Friday, 9 August 2013
Steve Pinker wrote a magisterial essay this week on why science, including psychology and neuroscience, is not the enemy of the humanities. "This is an extraordinary time for the understanding of the human condition," he writes. "Intellectual problems from antiquity are being illuminated by insights from the sciences of mind, brain, genes, and evolution."
"Screw you! The psychology of anger and aggression" - neuroscientist Dean Burnett provides a wry overview. [from the Digest archive: "Beat anger by imagining you're a fly on the wall"; "How anger can make us more rational"]
Radio Four broadcast The Pregnant Brain this week (4 days left to listen on iPlayer) - "Zoe Williams explores the radical changes that take place in a woman's brain over the course of pregnancy." [I wrote an article on the maternal brain for The Psychologist in 2010; and I caught up with the latest findings this year for Psychology Today]
Writing for the Observer Vaughan Bell highlights an important but heretofore largely overlooked change in DSM 5 (psychiatry's new diagnostic code). The central definition of a delusion is no longer based on whether a person's beliefs are wrong and outlandish, but on how they believe, including whether they are willing to modify their belief in the face of contradictory evidence. It's a change that will make it more difficult dismiss whistle-blowers as deluded, as Vaughan explains with some historical and contemporary examples. [from the Digest archive - in 2007 Vaughan proposed as the most important experiment Never done: Hiring private detectives to investigate paranoid delusions].
The publishers Sage are offering free access to their entire suite of psychology and counselling journals through August (requires free registration to their website).
Psychology grad student Olana Tansley-Hancock wrote about misophonia - a putative new condition "that causes a person to experience an involuntary fight or flight reaction to innocuous repetitive, unpredictable, sounds and in some cases small repetitive movements." Olana, who suffers from the condition and plans to research it for her PhD, also appeared on BBC Radio Four's Word of Mouth to discuss misophonia.
The Guardian has launched a new blog "Head Quarters" dedicated to psychology and featuring a team of four talented psychologist/neuroscientist writers: Pete Etchells, Molly Crockett, Thalia Gjersoe and Chris Chambers.
The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary (Linda Rodriguez McRobbie for Smithsonian Magazine). [I touched on Coulrophobia in my Lure of Horror article for The Psychologist in 2011]
Professor of anomalistic psychology Chris French appeared on the Guardian's Science Weekly podcast to discuss sleep paralysis - the rather common sensation of waking in the night, unable to move, and feeling there is a presence in the room. [Chris and Julia Santomauro wrote about sleep paralysis for The Psychologist in 2009]
New book worth a look: The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature by Richard Smith. Science writer Dan Jones calls it a "real joy to read - and completely painless" in a review for Nature. [from the Digest archive: Kids experience schadenfreude by age four, maybe earlier]
Looking ahead to next week, August 11th is the Day of the Mind at the Shuffle Festival in an abandoned psychiatric hospital in East London.
NB Link feast is taking a Summer break and will return in three weeks.
Post compiled by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.