Post Of The Week – Monday 16th February 2015

1) Brian Williams And Reconstructive Memory

Brian Williams was, until very recently, an anchorman for NBC news. That makes him famous, an authority figure presenting the news on one of America’s longest standing TV channels. He has stepped down from his job because a story he told about being in a helicopter which was shot down during the Iraq War of 2003 turned out to be a lie. He wasn’t in the helicopter.

This gets interesting for us because it represents the sort of memory error which we look at when we consider eye witness testimony. One idea we visit there is that memory is essentially reconstructive. Every time we recall an event, we rebuild it in our minds. Through telling the story a number of times, Brian Williams moved himself from the periphery of the action to its centre.

2) Sugar

We’ve seen during the eating behaviour topic how controversy has developed in the US concerning sugar. Everybody agrees that obesity is a problem but people can’t agree which the main culprit is: sugar, carbohydrates or fat. Inevitably, this controversy will soon cross the Atlantic to us. Here is perhaps an opening skirmish involving the funding of scientists by, amongst others, Coca-Cola.

This represents an insight both into how science works and into the controversy at the heart of the eating behaviour topic about what is really bad for us.

3) Waiting Time Standards

You may be aware that for many physical health conditions, the NHS is committed to a maximum waiting time between seeing a GP and getting treatment from a specialist. These now exist for mental health as from the start of April 2015.

The provision of mental health services looks set to be an issue in the upcoming general election.

4) Lobotomy

Psychosurgery used to be part of the A2 course.

This article in two parts tells the story of Rosemary Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy. It tells how her family coped with her learning difficulties, except “cope” doesn’t really do justice to the attempts they made to cover up her problems and keep her from the public eye. An indication, perhaps, of how times have changed.

5) The Research Behind Teenage Laziness

The headline of this article has an unfortunate lack of science about it, given the insights the main text offers into the work of Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and colleagues. What she suggests about how we organise school life and other aspects of life for teenagers rings true.

6) Smart Phones And Mental Health Care

Here is an article about some of the apps being used to help people look after their mental health.

It’s been interesting talking to my Year 7 group this week about apps which enable people to track their diet. They are already familiar with apps that help you to monitor your health.

7) Addictions Overview

We are about to start looking at addictive behaviour as our final topic in A2. Here is an overview of behavioural addictions from Mark Griffiths.

Griffiths refers to addictions as a “biopsychosocial process”. That is a phrase worth remembering.


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