you can probably tell that I am depressed, not a whole else lot to say...

Joined November 2020
not here

Can entire societies become more or less depressed over time? Here, we look for the historical traces of cognitive distortions, thinking patterns that are strongly associated with internalizing disorders such as depression and anxiety, in millions of books published over the course of the last two centuries in English, Spanish, and German. We find a pronounced “hockey stick” pattern: Over the past two decades the textual analogs of cognitive distortions surged well above historical levels, including those of World War I and II, after declining or stabilizing for most of the 20th century. Our results point to the possibility that recent socioeconomic changes, new technology, and social media are associated with a surge of cognitive distortions.

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This article aims to cover one simple thing: What are the must-read psychology books that someone curious about understanding how the human psyche works should check.

As a passionate reader, online librarian, a person who summarized over 100 books, and also researcher. I was curious, myself, what books are considered must-reads on human psychology. That’s why I took a wild ride in the online world to compile this list of the best psychology books.

So, without further ado, here is a list of must-read psychology books I consider vital for anyone looking to become an expert on how we are designed to operate:

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Nearly three years after she began filming it, Mia Hansen-Løve’s seventh film, Bergman Island, finally arrives in Cannes to mark the Parisian director’s Competition debut. Filmed on location in Sweden, and starring Vicky Krieps and Tim Roth, it takes place on the island of Fårö, where the Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman lived and worked until his death in 2007. Surprisingly, it’s been a while since Hansen-Løve was on the Croisette, having appeared in Directors’ Fortnight with her first feature All is Forgiven (2007) and Un Certain Regard with 2009’s Father of My Children. “I feel very privileged to be back,” she says.

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When people undergo a great trauma or other unsettling event—they have lost a job or a loved one dies, for example—their understanding of themselves or of their place in the world often disintegrates, and they temporarily “fall apart,” experiencing a type of depression referred to as existential depression. Their ordeal highlights for them the transient nature of life and the lack of control that we have over so many events, and it raises questions about the meaning of our lives and our behaviors. For other people, the experience of existential depression seemingly arises spontaneously; it stems from their own perception of life, their thoughts about the world and their place in it, as well as the meaning of their life. While not universal, the experience of existential depression can challenge an individual’s very survival and represents both a great challenge and at the same time an opportunity—an opportunity to seize control over one’s life and turn the experience into a positive life lesson—an experience leading to personality growth.

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Billionaires and their lesser cousins are generally lauded in American society. But there are some who condemn them simply for being billionaires. This leads to the moral issue of whether a person can be both morally good and a billionaire. The issue is whether, in general, you could be a billionaire and still plausibly be a good person. I am, of course, laying aside crazy philosophical examples such as a person being a billionaire because they are the only person left on earth. A proper resolution of this issue requires, as always, determining which moral theory (if any) is correct. But we can, as always, rely to some degree on our moral intuitions and some basic logic.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presents a major public health problem for which currently available treatments are modestly effective. We report the findings of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-site phase 3 clinical trial (NCT03537014) to test the efficacy and safety of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted therapy for the treatment of patients with severe PTSD, including those with common comorbidities such as dissociation, depression, a history of alcohol and substance use disorders, and childhood trauma. After psychiatric medication washout, participants (n = 90) were randomized 1:1 to receive manualized therapy with MDMA or with placebo, combined with three preparatory and nine integrative therapy sessions. PTSD symptoms, measured with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5, the primary endpoint), and functional impairment, measured with the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS, the secondary endpoint) were assessed at baseline and at 2 months after the last experimental session. Adverse events and suicidality were tracked throughout the study. MDMA was found to induce significant and robust attenuation in CAPS-5 score compared with placebo (P < 0.0001, d = 0.91) and to significantly decrease the SDS total score (P = 0.0116, d = 0.43). The mean change in CAPS-5 scores in participants completing treatment was −24.4 (s.d. 11.6) in the MDMA group and −13.9 (s.d. 11.5) in the placebo group. MDMA did not induce adverse events of abuse potential, suicidality or QT prolongation. These data indicate that, compared with manualized therapy with inactive placebo, MDMA-assisted therapy is highly efficacious in individuals with severe PTSD, and treatment is safe and well-tolerated, even in those with comorbidities. We conclude that MDMA-assisted therapy represents a potential breakthrough treatment that merits expedited clinical evaluation.

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Is it fair for a judge to increase a defendant’s prison time on the basis of an algorithmic score that predicts the likelihood that he will commit future crimes? Many states now say yes, even when the algorithms they use for this purpose have a high error rate, a secret design, and a demonstrable racial bias. The former federal judge Katherine Forrest, in her short but incisive When Machines Can Be Judge, Jury, and Executioner, says this is both unfair and irrational.

On a damp and cloudy afternoon on February 15, 1894, a man walked through Greenwich Park in East London. His name was Martial Bourdin — French, 26 years of age, with slicked-back dark hair and a mustache. He wandered up the zigzagged path that led to the Royal Observatory, which just 10 years earlier had been established as the symbolic and scientific center of globally standardized clock time — Greenwich Mean Time — as well as the British Empire. In his left hand, Bourdin carried a bomb: a brown paper bag containing a metal case full of explosives. As he got closer to his target, he primed it with a bottle of sulfuric acid. But then, as he stood facing the Observatory, it exploded in his hands.

The detonation was sharp enough to get the attention of two workers inside. Rushing out, they saw a park warden and some schoolboys running towards a crouched figure on the ground. Bourdin was moaning and screaming, his legs were shattered, one arm was blown off and there was a hole in his stomach. He said nothing about his identity or his motives as he was carried to a nearby hospital, where he died 30 minutes later. 

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One of the best insights on what true productivity means in the 21st century dates back to 1890. In his book The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1, William James wrote a simple statement that’s packed with meaning: “My experience is what I agree to attend to.”

Your attention determines the experiences you have, and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Or said another way: you must control your attention to control your life. Today, in a world where so many experiences are blended together — where we can work from home (or a train or a plane or a beach), watch our kids on a nanny-cam from work, and distraction is always just a thumb-swipe away — has that ever been more true?

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Fear of psychiatric hospitalization is one of the primary reasons that older men — an age and gender group at high risk for suicide — don’t talk about suicide with their physicians.

Researchers discovered this finding as part of a pre-launch, stakeholder assessment of a multimedia program designed to encourage men to open up to their primary care providers about suicidal thoughts. Called MAPS, for Men and Providers Preventing Suicide, the program will eventually be integrated into doctors’ office waiting areas.

The MAPS assessment was led by Anthony Jerant, chair of family and community medicine at UC Davis Health, and is published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling.

“Our overall goal is to initiate comfortable conversations with men about mental health and its treatment in outpatient primary care settings,” Jerant said. “Fear of hospitalization wasn’t really on our radar, proving that stakeholder interviews are crucial to shaping the development of suicide-prevention interventions like ours.”

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Say you’re an evil scientist. One day at work you discover a protein that crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes crippling migraine headaches if someone’s attention drifts while driving. Despite being evil, you’re a loving parent with a kid learning to drive. Like everyone else, your kid is completely addicted to their phone, and keep refreshing their feeds while driving. Your suggestions that the latest clown squirrel memes be enjoyed later at home are repeatedly rejected.

Then you realize: You could just sneak into your kid’s room at night, anesthetize them, and bring them to your lair! One of your goons could then extract their bone marrow and use CRISPR to recode the stem-cells for an enzyme to make the migraine protein. Sure, the headache itself might distract them, but they’ll probably just stop texting while driving. Wouldn’t you be at least tempted?

This is an analogy for something about alcoholism, East Asians, Odysseus, evolution, tension between different kinds of freedoms, and an idea I thought was good but apparently isn’t.

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Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard studied 840,000 people and found some of the best evidence yet that chronotype, or a person’s proclivity to sleep at a specific hour, influences depression risk. 

It’s also one of the first studies to measure how much, or how little, change is needed to have an impact on mental health. The results might have significant ramifications when individuals return to work and school remotely following the epidemic, a tendency that has pushed many to adjust to a later sleep pattern.

“We have known for some time that there is a relationship between sleep timing and mood, but a question we often hear from clinicians is: How much earlier do we need to shift people to see a benefit?” said senior author Celine Vetter, assistant professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder. “We found that even one-hour earlier sleep timing is associated with significantly lower risk of depression.”

Past observational studies have found that night owls, regardless of how long they sleep, are twice as likely to suffer from depression as early risers. Researchers have had a difficult time figuring out what causes what since mood problems can impair sleep habits. 

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This new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, reports a method that converts data from an ordinary blood test into a single statistic to determine biological age, as well as understand how it can fluctuate over time in the same person.

The research team from Singapore-based biotech company Gero drew on longitudinal human blood count data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and UK Biobank. This resulted in a single variable to describe biological age, called the dynamic organism state indicator (DOSI).

Basically, the DOSI is derived from biomarkers in blood and it indicates the resilience of individuals over time. One of the major factors of resilience is the ability to make new cells to repair damage, both regular wear and tear and to overcome diseases and injuries.

The study found that healthy people were very resilient to stresses, while people who had chronic diseases and an elevated risk of mortality were less resilient.

The recovery time also grew longer with age – two weeks for a healthy 40-year-old to six weeks for an 80-year-old. This finding from blood test parameters was compared to and confirmed by physical activity levels recorded by wearable devices.

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This post is part of a series on common myths and misconceptions about charity. Taking time to learn the facts will help prevent the spread of misinformation and inspire more people to use their resources effectively to improve the world.

The recent explosion in vegan food has not been without pushback. Mainly from bolshily indignant meat-eaters who take it as a personal affront. But could a far more peaceable group, vegetarians, also be finding all that vegan energy a bit, well, irritating?

Anecdotally, their beef (now seitan) is that the current zeitgeisty cool surrounding plant-based food is increasingly pushing vegetarian options off menus. Vegetarians are asking: who moved my cheese? They are seeing their halloumi burgers, sour cream-dressed burritos or blue cheese and mushroom wellingtons removed in favour of vegan meat-free dishes. There is low-level grumbling at this new dairy-free landscape, talk of being “screwed” by vegans and, as one Guardian colleague describes it, “a little silent war” developing between the rival groups.

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Signs of Parkinson’s disease could be detected in the nose years before people develop more obvious symptoms of the condition.

The finding could lead to the development of a nasal swab test for the disorder, similar to ones used for coronavirus testing, and may shed light on its causes, says Werner Poewe at the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition involving tremors and difficulties in moving that usually starts in later life. It is caused by the death of brain …

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In the ’90s, when he was a doctoral student at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, neuroscientist Sean Hill spent five years studying how cat brains respond to noise. At the time, researchers knew that two regions—the cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain, and the thalamus, a nut-like structure near the centre—did most of the work. But, when an auditory signal entered the brain through the ear, what happened, specifically? Which parts of the cortex and thalamus did the signal travel to? And in what order? The answers to such questions could help doctors treat hearing loss in humans. So, to learn more, Hill, along with his supervisor and a group of lab techs, anaesthetized cats and inserted electrodes into their brains to monitor what happened when the animals were exposed to sounds, which were piped into their ears via miniature headphones. Hill’s probe then captured the brain signals the noises generated.

The last step was to euthanize the cats and dissect their brains, which was the only way for Hill to verify where he’d put his probes. It was not a part of the study he enjoyed. He’d grown up on a family farm in Maine and had developed a reverence for all sentient life. As an undergraduate student in New Hampshire, he’d experimented on pond snails, but only after ensuring that each was properly anaesthetized. “I particularly loved cats,” he says, “but I also deeply believed in the need for animal data.” (For obvious reasons, neuroscientists cannot euthanize and dissect human subjects.)

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“Migraine affects a substantial minority of the population, occurs in all civilisations, and has been recognized since the dawn of recorded history”, wrote neurologist Oliver Sacks in a 1970 study that arose in response to the common medical sentiment that “little is known about migraine and even less to be done about it”.

While a migraine shares some symptoms with the common headache, frequently-experienced visual distortions set it apart from the effects of tension, stress, or dehydration. And yet, despite the prevalence of this phenomenon, its medical observation is relatively recent. As Katherine Foxhall chronicles in Migraine: A History, John Fothergill’s description of a headache he suffered in the winter of 1778 is thought to be the first anglophone account of a migraine’s ocular disturbances. He saw “a singular kind of glimmering in the sight; objects change their apparent position surrounded by luminous angles, like those of a fortification. Giddiness comes on, headache, and sickness”. Fothergill was detailing, with the architectural language of fortification, what has been subsequently named scintillating scotomata: serrated hallucinations in the shape of the letter “C”, which resemble the angular walls of a bastion.

Discontent with suffering alone, the physician Hubert Airy set out to draw and share his migraine experiences in 1870. He corresponded frequently with the astronomer John Herschel, who, like Fothergill, found himself overcome, during an otherwise uneventful breakfast, by a debilitating “pattern in straight-lined angular forms, very much in general aspect like the drawing of a fortification, with salient and re-entering angles, bastions and ravelins, with some suspicion of faint lines of colour between the dark lines”. A keen-eyed observer of the outer world, who first coined the term “photography”, Herschel’s neurological condition forced him to turn this focus inward.

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