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
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...
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
Sigmund Schlomo Freud was born to a middle-class Jewish
family in 1856, in what is now the Czech...
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....
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
For the griefs of love, he may be the finest among
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
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...
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...
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...
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
To their enemies, key words are mere jargon, but jargon has
its advantages: it allows us swiftly to...
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
*1. We’re dependent creatures*
It’s easy to play it...