Could I be a psychopath and not know it?

Answer: absolutely. But that might not be a terrible thing. By Christian Jarrett If you were a psychopath in the Hollywood sense (think Hannibal Lecter), it would be odd if you didn’t realise that, at the very least, you’re ‘different’ and simply not very nice. After all, this kind of psychopath is essentially an aggressive sadist hiding behind a mask of superficial charm. However, psychologists are increasingly realising that you can score highly on one or more psychopathic personality traits without having criminal or violent tendencies. These traits, which we all score on to some greater or lesser degree, include ‘self-centred … Continue reading Could I be a psychopath and not know it?

6 Characteristics Of Highly Toxic Parents

by Shannon Ashley  This is something I wager we just don’t talk about enough because it’s frequently considered “in poor taste” to speak badly of one’s own parents. In some ways, parents are revered to the point where we flippantly make blanket statements like “all parents want the best for their children” or “they did the best they could. Sometimes, it’s true that the parents in question really did try their best or want the best for their kids. That’s not enough, however, to protect their children or give them the mental and emotional care they need. And sadly, lots of parents can fall into toxic habits with their kids without ever realizing there’s a problem. As … Continue reading 6 Characteristics Of Highly Toxic Parents

Changing a brain to save a life: how far should rehabilitation go?

What’s the difference between brainwashing and rehabilitation? by Jonny Thomson  The book and movie, A Clockwork Orange, powerfully asks us to consider the murky lines between rehabilitation, brainwashing, and dehumanization. There are a variety of ways, from hormonal treatment to surgical lobotomies, to force a person to be more law abiding, calm, or moral. Is a world with less free will but also with less suffering one in which we would want to live? Alex is a criminal. A violent and sadistic criminal. So, we decide to do something about it. We’re going to “rehabilitate” him. Using a new and exciting … Continue reading Changing a brain to save a life: how far should rehabilitation go?

The Secret to Happiness? Thinking About Death.

In an excerpt from his new book The Comfort Crisis, journalist Michael Easter travels to Bhutan to learn about how confronting death head-on can lead to a more fulfilled life by Michael Easter In his new book, The Comfort Crisis, Michael Easter investigates the connection between modern comforts and conveniences and some of our most pressing problems, like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and a sense of purposelessness. Turns out, engaging with a handful of evolutionary discomforts can dramatically improve our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. One of those fruitful discomforts? Thinking about dying. Death has always been the most uncomfortable … Continue reading The Secret to Happiness? Thinking About Death.

An Anthropologist’s Case for Working Less and Relaxing More

by Editors Our work consumes us. But does it have to? Anthropologist James Suzman has spent decades living in the Kalahari Desert with one of the world’s last hunter-gatherer societies, and he’s concluded that our modern attitudes about work don’t mesh with the views held by our ancestors. For 95 percent of human history, we spent the bulk of our time doing… nothing. So what changed? Today on the Next Big Idea podcast, James sits down with Next Big Idea Club curator Adam Grant to advocate for spending less time toiling away at labor we loathe, and more time working at things we love. Listen to … Continue reading An Anthropologist’s Case for Working Less and Relaxing More

Authenticity is a sham

From monks to existentialists and hipsters, the search for a true self has been a centuries-long project. Should we give it up? by Alexander Stern is a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the LA Review of Books, among others.  Edited by Sam Dresser ‘Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’ This popular quip, often misattributed to Oscar Wilde, appears without any apparent irony in self-help books and blog posts celebrating authenticity. Understandably, they take the dictum to ‘be oneself’ as a worthy, nearly unassailable goal. Our culture is saturated with authenticity: we’re forever ‘finding ourselves’, … Continue reading Authenticity is a sham

Mind and God: The new science of neurotheology

Studies show that religion and spirituality are positively linked to good mental health. Our research aims to figure out how and why. by Andrew Newberg  Neurotheology is a field that unites brain science and psychology with religious belief and practices. There are several indirect and direct mechanisms that link spirituality with improved mental health. Compassion and love are positive emotions that will make your brain healthier. The field of neurotheology continues to expand from its early origins several decades ago to the present day. In its simplest definition, neurotheology refers to the field of scholarship that seeks to understand the relationship between … Continue reading Mind and God: The new science of neurotheology

Why Am I Still Embarrassed About Things That Happened 10 Years Ago?

by Daniel Kolitz It’s a nice day, you’re strolling along, music’s queued up, prospects looking good, your sweater’s matching your pants, the person you’re seeing just sent you a cute text, no one you know is actively sick or angry at you, your dreams are, if not on the brink of actualization, not impossibly far from it, and yet here you are, suddenly bowled over by the memory of some dumb thing you said a decade ago. That’s the power of embarrassment. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been. Doesn’t matter how thoroughly you’ve attempted to remake yourself. Embarrassment doesn’t care … Continue reading Why Am I Still Embarrassed About Things That Happened 10 Years Ago?

Changed by art

Gazing at a painting feels like an almost magical encounter with another mind but what real effects does art have on us? Ellen Winner is professor of psychology at Boston College and senior research associate at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her most recent book is How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration (2018).  Edited by Nigel Warburton Scenario 1: suppose you’ve been gazing intensely at Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (1659), which hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and later you’re told that this was actually a painting made by a deep-learning machine that had internalised Rembrandt’s style through exposure to his … Continue reading Changed by art

Why People Feel Like Victims

Getting to the core of today’s social acrimony. BY MARK MACNAMARA In a polarized nation, victimhood is a badge of honor. It gives people strength. “The victim has become among the most important identity positions in American politics,” wrote Robert B. Horwitz, a communications professor at the University of California, San Diego. Horwitz published his study, “Politics as Victimhood, Victimhood as Politics,” in 2018.1 He focused on social currents that drove victimhood to the fore of American political life, arguing it “emerged from the contentious politics of the 1960s, specifically the civil rights movement and its aftermath.” What lodges victimhood in … Continue reading Why People Feel Like Victims