Here’s a piece I wrote for BBC Science Focus magazine, all about the phenomenon of aphantasia – not having a “mind’s eye”. Free to access.
New year is expectation-tastic with its contradictory pressures of having a stonking New Year’s Eve, and then a sanctimonious fresh start on New Year’s Day. The fantasy is that suddenly, all those things we wanted to be but fell short of last year will suddenly click into place.
In my 20s the focus was mostly on plans for the night of New Year’s Eve. I once spent a New Year on my own. It was great. I made myself spaghetti and wrote a short story. It was good because I had the choice though. Like most things, if you can decide to do something it feels better than if the situation is inescapable. I was alone but I didn’t feel lonely, and I had the luxury of knowing that if I did I could probably run out into the night and find a friend at short notice. Continue reading
The death of the high street is everywhere at the moment. House of Fraser is in trouble, and its Birmingham branch, formerly Rackham’s, is one of the stores to close. The Exeter branch, formerly the artist known as Dingles, will stay open, though for how long is hard to tell.
I have a nostalgic fondness for department stores. They remind me of going with my mum to have a toasted teacake in the shop cafe as a treat when I was little. Those moments felt really special, oddly grown up, to be in a cafe just us two. The toasted tea cakes always had a lot of butter on, and the loos had a dated picture of a posing woman on the door and those funny sanitary towel bags on top of the cistern which I was too young to know what to do with, but which I admired for their funny Victorian lady on the front. Continue reading
An article in the Telegraph today interviews Dr Gallagher, a psychiatrist based in the US, all about how he thinks demonic possession is real and exorcism can be helpful.
The article doesn’t give any alternative point of view, or ask Dr Gallagher any particularly challenging questions, so it’s possible to read it and think it’s not that controversial. Continue reading
A new NHS framework promoting health and wellbeing in healthcare staff was launched mid-May.
The investment of time and resource to write this report is to be celebrated. The framework emphasises the importance of NHS staff wellbeing and gives some concrete ideas for improving working conditions and individual skills to cope with difficult work. These have the potential to be helpful.
However, the report ignores one of the key reasons why this document is needed in the first place: funding constraints. Continue reading
“This is a complex crime and you cannot arrest your way out of it,” said Amber Rudd this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme, as she talked about the rise in knife crime in young people in London.
I couldn’t agree more that arresting our way out of this is not the answer. But then what is? The rise of violent crime in London’s youth is complex, although sadly not surprising. Continue reading
It was a Supermoon the other night and I was admiring it and thinking about how the moon looks like it is glowing, when in fact it is reflecting light from the sun.
It made me think about how things are not always what they appear to be, and how it’s possible to view the same thing in different ways, sometimes depending on what other information is available to us. Continue reading
I’ve been indulging in a guilty pleasure recently: binge-watching The Apprentice. I don’t have a telly and tend not to watch loads, but when I do I really get into it. The Handmaid’s Tale, Bake Off, and now Alan Sugar and his job applicants…
There is something I enjoy about watching the naked ambition and downright competitive nastiness of the candidates. Every series someone says “I’m not here to make friends”, which is blatantly obvious in the scenes in the boardroom where they are all fighting for their place in the competition and passing the blame. Continue reading
I’ve been reminding myself of some of the basics of compassion-focussed therapy recently, and I thought I’d blog about it because we could probably all use a bit of this. Compassion-focussed therapy is a third-wave CBT approach, which means it has grown out of cognitive behavioural therapy even though it looks quite different to traditional CBT. A key part of it involves learning to show more compassion to ourselves as well as others. Continue reading
Over 100,000 children referred to local mental health services in England have been rejected for treatment in the last two years. Figures requested from NHS Trusts by the NSPCC, released today, show that an average of 150 referrals a day are turned away from NHS children’s mental health services, despite Childline reporting record numbers of calls. From a total of 652,023 cases referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), 109,613 children were turned away. The NSPCC has called on Government to focus on early intervention to reduce numbers who reach crisis point. Continue reading