A cargo cult pseudo airplane. How much of psychology is like this? Last year I reviewed Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski’s book Psychology Gone Wrong where they pointed out that many of psychology’s accepted beliefs and therapies were not based on good evidence. Now Witkowski has written a new book, to be… read more "Cargo Cult Psychology"
Neurotribes: A Better Understanding of Autism
What is autism? What causes it? Is it genetic? Is it a consequence of something in our environment or lifestyle? What’s an “idiot savant” or an “autistic savant”? What happens when autistic children become adults? Why are so many of their parents scientists, academics, and engineers? If your grandfather’s Uncle… read more "Neurotribes: A Better Understanding of Autism"
Is Addiction a Disease? Yes and No
Yes, it’s a disease. No, it’s a habit. Addiction is a puzzling phenomenon. Why do addicts persist in self-destructive behavior even after it has lost them their jobs, their family, their health, and their self-respect? Do they have any control over their behavior? If so, why don’t they control it?… read more "Is Addiction a Disease? Yes and No"
Frontal Lobotomy: Zombies Created by One of Medicine’s Greatest Mistakes
Frontal lobotomies have a dramatic, thankfully rather brief, history in the treatment of mental illness. Janet Sternburg has written an illuminating, and humanizing, book on the history of lobotomies, both personal and societal. It’s not clear who first quipped “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a… read more "Frontal Lobotomy: Zombies Created by One of Medicine’s Greatest Mistakes"
“Hands On Learning Solutions”: Untested Solutions for Problems That May Not Even Exist
Hands On Learning Solutions, a business in Gig Harbor, Washington, evaluates and treats children for learning disabilities and claims to identify the underlying causes and help eliminate the symptoms. Much of what they do is questionable, and at least one of their methods is clearly bogus. Their program is reminiscent… read more "“Hands On Learning Solutions”: Untested Solutions for Problems That May Not Even Exist"
Psychology and Psychotherapy: How Much Is Evidence-Based?
Despite all those Polish jokes, Poland has its share of good scientists and critical thinkers. A superb new book illustrates that fact in spades: Psychology Gone Wrong: The Dark Side of Science and Therapy, by Tomasz Witkowski and Maciej Zatonski, http://www.amazon.com/Psychology-Gone-Wrong-Science-Therapy/dp/1627345280 Witkowski is a psychologist, science writer, and founder of… read more "Psychology and Psychotherapy: How Much Is Evidence-Based?"
Mind Over Matter: The Brain’s Way of Healing
In 2008 I wrote about neuroplasticity as presented in Norman Doidge’s book The Brain That Changes Itself. I urge you to click on the link and read what I wrote there before you continue. The science is fascinating. The brain is far more malleable than we once thought. Areas of the… read more "Mind Over Matter: The Brain’s Way of Healing"
Mirror Neurons and the Pitfalls of Brain Research
In his new book The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition , Gregory Hickok, a professor of cognitive science, challenges current conceptions about mirror neurons. He shows how a complex mythology arose and why it is unwarranted, how experimental results were misinterpreted and disconfirming evidence ignored, and… read more "Mirror Neurons and the Pitfalls of Brain Research"
Depression Re-examined: A New Way to Look at an Old Puzzle
Depression affects approximately 10% of Americans. It can be fatal; I found estimates of suicide rates ranging from 2-15% of patients with major depression. When it doesn’t kill, it impairs functioning and can make life almost unbearably miserable. It is a frustrating condition because there is no lab test to… read more "Depression Re-examined: A New Way to Look at an Old Puzzle"
Vitamin E for Alzheimer’s
Recently you may have seen headlines like “Vitamin E slows decline in patients with mild Alzheimer’s” or “There’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but the latest hope for slowing its progression is already on drugstore shelves.” They were referring to an article in the January 1, 2014 issue of the Journal of the… read more "Vitamin E for Alzheimer’s"