Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"How to be happy (but not too much)"

9/28/10. Review of psychological research aimed at enhancing happiness --- and why being happy makes evolutionary sense.


Meredith Maran - "My Lie"

9/28/10. Remarkable interview on National Public Radio --- a true story about false memories.


TED - Ideas worth Spreading

9/28/10. "TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize."

Don't miss TED's community of creative people passionately talking about what they know, about art, about science, about spirituality, and many many more topics aimed to broaden our perspectives, make us laugh, and help us appreciate being alive.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Lionel Tiger, Professor of Anthropology on the Brain and Religion and more...

9/27/10. This is a interview with Professor Tiger.

"Lionel Tiger is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University and a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense on the future of biotechnology. An expert on the biological roots of human social behavior, he is the author of numerous books, including The Decline of Males, The Pursuit of Pleasure and The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System. He originated the term "male bonding" and is an advocate for "male studies" departments in universities."


"It Is Easier to be Brilliant than Right"

9/27/10. Many people are clever, quick, witty ---- and wrong.


Monday Quotations


"For what links us are elementary experiences -
emotions - forces that have no instrinsic language
and must be imagined as art if they are
to be contemplated at all."

--- Joyce Carol Oates (1938 -  )

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction...For fiction is
the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it."

--- G.K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

"I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance."

--- Socrates (469 B.C. - 399 B.C.)

"The rules of morality are not the conclusions of our reason."

--- David Hume (1711 - 1776)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Amazing James Randi

9/26/10. The Amazing Randi, a magician with tricks up both sleeves, spends his life fighting pseudo-science. He will never be unemployed.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Is Socrates a Man for the Present?


Angus Kennedy reviews two books on the life of Socrates:

"In his endless, often exasperating pursuit of Truth, Socrates made many enemies. Yet his ideas and his questioning outlook remain invaluable to understanding the present."


"What Really Scares Microsoft?"

9/25/10. Virginia Postrel, libertarian journalist, and author of the brilliant "The Future and Its Enemies," talks about her November 1999 NYT Op-Ed about the antitrust case against Microsoft.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

TOP 10: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

9/23/10 "... we turned to the experts, asking 125 top American and British authors to list their 10 favorite works of fiction of all time. The results were published in "The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books." Edited by J. Peder Zane and published by W.W. Norton, "The Top Ten" is the ultimate guide to the world's greatest books. As Norman Mailer, Annie Proulx, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, Margaret Drabble, Michael Chabon, Peter Carey and others name the 10 books that have meant the most to them, you'll be reminded of books you have always loved and introduced to works awaiting your discovery."


Dr. Antonio Damasio - Neuroscientist

9/23/10 "Dr. Antonio Damasio is a renowned neuroscientist who direct's the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Before that he was the Head of Neurology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His research focuses on the neurobiology of mind and behavior, with an emphasis on emotion, decision-making, memory, communication, and creativity. His research has helped describe the neurological origins of emotions and has shown how emotions affect cognition and decision-making.  He is the author of a number of books, including "Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain," which will be published in November, 2010. Dr. Damasio is also the 2010 winner of the Honda Prize, one of the most important international awards for scientific achievement."

On this video interview, Dr. Damasio discusses memory, consciousness, free will, and the conscious underpinnings of social behavior.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"You're Reading That Book Too? Marry Me"

Wall Street Journal writer Hannah Seligson turns a new page  on-line dating services.

She introduces her article referring to one of my favorite Woody Allen short stories (1974), "The Whore of Mensa,"  (where)Word Babcock hires an intellectual prostitute named Flossie, a Vassar student, who, for a price, will discuss Proust, Yates, Melville, or anything really." Flossie is especially talented about discussing the symbolism in Melville's "Moby Dick."

There are a growing number of sites that match people based on the books they read Ms. Seligson tells us.

Perhaps being on the same page or book gives some couples the hope of a match made in the library or  bookstore.

Yet relationships are full of mystery. We all know many couples who have so much in common that they can't stand each other and are aching  to split apart. This illusion of common interests sparking romance is fine until you recognize that marriage is made in our unconscious. And if you are lucky, reasons to make a life together will seep into consciousness. And if you are very lucky, you each will be able to stand each other over a life-time of for better or worse and in sickness or health.

"Benjamin Franklin on American Happiness"

9/21/10. Jerry Weinberger in the "City Journal,"  asks are Americans happy? He turns to Ben Franklin, a wise advisor for troubled times.


"When Kids Refuse to Go to School"

9/21/10. Every year, too many kids get up for school with fears, stomach-aches, head pains, and anxieties --- and refuse to go to school. Sometimes kids gets side-tracked to weeks of medical work-ups, and only rarely come out with a medical diagnosis.  Unless the child is physically sick, it is the kiss of death for the child's and family's mental health for the parent to allow the child to stay home --- especially for days on end. This problem used to be called school phobia --- but there is rarely something at school that is the problem, and now the disorder is called school refusal. At root here, most often, is the child's anxiety about separating from his or her parent(s). Many times the child worries about real or imagined sick parents, or a parent getting into an auto accident, or hurt at work, and so on. And the treatment is:  get the child to school.


"My Lie": Why I falsely accused my father"

9/21/10. "More than 20 years ago, Meredith Maran falsely accused her father of molestation. That she came to believe such a thing was possible reveals what can happen when personal turmoil meets a powerful social movement." Lives were wrecked, families were torn apart and stunned, and some falsely accused father's lingered in prison for years. I have witnessed the horror and aftermath of family members hear their sisters accuse their fathers of sexual abuse. (see post by Paul McHugh, MD regarding his book "Try to Remember," which documents the horror of these psychiatric misadventures.)

Of course, sexual abuse does occur ---- in 1976, during my doctoral dissertation on child abuse at Children's Hospital in Detroit, Michigan., I saw close-up what some parents did to their children.  


Saturday, September 18, 2010


Allen, Woody. Without Feathers. New York: Random House, 1972.

Anderson, Walter. The Confidence Course. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Andreasen, Nancy C. Brave New Brain. Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Andreasen, Nancy C. The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius. New York: Dana Press, 2005.

Barkley, Russell. Taking Charge of ADHD. The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. New York: The Guilford Press, Revised Edition, 2000.

Brown, Thomas E. Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.
This is a welcome addition to the ADHD literature. I especially like Dr. Brown's discussion of the executive functions that are impaired in what he calls the ADD Syndrome: (1) Activation: organizing, prioritizing, and activating to work; (2) Focus: focusing, sustaining, and shifting attention to tasks; (3) Effort: regulating alertness, sustaining effort, and processing speed; (4) Emotion: managing frustration and modulating emotions; (5) Memory: utilizing working memory and accessing recall; (6) Action: monitoring and self-regulating action. The book is filled with many real-life examples.

Christenson, Andrew, and Jacobson, Neil S. Reconcilable Differences. New York: The Guilford Press, 2000.
Two experienced psychologists offer sound advice on healing marital ruptures and disharmony and improving marital communication and joy.

Dalrymple, Theodore. Life at the Bottom. The Worldview that Makes the Underclass. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001.
British prison psychiatrist describes the destructive worldviews of his patients.

Dalrymple, Theodore. Our Culture, What's Left of It. The Mandarins and the Masses. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005.
Theodore Dalrymple is a psychiatrist working in a British prison and hospital. His collection of essays are profoundly honest, penetrating your mind like conversations with a wise friend who pulls no punches.

Faraone, Stephen V. Straight Talk about Your Child's Mental Health. New York: The Guilford Press, 2003.
Dr. Faraone is a psychologist and researcher at Harvard University. He has published many articles in scientific journals on ADHD and associated topics. This book is addressed to parents and is filled with the latest scientific findings on child mental health. One of the best books in the field on the topic of getting psychological help for your child.

Frank, Jerome D., and Frank, Julia. Persuasion & Healing. A Comparative Study of Psychotherapy. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. Third Edition.

Freud, Anna. The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. New York: International Universities Press, 1966.

Ghaemi, S. Nassir. The Concepts of Psychiatry. A Pluralistic Approach to the Mind and Mental Illness. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 2003.

Hallowell, Edward J., and Ratey, John J. Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005.
Drs. Hallowell and Ratey are both psychiatrists with Attention Deficit Disorder. This book is filled with practical information for adults with A.D.D. about diagnosis, the pros and cons of treatment approaches, information about medication therapies, and guidelines about coping with A.D.D. Their previous book published in 1994 - Driven to Distraction - is a classic in the field.

Havens, Leston. Approaches to the Mind. Movement of the Psychiatric Schools from Sects toward Science.  Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1987.

Havens, Leston. A Safe Place. Laying the Groundwork for Psychotherapy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Harris, Judith Rich. The Nurture Assumption. Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do. New York: The Free Press, 1999.

Holt, Jim. Stop Me If You've Heard This. A History and Philosophy of Jokes. New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.

Hoffer, Eric. The True Believer. New York:  Harper & Row, 1951.

Jamison, Kay Redfield. The Unquiet Mind. A Memoir of Moods and Madness. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1995.
A classic autobiography on coping with Bipolar Disorder by a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and a world authority on mood disorders. .
Konner, Melvin. The Tangled Wing. New York: Henry Holt and Company, L.L.C., 2002. Second Edition.

Koplewicz, Harold. More Than Moody: Recognizing and Treating Adolescent Depression. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2002.

Kramer, Peter D. Against Depression. New York: Viking, 2005.

Maughm, W. Somerset. The Summing Up. New York: Penguin Books, 1938.

McHugh, Paul R. The Mind Has Mountains. Reflections on Society and Psychiatry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

"Paul McHugh is one of the best and most original writers in psychiatry or psychology. He is iconoclastic, idealistic, deeply informed, and is one of the most important influences on generations of psychiatric researchers and clinicians. The Mind Has Mountains is the essence of McHugh's ideas. No one will agree with everything he writes - I don't - but no one who reads this book will remain unaffected by the clarity and importance of his thinking. He is a teacher of the first rank." ---Kay Redfield Jamsison, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, The John Hoplkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

McHugh, Paul R., Slavney, P. The Perspectives of Psychiatry. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Second Edition. This book teaches you how to think about psychiatric disorder.

Peterson, Christopher. A Primer in Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Peterson writes:

"Positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, from birth to death and at all stops in between...(an) approach within psychology that takes seriously as a subject matter those things that make life most worth living...What is good about life is a genuine as what is bad and therefore deserves equal attention from psychologists...It is a study of what we are doing when we are not frittering life away."
Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate. The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking Press, 2002.

Ridley, Matt. Nature Via Nurture. Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003.

Silver, Larry B. The Misunderstood Child. Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities. New York: McGraw-Hill, Third Edition, 1998.

Storr, Anthony. The Art of Psychotherapy. New York: Capman and Hall Inc., 1990. Second Edition.

Seligman, Martin E.P. Authentic Happiness. New York: Free Press, 2002.
Martin Seligman blends a scientific understanding of the roots of happiness with solid recommendations to improve your moral, mental, and spiritual well-being. I had the good fortune of meeting Marty in 1997, when I invited him to speak to the Michigan Psychological Association where he announced his decision to run for President of the American Psychological Association - he was elected by the biggest margin ever. When Marty was APA President, I was the Michigan Psychological Association President, and with his help I brought in the Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick to speak on "Consciousness" at the APA Convention held in San Francisco.

Seligman, Martin E.P. What You Can Change and What You Can't: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement and Learning to Accept Who You Are. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.

Wilens, Timothy E. Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids. New York: The Guilford Press, Revised Edition, 2004.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Physician, Humanize Thyself"

9/17/10. Psychiatrist Sally Satel recently attended the White Coat Ceremony at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Getting doctors to be a mensch is not a new idea. But with all the technical gizmos and time-pressures surrounding medical practice, it is easier to get smart people to dress up like doctors than to act like doctors.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Faith, Fortune Tellers, and New York"

9/16/10. Woody Allen (b. 12/1/35) seems as funny and perplexed as ever --- or is that farklempt --- a persona he has nurtured while directing, writing, acting, performing brilliant comedy, and playing the jazz clarinet. His philosophical approach to comedy, infused with his Jewish identity and years spent on the psychoanalytic couch, touch nerves of insight in some chosen few.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010