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Pam Weintraub

Senior Editor, Aeon+Psyche

Pam is an editor and writer specialising in psychology, neuroscience and the sciences. She has previously worked as executive and features editor at Discover, where her acquisitions were widely anthologised and received numerous national awards; a consulting editor at Psychology Today; and in a range of roles at Omni magazine, from senior editor and editor-at-large to founding editor of Omni online. She is author of 16 books on medicine, psychology and lifestyle, including Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic, which won the American Medical Writers Association book award in 2009. She can be found on Twitter @pam3001.

Written by Pam Weintraub

Edited by Pam Weintraub

When hope gets in the way | Aeon
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Mood and emotion

When hope gets in the way

Hope is usually seen as a positive agent of change that spares us from pain. But it can also undermine healing and growth

Santiago Delboy

Against human exceptionalism | Aeon
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Animals and humans

Against human exceptionalism

In a tight spot, you’d probably intuit that a human life outweighs an animal’s. There are good arguments why that’s wrong

Jeff Sebo

Tainted love | Aeon
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Love and friendship

Tainted love

Love is both a wonderful thing and a cunning evolutionary trick to control us. A dangerous cocktail in the wrong hands

Anna Machin

The power of shit | Aeon
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The environment

The power of shit

Our excrement is a natural, renewable and sustainable resource – if only we can overcome our visceral disgust of it

Lina Zeldovich

The web of life | Aeon
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Evolution

The web of life

Classic evolutionary theory holds that species separate over time. But it’s fuzzier than that – now we know they also merge

Juli Berwald

Help! Brain overload | Aeon
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Technology and the self

Help! Brain overload

As tasks mount up, our brain’s ability to juggle goes down. Neuroergonomic tactics can relieve the cognitive burden

Emily Willingham

The problem with ‘han’ 한 恨 | Aeon
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Film and visual culture

The problem with ‘han’ 한 恨

Korean culture is characterised by an untranslatably profound sorrow and regret. Or is that just another stereotype?

Minsoo Kang

Ancestral dreams | Aeon
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Sleep and dreams

Ancestral dreams

We’re not the only beings that dream. What visions might sleep bring to a cell, an insect, a mollusk, an ape?

Sidarta Ribeiro

The parentified child | Aeon
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Childhood and adolescence

The parentified child

When parents cast a child into the role of mediator, friend and carer, the wounds are profound. But recovery is possible

Nivida Chandra

The power of water | Aeon
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Global history

The power of water

Far more potent than oil or gold, water is a stream of geopolitical force that runs deep, feeding crops and building nations

Giulio Boccaletti

Slow sex, long life | Aeon
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Biology

Slow sex, long life

Tokyo’s imperial archives advise what science now confirms: the secret of longevity lies in the gentle arts of the bedroom

Denis Noble

The philosopher’s zombie | Aeon
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Philosophy of mind

The philosopher’s zombie

The infamous thought experiment, flawed as it is, does demonstrate one thing: physics alone can’t explain consciousness

Dan Falk



Recent Comments

The neurofix

Pam Weintraub

At any age, full-blown dementia robs you of your former personhood and your identity as you have known it.

If you consider your identity to be the stream of consciousness of your life from beginning of memory to the end, then beyond the pale of memory, beyond the stream, you are something else -something not you. That entity may be alive and yet you -YOU, for all intents and purposes- are dead.

There is really no difference between this kind of dementia and death unless you are satisfied with a life outside yourself -perhaps the life of a slug. Would you fear the life of a slug more than death?

In a sense, dementia vs. death is truly a distinction without a difference...

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The sorrow of bees

Pam Weintraub

To set the record straight, the study of animal emotion is not that new, relatively speaking. Perhaps the preeminent modern pioneer in the animal emotion from a neuroscientific perspective is Jaak Panksepp, known broadly as the researcher who tickled rats and made them laugh.

Studying the emotional brain in a range of animal species since the 1960s, Panksepp has charted seven networks of emotion in the brain: SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, LUST, CARE, PANIC/GRIEF, and PLAY. I spell them with CAPS here because that is what Panksepp does -so fundamental are they to functions across species, from people to cats to rats.

What is especially interesting about Panksepp’s work is that it has ...

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Murder she wrought

Pam Weintraub

Until neuroscience hands us the technology or capacity to squelch the reptiles in our brains with the cortex above, we will be a violent species, in part. Until we can overcome the fear from our limbic brains with logic from the cortex, we’ll react in kind. The territorial instinct has defined the human species from its emergence on Earth, and the constant wars, genocides, terrorist acts and other atrocities still raging around the globe, glaringly and without end are testament to that fact.

Do we have the capacity to end all wars? Possibly -at what cost? Might the cost be a police state, violent in its own right? And eliminating state violence or even community violence might not ...

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How much does it matter whether God exists?

Pam Weintraub

I feel that I have greater knowledge right away about someone who grew up as a relatively secular Ashkenazi Jew from New York City -that is, a Jew whose ancestors lived in Northern, Western and Eastern Europe for centuries, then moved to New York City, where they retained identity but not great religiosity.

My recent trip to Israel showed me, on the other hand, that Jews have wide diversity -from Sephardic Jews with ancestors from Spain; Jews whose ancestors never left the area of the Judean Hills in Israel or the Middle East -the Mizrahi Jews. I met Jews with ancestors from India, and they looked Indian. Jews from Ethiopia who were black. Moroccan Jews… There are very orthodox Jew...

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Suspended animation

Pam Weintraub

Unless this is a trick question, like: You’re immortal but you’re in pain, or… you’re immortal but you’re insane, of course… If I could live in health and vigor without worry of death, why wouldn’t I? I don’t think I would ever get tired of being alive or creative… it is a terrible punishment that at some point it will go dark and I won’t know what happens to the world.

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Are coders worth it?

Pam Weintraub

Coding is a form of math and logic, and it should be part of a mathematical curriculum. It could be that we all need to be literate in coding to navigate the new world. Not only because it is a funcitonal skill, but also because it trains us in logic and memory and detail, and focus -and these are cognitive skills of high value.

Coding is a skill of the future. It is our passport to deep understanding of the undercurrents of the new, data-driven world.

To suggest, however, that we should study this new, mathematical language as we studied the languages of antiquity more than a century ago mixes apples and oranges -it is almost a nonsense question. Were we studying Latin and ...

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Korean Thanksgiving

Pam Weintraub

A generation ago, when many people lived into their seventies or eighties and then died, the level of help and care a parent required on an existential level was relatively small. Those elderly could largely care for themselves and they were just newly tapping into their retirement savings, and so able to pay for help. Moreover, the elderly of a generation ago -who were, by and large- younger at time of death, often were able to live at home. Thus, a child could defer from helping a parent and, no matter the moral issues or emotional hurt, not feel they were putting that parent at existential risk. A child could visit an 80-year-old person every weekend, and that eighty year-old would oth...

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Humans are the only animals who crave oblivion through suicide

Pam Weintraub

The author is speaking here about the evolutionary origins of suicide, mostly. And of the effect that suicide had on hunter-gather size groups during our early evolution -and how our awareness of death changed the equation vis a vis suicide for the human species. This story is not mean to cast aspersions on those who take their lives here and now -it is looking at suicide through the lens of evolutionary biology, in a most theoretical way.

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Fatal nurture: what a rare disorder says about ‘bad mothers’

Pam Weintraub

Many people consider the MSBP diagnosis completely discredited and bogus, a severe form of sexism -although medical crimes may exist, many critics say, not as conceptualized by this theory. I suggest considering an alternative: That the idea of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is not just overblown or rare, but the fabrication of a sexist world. I interviewed many of the top experts for an expose in Pyschology Today. It’s worth a read:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200709/munchausen-unusual-suspects

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Cracking the skull open

Pam Weintraub

One might argue that complete mental health is, in fact, a state of extreme insanity -and that one person’s craziness is another’s sublime balance. Clearly, some states are dysfunctional and sick: psychotic homicidal impulses; extreme bipolar swings of devastating depression and destructive mania; voices instructing one to harm oneself; the crippling pain of chronic, severe depression. These are states of sickness, not least because they cause the percipient so much pain and/or endanger others.

But other times, the border between health and illness is in the eye of the beholder: The wholesome, well-scrubbed, straight A student with the constant up mood can be flat and boring. The m...

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Neurothriller

Pam Weintraub

There is something to be said for feelings and emotions accumulating viscerally, in an embodied kind of way apart from narrative. One feels that layering this alongside or on top of narrative would be the most powerful means -why would you need to forget the narrative? They are all means of immersion, but certainly, adding these elements only adds to the power and the fear. Though… I found Carrie, the Birds, Psycho, Alien, all of those, pretty terrifying -even when I say them as old films.... already dated at my viewing, they still managed to scare.

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Roots and genes

Pam Weintraub

Yes, the research solved a mystery about the origins of my father’s side of the family, which no one was otherwise willing to talk about -over and forgotten. My relatives have been in the US since 1900, when my great grandparents brought everyone over, and I am the third generation -my children, the 4th: The old world, a shtetl in the Ukraine, was something they were happy to bury very deep. From all I have learned, that was truly a terrible place and it has caused me to consider the epigenetic impact of living such a brutal, terrifying life: But I well understand why those who came from there wanted to leave it behind: Even changed the family name in NY.

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