Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The music next door

It was midnight and I had just slumped into bed, exhausted after one of my first days on-call as a new intern, and still adjusting to life in a new apartment. As my nagging reflections on the day were just beginning to subside, insistent knocking at my door jolted me back to alertness. Dragging myself out of bed to open the door, I was surprised to see a diminutive elderly lady who appeared quite perturbed.

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Catching up with Courtney McCarroll, Assistant Editor in Psychology

Every so often, we catch up with someone in our offices to learn more about life in publishing, from how editors cultivate a list to how each office’s coffee brews compare. This week, we’re concerned with matters of the mind and a member of our editorial team. Courtney McCarroll is an Assistant Editor in Psychology, and recently celebrated her one-year anniversary of working at Oxford University Press.

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Telemental health: Are we there yet?

An unacceptably large proportion of mentally ill individuals do not receive any care. Reasons vary but include the dearth of providers, the cost of treatment and stigma. Telemental health, which uses digital technology for the remote delivery of mental health services, may help toward finding a solution.

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Mentalizing in groups

‘Mentalizing’ is the new word for making sense of oneself, others, and intersubjective transactions in terms of inner motivations. It can be fast and intuitive (implicit mentalizing), as in most informal and routine interactions, or slow and elaborate (explicit mentalizing), when one steps back to indulge in reflective thinking. “Why did she say that?” The thought is such an integral part of being human that it is most often taken for granted. Yet it is an evolutionary achievement.

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Youth violence

Perhaps one of the most politically unpopular truths about violence is that it is young people who are most vulnerable to it, not the elderly or children, but youth. Global estimates from the World Health Organization are that, each year, 200,000 young people are murdered.

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Patients battle for justice

Is it possible that a disease as impairing as Type II diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, Multiple Sclerosis, and end-stage renal disease could be repeatedly belittled and delegitimized by scientists and health care professionals? Tragically, this is the case for a devastating illness affecting over one million Americans, and these patients have been deprived of their basic rights to respect, appropriate diagnosis, and humane treatment.

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Incorporating sex as a biological variable in preclinical research

In the spring of 2015 the National Institutes of Health announced new guidelines for the incorporation of sex as a biological variable in any research they fund. Chromosome compliment (XX for female, XY for male in all mammals), gonadal phenotype, and gamete size define sex as a biological parameter. (In contrast, gender is a human construction based on an individual or society’s perception of sex.)

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Step 5 to end military suicides: Enforce zero tolerance

In June 2015, the results of a new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs were released. The study examined more than 170,000 suicides of adult men and women in 23 states between 2000 and 2010, and concluded that female military veterans kill themselves at a rate that is nearly six times higher than their civilian counterparts.

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Predicting future cognition in preterm children with MRI

In the wake of the development of advanced neonatal intensive medical care, more and more children born very preterm manage to beat the previously tough odds and survive the perils of infections and respiratory distress that are some of the common problems in the group. While this is one of the success stories of modern medicine, long-term follow-up of premature-born pediatric cohorts show that the obstacles don’t cease with the need of intensive medical care.

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Step 4 to end military suicides: Expedite treatment

In 1789, President George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” Judging by this standard, we are failing.

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Step 3 to end military suicides: Reduce stigma

The stigma of mental illness poses a major barrier when it comes to individuals seeking help. As a society, we are much more comfortable admitting physical problems than psychological ones. Nowhere is this more true than in the military, where troops are trained to be tough and not acknowledge any weaknesses.

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Step 2 to end military suicides: Beyond combat exposure

According to a new study of nearly 4 million men and women who served in the military between 2001 and 2007, deploying to a war zone doesn’t increase a service member’s risk of suicide. The study was conducted by the military’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and its findings would seem to serve the military’s purpose. After all, if no causal connection is found between deployment and suicide, recruitment efforts aren’t affected.

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Step 1 to end military suicides

Fifteen years ago, the suicide rate among patients in a large behavioral care system in Detroit was seven times the national average. Then leaders there decided to tackle the problem. The first question asked was what should be the goal—to cut the rate in half, reduce it to the national level, or more? One employee said even a single suicide was unacceptable if it was your loved one, and that helped set the target: zero.

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Scrutinizing the script of the medieval ‘Tremulous Hand of Worcester’

How would we know if a medieval person had a neurological disorder? If we did know, would it be possible to pinpoint the type of condition? What insight can we gain about the practical impact of disorders on medieval life? Fortunately, a physical record survives that provides a reliable window into the health of medieval people—or, at least, those who were able to write.

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Sexual decision-making for older adults with dementia

Who decides with whom we are allowed to have sex? Generally, consenting adults are considered to have the ability to make decisions regarding sexual activity and are allowed to pursue a sexual relationship with whomever they choose, assuming appropriate criteria for consent are met.

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