When Zack McDermott was 26, he woke up believing he was the star of a reality show dedicated to him. That was the first of many adventures his bipolar disorder would take him on. He talks about how he ultimately got his life back on track with the help of his mother, which he writes about in “Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love”
Gamblers, and more specifically slot machine gamblers, get addicted because they crave to be in the “zone” – the feeling players describe when they’re completely absorbed in a game, claims this podcast’s guest – Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at New York University. They don’t really care about winning; rather they want to escape the world and become subsumed in their game.
Casinos also facilitate this addiction by designing the most optimal gambling experience which keeps gamblers playing…and playing…and playing. This ranges from the perambulant layout of the casinos themselves to the ergonomic design of the slot machine chairs, to the games’ false wins that create an illusion of winning. And casinos are now taking advantage of big data systems which track users’ gambling preferences to incentivize players to stay in their chairs as long as possible.
Natasha Dow Schüll is the author of “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas”.
Your brain consists of two distinct hemispheres and they collaborate with each other to provide you with different experiences of the world. But has the balance between the two halves of your brain got out of whack – and what’s the impact?
This summer’s spate of acid attacks in London have caused concern for both the public and authorities. The seemingly random selection of victims by perpetrators, and the suspected use of acid by criminal gangs, seems to be a new twist in a story which has previously seen acid used in more targeted crimes against a specific person. Journalist Ayshea Buksh explores the complexity of acid attacks and the wide range of motivations behind the use of acid as a weapon. From hate crime and domestic violence to a fight that escalates, a mugging or a gang-related attack, the weapon may be the same but the reasoning can be wildly different. It’s a crime that can take just seconds to commit, but acid attacks can have a life-long impact on survivors – not just physically, but mentally. Some survivors speaking to Ayshea are just going through their first surgery after the physical impact of the attack, while others are now living their lives at a distance from their attack but with a constant physical reminder. For some survivors, the question ‘why?’ can play constantly on their minds, while others try not to ask it as they attempt to move on with their lives.
Depression is the most disabling chronic condition worldwide affecting around 14% of world’s population. It’s very likely to cause problems at school, damage career and disrupt relationships. It can be triggered by enviromental factors, and can run in families. Research is now underway to precisely identify the genes associated with depression and the results may lead to dramatically improved and personalised treatment.
One of the things in life we currently can’t change is our DNA. Yet technological progress shows an exciting promise for significant alterations that would eradicate some of the genetic diseases and enhance certain traits in the genome before birth. In addition, modern research indicates that there is no single “cancer”, “IQ” or “infidelity” gene or that DNA would control our destiny contrary to popular beliefs. University of British Columbia psychology professor Steven Heine joins us to discuss his book “DNA is not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship Between You and Your Genes” (W.W. Norton and Co.).
How we can regain control of our impulses – whether it’s a compulsion to constantly check social media, binge eating, smoking, excessive drinking, or any other behaviors, we may find ourselves uncontrollably repeating – explained by an associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at UMass Medical School, Dr. Judson Brewer. He has spent more than 20 years researching addiction and recently published “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.”
Is too much freedom paradoxically debilitating? Neuroscience shows and history suggests, we are less content when we have more choice. Do we need constraints to thrive, and might our chains be key to our freedom? Or is this a dangerous conceit of the privileged and free? Psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple, Blair’s former Senior Policy Advisor Julian Le Grand, and author of “I Find That Offensive!” Claire Fox interrogate choice.
Practice of mindfulness discussed by Sam Harris and Joseph Goldstein. Negative emotions, the importance of ethics, the concept of enlightenment, and other topics get their treatment too.
Creating genetically modified people is no longer a science fiction fantasy; it’s a likely future scenario. Biologist Paul Knoepfler estimates that within fifteen years, scientists could use the gene editing technology CRISPR to make certain “upgrades” to human embryos — from altering physical appearances to eliminating the risk of auto-immune diseases. In this thought-provoking talk, Knoepfler readies us for the coming designer baby revolution and its very personal, and unforeseeable, consequences.