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10 Most Fantastic TED Talks on Psychology

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Human behaviour is indeed complex and intriguing. And it is for this very reason that the field of psychology is totally captivating. I’ve gathered some of the most fascinating TED Talks from psychology’s leading lights: 

1. The voice in my head, Eleanor Longden

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to university full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalised, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.

2. 10 Myths about psychology, Debunked, Ben Ambridge

How much of what you think about your brain is actually wrong? In this whistlestop tour of dis-proved science, Ben Ambridge walks through 10 popular ideas about psychology that have been proven wrong – and uncovers a few surprising truths about how our brains really work.

3. Psychedelics: Lifting the veil, Robin Carhart-Harris

Robin has been conducting pioneering brain imaging studies of psychedelic drugs. Most recently, he has completed the first phase of a clinical trial looking at the potential of psilocybin to treat depression, and his talk looks at how these drugs can be used in treatment.

4. Is MDMA psychiatry’s antibiotic? Ben Sessa

This TEDx talk explores the practice of MDMA Psychotherapy, illustrated with the life-story of a fictional typical patient. We owe it to this population of vulnerable, untreated patients with unremitting mental disorders due to psychological trauma, to explore MDMA Therapy as potential new treatment for the future of psychiatric medicine.

5. Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong, Johann Hari

What really causes addiction – to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do – and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

6. Autism, sex and science, Simon Baron-Cohen

This talk looks at some of the psychological barriers to taking action on climate change and argues that whilst we need to develop and implement practical and technical solutions, they will not be enough on their own. If we are going to find sustainable solutions then we have to find a way to face the paradox that it is only through facing our vulnerability, painful truths, collective denial, grief and loss that we will be able to develop the emotionally informed and sustainable action that we need to take to save ourselves as well as the planet. These inner ‘untrodden paths’ through our defences and complex feelings about climate change might just hold some of the answers we need, and counter intuitively show us the way.

7. Strange answers to the psychopath test, Jon Ronson

Is there a definitive line that divides crazy from sane? With a hair-raising delivery, Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, illuminates the gray areas between the two. (With live-mixed sound by Julian Treasure and animation by Evan Grant.)

8. Dance and the mind, Peter Lovatt

Dr Peter Lovatt is a reader in psychology and principal lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, but his first love was dance. Before entering academia, he trained at the Guildford School of Acting and the Cecchetti Ballet, and worked as a professional dancer. Later, he went to study psychology and computational neuroscience and in 2008, he set up the first Dance Psychology Lab. This has enabled him to combine his twin passions of dance and psychology and, through experimental work, to explore the ways in which dance, and different types of dance, can affect the brain. His most recent work, and the subject of his talk, has involved investigating the effects of dance on people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. 

9. The male identity crisis, Fraser Smith

There’s continued pressure on men to live up to a masculine ideal portrayed by the entertainment industry and on social media. In response, new initiatives call for men to acknowledge their vulnerabilities and ask for help, rather than play the hero. On the flip side, other social movements stigmatise men as being wired for aggressive and predatory behaviour.

10. Movement is medicine, William Pullen

William Pullen is a London-based psychotherapist, author, and founder of Dynamic Running Therapy. His approach uses a fusion of movement, mindfulness and talk therapy. He is also the developer of the app ‘Dynamic Running Therapy’. His book, Running with Mindfulness, has been published in eight countries.

Feel free to share this list and let us know what you think of these TED Talks. 

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today


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