All in the Mind

BBC  |  Podcast , ±25 min episodes every 2 weeks, 1 day  | 
All in the Mind examines how we think and behave. It’s presented by psychologist Claudia Hammond. She investigates the latest techniques being used by mental health practitioners, speaks to people with psychological issues and uncovers all the most recent research from the world of the mind. Every year there are 2 series of 8 episodes of All in the Mind, in the spring and autumn. Each programme is 28 minutes long.

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Trigger warnings, Myths about Van Gogh's mental health

Universities globally are increasingly being asked by students for trigger warnings on course material that could cause distress and the universities are responding. But what is the evidence they work? All in the Mind talks to Mevagh Sanson, one of the psychologists who has done the first empirical research to find out. The conclusion is – they don’t. She talks to Claudia about the research and its implications. Also, there are many myths about Vincent van Gogh and his mental health. His creative genius has been linked to his struggles with his mental health but as curator at Tate Britain, Carol Jacobi explains he only experienced episodes of mental illness in the last 18 months of his life and far from being a symptom of his illness, he painted in order to stay well. Claudia and Carol discuss why some of the myths about Vincent Van Gogh, his incredible genius and his mental health still persist today. Mathijs Lucassen from the Open University joins Claudia to discuss the government's select committee enquiry into reality TV.

Café Conversations, The light triad, Conveying anxiety through cartoon pigeons, Listener feedback

Claudia visits Café Conversations – a weekly meet up in West London for people who are feeling lonely. The café group was organised by Louise Kay who felt lonely after her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and wants to help people in the same position. The dark triad, a term coined by psychology researchers, is a group of three personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Claudia speaks to Professor Scott Kauffman from Columbia University; he has decided enough focus has been given to dark personality traits so he created a light triad: faith in humanity, treating people as ends unto themselves and humanism. He explains how we all have light and dark traits within us and also how to find out how light or dark your own personality might be. Artist Chuck Mullin explains how and why she conveys her anxiety and depression through drawing cartoon pigeons. Also, listeners who have shared their experiences of aphantasia and spatial navigation.

Producer: Caroline Steel

Our visual experience: perception of colour and eye contact

Remember that dress? In All in the mind recorded in front of an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead, Claudia Hammond delves into the psychology and neuroscience of our visual experience. How do we know we all see the same colours? And why do adults look away from other people’s faces when they’re trying to concentrate? We hear from the visual neuroscientist trying to work out exactly what we all see when we look at colours and from the psychologist training the police and teachers that it’s ok if people look away when they talk to you. It doesn’t mean they’re lying. It could mean they’re concentrating.

Producer: Caroline Steel

Spatial navigation, aphantasia and depression musical

Claudia talks to Catherine Loveday about her new research trying to find out why some people have difficulty navigating and what strategies might help. Madeleine Finlay reports from the 'Extreme Imagination' conference at Exeter University about people with aphantasia who have no mind's eye - who can't visualise friends, family, objects or anything. She meets people with the condition and the researchers trying to understand it. And the musical all about depression, 'A Super happy story about feeling Super sad'. How to make the experience of depression into an uplifting musical. Catherine Loveday tells Claudia about new research looking into why people with depression seek out sad music and explains that, contrary to the idea that it maintains low mood, people with depression find it calming and even empathetic.


Claudia busts some myths in neuroscience. She meets scientists attending the British Neuroscience Association's Christmas symposium on Neuromyths. She talks to Professor Chris MacManus about myths around left and right and how we use the different sides of our brain. She discusses with Duncan Astle from Cambridge University about the brain myths that have been used in education in primary schools. Cordelia Fine from Melbourne University discusses the myths about the differences between male and female brains. Anne Cook from the BNA talks about some historical myths which have been busted but why others still persist. Emma Yhnell from Cardiff University talks about whether brain training really works.

Citizens UK and Mental Health, Robin Ince, Film Cuts and Attention

A year ago a community organisation in Tyne and Wear called Citizens UK brought together people from schools, mosques, churches, politicians and the NHS to address mental health issues in their area. Claudia Hammond revisits the scheme a year on, to examine how a wide variety of local improvements now appear imminent. It follows months of hearing hundreds of personal testimonies and winning commitment from decision makers and those in power, to pledge to take action.

What can those of us who would never dream of doing stand-up learn about human nature from comedians? Comedian Robin Ince who of course co-presents The Infinite Monkey Cage here on Radio 4 has written a book all about this called I'm a Joke and So Are You. He discusses the value his audiences get from him openly discussing anxieties on stage......

If you're a fan of old films you might well have noticed that they were cut together with much longer shots than we tend to see these days - with an average change of image every ten seconds in the 1930s and 40s to just four seconds currently. Celia Andreu Sanchez from the Autonomous University of Barcelona has looked closely at impact this has on the way we pay attention to movies, with surprising results.

Psychologist Prof. Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster is this week’s studio guest.

Self-care, Schadenfreude, How maths ability might relate to ball-catching skills

What is self-care and what's the evidence that it works for anxiety and depression in young people? Claudia talks to Professor in Evidence Based Practice and Research at UCL, Miranda Wolpert and Maggy Van Eijk, author of Remember this when you're sad - Lessons learned on the road from self-harm to self-care. They discuss how useful is self-care and what are the kinds of strategies that work. Liam Hill from the University of Leeds explains why mathematical ability might relate to ball catching skills and his work with pupils at a primary school in Bradford. Claudia discusses schadenfreude with historian of emotions, Tiffany Watt-Smith and psychologist, Wilco Van Dijk from the University of Leiden.

Antidepressant withdrawal, Mates in Mind, Eyes that betray personality

Poor mental health in the construction industry is ‘the silent epidemic’, Work-related stress, depression and anxiety have overtaken musculoskeletal disorders as the most reported workplace health issue in the sector. The construction industry has more suicides than any other profession

Greater mental health support for construction workers is now identified as a priority area. Claudia Hammond examines a new initiative to improve mental health in the sector by increasing awareness and the confidence amongst its predominantly male workforce to openly discuss the issues

MDMA for alcohol dependence, Music and sleep, Interoceptive skills, Parasites and entrepreneurship

Claudia Hammond finds out how MDMA assisted psychotherapy could help treat people with alcohol dependence. Trials are in their early stages but initial results are promising. Could this in the future be a new way to treat an addiction which ordinarily can have high relapse rates? Clinical psychologist, Laurie Higbe, explains how she and co therapist, Dr Ben Sessa, conduct the therapy and why MDMA might work at helping tackle the causes of alcohol addiction. Also, why city traders who can detect their own heartbeat may have better instincts when they have to make quick decisions on what's happening in the financial markets. Professor Sarah Garfinkel from the University of Sussex explains why the heart can be a powerful source of information guiding our behaviour without us being consciously aware of it. And Stephanie Johnson from the University of Colorado discusses her research exploring the relationship between risk taking and entrepreneurial behaviour and the toxoplasma gondii parasite.


Claudia visits a specialist personality disorder clinic in South London where she meets Jo, Susan and Chanelle to talk about what it's like to have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Psychotherapist, Merryn Jones explains why long term, regular group and individual therapy can help people cope with the intense emotional difficulties often caused by traumatic early life experiences.
New research on why agreeable people might be worse at managing their money. Sandra Matz from Columbia business school explains that it's not because agreeable people are more cooperative negotiators but that they just care less about money. Also in the programme what is emodiversity and can experiencing a range of negative and positive emotions be protective for your mental health? Tim Dalgleish from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences unit at the University of Cambridge explains.

30th Anniversary, Incivility of Politicians, Arctic Scientists' Mental Health

Happy Birthday to us! All in the Mind is 30 years old this month and to celebrate we’ve searched the archive to bring you clips of Anthony Clare, the original presenter of the programme, and a very young Claudia Hammond as a reporter. Professor Catherine Loveday is in the studio with Claudia to discuss the pieces of psychology research which have had the biggest impact on them in that time.

Last month Donald Trump called for civility after pipe bombs were posted to ten of his most vocal opponents. As America goes to the polls for midterm elections we hear about a new piece of research that suggests civility in politics is not dead. Dr Jeremy Frimer, from the University of Winnipeg in Canada, explains his new research on how approval ratings vary before and after volunteers read tweets by Donald Trump.

And what impact does a year in the Arctic have on your mental state? Claudia talks to research psychologist, Dr Anna Temp, who travelled to Svalbard to find out what impact a prolonged stay has on the mental health of scientists working there. How do they cope with the total darkness of the polar nights? And what's it like to be cooped up with 10 of your colleagues and polar bears lurking outside?

Producer: Lorna Stewart

Loneliness Results

55,000 people worldwide completed the BBC Loneliness Experiment. It is the largest survey of loneliness ever done. The results are unique in their scope and reach and were revealed first at an event in the Reading Room of Wellcome Collection.

At the live event, presented by Claudia Hammond, musician Jazz Morley and poet Daljit Nagra perform and talk about how their creativity was driven by their loneliness. Philosopher Julian Baggini challenges the idea that loneliness is always a negative experience. And Claudia discusses the results of the Wellcome supported research with Professor Christina Victor of Brunel University and Professor Pam Qualter of Manchester University.

36 episodes

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