Read our posts about psychology

Want to Know Yourself? Take Our Test

Want to Know Yourself? Take Our Test

“If I knew myself, I’d run away,” said Goethe, who, incidentally, was Freud’s favourite writer. You might imagine that knowing yourself would be one of the key goals of psychology.  Often it has not been, however. When I was young one of the most distinguished experimental psychologists of his generation Donald Broadbent told me students should realise it was an illusion that psychology would teach them to know themselves better. Perhaps that’s why a paper on Experiential Self Monitoring which I reported in 1980 made such an impression on me. It was given by E J...
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The Ground Beneath My Feet: a Fear of the Unknown

The Ground Beneath My Feet: a Fear of the Unknown

I was 13 when I had my first panic attack, though I didn’t know what it was then. I was at a café in Biarritz when I got a chicken bone lodged in my throat. My entire body went white hot; I became convinced I was going to die. The blood drained to my feet, every bit of me screamed to get outside, so I walked around the block eating yoghurt until the fear drained away. When we got back to New Zealand, the same white heat would flow through my body again whenever we would go to a café or restaurant. I had to give myself ‘outs.’ Sit facing the door. Don’t order food....
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Cosmetic Surgery Makes Beauty That's Barely Skin Deep

Cosmetic Surgery Makes Beauty That's Barely Skin Deep

I was sad to read in The Guardian today that there’s been a big rise — nearly 17 per cent – in the demand for cosmetic surgery in Britain in the last year. Breast augmentation is the number one favourite, with anti-ageing techniques such as eyelid surgery and face and neck lifts following closely behind.  I was, however, not surprised to read that there’s also been a rise in reports of patient dissatisfaction. Quite apart from any issues of competence  this shows that cosmetic surgery doesn’t offer lasting satisfaction. Why not? First, the procedures rarely promise...
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The Stressed Sex?

The Stressed Sex?

“Women become insane,” opined the Victorian psychiatrist G. Fielding Blandford, “during pregnancy, after parturition, during lactation; at the age when the catamenia (periods) first appear and when they disappear…” Back in the bad old days, it was accepted that women were inherently susceptible to mental illness, due to the imagined intimate connection between brain and reproductive system. For women, read madness. In these sun-lit days of supposed gender-equality, the idea that one sex is more prone to mental illness than the other has become taboo. Wanting...
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Is Your Partner a Sociopath?

Is Your Partner a Sociopath?

Sociopaths are people with little or no conscience or ability to empathize with other peoples’ feelings. One sociopath in the course of their lifetime will harm many people but hurt most those with whom they have intimate and close relations. Although many operate as seeming ‘model citizens’, behind the façade they have interpersonal deficits such as grandiosity, arrogance and deceitfulness, lack of guilt and empathy, and impulsive and occasionally criminal behaviours. It’s easy to miss these traits in someone you love because you are not expecting to see them....
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Can TV Make Us Happy?

Can TV Make Us Happy?

With the National Television Awards tonight and controversy over television programmes filling the papers again, it might be a good time to look at how the television we watch affects our well-being. Our brains are incredibly susceptible to what we watch, in part because of two bits of biological programming. One is that we’re designed to not waste energy, so sitting down and having information come to us feels easy. The other biological quirk is that new experiences register as stronger than familiar ones, we’re hard-wired to seek out novelty. Television provides us...
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How to Change a Bad Boss into a Good Boss

How to Change a Bad Boss into a Good Boss

The uncontested, number-one reason why people are unhappy and stressed at work is bad management. Nothing has more power to turn your work situation from happy to crappy than a bad boss. Sadly there are quite a few of them around. A British study accused one in four bosses of being bad, while a Norwegian study said one in five.The reason that having a bad manager is so bad for us is that managers have power over us. Managers can change our work situation, give us good or bad tasks, and, ultimately, fire us. This power imbalance is why a good relationship with your manager...
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