The Faulty Walnut

The Faulty Walnut

Our brains are brilliant instruments, able to reason, synthesise, remember and imagine at an extraordinary pitch and rate. We trust them immediately and innately – and have reasons to be deeply proud of them too. However, these brains – let’s call them walnuts in honour of their appearance – are also very subtly and dangerously…

What Makes a Person Attractive?

What Makes a Person Attractive?

Understandably enough, our societies pay vast attention to the idea of ‘sexiness’; far more questionably, they tempt us to believe that it might be easy to understand what this quality consists of. The leading suggestion takes its starting point from the biological sciences: we learn that sex aims at successful reproduction and genetic fitness in…

Not Liking One’s Looks

Not Liking One’s Looks

Is it better this way, or that way? It’s horrible whichever way. It’s not very respectable, really to feel frustrated with one’s appearance. Mature and reasonable people are not supposed to go around regretting the shape of their nose or the way their hair falls. Yet, you gaze in the bathroom mirror and think: Why?…

How Psychotherapy Works

How Psychotherapy Works

When one is in a bad place in one’s head, the modern world offers three main sources of solace: psychiatric medication, CBT and psychotherapy. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks. Medication can be exemplary in a crisis, at points when the mind is so under siege from fear, anxiety or despair that thinking things…

How To Be Confident

How To Be Confident

In well-meaning attempts to boost our confidence ahead of challenging moments, people often try to draw our attention to our strengths: our intelligence, our competence, our experience. But this can – curiously – have some awkward consequences. There’s a type of under-confidence that arises specifically when we grow too attached to our own dignity and…

The Golden Child Syndrome

The Golden Child Syndrome

We are used to thinking of many of the psychological problems of adulthood as stemming from a lack of adequate love in our early years. We grow mentally unwell – prey to underconfidence, anxiety, paranoia and shame – because, somewhere in the past, we were denied the necessary warmth, care and sympathy. But there is…

On Feeling Melancholy

On Feeling Melancholy

Melancholy isn’t exactly a word on everybody’s lips. But we should pay more attention to it, even seek it out from time to time. Melancholy is a species of sadness that arises when we are open to the fact that life is inherently difficult and that suffering disappointment are core parts of universal experience. It’s…

The Impact of Early Emotional Neglect

The Impact of Early Emotional Neglect

Many of us are wandering the world bearing a lot of emotional damage. We may be depressed, anxious, or very difficult around sex in relationships. We might ask ourselves where the difficulties came from. It’s a continually weird provocative and yet, in our view, extremely accurate answer, that the damage comes almost always from childhood.…