All in the Mind

BBC  |  Podcast , ±24 min episodes every 5 weeks, 5 days  | 
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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Anatomy of Touch: Digital Touch

Can touch be replicated digitally? What devices exist already and how likely are we to use them?
Michael Banissy co-creator of the Touch Test, neuroscientist David Eagleman and researcher Carey Jewitt look at the possibilities for touch technologies in the future. David has developed a wristband that translates sound into touch for deaf people, Carey looks at the ethics of digital touch and Michael reveals the attitudes from the Touch Test towards digital technologies and if we could replicate the feeling of holding a loved ones hand in hospital would it really be the same?

Anatomy of Touch: Health and Touch

Left isolating in London during lock down, flatmates B and Z came up with a plan to stay healthy with a 6 0’clock hug.
Hugging releases a mix of anti-stress chemicals that can lower the blood pressure, decrease anxiety and help sleep. Researchers Michael Banissy, Tiffany Field and Merle Fairhurst look at the evidence for the health benefits of touch and Claudia asks whether 25 seconds is long enough?

Anatomy of Touch: Culture

At the Pink Diamond Martial Arts Club Hasina teaches Luton women from all cultures to defend themselves physically. This form of touch helped Hasina overcome the bullying of her childhood. But how do early experiences and cultural influences shape how you feel about touch? Stereotypes abound for different nationalities, for example, the reserved British person complete with a stiff upper lip or the ebullient Italian. Michael Banissy from Goldsmiths University of London, writer of the Touchstone Tales, Sudha Bhuchar and Juulia Suvilehto from Linkoping University in Sweden look at the results of the Touch Test and ask if attitudes to touch are more nuanced than outdated stereotypes.

Anatomy of Touch: Don't Touch

Campaigner and activist Amy Kavanagh is partially sighted and on her daily trip to work receives much unwanted touch. Some touch from strangers is well meaning but without her consent, while she is also subject to abusive and violent touch. In Anatomy of Touch Dr Natalie Bowling from Greenwich University and co-creator of the BBC Touch Test looks at what the results tell us about touch between strangers.
Where do people find it acceptable for strangers to touch them, what are the differences between men and women, how would most people like to be greeted by their boss and is it OK for your boss to kiss you at a party?

The study looked at attitudes around consent and Joanna Bourke Professor of History at Birkbeck University looks at issues of consent and entitlement. And while it might seem that social distancing would prevent unwanted touch, evidence suggests that there is a transfer of the abuse online. Meanwhile for Amy she isn’t travelling to work anymore because Covid means she can’t see who is around her and the risk of catching Covid is too high. But she does have a campaign ready for when she can travel again which is #JustAskDon’tGrab.

Anatomy of Touch: Hunger

In Anatomy of Touch Claudia Hammond asks whether people have enough touch in their lives and what has been the impact of Covid-19.
Covid-19 and social distancing have changed how most people feel about touch but even before Covid-19 there was a concern about the decrease of touch in society. Michael Bannissy of Goldsmiths University of London discusses the results of the BBC Touch test and leading researchers reveal their findings about the lack of touch.

Claudia meets John, who, growing up during the Second World War, endured a lack of touch in his childhood and discovers how in adult life he overcame this absence of touch and why touch remains so important to him. And we discover solutions to touch hunger and simple ways to compensate for the lack of touch.

The Touch Test

The Touch Test. When did someone last touch you? Maybe they kissed you goodbye this morning or someone touched you on the arm on the bus because you’d dropped something. The Touch Test explores touch in its many forms and launches a major piece of research in which we want as many people as possible to take part.

Commissioned by Wellcome Collection to conduct The Touch Test in collaboration with BBC Radio 4 is Michael Banissy Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths University of London. Also in the studio are Deborah Bowman, Professor of Medical Ethics at St Georges University, and Laura Bates from the Everyday Sexism campaign. Exploring the future of touch is Hannah Limerick from Ultraleap, demonstrating how touch sensations will be used in the near future.

Professor Roger Kneebone and lace maker Fleur Oakes explain how medical students can learn to touch, and Claudia visits Dr Sarah Wilkes at the Institute of Making and encounters some extraordinary tactile materials including the lightest material ever made. We hear a preliminary taster from the drama company 20 Stories High from their show Touchy, and paper engineer Helen Friel creates an artwork in the studio with a revealing message.

The importance of play in childhood

Psychologists’ advice is that play is beneficial for children developmentally and socially. In this Christmas episode of All in the Mind Claudia visits the Play Well exhibition at Wellcome Collection which looks at the significance of play in childhood and across society as a way of learning, expressing emotions and building empathy. Claudia’s joined at the exhibition by play experts Maia and Rachel.

Children in the UK have written letters to Father Christmas since Victorian times and Dr Sian Pooley at the University of Oxford shows how they reveal the history of play.

LEGO Professor of Play Paul Ramchandani at the University of Cambridge researches the developmental benefits for children and looks at how fathers play with their children.

And how do you get children off the computer and playing outside? Helen Dodd, Professor of Child Psychology at Reading Univesity, and Dr Pete Etchells, Reader in Psychology and Science Communication at Bath Spa University, look at the evidence and ask if a balance can be achieved.

Pain and the brain

Pain has long been recognised as something of an enigma by scientists and clinicians. It's both a measurable physiological process, as well as deeply personal and subjective. Claudia Hammond meets scientists attending the British Neuroscience Association's Christmas symposium on pain and the brain.

She talks to the so-called "queen of pain", Professor Irene Tracey of Oxford University, about how research into acute and chronic pain is being addressed. We hear from Professor Ulrike Bingel about the positive and negative effects of expectation and anxiety on painful symptoms, and how this could be harnessed to enhance the power of drug treatments and reduce side effects.

Professor Tamar Makin of University College London reveals some of the latest insights into the mysterious pain associated with missing limbs and wonders if we've been getting the thinking on phantom limb pain all wrong.

And why are some kinds of pain - after exercising say, almost enjoyable? Professor Siri Leknes of Oslo University discusses the curious relationship between pain and pleasure.

Magic and gender bias

The Wounded Healer, also known as Dr Ahmed Hankir, Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at Kings College London, tours the world talking about his experience of mental ill health and attacking stigma. But how does his lived experience impact his clinical practice? Joining Claudia and Ahmed in the studio to discuss the issues is Dr Sri Kalidini, consultant rehabilitation psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

While traditionally magicians have been men, there are more and more successful women entering the male dominated industry. But do they have to work harder to impress? Gustav Kuhn from Goldsmiths University of London and colleagues carried out a study revealing a very strong gender bias but this was erased comparatively simply by asking people to work out how the magic tricks worked.

Technology companies are developing artificial intelligence that can detect your mood. They are doing this by reading facial expressions but is this too simplistic an approach? Lisa Feldman Barrett at North Eastern University in the US questions whether the psychological research is being interpreted in the right way. Gary McKeown, a psychologist from Queens University Belfast, joins the discussion.

Studio guest is Professor Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster.

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

13 episodes

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