Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

What does my cancer gene mutation mean for my family?

For 15 years I have counseled patients about what it means to carry a mutation in a gene that can lead to a higher risk of developing cancer. Hundreds of times I have said, “A mutation was found.” Our patients have different mutations in different genes. They come from different parts of the world. They speak a variety of languages, and bring their cultural heritage and expectations to our sessions.

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A five-day guide to resiliency in the New Year

In a world that values busyness, it is often easy to prioritize personal responsibilities over personal fulfillment. Phrases like I wish I had the time and once things settle down justify an all-too-common postponement of happiness and self-care. In the following excerpt from Night Call, acclaimed psychologist and author Robert Wicks details a five-day guide to self-care designed to fit even the busiest of schedules.

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Life after death: posttraumatic growth after the loss of a loved one [video]

Can trauma lead to positive change? Posttraumatic growth is a phenomenon experienced by those who have undergone trauma. After facing a traumatic event, those who experience posttraumatic growth endure a period of psychological struggle before eventually finding a sense of personal growth. The process can be long and difficult, and isn’t experienced by everyone who survives a traumatic event.

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Ten steps to take when starting out in practice

Starting out in practice is challenging; especially if your training did not include much of an emphasis on practice development. Most training programs don’t as they have very tight curriculums and focus on teaching the core knowledge and skills needed to prepare one to be a competent and effective clinician. Leaving out the core business of practice skills needed to create a sustainable practice environment can make the transition into private practice quite challenging and anxiety provoking.

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“Yes I can!”: the psychology behind lasting personal growth

Approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the second week of February. But what makes these goals so difficult to achieve? One theory is that our resolutions are often too big to manage. Sticking to major changes like dieting and exercise can become overwhelming—causing us to give up after any initial set-backs.

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Glioblastoma’s spectre in the Senate

With his right arm extended – pausing for just a moment – Senator John McCain flashed a thumbs-down and jarred the Senate floor. Audible gasps and commotion followed. At 1:29 am on 28 July, Senator McCain had just supplied the decisive “Nay” vote to derail the fourth and final bill voted on that night. With that, a seven-year pursuit to undo the Affordable Care Act had collapsed.

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New year, new you: 13 books for self-improvement in 2018

Last year, twitter highlighted the most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2017—which included losing weight, reading more, and learning something new among the most common goals. With 2018 quickly approaching, people all over the world are taking the time to reflect on themselves and determine possible resolutions for the coming year. We’ve put together a reading list of self-improvement books to help our readers reflect and stick to their goals in the New Year.

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Some of the mysteries of good character

he topic of character is one of the oldest in both Western and Eastern thought, and has enjoyed a renaissance in philosophy since at least the 1970s with the revival of virtue ethics. Yet, even today, character remains largely a mystery. We know very little about what most peoples’ character looks like. Important virtues are surprisingly neglected. There are almost no strategies advanced by philosophers today for improving character.

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“I’m not very good at making conversation”

During the festive period from Christmas to New Year, we can often find ourselves in situations that we are uncomfortable with, making conversations with people we don’t know, and sometimes struggling with social anxiety. In the following extract from Managing Social Anxiety, Workbook, the authors explore cognitive restructuring, and how it can be useful to prepare ourselves for uncomfortable social situations.

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Connecting clinical presence and clinical knowledge in music therapy

In all clinical practices, students must learn to make meaning of clinical information such as, “What does it mean that the client said this or did that? What is the client’s body saying when it does or does not do this?” For music therapy students, there is the additional consideration of music, namely “What does it mean when the client plays music like this? What does it mean when the client hears this music like that?”

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A neurocognitive view on the dimensions of Schadenfreude and envy

We usually think highly about ourselves, tending to believe that our prosocial nature prioritizes positive emotions about others. Yet, as highlighted by Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons, this is not always true. Empathy (that is, the ability to become attuned with others’ feelings) is the basis of cooperation and one of the core links holding human groups together.

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In the zone: how balancing stress levels improves performance [excerpt]

Athletes’ maximum performance, also known as peak performance, is often characterized or accompanied by what is called a “flow state” or “peak experience.” Athletes describe this state as being “on automatic pilot,” “totally involved,” “hot,” “on a roll,” “in a groove,” or “in the zone.” An excellent example is provided by the great German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in the 2001 champions league final game, between his team FC Bayern Munich and FC Valencia.

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Are boys genetically predisposed to behavioural problems? [excerpt]

Are boys naturally more aggressive or is that just a social construct by society? Can so-called “macho behavior” be unlearned or is it intrinsic? This International Men’s Day, authors Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman seek out those answers and more in the below excerpt from The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth About Men, Women, and Mental Health.

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Are you the favorite child? The science of favoritism

We are frequently asked why we spend our professional careers studying favoritism, after all, parents don’t really have favorites. Or do they? A woman recently approached us after a lecture we gave and told us about caring for her aging mother. Her story captures the importance of this issue. She visited her mother daily in the final year of her mother’s life to feed, bathe, and care for her.

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“Thank you for your service” isn’t enough [excerpt]

On this Veterans Day, we honor those fallen and herald those still fighting. We also examine what more can be done in terms of listening and understanding those who have seen the perils of war firsthand. In this excerpt from AfterWar: Healing the Moral Wounds of our Soldiers, author Nancy Sherman shares with us her time spent with a veteran of Afghanistan and his feelings on those who expect so much from soldiers and can only offer thanks in return.

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On burnout, trauma, and self-care with Erin Jessee

Last week, Erin Jessee gave us a list of critical questions to ask to mitigate risk in oral history fieldwork. Today, we’ve invited Jessee back to the blog to talk more in-depth about her recently published article, “Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork,” spotting signs of trauma during interviews, and dealing with the sensitive nature of oral history.

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