Sleep is defined as “a periodic state of muscular relaxation, reduced metabolic rate, and suspended consciousness in which a person is largely unresponsive to events in the environment”. It comes easily to some, and much harder (sometimes impossible) to others, but we all need it in order to function day-to-day. Not only is it required to stay healthy, it also allows a space for our brains to think out problems whilst we doze.
The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ has captivated the British imagination. Pronounced runner-up word of the year, it seems a fitting counterpoint to the word ‘post-truth’ in first place: an apt response to the seismic political shifts of 2016. Hygge is difficult to translate: it is not a concrete entity, but something akin to a cozy, warm, and homely feeling, a sense of familiarity, a state of mind in which all psychological needs are in balance.
Acupuncture is a medical therapy that originated in China several thousand years ago and is rooted in a complex practice ritual based on a philosophy that predates our current understanding of physiology. Despite its long history, though, the intervention itself, particularly when coupled with electrical stimulation, significantly overlaps with many conventional peripherally-focused neuromodulatory therapies.
Is there some other way to resolve the duplication problem that acknowledges this insight? Remember that according to Parfit, we all agree that if my brain is transplanted into someone else’s brainless body, and the resulting person has my character and apparent memories, then this resulting person is me. But should we agree, or do these intuitions rest on questionable assumptions?
Think about a situation in the past few years where your mind was at its very best. A situation where you felt immune to distractions, thinking was easy and non-strenuous, and you did not feel information-overloaded. If you take a moment, you can probably recall one such situation. As you think about it, you may even experience it actively right now and get a sense that you could be in that state again.
We take it for granted that our entire brain only produces one conscious agent, despite the fact that the brain actually consists of many different, more or less independent modules. But how is this possible? The classic answer to this riddle is cortical connectivity. Separate brain regions only give rise to one conscious agent because the different parts continuously exchange massive amounts of information.
What does it take for you to persist across time? What sorts of changes could you survive, and what sorts of changes would bring your existence to an end? The dominant approach to personal identity says that a person persists over time by virtue of facts about psychological continuity (e.g. continuity of memory, character, or mental capacities). Various puzzle cases have been presented to support this view.
What are addictive disorders? Are they indeed disorders? The nature of problematic psychoactive substance use continues to be a matter of controversy among the public and politicians; even among health professionals there is little consensus. Some have a view that repeated use of a substance (or gambling or gaming) represents personal choice (a “free-will decision”) even when problems are occurring.
When people asked me what I did for a living, some were curious and wanted to know more, while others looked at me as if I were selling snake oil. Nowadays, these conversations are slightly different. Although it is still not always well understood as a profession, more people are familiar with the term “music therapy” and open to the idea that music and other creative mediums may be used to promote health and well-being.
We will all spend about one third of our lifetime asleep, deprived of this precious ability to act and to react. During these long idle hours, little is perceived from the external world and little is remembered. For some, sleep is a refuge. For others, it is just a saddening waste. Yet, all animals, from fruit flies to humans, need to sleep and scientists have proven, time and time again, the variety of benefits that sleep has on the body and most importantly, on the mind.
In present-day Western Europe and North America, the dementia research field is in as much political turmoil as mainstream politics. And the struggling forces at play in both domains are often the same: individual activity or collective solidarity, technological solutions or community development/public health, for-profits versus nonprofits, unbridled capitalism or regulatory constraint.
Winnicott’s admiration for Freud developed apace. When Freud emigrated to London in 1938 to escape the Nazi menace, Winnicott paid an unexpected visit to Freud’s home in order to inquire about the well-being of the Viennese refugees and to offer help and support – a gesture deeply appreciated by the family. Throughout his working life, Winnicott remained a devoted Freudian.
Donald Trump’s election to the 45th President of the United States is the biggest victory of contemporary right-wing political populism to date. The Brexit referendum had already shattered Europe and the UK “remain”-voters alike, but Trump’s win is of worldwide significance. The outcomes of both elections took the media, pollsters, and political analysts in the relevant countries and elsewhere by surprise.
More than a decade has passed since the Mental Capacity Act (‘MCA’) received royal assent. Described as a ‘visionary piece of legislation’, the MCA was a significant landmark on the legal landscape. It represented a triumph of autonomy by recognising that, as far as possible, people should play an active role in decisions about their welfare.
While it is believed that about one in 50 Americans harbor a brain aneurysm, most will never know it, and their aneurysm will never cause a problem. But rarely, the arterial wall of an aneurysm can become so thin that it bursts, spilling blood over the brain’s surface. This is the most feared outcome of a brain aneurysm and is what drives the urgency in treating many brain aneurysms, even if found accidentally.
When we interact with our world – regardless if by means of a simple grasp, a smile, or the utterance of a sentence – we are typically quite confident that it was us, who intended to and thus executed the interaction. But what is this “us”? Is it something physical or something mental? Is it merely a deterministic program or is there more to it? And how does it develop, that is, how does the mind come into being?