We all harbor secrets. Some are big and bad; some are small and trivial. Researchers have parsed which truths to tell and which not to.
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Human caring in a random universe.
Ralph Lewis M.D.
We talk about dysfunctional people as “sick,” including the extreme case of mass murderers, and assume that what they need is psychiatric treatment. Let’s be more realistic.
Psychiatrists are being overwhelmed by people perceiving themselves to have a mental disorder and believing psychiatric treatment and or therapy to be the answer to their problems.
Our older, simpler, worldviews no longer work for us. They require updating to a more complex, realistic, coherent understanding of the world and the “problem of evil.”
The sense of self may be a product of the brain’s predictive modeling of the body's internal physiological state and of its interactions with the world.
Human brains can be understood as having evolved to form predictive models. This helps explain consciousness and many of the mind’s most successful features and problematic bugs.
We call ourselves Homo sapiens—wise human. We discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives. Yet we can be so boneheaded. What really is rationality?
How the brain’s motivational circuitry works, and the question of how much control we have over it.
Defining mental disorders is slippery, contributing to rising rates of diagnosis and self-diagnosis. Young people are especially prone to psychiatric self-labeling.
The myth of “Pure Evil,” and the real reasons why people do “evil” things.
Canada will allow voluntary euthanasia for patients suffering from grievous and irremediable mental disorders. Is this decision dangerous or enlightened?
As social animals, we are highly suggestible. We see this in phenomena as diverse as placebo effects, social contagion, and, indeed, culture itself.
You probably believe a few implausible things yourself. Most of us do. But it’s crucial that we all hone our scientific critical thinking skills.
The standard view of ADHD as one among many possible disorders may be wrong. It may be a common set of evolutionarily mismatched traits.
Despite popular belief that religion is the main source of morality, there is a large, well-established body of knowledge about the fully natural origins of the human moral sense.
The brain insists it has a nonphysical conscious essence. This may be because it evolved a simplified, abstracted model of its attention processes, with the details edited out.
Consciousness is a user-illusion, blindly honed by biological evolution but layered with language and culture and deepened by the chemistry of emotion.
The ability of nervous systems to form internal representations is fundamentally a physical process. This is key to understanding how consciousness works and how it evolved.
Consciousness is purely the product of a brain comprised of physical particles. So how come it feels like something—a subjective experience?
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Consciousness is no exception—it seems nonphysical, but is very much a biological phenomenon.
Our sense of ‘Self’ is an illusion constructed by evolution, and our perceptions are like a form of virtual reality. So how can we really know what’s out there?
Science tells us the universe is fundamentally a random collection of matter and energy and we are just collections of particles. Where do purpose, meaning, and morality come from?
At a time of heightened awareness of racism, and in a world awash with hateful conspiracy theories, an expert debunker cautions that censorship of hate speech can backfire.
Part 2 of 2: A psychiatrist and a psychologist debate whether science should take seriously the study of paranormal phenomena.
Part 1 of 2: A psychiatrist and a psychologist debate parapsychology’s view that consciousness is not purely dependent on the physical brain.
Everything is finite, even matter itself. Life is rendered all the more urgent and purposeful by its evanescence. Some of the world’s best science writers show us why.
Events like the COVID-19 pandemic reveal to each of us who we really are, and whether we are sufficiently cooperative and rational to depend on each other and flourish.
Young adults have the lowest levels of belief in a Higher Power. Should we be worried that they will lose purpose, meaning and morality?
I work at the frontlines of the youth mental health crisis, and I am confident that our future is more secure than ever in this generation’s capable hands.
Profound mystical experiences shape our worldview. We can be more willing to doubt the laws of physics than our own minds.
Our brains abhor randomness. They seek patterns and crave control. But understanding the world as fundamentally random can liberate and empower us.
Ralph Lewis, M.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and a consultant at the Odette Cancer Centre in Toronto.