Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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How many more children have to die?

By Rochelle Caplan, MD
Surely the time has finally come to put our heads together and focus on three seldom connected variables regarding mass murders in the United States: the lack of comprehensive psychiatric care for individuals with mental illness, poor public recognition of the red flags that an individual might harm others, and easy access to firearms.

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The art of science

By Leonard A. Jason
Are art and science so different? At the deepest levels, the overlap is stunning. The artist wakes us from the slumber of ordinary existence by uncovering a childlike wonder and awe of the natural environment. The same magical processes occur when a scientist grasps the mysteries of nature, and by doing so, ultimately shows a graceful interconnectedness.

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Musical ways of interacting with children

By Professor Jane Edwards
As a music therapy scholar, teacher, and practitioner for more than 20 years, I have been able to learn from many sources about the crucial role our early years play in our lives. The ability to reflect on challenges experienced in our adult lives by linking back to childhood experiences is an essential aspect of the way that many music therapists practice. Rather than using descriptions of family histories to apportion blame, the therapist tries to understand the current experience of the patient and their worldview through the lens of past experience, to see if there is some way to make sense of self-destructive behaviours, or difficulties experienced in creating meaningful and satisfying relationships with others.

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Personality disorders, the DSM, and the future of diagnosis

By Edward Shorter
Ben Carey’s thought-provoking article in the New York Times about the treatment of personality disorders in the forthcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association raises two questions:
1. Do disorders of “personality” really exist as natural phenomena, comparable to mania or dementia?

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Moral cost of occupation for the occupiers

By Daniel Bar-Tal and Izhak Schnell
While many countries moved towards termination of occupation, colonialism, and imperialism, Israel still continues the prolonged occupation of West Bank and part of Golan Heights, and partially controls Gaza Strip. It appears that the prolonged occupation bears harsh moral, social, and psychological consequences, not only for the occupied population, but to the occupying society as well. Prolonged occupation refers not only to a statutory or geographical situation, but also inherently carries with it moral and socio-psychological meanings.

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‘Zombie drugs’

By Dr Rosie Harding & Dr Elizabeth Peel
According to official statistics, a significant minority of people living with dementia are prescribed antipsychotic drugs. The 2012 National Dementia and Antipsychotic Prescribing Audit suggests that there has been a fall in the prescription of these medications. However, less than half of GP practices in England participated and thousands of people with dementia are still prescribed antipsychotic drugs each year. What many perhaps don’t know is that only one antipsychotic (Risperidone) has actually been licensed for use in elderly people with dementia.

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The Brain Supremacy

By Kathleen Taylor
Ours is a world full of science. Much of that technology and knowledge, from mobile phones to the understanding of gravity, currently comes from what we call ‘the natural sciences’: those which study the material universe. In school, we learn to distinguish physics, chemistry, geology, and their natural kin from life sciences like biology and psychology. Our ideas of what science is, and indeed what we are, have been shaped accordingly. The brain supremacy, that coming era in which neuroscience will challenge physics for cultural dominance, is about to reshape those ideas as never before.

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Contrasting profiles in hope

By Anthony Scioli
I have made a career of studying hope. As a clinical psychologist most of my focus has been on the role of hope in relation to anxiety and depression, or the healing power of hope when confronting a serious illness. As a result of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign of “hope and change” I have increasingly been asked to comment on the role of hope in presidential politics. In 2010, I decided to do some research on hope and the presidency to see what I might learn.

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Friend, foe, or frontal lobe?

By Don Stuss and Bob Knight
In a scene from the movie The Shadow, the evil villain Khan, the last descendant of Genghis Khan, is defeated by the Shadow who hurls a mirror shard deep into his right frontal lobe. Khan does not die, but awakens in an asylum, confused as to how he got there and discovering that his powers no longer work. The doctors saved his life by removing the part of his brain that harbored his psychic abilities — his frontal lobes.

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Gifting the mind

By Jenni Ogden
Neuroscience today is high tech: fantastic imaging machines churn out brain scans of the living, thinking brain, and computers crunch data to highlight patterns that may or may not fit the latest theory about how the mind works. How far we have come from the studies of the great neurologists and psychiatrists of the 19th century who relied on clinical descriptions of individual patients to further our knowledge of the brain and its mind. Or have we?

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The future of an illusion

By Andrew Scull
Fights over how to define and diagnose mental illness are scarcely a novel feature of the psychiatric landscape, but their most recent manifestation has some unusual features. For more than a decade now, the American Psychiatric Association has been preparing a new edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the fifth (or by some counts the seventh) edition of that extraordinary tome, each incarnation weightier than the last. Over the past two years, however, major attacks have been launched on the enterprise, replete with allegations that the new edition shows signs of being built on hasty and unscientific foundations

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In memoriam: Christopher Peterson

Oxford University Press is saddened to hear of the passing of Christopher Peterson, who died yesterday in his home. One of the founders of the field of positive psychology, Chris’s focus over the last 15 years had been on the study of happiness, achievement, and physical well-being. His new book, Pursuing the Good Life, is scheduled to be published by OUP this December. 

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Addressing mental disorders in medicine and society

By Norman Sartorius
Stigma attached to mental disorders often makes the life of people who suffer from such illnesses harder than the illness itself. Once marked as having a mental illness, the persons who have them as well as their families encounter difficulties in finding jobs, marital partners, housing, or protection from violence. If they happen to have a physical illness as well, they get treatment of lesser quality for it.

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Achievement, depression, and politicians

‘For two or three years the light faded from the picture. I did my work. I sat in the House of Commons, but black depression settled on me.’
Starter for ten: who said this? (Apologies if you haven’t watched University Challenge). It was Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest British prime minister and certainly one who played a crucial role in guiding his nation through the Second World War.

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Violating evolved caregiving practices

By Darcia Narvaez
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently endorsed two controversial childrearing practices: sleep training and circumcision for infants. Both practices violate ancestral caregiving practices which we know are linked to positive child outcomes. Over 30 million years ago the social mammals emerged, characterized by extensive on-demand breastfeeding, constant touch, responsiveness to the needs of the offspring, and lots of free play. Humans are one branch of social mammals

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