Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The romance of chocolate

Is chocolate an aphrodisiac? Gifts of chocolate are given usually with that intent at this time of the year. Does it work? Well, maybe; gastronomy is known as the sister art of love. Women often crave chocolate. In 1648, according to the diary of English Jesuit Thomas Gage, the women of Chiapas Real arranged for the murder of a certain bishop who forbade them to drink chocolate during mass.

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“The experience of chocolate craving”- an extract from The Economics of Chocolate

It is indisputable that chocolate consumption gives instant pleasure and comfort, especially during episodes of ‘emotional eating’, which involves searching for food (generally in large amounts) even if not physiologically hungry in order to get relief from a negative mood or bad feelings (e.g. stressful life situations, anxiety, depression). The pleasure experienced in eating chocolate can be, first of all, due to neurophysiological components.

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Mind this space: couple therapy

What happens in our relationships? This is the question that draws people into the profession of couple therapy. Therapists stand outside the couple in order to understand how their relationship systems and unconscious dynamics work. What is it that the couple have created between them? How can you restore the balance within that relationship?

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Music therapy and Arts Based Research

Arts Based Research offers a new and diverse method for inquiring about the world around us. Whether examining social sciences or healthcare, this field offers a different approach and establishes an innovative framework for inquiry. We spoke with Professor Jane Edwards, the guest editor for a special issue of the Journal of Music Therapy, about her perspective on this emerging field.

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Can American schools close the achievement gaps?

Currently, the United States is at war and the nation’s future can be at risk. It’s the war on student achievement gaps, one that has waged for decades and proven extremely difficult to fight and complex to understand. Is American education system losing its war on achievement gaps?

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Mentalization and borderline personality disorder (part one)

Sigmund Karterud is a pioneer of group therapy for borderline personality disorders. He focuses on mentalization: our ability to understand ourselves and other people in terms of mental phenomena – beliefs, feelings, wishes, and hopes. Marketing assistant Joe Hitchcock sat down with the Norwegian psychiatrist from Ulleval University Hospital to explore the concepts, history, and effectiveness of the treatment.

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The traumatising language of risk in mental health nursing

Despite progress in the care and treatment of mental health problems, violence directed at self or others remains high in many parts of the world. Subsequently, there is increasing attention to risk assessment in mental health. But it this doing more harm than good?

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Predictive brains, sentient robots, and the embodied self

Is the human brain just a rag-bag of different tricks and stratagems, slowly accumulated over evolutionary time? For many years, I thought the answer to this question was most probably ‘yes’. The most tantalizing (but least developed) aspect of the emerging framework concerns the origins of conscious experience itself.

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Talk is cheap: diverse dignities at the centre of mental disorder

It may be fairly easy to say that the dignity of a person in the domain of psychiatry should be respected. Justification is easy to find. For example, the South African Constitution proclaims ‘everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.’

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Focus on concussions: why now?

Lately, not a day goes by when we don’t hear about which professional athlete has been sidelined or benched due to a concussion. Formerly the province of boxers, concussions, once called “the invisible injury,” are no longer invisible, as network TV and the movie industry have unveiled their presence across sports, whether football, ice hockey, soccer, rugby, NASCAR, and beyond.

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Lessons for Volkswagen on organizational resilience

Volkswagen shocked the world. The world’s largest automaker admitted to creating software that would deliberately generate false exhaust emission information on many of its popular cars. Making matters worse, Volkswagen’s top leadership seemed unsure about how to respond to the crisis as it threatened the company’s reputation, operations, and long-term strategy.

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Suicide in Nazi Germany in 1945

When the US Army took the Saxon city of Leipzig in April 1945, a gruelling scene was revealed inside the town hall. The Nazi treasurer of the city, his wife, and his daughter had all committed suicide. But these suicides were not isolated cases. In the spring of 1945, Nazi Germany went to its end in an unprecedented wave of suicides.

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Seven ways to start and keep your writing going

Beginnings are tough. But if we’d only get started, our marks and words on the page can bootstrap our next moves. Marks and words out there, on the page, feed what in neuroscience is called our brain’s “perception-action” cycle. Through this built-in and biologically fundamental mechanism, we repeatedly act on the world, and then look to see what our actions have wrought in the world.

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