In 2013, the British Psychological Society published a position statement that raised alarms about “the increasing medicalisation” of mental health care.
In particular, the BPS took issue with the language and criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s newly updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the DSM-5 — which psychiatrists and many other mental-health experts around the world rely on to guide their work.
The BPS called the DSM-5’s classification models “flawed” and unreliable.
It argued that the DSM-5’s current approach to identifying and labeling mental health problems lacks consistency and scientific rigor, over-emphasizes biological factors and…
In 1843, the Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone was attacked by a lion.
“I heard a shout . . . and looking half round, I saw the lion just in the act of springing on me,” Livingstone later recalled. The lion clamped its jaws around his shoulder and shook him “as a terrier dog does a rat.”
But then a curious thing happened. The shock of the attack produced what Livingstone described as a sort of dreaminess. “There was no sense of pain nor feeling of terror, though [I was] quite conscious of all that was happening,” he said…
Your brain is like a faultless movie projector. Sights, sounds, and a jumble of other sensory information pass into it via the spinning reel of your existence, and your brain reconstitutes that hodgepodge into an objective, lossless experience that you call consciousness.
Of course, that’s wrong.
Your brain is actually not a faultless projector. The reality it makes for you is biased and suggestible. Expectation, experience, emotion, and many other variables shape the world that your brain creates.
In his 2019 book Rethinking Consciousness, the Princeton psychologist and neuroscientist Michael Graziano explains that the brain’s interpretation of reality is built…
Your body reacts to stress in a number of well-mapped ways. Heart rate and blood pressure speed up, muscles tense, digestion slows, and breathing becomes clipped and rapid.
All of this happens because your brain has registered the presence of some sort of threat. Whether physical or psychological, this threat triggers a trickle (or a gush) of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and other stress-related hormones. These chemical messengers shift the activity of your nervous and immune systems in ways that are meant to help you either flee from danger or weather some kind of ordeal or confrontation.
Imagine shining a flashlight at a wall in a dark, empty room.
If you walk toward the wall, the light will contract. The closer you get to the wall, the smaller and more concentrated the beam of light becomes. By the time the flashlight is an inch from the wall, you’ll see a tight, bright circle of light surrounded by shadow and darkness.
Your attention is a lot like the beam of that flashlight. You can focus it closely and intensely on something, or you can relax it — allowing it to grow soft and diffuse.
A lot of research…
For a 2012 study in PLOS One, researchers invited a young woman into a laboratory at Ohio University.
The woman learned that she would be taking part in an “aesthetic judgment” experiment. The researchers took a photograph of her face and then asked her to sit at a table that held two objects: a computer monitor and a mirror.
On the monitor, the woman viewed a series of headshots of what the study termed “attractive professional models” — all of them women. Following this barrage of beautiful faces, the woman’s own photograph appeared on the screen. But it wasn’t just…
Spaceflight is hard on the human body. The absence of gravity can induce a form of nauseating motion sickness known as space adaptation syndrome. As time passes, weightlessness can also cause muscle wasting, bone deterioration, and other health problems.
NASA and its sister space agencies around the world have long recognized these health threats, and they’ve developed effective countermeasures. But as they’ve learned to manage the challenges of zero-gravity environments, other concerns have emerged.
According to a 2016 NASA-led study in the International Journal of General Medicine, time spent in space rapidly perturbs the human immune system. Nearly every molecule…
The journalist Michael Easter once spent a month in the Arctic Circle, tracking a herd of caribou for a national magazine story.
After 33 days in the backcountry — lugging an 80-pound pack through forests and tundra, spending each night outdoors in a tent — Easter says that his reunion with running water almost brought him to tears.
“I was in this little bathroom at an airfield in Kotzebue, Alaska,” he recalls. “When that warm water hit my face, it was like, oh my god. I think I let it run over my hands for about 20 minutes.”
For a 2019 study, researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had healthy people apply common, commercially available sunscreens.
For four days — and four times each day — the people in the study sprayed or rubbed sunscreen onto their bodies. Most sunscreen labels advise people to reapply “at least every two hours,” so the study was designed to assess what would happen inside the body if people followed this guidance. For example, if someone went on a beach vacation and slathered on sunscreen throughout the day, as directed, what, if anything, might show up in their blood?
Spring is a season of rebirth and renewal. Flowers sprout, leaves bud, and the natural world wakes up from its long winter hibernation. Likewise, a lot of people feel rejuvenated as the days grow longer, sunnier, and warmer.
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