Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтенияPsychology
For Young People, Emotions Are Highly Contagious Social Viruses
When we hear the word ‘contagion’, our minds are immediately drawn to the viruses and bacteria spread through coughing and sneezing. This narrow view prioritises the biological, yet contagion is not unique to the spread of microorganisms. There is a
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтенияSelf-Improvement
The Best Way To Exercise Self-control Is Not To Exercise It At All
You’ve had a long week but fortunately it’s Friday and things are looking up. After grinding through the day, you stop on the way home to buy groceries for dinner. After getting the necessities, you decide on impulse to buy a dozen cookies. You’re on
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтенияSelf-Improvement
Can The Mapuche Teach Us To Transform Fear Into Respect?
Alone in your house at night, you settle into your bed ready for a good night’s rest when, suddenly, you hear a loud bang. Your heart starts racing, your breathing becomes more rapid, and you become acutely aware of your surroundings. What do you do
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
Cigarette! Exquisite Fiend, Ephemeral Friend, How I Miss You
For a ‘filthy habit’, cigarettes feature frequently in my personal vapour trail of fondest memories, each one a satisfying, if foggy, recollection. Never malodorous, never unhealthy. And I confess that smoking is also a habit I’ve never fully kicked,
Aeon Magazine7 мин. чтения
For Donald Winnicott, The Psyche Is Not Inside Us But Between Us
Originally a British paediatrician by trade, Donald Winnicott (1896-1971) became a central figure in mid-20th-century psychoanalysis. Outside of the cognitive and behavioural schools, his enduring influence on psychotherapeutic theory is arguably sec
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
As The Ancient Greeks Knew, Frankness Is An Essential Virtue
In public debates, should the word of a huckster count as much as that of a well-educated aristocrat? Classical Athenian democracy was based on the premise that it should. Every male Athenian citizen enjoyed an equal right to speak on all subjects di
Aeon Magazine7 мин. чтенияPsychology
A Touch Of Absurdity Can Help To Wrap Your Mind Around Reality
In 1999, the US broadcaster ABC commissioned a pilot for a new TV series set in Los Angeles. It starts with a brunette emerging from a car crash. There’s $125,000 in her bag, but she has no memory of who she is or where she was going. Anyone hoping f
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
Algorithms Associating Appearance And Criminality Have A Dark Past
‘Phrenology’ has an old-fashioned ring to it. It sounds like it belongs in a history book, filed somewhere between bloodletting and velocipedes. We’d like to think that judging people’s worth based on the size and shape of their skull is a practice t
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтенияSelf-Improvement
Dark Feelings Will Haunt Us Until They Are Expressed In Words
‘Jane’ is a client familiar to every psychotherapist. She is suffering, perhaps intensely, but struggles to put into words the feelings and internal conflicts that drive her suffering, except in the most limited way. She might pin her angst on someth
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
Gentle Medicine Could Radically Transform Medical Practice
Numerous criticisms of medical science have been articulated in recent years. Some critics argue that spurious disease categories are being invented, and existing disease categories expanded, for the aim of profit. Others say that the benefits of mos
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтенияSelf-Improvement
The Early Confucians Knew That Mental Health Has Social Roots
Mental illness is often thought to be a matter of individual disorder. Modern psychiatry looks to features of individual experience, behaviour and thoughts to diagnose mental illness, and focuses on individual remedies to treat it. If you are depress
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтенияSelf-Improvement
For A Child, Being Carefree Is Intrinsic To A Well-lived Life
Some people are lucky enough to look back at their childhood with affection for a time in life without much stress and anxiety. They might think of long hours spent playing in the backyard free of worry, or pursuing projects and relationships without
Aeon Magazine4 мин. чтения
Sooner Or Later We All Face Death. Will A Sense Of Meaning Help Us?
‘Despite all our medical advances,’ my friend Jason used to quip, ‘the mortality rate has remained constant – one per person.’ Jason and I studied medicine together back in the 1980s. Along with everyone else in our course, we spent six long years me
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
Think Of Mental Disorders As The Mind’s ‘Sticky Tendencies’
What exactly are mental disorders? The answer to this question is important because it informs how researchers should go about trying to explain mental disorders, how the public responds to people who experience them, and how we should go about devel
Aeon Magazine4 мин. чтения
Philosophy Cannot Resolve The Question ‘How Should We Live?’
The question How should we live? is one that many ask in a crisis, jolted out of normal patterns of life. But that question is not always a simple request for a straightforward answer, as if we could somehow read off the ‘correct’ answer from the wor
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
We Need Highly Formal Rituals In Order To Make Life More Democratic
Please be seated. It’s dinner time in St Paul’s College, Sydney, where I’m dean and head of house at Graduate House. The members of the High Table, wearing academic gowns, have processed into the refectory to a table laden with candelabra and silver
Aeon Magazine4 мин. чтения
Your Love Story Is A Narrative That Gets Written In Tandem
Imagine two couples, each at home for dinner. The first couple spends the whole meal caressing each other’s hair, calling each other cheesy monikers and, after the meal is finished, holding hands across the table, staring affectionately into each oth
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
I’ve Learnt To Live With Chronic Pain, But Not The Isolation
Ten years ago, I was prescribed a non-penicillin antibiotic to clear up a routine urinary tract infection. Part of a broad group known as fluoroquinolones, the pills made me feel extremely dizzy, as if I’d drunk most of a bottle of wine. I checked th
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
Private Gain Must No Longer Be Allowed To Elbow Out The Public Good
Adam Smith had an elegant idea when addressing the notorious difficulty that humans face in trying to be smart, efficient and moral. In The Wealth of Nations (1776), he maintained that the baker bakes bread not out of benevolence, but out of self-int
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
Why Do You Believe What You Do? Run Some Diagnostics On It
Many of the beliefs that play a fundamental role in our worldview are largely the result of the communities in which we’ve been immersed. Religious parents tend to beget religious children, liberal educational institutions tend to produce liberal gra
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
What We Can Learn About Respect And Identity From ‘Plurals’
Human beings are self-conscious creatures: we can conceptualise ourselves as psychological beings, forming beliefs about who and what we are. We also have identities: self-beliefs that are sources of meaning, purpose and value, and that help to const
Aeon Magazine4 мин. чтения
At Times Of Suffering, The Greatest Gift Is Accompaniment By Another
The genetics researchers Anne-Marie Laberge and Wylie Burke in 2009 reported the case of a healthy 31-year-old woman, an administrative assistant with three estranged sisters, and a mother who’d died of breast cancer in her 40s. Concerned about her r
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
How Dystopian Narratives Can Incite Real-world Radicalism
Humans are storytelling creatures: the stories we tell have profound implications for how we see our role in the world, and dystopian fiction keeps growing in popularity. According to, an online community that has grown to 90 million re
Aeon Magazine6 мин. чтения
Is There A Limit To Optimism When It Comes To Climate Change?
‘We’re doomed’: a common refrain in casual conversation about climate change. It signals an awareness that we cannot, strictly speaking, avert climate change. It is already here. All we can hope for is to minimise climate change by keeping global ave
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтенияScience
I Was Homeschooled For Eight Years: Here’s What I Recommend
I was homeschooled for eight years, from age 11 through to college, before it was a novel way for tiger parents to show off their dynamic commitment to their children’s education. Now, if millions of parents and families are suddenly going to be home
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтенияSelf-Improvement
Time Alone (chosen Or Not) Can Be A Chance To Hit The Reset Button
Solitude has become a topic of fascination in modern Western societies because we believe it is a lost art – often craved, yet so seldom found. It might seem as if we ought to walk away from society completely to find peaceful moments for ourselves.
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
Dating On The Rebound – When Looking For Love Can Be A Lifesaver
What is the right amount of time to start a new romantic relationship after a breakup? There are popular ‘rules’ about how long to wait. One rule of thumb is that you’ll need to wait half the length of the previous relationship. Another says to wait
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
How Dancing Helps Me Think, And Thinking Helps Me Dance
I’m a lifelong dancer and a political theorist. ‘Work’ and ‘thinking’ in one part of my life are entirely physical, while in the other part they’re wholly intellectual. For most of my career, dancing and academic research were two separate but equall
Aeon Magazine5 мин. чтения
Chemobrain Is Real. Here’s What To Expect After Cancer Treatment
A few years ago, one of my students came to me and spoke about her mother who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She said her mother was losing her memory and her bearings, and was very worried because nobody knew what to do about her sympto
Aeon Magazine4 мин. чтения
Sometimes The Most Powerful Act Of Resistance Is To Do Nothing
Resistance is a human right. This is why the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that people will be ‘compelled to have recourse, in the last resort, to rebellion’ if human rights are not respected, and why the defence of hum
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