal reports, and therefore difficult to rigorously verify.

The spiritual understanding of what happens to us differs from the scientific view because it places greater faith in human experience, and these death-bed stories. Science demands proof that comes from brain scanners, replication and precise measurement.

But because these extraordinary accounts will always exist, does that mean religion will forever survive the onslaught of science?

Or could it be that our first proper glimpse of heaven will instead shortly arrive from a brain scan?

 

 

 

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx


Are delusions that irrational?

How do you know when you are being irrational?

 

Raj Persaud in conversation with Lisa Bortolotti a Professor of Philosophy interested in delusions and irrationality. Are delusions really that different from other commonly held beliefs? If this is the case then this is a fundamental challenge to psychiatry, as delusions lie at the very heart of the psychiatric understanding of mental illness.

 

Professor Lisa Bortolotti MA (London), BPhil (Oxon), PhD (ANU)


Professor of Philosophy University of Birmingham

A philosopher of the cognitive sciences, focusing on the

philosophy of psychology and psychiatry.

 

Description

Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs is a contribution to the debate about the nature of delusions and to the literature on the conditions for belief ascription. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This monograph was published by Oxford University Press 
(International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry series)
in November 2009. It was awarded the American Philosophical Association
 
A symposium on the book appeared in a special issue of Neuroethics (2012).
 
The book was also included in the Current World Literature published by 
Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 24 (6), 2011, and rated as "of outstanding interest"
(category History & Philosophy > Recent developments in naturalizing the mind).
 
From 'Reading about Philosophy of Psychiatry' by Matthew Broome, The Psychiatrist Online, August 2013
"One of the most important works on delusions is Bortolotti’s Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs, a book that examines the core features of delusions in relation to other mental states, demonstrating that many non-delusional beliefs are not so rational and delusions often differ in degree, rather than kind, from other, non-pathological, beliefs."
 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Irrational-International-Perspectives-Philosophy-Psychiatry/dp/0199206163/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411245974&sr=1-1&keywords=delusions+irrational

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dr-Raj-Persaud-Latest-Users/dp/B0082XNF40

 

Why Is the Ancient Mayan Prophecy That Today Is the End of the World So Popular?

DR RAJ PERSAUD AND PROFESSOR ADRIAN FURNHAM

According to ancient Mayan Prophecy, today is meant to herald the end of the world. But just in case there is still a world to read this, why are such apocalyptic visions all the rage?

Whether the Mayans actually prophesied the end of the world on this date is indeed controversial - Hollywood and the media appear to have distorted the ancient forecast and, apparently, constructed a fantasy which grips public imagination.

Just a few years ago - in 1999 - the 'Y2K' computer problem was predicted to create such chaos - planes would fall from the sky and populations would be trapped in elevators - that the end of civilisation as we know it - would arrive.

Before that, the nuclear stand-off between superpowers was supposed to herald imminent Armageddon. The thesis that 'mutually assured destruction' is just around the corner is so perennial, psychologists even coined a term 'The Armageddon Complex' - capturing the conviction many harbour, the end of time is nigh.

It seems that every civilisation appears to believe it, uniquely in history, sways on the precipice, and peers over the edge into the abyss.

In the past it may have been world war and nuclear holocaust, viral epidemics, computer malfunction, nanotechnology gone wild, and today it is global warming, which has stepped into the breach of why it's all about to end. If there is a recurrent pattern through history of believing in imminent apocalypse, does this begin to reveal more about our psychology? Or did these convictions mean we backed away from the edge - saving ourselves?

'Apocalypticism' appears linked to certain religious and personality outlooks.

Maurice Farber, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut published one of the first studies into 'The Armageddon Complex' in the academic journal Public Opinion Quarterly as far back as 1951. Farber explained that the Armageddon Complex is the disposition to believe total war is inevitable. 312 students were asked if they favoured a 'show-down' war with Russia. Desire for nuclear war was positively related to unsatisfactory future outlook for their personal lives.

During World War II, Farber had served in intelligence and psychological warfare units of the US Army in Europe. Possibly the authorities have long had an interest in our obsession with apocalypse, using this to manipulate us. Wars are sold to the public on the basis that they are needed to avoid imminent Armageddon. Remember the '45 minute' weapons of mass destruction invocation that cajoled the public into supporting a war on Iraq?

Stephen Kierulff, a Californian clinical psychologist published a study in 1991 entitled 'Belief in Armageddon Theology and Willingness to Risk Nuclear War', where he refers to 'Armageddonists', who believe that Bible or other religious prophecies about the 'End Time' must be taken literally, and seem to expect nuclear war to fulfil these prophecies.

They seem to be more in favour of a nuclear war and their pro-nuclear sentiment stems (among other sources) from fundamentalist Christianity which affirms Jesus will return to Earth in order to save the human race after a cataclysmic war. Many such 'premillennialists', Kierulff argues in his paper, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, believe that the 'Last Days' are already upon us, considering that the final war will be global and nuclear.

Kierulff found from his research that the more 'Armageddonist' people's religious beliefs are, the more willing they are to risk a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets, and the more likely they are to believe that they would survive the subsequent nuclear war. As predictors of convictions that the US will attack Russia and that nuclear war is personally survivable, 'Armageddonist' views outperformed any of the indicators used in his study, including political conservatism, suggesting religious, or other certainties about the imminent end of the world has been neglected by pollsters.

Today it is possible 'Armageddonists' no longer consider the apocalypse will arrive following a war between the US and Russia, but now perhaps between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists.

Dr Simon Dein and Professor Roland Littlewood from the Departments of Psychiatry and Anthropology, University College London, wonder about the significance of what might appear to be an increasing number of reports of mass suicide over the last few decades.

In their paper entitled 'Apocalyptic Suicide: From a Pathological to an Eschatological Interpretation' they remind us of the 1978 mass suicide of 914 (including 200 children) by drinking cyanide, amongst Jim Jones's Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. In 1993, Waco, Texas, seventy-six men, women and children Branch Davidians, led by David Koresh, died after their compound was set alight - though by who remains controversial.

Dein and Littlewood also remind us of the Solar Temple episode of 1994, where over 50 killed themselves simultaneously in Canada and Switzerland, thus apparently 'transiting' to the star Sirius. 16 colleagues died in a related incident in France some months later, while five more committed 'ritual suicide' at the moment of the spring equinox in 1995. In the Heaven's Gate suicide in 1997, 39 followers died from auto-asphyxiation, apparently assuming in the after-life they would join a space ship lurking behind the Hale-Bopp comet.

Among Dien and Littlewood's possible speculations, appears to be that in ancient times we indeed constantly lived on the edge of survival, where bad weather and other environmental hazards could destroy crops, and wipe out communities. So we naturally developed superstitions and rituals which gave us a sense of control over capricious 'gods', hence the development of religion, and possibly, the close link psychologically between religious belief and apocalypse.

The problem is that 'Armageddonism' or 'Apocalypticism' beliefs include strongly self-fulfilling prophetic elements. These convictions appear to drive most political as well as religious extremism, including suicide terrorism.

If you believe the end is neigh, you seem more willing to consider extraordinary or ultimate devices, which in turn, actually hasten your demise.

 

This podcast has been made on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) by Raj Persaud and Peter Bruggen

If you are interested in further information on CPD Online or wish to earn CPD credit points, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists CPD Online website for further information at www.psychiatrycpd.co.uk

 

For more general podcasts visit: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/discoverpsychiatry/podcasts.aspx

 
 

 

Direct download: Delusions_interview_2_1.mp3
Category:(2) General Podcasts -- posted at: 5:04pm UTC

Psychology of Alan Turing. Was Code-breaker Alan Turing Assassinated?

Controversy continues over how Alan Turing died and why it matters

 

Raj Persaud in conversation with Michael Ferguson discussing the death of Alan Turing

Michael Ferguson lives in San Francisco and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Homosexuality and he does book reviews on a variety of topics having to do with sexuality and cultural history.

 

Michael Ferguson has written a fascinating book review of two recent biographies of the famous mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing - who recently received a royal pardon following his prosecution for homosexuality in the 1950's. Did Turing kill himself with an apple poisoned with cyanide or was it a disguised assassination by the British Secret Security Services who might have become concerned that Turing was a security risk given his homosexuality? MichaelFerguson discusses these issues and others with psychiatrist