Psychology & Anthropology

‘You made me do it’

Jacqueline Rose

17 November 2023

If we loosen our grip on suffering, discard any claim to own it, then perhaps we can ask a different question: how much pain can anyone hold in their mind at once? Must my pain always be greater than yours for it to count?

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Dictionary People

Daisy Hay

19 October 2023

In my teens​ I walked to school each day past a red pillar box on Banbury Road in Oxford, said to have been installed by the Royal Mail to ease the labours of James Murray at the helm of the Oxford English . . .

Vesuvius Observed

Rosemary Hill

5 October 2023

Vesuvius​ is the only active volcano on mainland Europe and perhaps the most famous in the world. Its most recent eruption was in 1944, the latest in a series of eruptions that began in 1660. By 1737 . . .

Orca Life

Francis Gooding

21 September 2023

Since​ summer 2020, orcas near the Strait of Gibraltar and around the Iberian Peninsula have been interfering with boats. Sailing boats are the most common target, and the whales use significant force . . .

Upper West Side Cult

James Lasdun

27 July 2023

In April​ 1986, the Village Voice published a long piece about a cult-like community on New York’s Upper West Side led by a group of psychotherapists. The therapists had somehow persuaded several hundred . . .

Where on Earth are you?

Frances Stonor Saunders, 3 March 2016

We construct borders, literally and figuratively, to fortify our sense of who we are; and we cross them in search of who we might become.

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Against Self-Criticism

Adam Phillips, 5 March 2015

Lacan​ said that there was surely something ironic about Christ’s injunction to love thy neighbour as thyself – because actually, of course, people hate themselves. Or you could say that, given the way people treat one another, perhaps they had always loved their neighbours in the way they loved themselves.

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Ghosts of the Tsunami

Richard Lloyd Parry, 6 February 2014

I met a priest in the north of Japan who exorcised the spirits of people who had drowned in the tsunami.

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Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe, 18 July 2013

Boris Johnson has become his own satirist, safe in the knowledge that the best way to make sure the satire aimed at you is gentle and unchallenging is to create it yourself.

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Among the Flutterers: The Pope Wears Prada

Colm Tóibín, 19 August 2010

In 1993 John McGahern wrote an essay called ‘The Church and Its Spire’, in which he considered his own relationship to the Catholic Church. He made no mention of the fact that he had,...

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The Uninvited: At The Rich Man’s Gate

Jeremy Harding, 3 February 2000

Refugees are not necessarily poor, but by the time they have reached safety, the human trafficking organisations on which they depend have eaten up much of their capital. In the course of excruciating journeys, mental and physiological resources are also expended – some of them non-renewable.

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Dynasty: Lacan and Co

Sherry Turkle, 6 December 1990

Freud believed that psychoanalysis was so deeply subversive of people’s most cherished beliefs that only resistance to psychoanalytic ideas would reveal where they were being taken...

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Fortress Freud

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 18 April 1985

Psychoanalysts have had good reasons for considering themselves beleaguered, but for the past twenty years at least, the world, being less interested in them, has been less interested than they imagine in finding them out. ‘No decent analyst would let his picture appear in the Times,’ one New York analyst snapped at another, as if he had caught him sneaking his image into the temple of Baal.

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Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

‘Paranoia.’ ‘He’s paranoid.’ ‘The student movement took such a paranoid view of Nixon.’ ‘Nixon was a paranoid.’ ‘Don’t be so paranoid.’ ‘You’re so oversensitive, Neve, so paranoid.’

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On Marshy Ground: Fen, Bog and Swamp

Fraser MacDonald, 15 June 2023

Peatlands are wetlands, the argument goes, and wetlands disturb us; they’re the abject backwaters of modernity – marginal and malarial, disavowed and despoiled. We’ve ruined them and now they’ll...

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Europeans were eager for Native Americans to tell them the location of precious metals and the source of beaver pelts. But less practical Indigenous knowledge needed either to be assimilated into the existing...

Read more about In-Betweeners: Americans in 16th-Century Europe

When Thieves Retire: Pirate Enlightenment

Francis Gooding, 30 March 2023

It isn’t just that the story of the Enlightenment needs amending to reflect its true complexity, it’s that conventional approaches to global history are in need of profound recalibration. The Malagasy...

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In the Mad Laboratory: Invisible Books

Gill Partington, 16 February 2023

We’re increasingly comfortable with the idea of a book in virtual rather than physical form, but what happens when the content disappears too? Inevitably, we’re left looking at the frame around it....

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Coiling in Anarchy: Top of the Lighthouse

Rosemary Hill, 16 February 2023

It is one of the curious qualities of the lighthouse that while its raison d’être is to be visible, durable and stable in the most adverse conditions, it is often seen as a site of ambiguity and insecurity.

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In ancient Egyptian culture, images and words were in a state of constant oscillation between letters, sounds and things. Hieroglyphic letters require as much typographical standardisation as the letters...

Read more about At the British Museum: The Phonetic Hieroglyphic Alphabet

The postwar welfare state, with its implicit recognition of human need, produced public domains and clinical spaces in which the state was cast as maternal surrogate to a population of child citizens....

Read more about Two-Year-Olds Are Often Cruel: Maternal Ethics

Like a Bar of Soap: Work, don’t play

Bee Wilson, 15 December 2022

It wasn’t that Maria Montessori believed imagination served no purpose, but that its purpose was to bring about things that were real. Why did adults waste so much time getting children to imagine the...

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Church, Chief, Cat, Witch: Confessed Sorcerers

Chloe Nahum-Claudel, 3 November 2022

The Yagwoia​ people, who live in the remote Angan region of Papua New Guinea, on the sparsely populated, forested fringes of the highlands, are notable among their neighbours for their staunch adherence...

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LRB contributors

LRB Contributors, 21 July 2022

Elif Batuman, Edna Bonhomme, Hazel V. Carby, Linda Colley, Meehan Crist, Anne Enright, Lorna Finlayson, Lisa Hallgarten and Jayne Kavanagh, Sophie Lewis, Maureen N. McLane, Erin Maglaque,

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Diary: Shanghai Shelf Life

Mimi Jiang, 21 July 2022

New group chats have sprung up to share the latest intel on which spots are secretly open. The best coded advertisement was for a badminton gym: ‘Due to Covid restrictions, our gym is not open to the...

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Diary: The Plutocrat Tour

Iain Sinclair, 7 July 2022

Silence is the defining quality of wealth. Private security operatives whisper into their fists while patrolling a zone of distrust. Silence repels unexplained outsiders who dare to trespass on the shaved...

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EastEnders is not, or not only, a slice-of-life drama. Like all soap operas, like all operas, it repeatedly oversteps the limit. The idea of ‘digging the dirt’ is given a whole new meaning, as if the...

Read more about You haven’t got your sister pregnant, have you? No Secrets in Albert Square

The demarcated ring on the grassy plateau was from its outset about heaven, in the sense of afterlife. Was it always also about the heavens, in the sense of sky-watching? Can we rediscover how Stonehenge’s...

Read more about At the British Museum: ‘The World of Stonehenge’

That Ol’ Thumb: Hitchhiking

Mike Jay, 23 June 2022

‘Isn’t it dangerous?’ was always the first question you were asked by those who had never done it, but I don’t recall the issue ever coming up with fellow travellers. It was in everybody’s interest...

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When I teach first-year medical students about community medicine I emphasise that no one’s suffering is experienced in isolation; it invariably has a social context. We fall ill in ways we have been...

Read more about Tie Up Your Teenagers: Contagious Convulsions

In His White Uniform: Accidental Gods

Rosemary Hill, 10 February 2022

It was around 1977 that Prince Philip became aware that he was a god. It had happened three years earlier when the Britannia moored off the coast of Aneityum (in what is now Vanuatu). Jack Naiva, one of...

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On Giving Up

Adam Phillips, 6 January 2022

Just as people tend not to be mad but to be driven mad, people tend not to give up but to be forced into giving up. It is this that the tragic hero resists, and at great cost. 

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