Category Archives: psychology

A new hypothesis about consciousness

In my view, there are two big problems of consciousness. The first is mechanical: how does it work? (This is called “The Hard Problem of Consciousness”.) What configurations of neurons create “qualia”, the sensation of conscious experience that includes pain, pleasure, self-awareness, and so on? Many theologians and obtuse academics maintain that we’ll never be […]

Does hate have a home?

I’ve heard that, since Trump’s election, signs like these have sprouted all over the U.S. (a reader pointed this out the other day): Now I understand the reasons for these signs: they’re addressing hatred towards groups of people, like Muslims, gays, African-Americans, and so on. (I doubt, however, that they mean that there’s no hatred of […]

On illness, dreams and encatment

About a third of the time I make long-distance trips, it seems, I come down with a cold or sore throat at the far end. This time I’ve got both, and I blame it on airplane contamination. As one expert at io9 notes, it’s not the “recycled air” that’s to blame for such illnesses (cabin air […]

Is there anything good about Freud’s legacy?

Lately I’ve been talking about Fred Crews’s new 600-page critique of Freud, Freud: The Making of an Illusion, and you can find my take (postive) here. The book, in concert with Crews’s earlier work, and many other critics, pretty much demolishes not only the scientific pretensions of psychoanalysis, once Freud’s big gift to the world, but also the […]

A Freud contretemps in the Guardian

The other day I gave a positive take on Fred Crews’s new book, Freud: The Making of an Illusion, which pretty much demolishes—if it weren’t already wrecked—the image of Freud as a relentless truth seeker who remade our view of humanity. Crews has been examining Freud and his “science” for years, and this is his latest […]

Freud the fraud: a new book

I’m about halfway through the 600-page book (with over 100 additional pages of notes) by my friend Fred Crews, Freud: The Making of an Illusion, which will be formally released on Tuesday. It’s an excellent read: Fred was formerly chair of the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley, and writes clearly and […]

The Lost Mariner: a short video inspired by Oliver Sacks

Well, I confess that I’ve taken something from Brainpickings, but only because it was tweeted approvingly by Jennifer Ouellette. “The Lost Mariner” is a 6-minute film centered on a patient described in Oliver Sacks’s popular book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. You can find more information about the personnel involved, and all the prizes […]

Richard Gunderman at The Conversation: our ability to lie shows that the mind is physically independent of the brain (!)

UPDATE: As the first comment in the thread (by Coel) shows, I was correct in assuming there’s a religiosity to Gunderman’s argument: he’s a trustee of the Christian Theological Seminary. Further, someone who once knew him emailed me and described him as “ultra religious.” ________________________ The motto of the site The Conversation is “academic rigor, […]

Templeton-funded study shows that avoiding spiritual struggles worsens mental health

A new paper by Carmen Oemig Dworsky et al. in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (reference below; only abstract available though I’ve got the whole paper) deals with the effects of spiritual struggle and its avoidance on people’s mental health. It’s a long read, but in short the authors surveyed 307 people (recruited from […]

Second most popular TED talk of all time, on “power posing”, disavowed by senior author

The second most popular TED talk of all time, with over 32 million views on TED, is by Harvard Business School associate professor Amy Cuddy, called “Your body language shapes who you are”. (You can also see the talk on YouTube, where it has over 10 million views. Cuddy appears to be on “leave of absence.”) […]