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12
Nov
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On Irritability

Irritability is the tendency to get upset for reasons that seem – to other people – to be pretty minor. Your partner asks you how work went and the way they ask makes you feel intensely agitated. Your partner is putting knives and forks...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
12
Nov
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On Self-pity

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon; you were nine years old. Your parents wouldn’t let you have any ice cream if you didn’t do your maths homework. It was achingly unfair. Every other child in the world was playing football or watching television. No...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
07
Nov
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The Great Psychologists: Sigmund Freud

He described himself as an obsessional neurotic. For although the father of modern psychology told us so much about our inner lives, he was touchingly vulnerable himself.  Sigmund Schlomo Freud was born to a middle-class Jewish family in 1856, in what is now the Czech...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
07
Nov
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The Great Novelists: Jane Austen

Jane Austen is loved mainly as a charming guide to fashionable life in the Regency period. She is admired for portraying a world of elegant houses, dances, servants and fashionable young men driving barouches. But her own vision of her task was radically different....
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
07
Nov
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The Great Novelists: Leo Tolstoy

Imagining the inner lives of other people is a core human capacity. But we don’t automatically or naturally do this very well. We are prey to a range of cognitive biases: without being aware that we are doing so, we might assume that other...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
26
Oct
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The Great Philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer

For the griefs of love, he may be the finest among philosophers. He was surely also one of the most pessimistic. Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig in 1788. In later years, he looked back on the event with regret: "Human existence must be a...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
12
Oct
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The Great Psychoanalysts: Anna Freud

We’re particularly down on people we call ‘defensive’. They blame others for what’s probably their own fault. They hear reasonable criticism as a cruel attack. They deny they have a problem when they clearly do. But, of course, we must be doing this ourselves...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
05
Oct
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The Great Psychoanalysts: John Bowlby

Among our deepest and seemingly most natural aspirations is the longing to form stable, satisfying relationships: to thrive in partnerships that are good for both people. It doesn’t seem much to ask. A lot of people are looking for roughly the same thing. But...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
16
Sep
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The Great Anthropologists: Margaret Mead

When we use ‘modern’ to describe something, it’s usually a positive. We are very appreciative and even a little smug about the miracles of modern science, the benefits of modern technology, and even the superiority of modern viewpoints. But what if, in speeding towards...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
05
Sep
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A Short Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

All subjects have their specialised vocabularies; a set of words that initially sound unusual, even a touch frightening, but that can also prove oddly beautiful and beguiling. To their enemies, key words are mere jargon, but jargon has its advantages: it allows us swiftly to...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail
05
Sep
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What babies can teach us

We expect – of course – for it to be the other way around: we teaching them. But they have a host of important lessons for us too, if we dare to pay close enough attention. *1. We’re dependent creatures* It’s easy to play it...
Posted by The Philosophers' Mail

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