Post Of The Week – Friday 25th July 2014

1) Ben Goldacre On Bad Science

Here’s Ben Goldacre at Imaging The Future Of Medicine a few months ago talking about bad science. His claims go beyond the issues of mental health which are the focus of this course but he has some useful things to say and a powerful case to make. Medicine makes progress in small steps. To make those small steps, we need to get the science right.


2) Tech Will Transform The Patient Doctor Relationship

I spend quite a bit of my time thinking about the way in which technology can transform the classroom and the relationships which happen within it. In this article, Jen Hyatt, founder of big White Wall makes a similar case for the power of technology to transform the doctor patient relationship. I’ve been interested for a while in how therapies can be delivered by computer. This article shows that the possibilities are far bigger and broader than that.

To get an idea of how Big White Wall works, watch this.

The website is here:


3) Memory Strategies

When we look at strategies for memory improvement in AS, we use visual and verbal methods as an example. Both of these have been around for a while and there is useful theoretical explanation of why they work. The big idea at the moment is that the best way to learn something is to do a test on it. If you were in my AS class last year, you will have had plenty of experience of this. Testing though gets a bad press. It’s seen as high stakes and draconian. This article explains why it doesn’t need to be and why testing boosts memory.


4) E-cigarettes

In Addictive Behaviour, we look at Nicotine Replacement Therapy and drug treatments a biological interventions for smoking. These are in the text books and what the examiner is expecting. Since the text books were written, e-cigarettes have become popular. They were originally seen as a sort of half way house to giving up smoking. That has got complicated because they are now seen as an alternative to it. This article explains some of the complexities.


5) Long Term Psychodynamic Therapy And Depression

There’s been an axiom in Psychology all of the time that I have been doing it that long term psychodynamic therapy does not work. This arguably goes back to a paper written by Hans Eysenck written in the 1960s which you can read about here. It looks as if psychodynamic therapy is bouncing back though. This paper shows a positive effect for such therapy over a two year period both by itself and in combination with drug treatments.

The key here is the length of the trial and follow up. The issue is that methods used to show the effectiveness of shorter term therapies – CBT and IPT – are now being used to show the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy. If that happens often, it is kind of important.


6) Classification Explained

I sometimes tell people that there are two big problems in Psychology: classifying mental disorders and working out which treatment works. The two problems are obviously related. If you can’t agree on what is wrong with people, then you won’t agree about the efficacy of a treatment whatever it is you can’t agree on.

This is the best thing I have seen in this area for ages. Even-handed, based on experience, conciliatory.


7) Human Brain Project

The controversy about this trundles on. Here’s a BBC News story that seeks to explain how the debate is moving on.

More generally, here’s a story about changes across the world.

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