The show on how we think, feel and behave. Claudia Hammond delves into the evidence on mental health, psychology and neuroscience. More
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Stories of Loss and Hope
This week we have two more finalists in the All in the Mind Awards.
When Hollie met the love of her life Pete she felt she belonged for the first time. But then her new husband's cancer returned and this time it was terminal. Soon after he passed away, her dad and her cat died too. Having experienced so much loss, she attempted to take her own life. Then she found the charity the New Normal - which Ben formed with Jack when both their fathers died. The safe space of the online meetings helped her to keep going - and now the charity has members across the world. So what makes them so special?
When Aura took up her job working in a busy specialist GP practice for homeless people she had already experienced loss after her brother died because of addiction. When her alcoholic father died she got the emotional support she needed from her boss Dr Paul O'Reilly - who also helped her to grow in confidence in her role as an independent nurse prescriber.
Professor Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster uncovers new research about how a lack of gender equality can change structures in the brain and how warmth and competence in a therapist could help convince sceptical clients that talking therapy might make a difference.
Supporting a son with schizophrenia
Hamish Barclay was a teenager when he was given steroids to treat kidney problems and experienced a rare side effect of psychosis. Now 29, he's lived with a diagnosis of schizophrenia for ten years and thanks to support from his mother Josephine he's been able to return to making music. His sister Maudie helped him to nominate their mum for an All in the Mind Awards - and she's now reached the finals.
The family talk candidly to Claudia Hammond about the stigma around schizophrenia - they sometimes avoid using the word because they know it can put people off playing music with him in bands. Maudie says their mum shows incredible patience and love by driving him to London from Somerset and sitting in his classes, so he can study music and play his beloved guitar.
The voices - or auditory hallucinations - which Hamish hears make it hard for him to write songs - but the medication he takes is helping to push them into the background. We hear some of Hamish's compositions he's recorded with other students at his college - and about how much difference writing music has made to his mental health and wellbeing.
How much empathy should doctors have?
A good bedside manner is a wanted quality in healthcare professionals. But as is performing procedures that can be painful or uncomfortable.
As medical students train to become doctors, they can experience changes in their levels of empathy; the ability to resonate with how others feel. Learning long lists of diagnoses and pathologies, the human body starts to resemble more of a machine. But how detrimental is this? Claudia Hammond asks Jeremy Howick, director of the Stoneygate Centre for empathic healthcare at the University of Leicester, who is training healthcare professionals to express more patient empathy to improve health outcomes and reduce burnout. Lasana Harris, professor of social neuroscience at UCL, describes how too much empathy might be a cause of burnout, and medics should toggle empathy on and off depending on context. Medical students from the University of Bristol express how they feel empathy should come into their future roles.
The finalists of the All in the Mind Awards continue to be announced. This week, we hear from Terri, who went through a huge period of loss at the same time as her foster child. During this time, foster care consultant Pam knew just want to say. She could help Terri see how her child was expressing her grief and also gave her permission to acknowledge the good job she was doing.
Catherine Loveday, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Westminster, joins Claudia and describes how nostalgia can help with route remembering and how easy it is to implant childhood memories.
Produced in partnership with the Open University.
Producer: Julia Ravey
Content producer: Dan Welsh
Do lonely brains see the world differently?
Ground-breaking discoveries in neuroscience, psychology and mental health are shared in scientific journals. And this gives them a stamp of approval. Before publication, articles go through rigorous checks by other experts in the field to assess if methods are watertight and the science stacks up. But sometimes, that might not be the case...
Claudia Hammond investigates an unsuspecting vehicle for misinformation: articles that look just like those used to share new discoveries but instead contain content which might not be up to scratch. In fact, some have previously been shown to accept complete fiction. Bradley Allf, PhD candidate at North Caroline State University, explained how he tested the boundaries for getting fabricated data published online, and science journalist, Ruairi Mackenzie, recounts his experience attending a scientific conference which seemed a bit bizarre.
We hear from one of the groups who have reached the final of the All in the Mind Awards 2023. After losing her son Finn to miscarriage in late 2021, Anna hid. She felt like no one would understand the grief she was feeling, which was exacerbated by PTSD. But one grey morning, she left the house for the first time to go to her local park and meet Chelsie from Matilda’s Mission. This charity, set up in 2022, aims to help individuals who have experience baby or child loss by organising a range of events for parents, grandparents and siblings. Chelsie experienced the loss of her first daughter Matilda in 2019, and wanted to bring people together with similar lived experience in the Lancaster area.
Could brains of people who feel lonely see the world in a different way? That is the question a new study tried to answer. Daryl O’Connor, professor of health psychology at the university of Leeds, gives an insight into how this processing might increase loneliness risk and also describes how mindfulness and compassion focused therapy may help refugees with symptoms of PTSD and depression.
Produced in partnership with the Open University.
Producer: Julia Ravey
This week's finalist in the All in the Mind Awards is Sian who's been nominated by her mother Myra who cannot believe how much support she has given her during a manic episode and her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Even when Myra threatened to bite Sian, she still kept calm and understood that it was her illness which was affecting her behaviour. When she let her mum look after her beloved granddaughters, it helped Myra's confidence to grow. One of the Awards judges Maddie Leslay - who plays Chelsea in the Archers - found Myra and Sian's story really inspiring and full of unconditional love.
Losing language and communication skills after a stroke can be isolating - and some patients are told that there is a "window" when rehabilitation therapy needs to happen for it to work. Prof Alex Leff from the UCL Institute of Neurology says the brain's plasticity doesn't disappear completely as we age - and some of the participants in his studies saw big improvements many years after their strokes. Prof Jenny Crinnion explains how speech therapists prompt people experiencing "tip of the tongue" difficulties with finding words during the intensive speech and language therapy.
Studio guest Mathijs Lucassen from the Open University samples crisps from red, white and blue bowls to see which are the tastiest and most salty, replicating a study which hopes to help expand the food choices of picky eaters.
Produced in partnership with The Open University