Are you a spectator to reality? Or are you its creator?

KEY TAKEAWAYS If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, it really does not make a sound. What you experience as sound is constructed in your brain.   You cannot experience the world, or even your own body, objectively.  By seeking out new experiences, your brain teaches itself to craft new meaning. Signals from the environment, such as those detected by your sense organs, have no inherent psychological meaning. Your brain creates the meaning. Lisa Feldman Barrett IN PARTNERSHIP WITH John Templeton Foundation This year’s World Chess qualifying tournament brought a new twist: the heart … Continue reading Are you a spectator to reality? Or are you its creator?

No Two Human Brains Are Alike

The uniqueness of each mind is written in its ever-changing circuitry. BY WILLIAM A. HARRIS The brains of human beings are different from those of every other species of animal, because all species’ brains have been tuned to their lifestyles through millions of years of evolution. A spider’s brain is geared to weaving webs and catching flies, a fish’s brain is tuned for a life in the water, and a human brain is geared to human affairs. But what mental functions separate us most from other animals? What makes us human? Answering this question is a continuous quest of philosophy, … Continue reading No Two Human Brains Are Alike

How psychopathy might be an evolutionary adaptation

Instead of a mental illness, some research suggests that psychopathy — in moderation — is a reasonable life strategy. KEY TAKEAWAYS It might seem obvious that psychopathy is harmful. But there is some reason to believe psychopathy, at least in moderation, might be a reasonable evolutionary adaptation.  To evaluate whether something is a mental disorder, it helps to understand what causes disorders in the first place.  A recent study explored whether psychopathy is associated with physical telltale signs such as handedness. The results were not conclusive, but they do add to a growing body of research supporting the possibility that psychopathy … Continue reading How psychopathy might be an evolutionary adaptation

STARING INTO THE ABYSS

Dylan Charles, Editor Waking Times I’ve always had a propensity to look too deeply into the darkness of the world. It draws me in, and in a sense I love it. Most of us do. I recall when I was young seeing a bootleg VHS of Faces of Death with my middle school friends. Back then we didn’t have the internet where you can now click a few buttons and see the most disturbing images possible. Simpler times. Someone recently sent me an email that I can only describe as a proper psychic attack. When I opened it up there was a large … Continue reading STARING INTO THE ABYSS

Solitude is not loneliness. Here’s the key philosophical difference.

When was the last time you spent some quality time with yourself? KEY TAKEAWAYS Arthur Schopenhauer believed that solitude was an opportunity for introspection, imagination, and contemplation with yourself.  Research shows that solitude of this kind allows us to be more creative. But, in a the busy world of today, do we ever let ourselves be solitary?  Loneliness is different from solitude. For many people, being alone is a scary and dangerous place. That’s why knowing the difference between solitude and loneliness is important. by Jonny Thomson You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. Imagine there are two … Continue reading Solitude is not loneliness. Here’s the key philosophical difference.

The Couch and the Cushion: Why Mindfulness Is No Substitute for Therapy

Meditation may promote well-being and insight, but it isn’t a cure for psychological problems. By Rande Brown In her 2010 book Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism, psychotherapist Pilar Jennings notes, “It is very possible to have a deep and rich spiritual life that reaps all manner of spiritual rewards while core psychological patterns and struggles remain untouched.” Without a doubt, mindfulness is a helpful tool, but nothing can replace the healing power of a relationship with a well-trained and dedicated listener. In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in spiritually based mindfulness meditation practices, and Jennings … Continue reading The Couch and the Cushion: Why Mindfulness Is No Substitute for Therapy

Animals Feel What’s Right and Wrong, Too

It’s time to take moral emotion in animals seriously. BY JAMES HUTTON Amy’s job is pretty repetitive, but normally she doesn’t mind doing what she’s asked. Today, however, she’s working alongside Sidney. Amy can’t help noticing that Sidney is receiving a small reward every time he completes a task, while she gets nothing. After a few rounds of this treatment, Amy has had enough. She refuses to go on performing her tasks, disengaging completely. Amy’s behavior probably makes a certain kind of sense to you. Here’s what I expect you’re thinking: Amy must feel like she’s being treated unfairly (and … Continue reading Animals Feel What’s Right and Wrong, Too

This could be a simple solution to loneliness, according to scientists

If you’re feeling lonely in your free time, do something that uses your skills and concentration. Leisure activities like painting, skiing or chopping wood can engross us and put us in a state of ‘flow’. A meaningful activity that we enjoy works best, say researchers at Penn State University. Loneliness has been linked to increased mental health problems during the pandemic. by Victoria Masterson Senior Writer, Formative Content Doing something meaningful during your free time can help you feel less lonely, according to a new study. Researchers led by Penn State University in Pennsylvania in the United States studied loneliness and … Continue reading This could be a simple solution to loneliness, according to scientists

You Can Change Your Mind About Virtually Anything

From the archives of We Are Not Divided, we revisit three stories that explore our surprising — and encouraging — openness to others’ points of view. By: RTBC Staff What unites us? How do we overcome our divisions and differences? Can we discover ways to bridge the chasms that separate us? What tools can we turn to? Amid the turmoil of 2020’s U.S. elections, we launched a project devoted to exploring these questions. We called it “We Are Not Divided” — a cheeky name, but cheeky with a purpose. We wanted to encourage readers to rethink and reexamine their assumptions about … Continue reading You Can Change Your Mind About Virtually Anything

Chess was once blamed for causing insanity, suicide, and even murder

Chess was once blamed for triggering mental health problems, including suicide and even murder. Today, the same is said of video games. KEY TAKEAWAYS Many years ago, chess was thought a triviality at best and a pathway to insanity at worst.  Several media outlets made claims like this, perhaps most notably, Scientific American.  In reality, chess does not cause mental health problems, but the game does have a special appeal to people with autism. by Louis Anslow Chess is perhaps universally considered an intellectual pastime, one that combines the virtues of a balanced mind: focus, patience, and thoughtfulness. But that wasn’t … Continue reading Chess was once blamed for causing insanity, suicide, and even murder