Post Of The Week – Thursday 18th July

1) Mental Illness And Stigma

The BBC3 season on mental illness continues to challenge us to think in a different way.

Last night’s programme was called “Diaries Of A Broken Mind”. It used a video diary format to tell the stories of 25 young people. I didn’t enjoy the format (because I am old) but the messages and images were powerful. This is an interesting blog by one of the participants.

A bit like the programme itself, there are doubts about the format but the ending is powerful.

Gender and attitudes to mental illness continues to be a concern: see last week’s post. I found this almost by accident.

As you’ll see when we do Depression in Year 13, some great work is being done in Australia and New Zealand on both understanding and preventing mental illness. This website uses rugby league to reach out to males experiencing issues with their mental health.

2) Developments In Neuroscience

As techniques improve and more is known about the brain, neuroscience seems to be able to answer more and more questions about how we think and behave. To get a flavour of where this research is going, have a look at this video here.

Although everybody agrees that neuroscience is moving forward, people disagree about what will be possible within which time period and how best to develop research. This article from Nature magazine explores some of the issues.

If you want to understand what is currently known about the brain, this website seems both reliable and well organised.

Here is some more complex material from University College, London.

3) The Genetics Of Eating

We’ve known for a long time that there is a genetic basis to eating behaviour and in particular obesity. We’ve also known for a long time about the mechanisms in the brain which control eating behaviour, often from non-human animals. The problem is that we tend not to be able to make a link between a particular gene and a particular mechanism. Also with this research, we might feel that we know more about rats than about people. This piece of research deals with both of these issues by looking at humans and by making a link between a particular gene and the hormone ghrelin, a hormone we look at when we study mechanisms of eating disorders. This is promising research but pay attention to the note of caution at the end.

4) Clinical Characteristics Of Psychological Disorders

When we study Depression, we start off by looking at its clinical characteristics before looking at biological and psychological explanations and biological and psychological therapies. The characteristics and the issues which surround them are the hardest part for me to teach and seem to cause the most problems for students. This article explains why.

The way in which we define disorders is increasingly disconnected from the way in which we explain and then treat them. Graham Davey’s article explores some of the issues around diagnosis and reminds us to keep an open mind in thinking about where disorders come from.

5) Public Health Interventions To Prevent Addictive Behaviour

For PSYA4 AddictiveBehaviour, we look at how advertising bans have been used to reduce drinking and smoking with varying degrees of success. This is a political issue at the moment as the government seems to have changed its mind about minimum pricing for alcohol and about cigarette packaging. This article explains how this is dealt with in the EU.

Keep an eye out for news stories about this issue.


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