All in PSYCHOLOGY
“The magic of escapist fiction is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armour, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better. It’s a real escape — and when you come back, you come back better armed than when you left.” - Neil Gaiman.
How do you characterise something that since the dawn of mankind has proved excruciatingly difficult to grasp and define, by the people who simultaneously know it best and yet are also rendered incapable of understanding it?
What does happiness mean, how can we achieve it, what will it take to fulfill our quest in life, if we even know what that is? Happiness preoccupies far too many of us for too much of the time. Madness too, although not so many of us contemplate it to an equal degree. And yet the two are so often inextricably linked, unresolved conflicts tangling us up in knots. A new book published by Penguin with the mental health charity, Mind, offers some invaluable insights.
What were the writers of Humans thinking when they penned Channel 4’s latest sci-fi thriller? And what kind of thoughts were they hoping to trigger in viewers? Not since Utopia has an imagined story been so disturbingly close to a plausible reality where you’re left contemplating everything from human rights to the limits of our compassion.
Agonising over sleep is a curse that afflicts a silent army of insomniacs every night. It doesn’t even start in the night, more in the half-life of morning, around 3am, maybe 4am, and come 5am it’s a case of apocalyptic doom. According to World Sleep Day's mantra, when 'sleep is sound, health and happiness abound'. Really?
The question of what motivates and inspires writers has enduring appeal for anyone eager to pursue the creative life. It also reveals some fascinating insights from which anyone can benefit. We all have a story to tell, as individuals, organisations, communities, societies, businesses. And just like any story, if it’s interesting enough and told well, people will listen.
Can money ever buy you happiness? It may not be a question that we explicitly contemplate, but it’s the subtext to much of our behaviour.
Based on the advice of writers from Stephen King to David Foster Wallace, Susan Sontag, Henry Miller, Zadie Smith and many more, when I cannot write my designated daily quota of 500 words on one subject, I turn to reading. I scour the net, my bookshelves and every local bookshop, in search of inspiration, thirsty for facts that might ultimately furnish each of my projects with added authenticity.
When it comes to articulating physical pain, we have a myriad of descriptors at our disposal and a universally-understood terminology for bodily ailments. The same isn’t wholly true for psychological disorders, the complexities of which are matched by the vague and fluid terms ascribed to them.
Memories are the defining feature of human identity. They underlie the decisions that help determine our future, they colour our reflections on the past, and they characterise our life stories. But our headspace is notoriously fluid, susceptible to damage, change and loss. The stories that we weave together from what we can recall, while an inimitable gateway into our personalities, are not entirely true.