Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What hearing voices reveals about hallucination and speech perception

Hearing things that other people do not – in other words, an auditory hallucination – is something that approximately 5-15% of the population experience at some point in their lives. For people with a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia, the experience of auditory hallucinations can often be bewildering and upsetting. However, for some people unusual sensory experiences can be an important and meaningful part of their lives.

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What causes psychogenic amnesia?

The media love it. Films and novels fictionalise it. TV and newspapers want to follow a real patient around. They virtually always get it wrong (and the worst thing you can do for such a patient is put him/her on television). Psychogenic amnesia (also known as dissociative or functional amnesia) still intrigues and fascinates. In 1926, Agatha Christie, the acclaimed novelist, disappeared for 11 days.

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Sandy Denny and Schubert

I have written elsewhere about how music, in a way that spoken language rarely does, can affect arousal, stimulate our emotions and memories, and move our bodies. It can even subtly alter our physiological state, both internally by altering heart rate, levels of hormones and so on, and externally – resulting in goose bumps, chills, tears, etc. This is the universal power of music

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Is advocating suicide a crime under the First Amendment?

Two different cases raising similar issues about advocating suicide may shape US policy for years to come. In Massachusetts, Michelle Carter was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for urging her friend Conrad Roy not to abandon his plan to kill himself by inhaling carbon monoxide: “Get back in that car!” she texted, and he did. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has already ruled that prosecuting her for involuntary manslaughter was permissible

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Scientific progress stumbles without a valid case definition

Current estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the number of people in the United States with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) increased from about 20,000 to as many as four million within a ten-year period. If this were true, we would be amidst an epidemic of unprecedented proportions. I believe that these increases in prevalence rates can be explained by unreliable case definitions.

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Is memory-decoding technology coming to the courtroom?

“What happened?” This is the first question a police officer will ask upon arriving at a crime scene. The answer to this simple question—What happened?—will determine the course of the criminal investigation. This same question will be asked by attorneys to witnesses on the stand if the case goes to trial.

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Is there a place for the arts in health?

In a utopian world of abundant health budgets and minimal health challenges, it is probably fair to say that few would object to including the arts within hospitals or promoting them as a part of healthy lifestyles. Certainly, we have a long history of incorporating the arts into health (stretching back around 40,000 years), so it’s a concept many people are familiar with. But in an era of austerity, the value that the arts can bring comes under much closer scrutiny

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“My latest brain child”

In his 1954 essay ‘Metapsychological and Clinical Aspects of Regression within the Psycho-Analytical Set’, Donald Winnicott states: “The idea of psycho-analysis as an art must gradually give way to a study of environmental adaptation relative to patients’ regressions. […] I know from experience that some will say: all this leads to a theory of development which ignores the early stages of the development of the individual, which ascribes early development to environmental factors.

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Diet and age-related memory loss [excerpt]

Age-related memory loss is to be expected. But can it be mitigated? There are many different steps we can take to help maintain and even improve our memories as we age. One of these steps is to make a few simple dietary changes. The following shortened excerpt from The Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory lists dietary basics that can benefit memory.

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Psychology’s silent crisis

Rarely do esoteric academic debates, especially those concerning methodology, make their way into the popular press. But, for the past two years, a major controversy on the replication of psychological research has spilled into public view and shows few signs of abating. However, the debate is silent about the far more problematic conceptual crisis that challenges the core principles of scientific psychology.

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The price of travel: is it worth it?

As I set out to unpack the challenges of happy travel, I first had to confront my assumption that travel truly is a worthwhile investment of time and money. We certainly seem to think it is. When people sit down to construct a bucket list, travel goals shoot right to the top. A quick browse through the website bucketlist.org reveals a deep longing for far-flung adventures

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Prospection, well-being, and mental health

That we remember the past is obvious. But as well as the ability to recall what has already happened to us, we are also able to imagine what might happen to us in the future. Is this capacity for prospection important? Absolutely. Being able to anticipate what might happen and take relevant steps, prioritise goals, and form plans of action for what we are going to do have been fundamental to our evolutionary success.

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The traveler’s challenge: overcoming vacation blues

After months of working 40+ hour weeks, running the kids from one activity to the next, and managing a household, the time has arrived: vacation. You’ve carefully planned a week-long getaway at a seaside resort, and can think of nothing better than basking in the sun, reading a novel, and sipping a cocktail. You arrive with eager anticipation. The beach is perfect, the resort restful and luxurious.

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Embracing tension, space, and the unknown in music therapy research

Every three years, the international music therapy community gathers at the World Congress of Music Therapy. This meeting of students, clinicians, educators, and scholars offers opportunities to examine culturally embedded assumptions about the nature of “music” and “health”; to learn how the relationship between music and health differs across cultures; and to directly connect with colleagues from across the globe.

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Women’s healthcare and the concept of mind-body interaction

Throughout history, and across many different cultures, the human being has been considered to consist of a mind with body (and sometimes a soul). Despite this, across much of modern medicine there has been a tendency to conceive of these aspects as distinctly separate entities, whether in disease generation or in its management. The problem of such an approach is that it engenders a sort of Cartesian confusion.

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Why should I trust you? AMBIT: helps where it’s hard to help

Teachers to nurses, youth workers to psychiatrists, psychotherapists to social workers—you name it, we are legion; the “helping professions”. We’ve made progress over the past century, finding effective ways to help many – perhaps most – of the difficulties our clients face, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Even the most “evidence-based” of our interventions are only effective for 50-60% of the cases that they are used with.

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