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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

The food wars | Aeon
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Food and drink

The food wars

Vitamins or whole foods; high-fat or low-fat; sugar or sweetener. Will we ever get a clear idea about what we should eat?

Amos Zeeberg

An idea with bite | Aeon
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Genetics

An idea with bite

The ‘selfish gene’ persists for the reason all good scientific metaphors do: it remains a sharp tool for clear thinking

J Arvid Ågren

Apocalypse, please | Aeon
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Pleasure and pain

Apocalypse, please

The COVID-19 pandemic, like other catastrophes before it, got some of us hooked on phobic energy and terror. Why?

Travis Alexander

The fog of grief | Aeon
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Life stages

The fog of grief

The five stages of grief can’t begin to explain it: grief affects the body, brain and sense of self, and patience is the key

April Reese

The addiction trap | Aeon
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Addiction

The addiction trap

Our inability to treat substance use disorders stems from a narrow-minded view that brains and genes are their real cause

Judith Grisel

Don’t farm bugs | Aeon
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Bioethics

Don’t farm bugs

Insect farming bakes, boils and shreds animals by the trillion. It’s immoral, risky and won’t resolve the climate crisis

Jeff Sebo & Jason Schukraft

We’re all teenagers now | Aeon
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Childhood and adolescence

We’re all teenagers now

Adolescence isn’t a time of life so much as a frame of mind. Liberating yet damaging, it’s transformed the US and the world

Paul Howe

Attached | Aeon
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Childhood and adolescence

Attached

From cradle to grave, we are soothed and rocked by attachments – our source of joy and pain, and the essence of who we are

Mostafa El-Kalliny & Zoe R Donaldson

World wide open | Aeon
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Mental health

World wide open

Deep brain stimulation not only treats psychiatric disease – it changes the whole person, boosting confidence and openness

Julian Kiverstein, Erik Rietveld & Damiaan Denys

Radical acceptance | Aeon
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Mood and emotion

Radical acceptance

The painful feelings you avoid grow twisted in the dark. By facing your sorrows and struggles you can take back your life

Joshua Coleman

Treasure them | Aeon
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Love and friendship

Treasure them

Sure, lovers and children are great. But friends are more than ever the heart of happiness, of family and of love itself

Anna Machin

Rewiring your life | Aeon
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Psychiatry and psychotherapy

Rewiring your life

A radical therapy based on eye movements can desensitise painful memories, heal hurts and aid transformation at warp speed

Deborah Korn



Recent Comments

Romantic regimes

Pam Weintraub

There are so many ways to be human and establish a cohesive structure of self. It seems absurd to suggest a human being is not fully human for lacking a given experience, even one as elemental and fierce and truly foundational as this.

A rephrasing of the question: can one be fully actualized without ever experiencing romantic love? Many could, and many could not. It depends on who you are.

Though such individuals would be missing the extraordinary range and peak and thrill that romantic love (and probably, ONLY romantic love) serves up, perhaps they have other means of achieving intensity and joy -or maybe that intensity is something they don’t want. I think they would have...

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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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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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Bucket lists are a good way to ruin the experience of nature

Pam Weintraub

The story of the American wilderness gives one pause -the wild we have here today, where it still exists, was often born of chaos and mismanagement and true misunderstanding of how to shepherd the land.

One sign of environmental mismanagement on a continental scale in the US is the explosion of deer through the suburbs, but it wasn’t always this way. The last time the continent was in balance, the Indians were in charge. Sculpting the land over millennia, they created spacious parklike arenas for roaming herds of antelope, buffalo, and deer—along with their natural predators, the wolves, panthers, and bears. The Indians’ primary tool in terra-forming North America to create this ex...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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