A Few Confederate Flags Down, But Many Trappings Remain

Symbols of the Confederacy -- not only flags, but uniforms, and portraits of Robert E. Lee and other leaders -- persist in the South as potent symbols. Removing flags from state offices is important, but these other symbols, and the pervasive psychological attitudes they represent and reinforce, need to be eliminated as well.

We Are Now Experimenting on You, OK?

Facebook, pharmaceutical, and other social media companies and researchers are increasingly conducting experiments on us. Sometimes, we don't even know it. The system for reviewing these ethics of these studies is broken. Here are some important facts you need to know about it, and how we need to fix it. Our minds and bodies are at stake.

What If My Patient Is a Pilot?

The recently Germanwings airplane crash raises critical ethical dilemmas about what health care providers should do if they treat a pilot who has on-going symptoms that could impede flying. Should mental health and other providers violate these patients' confidentiality, and if so, when?

Fear and Culture: What We Need to Learn About Ebola

Why we need to understand culture to combat this and other epidemics.

Henrietta Lacks’ Genes and All of Yours?

All of Henrietta Lacks' genes were recently mapped, and all of yours may soon be as well. A host of dilemmas arise: should doctors tell us everything they find? If not, who should decide and how? They should probably tell us if they find "medically actionable" mutations, but what about other ones? What do you want to know about your genetic make-up?

Angelina Jolie, Doctors, Patenting Genes, and You

Angelina Jolie bravely underwent preventive removal of her breasts because she has a breast cancer mutation, but a few issues about her situation remain undiscussed. Doctors often have trouble talking about this sensitive issue with patients. Millions of women can't test for this gene because it is patented. Much work remains before others can save their lives, too.

10th Anniversary of Mapping Human Genome: What it All Means

April 14, 2013 is the 10th anniversary of the first sequencing of the human genome. Since then, we have learned much about how genes work and can affect many aspects of our lives. But they present us with countless psychological challenges - how to understand the uncertainties involved, and how genes might contribute to mental states, disorders and behaviors.

Sequestration Hurts Mental Health Research and Treatment

Government-funded science has remarkably just cured an infant of HIV, and is expanding our understandings of the mind the brain; but is now endangered by budget cuts. Debates about the sequestration have focused on its harms to the economy, but it also hurts scientists working to improve our mental and physical health. We should realize and respond to these threats.

Myths About Our Right and Left Brains

Jill Bolte Taylor's TED talk, My Stroke of Insight, has attracted over 10 million viewers, but she argues that the right side of brain puts us in touch with "the life power of the universe" and that to reach Nirvana, we should simply turn off the left hemisphere. If only it were that easy! More recent research shows that the brain works far more as an integrated whole.

Medical Privacy For Royalty and the Rest of Us

Two weeks ago, a British nurse killed herself after she accepted a call requesting information about Kate Middleton. Her tragic death reminds us of major challenges in maintaining patient confidentiality: desires for gossip & easy transmission of personal information on-line. As providers and patients, we all reveal and receive secrets, and may at times err.

The Politics and Psychology of Time

Time is relative. Political time, economic time, geologic time and psychological time all differ and clash. Political time involves elections every four years. But Great Depressions, Great Recessions and Middle East Wars operate on very different time scales. Many politicians and voters confuse these at our peril.

The Doctor Will See Me...When? Patients, Patience and Care

Doctors experience time very differently than do their patients, but usually don't realize that. Not until becoming seriously ill themselves, do many health care providers note this discrepancy.

Sharing Office Cubicles... And Diagnoses

We spend much of our waking hours with co-workers, and often tell them personal information about ourselves. Should we, and if so, when? How much information should we give them about our health and genetics?

Genes and Autism: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Discoveries of genes associated with autism can help in understanding the cause of this disorder, and hopefully in finding treatments; but also raise several important ethical, legal and social dilemmas. We all need to consider these—as individuals, family members, and voters—to increase our grasp of these issues, and to prevent discrimination and stigma.

“Why Do I Have These Genes?” Questions of Fate, Free Will, and Genetics

We seek causes, especially for bad events: why tragedy happens, and who or what to blame. Many genetic markers offer a sense of predictiveness (even if only partial). Many people must thus now face existential questions, wondering what this "predeterimination" means—whether they are "cursed" or "doomed," and how much free will they have.

Genetics as Rorschachs: Pondering Our Genes and Our Fate

We are all starting to confront rising amounts of genetic information, but it is often ambiguous, and we tend to respond to it based on our prior beliefs, stories about ourselves, and the world.