Nick Haslam

Nick Haslam reviews 'The Lost Boys: Inside Muzafer Sherif’s Robbers Cave experiment' by Gina Perry

Nick Haslam
25 May 2018

Social psychology has a few iconic experiments that have entered public consciousness. There is the shaken but obliging participant who delivers potentially lethal electric shocks to anoth More

Nick Haslam reviews 'Freud: The making of an illusion' by Frederick Crews

Nick Haslam
21 February 2018

Shortly after Sigmund Freud’s death in 1939, W.H. Auden published an elegy to the famous Viennese refugee. Auden’s Freud is flawed and fallible – ‘He wasn’t clever at all: he mer More

Nick Haslam reviews 'The Secret Life of The Mind: How our brain thinks, feels, and decides' by Mariano Sigman

Nick Haslam
30 August 2017

Along time ago in a university far, far away, I received an application for graduate study in psychology. The applicant claimed to have no particular orientation to the field, just a broad and open-minded curiosity. In her own words, she was a ‘tabula rosa’: a rose tablet. The student had misrendered John Locke’s famous tabula rasa, the empiricist metaphor of ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'A Day in the Life of the Brain: The neuroscience of consciousness from dawn till dusk' by Susan Greenfield

Nick Haslam
29 March 2017

The youthful genre of popular neuroscience enjoys a few advantages that popular psychology, its older sibling, does not. The general public holds neuroscience in higher esteem, more confident in its scientific legitimacy. The concreteness of brain science – its colourful scans, its focus on a kilogram or so of custardy matter rather than a weightless cloud of mind ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'ADHD Nation: The disorder. The drugs. The inside story.' by Alan Schwarz

Nick Haslam
20 December 2016

The spectrum of opinion on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD in the acronym-crazed world of psychiatry – runs from the firiest red to the deepest purple ...

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Nick Haslam reviews 'Ivan Pavlov: A Russian life in science' by Daniel P. Todes

Nick Haslam
30 November 2016

Conventional wisdom has it that Ivan Pavlov made dogs salivate to the sound of a bell, discovered the conditioned reflex, and laid the foundations for behaviourism, an austere creed that ruled the mind to be off limits for science. Almost all of this is false. Pavlov’s bell was in fact a sophisticated adjustable buzzer. The ‘conditioned reflex’ is a mistransla ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'In a Different Key: The story of Autism' by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

Nick Haslam
24 May 2016

There may or may not be an epidemic of autism, but the idea of 'autism' has been remarkably catching. Once understood as a vanishingly rare condition, identified only in 1943 ...

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Nick Haslam reviews 'Mind Change' by Susan Greenfield

Nick Haslam
17 December 2014

Over at the academy, the lecture is not what it used to be. Colourful slides and short videos accompany the spoken word, and this audio-visual feast can be ordered take-away, lecture recordings instantly downloadable from the university’s ‘learning management system’. Students sit, laptops open, alternating their gaze between the lectern and the web. Many stay ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'How I Rescued My Brain'

Nick Haslam
25 September 2014

The brain, notes philosopher Paul Churchland, is the engine of reason and the seat of the soul. David Roland’s memoir of stroke and its aftermath presents a vivid picture of engine failure and a soul unseated. His book lays bare the disorienting realities of brain injury and his gradual but faltering steps towards recovery. In time he adjusts to having a somewhat ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'Virginia Woolf and Neuropsychiatry'

Nick Haslam
26 March 2013

An unsuspecting reader might guess that this book belongs to the disreputable genre of psychobiography. Beginning with Sigmund Freud’s analysis of Leonardo da Vinci (1910), which explored themes of unconscious homosexuality and maternal attachment, biographers have attempted to make sense of individual lives with the aid of psychological theory, most often of a ps ... More