A battle over the link between strep and OCD

Today I introduced a class of students to the notion that a strep infection could give a child obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The idea was first widely publicized in the memoir “Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD“, and briefly recapped in this clip from the Today Show: I am already on record as identifying this…

Not quite ready to call squishing bugs “sadism”

I admit, I have sometimes wondered what leads people into the career euphemistically we might euphemistically call “pest control” or more realistically declare “extermination”. I have been greatly relieved that people have chosen such career paths and are so available to handle wasp nests in my attic, and unable to fathom why anyone would opt to spend…

Rethinking anger on the road to peace

Cognitive reappraisal, a technique for reinterpreting negative emotions in a more balanced or detached way, may have come across as a weak link in the mental modification toolkit last week: it did not succeed in making people more compassionate, and in fact seemed to make it easier for people to push away any guilt about taking a more…

A poor excuse for removing a peer-reviewed publication

I became disenchanted with the idea of e-books when Amazon reached into scores of Kindles and removed copies of (of all possible books) 1984 and Animal Farm. The notion that a major company had the power to deny access to any content they deemed problematic simply presented too many visions of reactive, totalitarian control. I never considered that…

One Meditation Session to Let the Past Go

Here’s a conundrum I’ve encountered on quite a few trips to nice restaurants: I anticipate a delicious meal, followed by some wonderful chocolate-and-ice-cream concoction I could never possibly make at home. The meal is in fact delicious, so much so that I eat quite a bit of it. My dessert arrives, and is also delicious…but…

Do you see what I see?

Let’s play a very simple game of Where’s Waldo. It’s so simple I won’t even tell you what you’re looking for – although what you’re looking at is a CT image of someone’s lungs. Ready? If you’re an experienced radiologist, you might have noticed a problematic nodule in there somewhere. For everyone else, the only obvious thing…

No Such Thing as a “Bad” Mood

Here’s a puzzle for you: why do we get into bad moods? I don’t mean “why” in the immediate sense, as in the frustrating service call I made to my internet provider or the insensitive comment your significant other just made. I mean “why” in the big picture sense, as in “if we have such…

How we convince ourselves that prejudice is just

On our way to the Wansee House – origin site of the Final Solution – and with tales of discrimination and prejudice fresh in our minds from yesterday’s visit to the Jewish Museum, one question preys on the mind: How could people convince themselves that discriminatory laws were just, that genocide was the correct way…