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Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist Announced

Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist Announced

This year’s Wellcome Book Prize shortlist is an amalgam of non-fiction and fiction books that as head of judges Bill Bryson said today, are “all accessible, engaging and beautifully written”. Deciding on the six books that would make the shortlist was “like being in the world’s best book club”, said the best-selling non-fiction author. The prize, which was relaunched last year with the strap line “books for the incurably curious”, is for publications that engage with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. As Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at the...
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A Happier, Healthier You: The Welldoing How To Guide

A Happier, Healthier You: The Welldoing How To Guide

This is just a quick post, to proudly announce that we have published an eBook: A Happier, Healthier You: The Welldoing How To Guide We have collected contributions from a wonderful array of experts, psychologists and writers, who offer their best advice on subjects that will – we hope – serve to make life less stressful and more enjoyable and balanced for you too. This How To Guide is all about your mind and body, with advice ranging from how best to start the day, how to build inner strength, how to find the job you love - and everything in between. And it's...
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Doctors Dissected: What are Doctors really Thinking?

Doctors Dissected: What are Doctors really Thinking?

As I sat down to write about the relationship I have with ‘my GP’ I realised I couldn’t. Last summer I had cause to visit a general practitioner several times, I am asthmatic and although my condition is manageable day-to-day sometimes I need additional care. I saw three different doctors in the space of six weeks. One was a locum covering for holidays the other two were regulars at the surgery.  All were professional, helpful, concerned. But they, like their approaches, were all different and that was just over one short season. Even if we live in the...
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Great Myths of the Brain

Great Myths of the Brain

Have you noticed how often the word brain pops up in newspapers and magazines, TV programmes and radio shows lately? For a number of reasons  – from the devaluation of traditional organised religion through to advances in research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) –  the brain is having a media-sexy moment. But that doesn’t mean everything you read about it is true. At least, not entirely. This is what prompted editor of the renowned British Psychological Society’s Research Digest Christian Jarrett to write Great Myths of the Brain, published...
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Gone Girl: I Blame the Parents

Gone Girl: I Blame the Parents

It's hard not to blame the parents. In David Fincher’s gripping film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl there are many different dyadic and triadic relationships with which to engage: the husband and wife, the twin brother and sister, evidence-based versus intuitive cop, obsessive past boyfriend with husband and wife, husband, wife and mistress but the one that I kept wanting to pick at like a hardened scab on a child’s knee was the relationship between the central character, Amy Dunne (played by Rosamund Pike), and her Waspish parents Rand and Marybeth...
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OCD: A Life Lost In Thought

OCD: A Life Lost In Thought

I have suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder for more than twenty years, but I could not have written this sentence until a few years ago. In fact, the first time I did write that I had OCD I deleted the email that contained the words without sending it. Then, after I did send it, I deleted it from my Outbox. And from my Trash folder. And then I rebooted the computer, just to make sure. Things changed a few months later. That original email had been to a literary agent about an idea for a book on OCD. When I subsequently signed a deal to write the book...
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Writing Fiction Airs My Demons

Writing Fiction Airs My Demons

Writing is a form of therapy. The creative act seems as necessary for my mental health as a social life and exercise. And beyond that, I find that my deeper, darker soul emerges in my novels in ways I never expect… We all know that diary and letter writing can be cathartic  -  and certainly my own teenage diaries were where I worked out the passions and indignities of life – but writing longer fiction works as therapy on several different levels. I’m not proposing that we should all attempt to write full-length novels, because it’s horribly difficult and takes...
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Culture Tip: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Culture Tip: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

This week's Culture Tip is the first, and may possibly be the last, to incite in me an urgent need to increase dental flossing. Joshua Ferris’s new novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour follows anti-hero, Paul O’Rourke, who is a Red Sox fan, an avowed atheist and an acclaimed New York dentist with a thriving practice. He is a man who cares deeply about oral hygiene and his pain at his patients’ dental deterioration is palpable. He is impotent in the face of a prolific alter ego who, it seems, might just be a kinder, nicer and far from agnostic him. Paul...
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Andrew Solomon's Ode to Identity

Andrew Solomon's Ode to Identity

Andrew Solomon spent 10 years talking to more than 300 families about their children to discover what it means when your child is radically different to you, when the apple does, to contradict the saying,  “fall far from the tree”. This incredible project has won him the Wellcome Book Prize 2014. He was drawn to this subject following a journalistic assignment at a dwarf convention, but it was also because he felt so different from  his own parents. First of all as a seriously dyslexic boy whose mother worked tirelessly to get him help; secondly, as a gay man,...
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"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

When I first started to work with people on the autistic spectrum, I was given a very bad piece of advice: because the brains of people with autism were damaged, one should not listen to what they had to say. The implication was that they had nothing useful to contribute. I repeat this now only because it highlights how completely our perspective on autism has been challenged and redirected by the autobiographical accounts of such courageous people as Temple Grandin, Donna Williams and many others, presenting us with the view from the inside. Starting as a...
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