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Traffic on a rainy motorway with a sign indicating a stranded vehicle and a 40 mph speed limit.

Decision-making

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Why small annoyances can harm us more than big disruptions

A largely forgotten psychological concept helps explain the insidiousness of minor problems – and what to do about it

by Shayla Love

Two office workers, one standing and reviewing papers, the other seated and smoking, in a 1970s-style office with a telephone and stacks of paperwork.

Personality disorders

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Popular views of narcissism are distorted and too pessimistic

As therapists, we’ve treated people with narcissistic personality disorder. We have a more hopeful story to tell about them

by Giancarlo Dimaggio & Igor Weinberg

A painting depicts three children dressed in old-fashioned clothing walking through a field of wildflowers at dusk. Two older children, one wearing a large brimmed hat, lead a younger child by the hand. The background shows a line of trees against a cloudy sky with a hint of sunset.

History of psychology and psychiatry

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In psychoanalysis, nostalgia was a sickness. It needn’t be

Nostalgia was, in Freud’s day, an illness steeped in the past. Today, it can be a joyful emotion that reframes the future

by Agnes Arnold-Forster

Painting of a heron perched on a branch against a gold background. The bird is depicted in fine detail with white feathers and a green beak, while the branch is rendered in dark, bold strokes. Traditional Asian calligraphy with red seals is present in the lower right corner.

Difficult emotions

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What to do when you’re feeling upset about being disliked

It’s an unavoidable part of life. Here are some tried and tested ways to get more comfortable with someone not liking you

by Ahona Guha

Marble statue of Hermaphroditus, depicting a naked human figure with male and female features, leaning forward slightly and holding a draped cloth in one hand, set against a plain background. The statue lacks a head.

Gender

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There is nothing new about gender fluidity and nonconformity

From Mesopotamia and ancient Greece to precolonial India and medieval London, gender has always been more than a binary

by Chris Wheatley

Two people look at a scientifically based recreation of a Neanderthal man’s head, adorned with feathers and fur, enclosed in a glass case at a museum. The setting is under strong indoor lighting with a blue wall background.

Communication and language

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This is what a Neanderthal conversation would have sounded like

Neanderthals had language, but it differed from ours in an important way that could help explain our superior art and tech

by Steven Mithen

Black and white photo of three children standing outdoors under a cloudy sky. The boy on the left wears a flat cap and checked shirt with trousers, while the two girls on the right wear patterned headscarves and dresses, smiling and looking into the distance.

Values and beliefs

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For Hutterites, ‘love thy neighbour’ is both gospel and practical necessity

Directed by Colin Low

A vintage photo of six women wearing wide-brimmed hats, smiling and laughing together. One woman is holding a steering wheel, suggesting they might be on a fun outdoor adventure. The background shows a natural, slightly blurry setting.

Film

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Why was a laughing woman seen as lethal, not least to herself?

When early cinema weaponised the sight of women’s laughter, it borrowed from flawed psychiatric ideas about female hysteria

by Maggie Hennefeld

A person walking a dog along a tree-lined path during sunset, with a warm orange glow illuminating the scene. The person wears a white and green top with a blue jacket tied around their waist. The dog is walking slightly ahead on a leash.

Emerging therapies

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Could dreams during anaesthesia help to heal life’s trauma?

Scientists are studying the dreamlike states produced by anaesthesia – and their potential benefits for people with PTSD

by Shayla Love

A woman with long blonde hair and a striped blue and yellow jumper takes a selfie, smiling broadly. Behind her, a living room is visible with a large potted plant, a grey couch, and wall shelves with small plants and decor items. A clock is fixed on the wall in the background.

Emotions

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What makes ‘toxic positivity’ different from a healthy attitude

Influencers and self-help gurus are preaching a form of positive psychology that risks doing more harm than good

by Lucas Dixon

A stylised figure drawn in glowing red lines stands on a cliff reaching towards a dark sky full of stars above a calm sea. The scene has a mystical atmosphere.

Symbols and myth

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A Navajo creation story illustrates why humans must forge their own path

Directed by Dallin Penman

Painting depicts a casino scene with people gathered around a green roulette table. The players are engaged, focused on the game. The roulette wheel is visible on the right side, and a green lamp hangs above. The scene is vibrant, with expressive brushstrokes and vivid colours.

Knowledge and reason

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What we gain by recognising the role of chance in life

Appreciating the world is random can foster perseverance, gratitude for our own luck and empathy for the plight of others

by Mark R Rank