Blank Spaces of Memory

Memory’s underpinnings have long been explored by artists and writers—from Klimt to Proust. Some contemporary works also deserve our attention.

Ordinary Cruelty

What makes good people do bad things? Can ordinary people be induced into behaving immorally? A movie about the famous Stanford Prison Experiment recently premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Here are some reflections about the movie and our susceptibility to both altruism and cruelty.

Mysteries of Biography

A new book about Sigmund Freud and a documentary about the musician Nick Cave shed some light on the nature of biography.

Sleep: The High Cost of Being Awake

Sleep unmasks aspects of our nature that we may want to ignore. It is something we may want, but paradoxically can only get when we stop looking for it. We also often don't want it, and accept it begrudgingly.

Confabulations of Everyday Life

Can we ever give an honest account of our lives without embellishing the facts? Psychoanalysis helps us uncover ways in which the facts are concealed and history is censored. Confabulated memories are not just symptoms of neurological disease and injury. There are "everyday confabulations" that are endemic to our humanity.

On Becoming a Digital Person

As in the fictitious world of Dave Eggers's The Circle, we also live in a world where our personal information is being harvested more rapidly and more covertly than ever. We might wonder about how technology, commerce, and culture intersect to impact our own psychological well-being and sense of identity. What are the psychological drawbacks to being datafied?

The Economics of Bandwidth

Scarcity is not only an economic problem. We also face a scarcity of psychological resources. With limited bandwidth, we are constrained in how much we can face. We can learn to be more economical when it comes to our psychological resources.

The Possibilities of Fiction

Children not only have imaginary friends, but sometimes create imaginative universes–paracosms–that continue to nourish and sustain creativity throughout the lifespan.

The Boston Tragedy: One Simple Suggestion for Our Kids

Repeated exposure to upsetting and increasingly vivid images in the news is clearly not helpful to children. In the face of so much that can be difficult to control, turning off the television is something any of us can do.

In Praise of Frustration

Much has been said about how we praise children when they succeed. Recent research supports the view that praising a child's inherent qualities, rather than effort, may ultimately backfire. What about when children fail? Children may also need more experience with failure and greater fluency for talking about frustration.

Are We About to Map the Entire Human Brain?

The Obama administration is about to announce a 10-year scientific project to map the human brain. The proposal, which may be announced as early as March, will include efforts to map the functions and activities of the billions of neurons in the human brain, much like the Human Genome Project.

On the End of History Illusion

When we recall the past, we can easily see how much we've changed. When we look into the future, however, we imagine that we’ll be no different from who we are today. We tend to predict that our values, interests, and preferences will be the same. We are quite convinced that we’ll be the same tomorrow, the next day, and 10 years from now.

The Bright Side of Uncertainty

What would it mean to be capable of bearing uncertainty, doubt, and mystery–without what Keats called our “irritable reaching after fact and reason?” Are there unseen pleasures with being bewildered?

The Future of Nostalgia

What has been the appeal of Apple's nostalgic design references and why are such images appealing to us in the first place? Does psychology offer ways of accounting for the allure of nostalgia in our technology?

The Pleasures of Being in Disguise

Apart from its cultural history, there is something oddly compelling about our ritual of costuming. Our amusement in disguising ourselves from other people may be an echo of how we masquerade our own wishes and desires from ourselves.

Revisiting the Myth of Mental Illness: Some Thoughts on Thomas Szasz

Thomas Szasz died this past week at the age of 92. His numerous writings have provided the philosophical basis for the antipsychiatry and patient advocate movements that began in the 1960s and have flourished ever since. What are the side effects of the medical model? Is Szasz too radical for a modern, neuroscience-based psychiatry?

The Transitional Space of John Cage

The avant garde composer would have turned 100 this week and celebrations are being held throughout the world. What can we learn about creativity from John Cage? What, if anything, can psychoanalysis add to understanding his artistry?

In Defense of Blushing

So what exactly is this most peculiar and most human of all expressions? What do we communicate when we blush? Is there an upside to blushing? Finally, what, if anything, do we learn about ourselves by understanding the phenomenon of blushing?

Curiosity, Here and Abroad

While we are bound to learn from Curiosity, it can be revealing to reflect on what we find alluring about space missions in general and our excitement about this one in particular. Surely, there is not only a psychology of space exploration but also a psychology of space fascination.