Cognitive to clinical to social, the many applications of psychology reveal profound thoughts, human frailties and strengths. These are some of the best results, framed in video players.
1. An Unquiet Mind: Personal Reflections on Manic-Depressive Illness. Kay Redfield Jamison doesn’t just suffer from bipolar disorder, she literally wrote the book. She co-authored the comprehensive textbook Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression while doing research as a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. This talk was part of the tour for her awesome memoir An Unquiet Mind, and she is eloquently intimate about her own experiences. (00:30:29)
2. The Stanford Prison Experiment. Historic 1971 video (edited for an unknown vintage TV show) from the behavioral experiment by Philip Zimbardo, resulting in healthy people taking on unhealthy situational roles. Zimbardo recently discussed its relevance to contemporary war crimes in a speaking tour – watch The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil. (00:05:24)
3. My Stroke of Insight: Jill Bolte Taylor at TED Talks. Rousing and inspiring lecture from a neuroanatomist about her internal observations and recovery from a stroke and the spiritual and psychological values she learned in the process. There’s also the Oprah webcast that followed her exposure from this sensational talk. Read her great memoir, offline. (00:18:44)
4. The Paradox of Choice features Barry Schwartz in a provocative TED Talk with a different view on social psychology – too much consumer choice makes us unhappy. Not just when you’re buying salad dressing; Schwartz looks at some wider sociological impacts of increased choice. (00:19:48)
5. Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons. Filmmaker Jenn Ackerman beautifully documents life on a psychiatric ward in a Kentucky prison. She interviews inmates, inmate helpers and staff about what it’s like to have a severe mental illness after most psych hospitals have closed and prisons take on a containment role. This film does reinforce some stereotypes, as wardens talk about being assaulted by patients and we hear tormented screams echoing through the cells. But we also hear that some of the men prefer to be locked in a prison cell 23-24 hours a day than free in a society that offers no help and “beats them down” until back in a cell. A short video but work continues as Ackerman plans to expand it into a feature film in 2009. (00:06:55)
6. Teen Brain. The brain continues developing until about age 25. The prefrontal cortex is involved in impulse control and judgement, and is among the last areas to develop. This award-winning episode of Catalyst is about neuroethics, questions of brain and behavior. It looks at moral and legal culpability between ages 18-25 and proposes new ideas. (00:12:23)
7. Depression: Out of the Shadows. Recommended by a Psych Central blog reader, this PBS documentary and roundtable discussion (hosted by Jane Pauley, herself bipolar) premiered in May 2008 but is available online in previews and “chapters” or by ordering a DVD. Experts include Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, who tells a touching story of his own grief and depression. (approx. 00:60:00)
8. Thin, by Lauren Greenfield, is a reality-style look at eating disorders from the inside of a residential treatment facility. Women in treatment talk about why and how they got there. We witness struggles with staff, one another and within themselves. This HBO documentary is not officially available online, but there is a good interview with the director, a preview, and you can order a DVD. (approx. 00:60:00)
9. I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help: Research on Poor Insight and How We Can Help. Clinical psychologist Xavier Amador in a sprawling but enlightening discussion of anosognosia, or lack of insight about one’s own delusions, psychosis and other symptoms. Examples cited include the woman who believed she was married to David Letterman, and Theodore John “Ted” Kaczynski (the Unabomber) who denied mental illness despite threat of conviction. More casual than clinical and geared to consumers and family, Amador gives a good perspective about what it’s like for a person to have delusions and psychosis. Includes motivational interviewing and other therapies. (01:51:06)
10. The Psychology of Global Warming. Stumbling on Happiness best-selling author and professor Dan Gilbert on our reaction to threats. A memorable quote: “The fact is that climate change, if it were caused by gay sex, or caused by the practice of eating puppies, millions of Americans would right now be massing on the street insisting that the administration do something about it.” Social and evolutionary psychology help explain why people don’t get as actively outraged over acid rain as other issues. (00:14:48)
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