Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Can a child with autism recover?

By Mary Coleman
The symptoms of autism occur because of errors, mostly genetic, in final common pathways in the brain. These errors can either gradually become clinically apparent or they can precipitate a regression, often around 18 months of age, where the child loses previously acquired developmental skills.

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Exploring the Victorian brain, shorthand, and the Empire

In 1945 the British Medical Journal marked the centenary of the birth of Victorian neurologist William Richard Gowers (1845-1915), noting that his name was still a household word among neurologists everywhere, and that ‘historical justice’ required that he should be remembered as one of the founders of modern British medicine.

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Helping children learn to accept defeat gracefully

By Kenneth Barish
This Father’s Day, I would like to share some thoughts on an important aspect of children’s emotional development and a source of distress in many father-child relationships — winning and losing at games. Everyone who plays games with children quickly learns how important it is for them to win. For most children (and, to be honest, for many adults) these games matter. The child doesn’t want to win; s/he needs to win.

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Michael Palin on anxiety

By Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. But what about those people for whom anxiety is an inevitable part of their working life, such as actors and presenters? How do they cope? We asked Michael Palin, member of the legendary Monty Python team and long established as one of the nation’s most cherished broadcasters, how he copes with nerves as a performer. As it turns out, the strategies he adopts can be useful to anyone struggling with anxiety. Here’s an extract from our interview.

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Emotion, interest, and motivation in children

By Kenneth Barish
When talking about children’s emotions, it is difficult to avoid saying things that are not already commonly known, or even common sense. Recent advances in the psychology and neuroscience of emotions, however, now offer us a new understanding of the nature of emotion. In childhood and throughout life, our emotions guide our thoughts and our imagination, our behavior and our moral judgments.

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Anti-psychiatry in A Clockwork Orange

By Edward Shorter and Susan Bélanger
In the fifty years since the publication of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess’s dystopian fable remains by far the best-known of his more than 60 books. It also remains controversial and widely misunderstood: assailed for inciting adolescent violence (especially following Stanley Kubrick’s explicit 1971 film adaptation) or viewed as an anti-psychiatry treatise for presenting behavioural conditioning as an instrument of social control. But this aspect of the book needs to be seen within a broader context.

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Differentiating conflict and bullying within friendship

In Bully, Emmy award-winning director Lee Hirsch invites viewers to spend a year in the lives of students and parents who deal with public torment and humiliation on a daily basis. By following the young victims from the classroom to their living rooms, viewers are given an intimate look into the effects that bullying has on these targets and their families. While parents and administrators scramble to find a solution to the problem, they must ask themselves: how do we differentiate bullying from conflict within friendships?

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A cause for celebration?

By Clark McCauley
A year ago President Obama announced that US Special Forces had shot and killed Osama bin Laden. Jubilant crowds gathered outside the White House in Washington and at Ground Zero in New York City. Pictures of the crowds show them smiling and cheering, raising US flags and flashing victory “V”s.

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Osama bin Laden: When altruism becomes a sin

By Barbara Oakley, Ph.D. As we approach the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, it’s time to step back and think on the sin of altruism. Sin, you say? How can wanting to help others be a sin? Or, at the very least, how could it possibly harm people by simply trying to help them? […]

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Seven ways schools and parents can mishandle reports of bullying

By Maureen Duffy
(1) Ignore the bullying complaints, or deny or minimize them.
It’s very difficult for a child or young person to come forward with complaints of being bullied in the first place. The negative acts involved in bullying like name-calling, taunting, mocking, spreading rumors, social exclusion, or throwing things at the victim are humiliating. No child or young person wants to be disliked by peers and to have to disclose to an adult that they are targets of bullying can be a source of further shame.

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Mindmelding: two brains, one consciousness?

Have you ever wondered if it is really possible for others to know what you are thinking? Our brains seem to allow both “internal” points of view, and “external” ones.  As individuals, we know them from the inside as we experience our thoughts, perceptions and emotions. Scientists, on the other hand, only know our brains from the outside, as they employ brain imaging, EEG, or other types of techniques.

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Is there an epidemic of autism?

By Mary Coleman
Autism was first described in 1943 and since then, the understanding of this disease entity by the scientific community has greatly changed. In 2012, autism is now considered a behaviorally defined neurodevelopmental disorder arising well before birth, characterized by a marked clinical and etiological heterogeneity. Recently there is a question whether there may be an epidemic of autism, as the rates of diagnosis have continued to rise to alarming levels.

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Questions about the connection between law and mind sciences

The law is based on reasoned analysis, devoid of ideological biases or unconscious influences. Judges frame their decisions as straightforward applications of an established set of legal doctrines, principles, and mandates to a given set of facts. Or so we think. We sat down with Director of the Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard Law School (PLMS) and editor of Ideology, Psychology, and Law, Professor Jon Hanson, to discuss the interaction of psychology and the law, and how they interact to form ideologies by which we all must live.

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DSM-5 Proposals for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By Allan V. Horwitz
The latest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the DSM-5, now scheduled to be published in May 2013, has generated a tremendous amount of controversy. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association to provide common language and criteria for the diagnosis of mental disorders, so any proposed changes to its terminology could mean millions more, or millions less, diagnosed with an illness. Nevertheless, the proposed changes in the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have been relatively neglected.

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Mad Men and the dangerous fruit of persuasion

With the season premiere of AMC’s Mad Men coming this weekend, we thought we’d use this opportunity to introduce you to one of the most highly respected scientists in the field of Persuasion. As a matter of fact, many people consider Dr. Robert Cialdini as the “Godfather of influence”. What better way to do that then provide you with the foreword he wrote to a just-released book, Six Degrees of Social Influence. Enjoy his words below and enjoy the premiere.

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Why spring is the season of hope

By Anthony Scioli
Spring and hope are intertwined in the mind, body, and soul. In spring, nature conspires with biology and psychology to spark the basic needs that underlie hope: attachment, mastery, survival, and spirituality. It is true that hope does not melt away in the summer; it is not rendered fallow in autumn nor does it perish in the deep freeze of winter. But none of these other seasons can match the bounty of hope that greets us in the spring. My reflections on hope and the spring season are cast in terms of metaphors.

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