Sham Surgery

How can pretending to perform an operation have the same effect as actually performing one? How can healing take place without any treatment?
Patrick Nygren/flickr

The Power of Placebo

The placebo effect is more than belief - again and again, it has been shown to produce real physiological and neurological changes. Does this mean that the mind can heal the body?

Benjamin Libet and The Denial of Free Will

How can a person choose, of their own free will, to try to prove that they have no free will?

Why Hedonism Doesn't Lead to Happiness

In the long run, trying to find happiness solely through hedonism leads to a sense of meaninglessness and emptiness.

From the Worst in Human Nature to the Best

One of the most amazing things about disasters is the acts of incredible altruism and self-sacrifice they give rise to.

Waking Up

Research shows that spiritual experiences have become more common over the last few decades. What could this mean? Are we collectively "waking up?"

Is Autism Really an "Empathy Disorder"?

People with autism may have been unnecessarily stigmatised with the assumption that they have impaired empathy.

The Self is Not an Illusion

Spiritual teachings that tell us that to become "enlightened" means to lose your sense of self may be misleading. Spiritual awakening means a new self, not no self.

The World Is Not an Illusion

Some spiritual teachers claim that the world is an illusion. But true spirituality means that the world becomes more real, not less.

Enlightened Activity

Florence Nightingale's life of amazing activity and social reform shows that to be "spiritual" doesn't necessarily mean being passive and inert.

Cosmic Consciousness

The American poet Walt Whitman was a great spiritual teacher.

Chemical Enlightenment?

The reason why psychedelic drugs like LSD and ayahuasca can't bring true spiritual awakening.

When 'Perfect' Beings Turn Bad

Why do so many spiritual teachers become exploitative and corrupt?

When a Psychological Disorder Becomes Normal

When we abuse nature, we are really only abusing ourselves. We are connected to nature. And our survival depends on us being able to sense the connection.

Why the Mind Is More Than the Brain

The brain and the mind exist in a symbiotic relationship in which they both affect each other, but in which neither is entirely the other.

Transformation on the Battlefield

How can the brutality of warfare give rise to states of inner peace and harmony?

When Democracy Fails

It’s time we had psychological checks on power, in addition to constitutional checks.


We normally perceive as individuals, living inside our own brains and bodies, but this may not actually be the case. We live in connectedness, not separateness.

How Natural is War to Human Beings?

We were a peaceful species once before, so there’s no reason why we should give up hope of becoming peaceful once again.

Two Ways of Seeing the World

What makes 'civilized' western peoples different from indigenous peoples such as Native Americans? Our relationship to nature is psychopathic, whereas theirs was reverential.

How Intense Is Your Awareness?

Awareness is a variable. The world can appear more beautiful, more alive or more strange and awe-inspiring to some people than others.

Spiritual Activism

Spiritual seekers are sometimes criticised for being self-centered and indifferent, but true spirituality means altruism and engagement.

Peace Pilgrim

The story of one of most remarkable ‘awakened’ individuals of recent times, the American wanderer and social activist who called herself Peace Pilgrim.

Negative Empathy

Empathy brings a danger of becoming overwhelmed by the sufferings of others. But to 'feel with' other people doesn't necessarily mean to 'suffer with' them.

Living in Harmony With Time

Our lives always take place in the present - and we should always feel a sense of their brevity and fragility, and try to live as fully as possible.

Chemical Lobotomy

Future psychologists will look back on our reckless over-prescription of anti-depressants and other drugs with the same dismay that we look back on the use of frontal lobotomies.

Breakdowns and ‘Shift-Ups’

Sudden spiritual awakening can resemble psychosis, but is fundamentally different from it. If it is mis-diagnosed as psychosis, major difficulties can occur.

The Psychological Roots of Terrorism

The terrorist mentality is a form of psychopathy rooted in a deep sense of existential anxiety and disorientation, which is especially acute during adolescence and early adulthood.

More Than a Chemical Imbalance

To treat depression as the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain — and to try to fix the problem with medication — is naive, misleading and possibly even dangerous.

Transpersonal Psychology

While transpersonal psychology has been on the periphery for a long time, its significance may be increasing. It is becoming increasing important for us to explore the "farther reaches of human nature."