What Makes Friends Vibe?

Published online at scientificamerican.com on February 20, 2018. Think about your friends—the people you spend a lot of time with, see movies with, those people you'd text to grab a drink or dinner after a long week. Now think back to why you first became friends and ask yourself: was it because you like them? Or because you are like … Continue reading What Makes Friends Vibe?

Why Don’t Babies Smile from Birth?

Published online at scientificamerican.com on February 6, 2018. When my son was born a few months ago, he quickly established himself as the tyrant of  our household, one that ruled with a singular phonetic ultimatum (“Oooo—whaaah”), tiny iron fists clutched in fury, and a face that roiled like the churning sea. His placid silence instantly … Continue reading Why Don’t Babies Smile from Birth?

The Chronification of Pain

Published online at Scientific American on December 29, 2017. Earlier this year, I wrote about my patient, Andrew, an engineer who developed a heroin habit. An unfortunate series of joint replacements had left Andrew with terrible pain and, when his medication ran out, he turned to heroin. Months after his surgeries—after his tissue and scars had … Continue reading The Chronification of Pain

The Neuroscience of Paid Parental Leave

Published on Scientific American on October 30, 2017. (BTW: the pic is of me with Everett! Everett was 1.5 wks old and we wandered out to Bishop's Apple Orchard.) As a new father, I’ve learned that the U.S. ranks at the very bottom of industrialized nations for paid parental leave. Denmark offers a year. Italy offers five … Continue reading The Neuroscience of Paid Parental Leave

Beyond Numbers

Written in 2013. I loathed numbers.  The absolutism—the nerve! “Why number at all?” say I. No one ever understood something through numbers. Does knowing there are seven thingamabobs tell you anything about the thingamabob itself? The very idea of numbers: who came up with it? Greeks? Arabs? Renaissane-cy men? I wanted to do away with … Continue reading Beyond Numbers

What Do “Emotion” and “Mood” Actually Mean?

Cecilia (not the patient’s real name) was 15 the first time she tried to kill herself. She sliced into her left wrist with a razor she had hidden away. The initial sting silenced her emotions, but as she went deeper her arm tensed. Her head dizzied with pain. Too much. She screamed out and threw … Continue reading What Do “Emotion” and “Mood” Actually Mean?

The Role of Neuroscience in Psychiatry Redux

Originally published on Scientific American's Blog on April 28, 2017. Neuroskeptic has launched the “mother of all blog posts” against my article, published earlier this week. Neuroskeptic is skeptical that there is a “War Between Neuroscience and Psychiatry.” I fully agree. There is NOT a war and I regret the first title that was published … Continue reading The Role of Neuroscience in Psychiatry Redux

Do You Suffer from Trump Syndrome?

If you're displaying erratic behavior that seems irrational to others, part of the explanation could be plain old sleep deprivation Originally published on Scientific American MIND's Guest Blog on October 17, 2016. “You know, I’m not a big sleeper,” Donald Trump said last November. “I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, … Continue reading Do You Suffer from Trump Syndrome?

Case Study: When Chronic Pain Leads to a Dangerous Addiction

Originally published in Scientific American MIND on March 1, 2017. Before this, article was originally published with the title "A Painful Descent into Addiction." It was 4 P.M., and Andrew* had just bought 10 bags of heroin. In his kitchen, he tugged one credit-card-sized bag from the rubber-banded bundle and laid it on the counter with … Continue reading Case Study: When Chronic Pain Leads to a Dangerous Addiction