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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

Dancing with water | Aeon
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Environmental history

Dancing with water

As storms, droughts and floods become more intense, what can the world learn from Japan’s profoundly wet history?

Giulio Boccaletti

The right person | Aeon
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Love and friendship

The right person

Contemporary wisdom says that happiness is the measure of a marriage. But is that a harmful way of judging relationships?

Joshua Coleman

Imaginary numbers are real | Aeon
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Mathematics

Imaginary numbers are real

These odd values were long dismissed as bookkeeping. Now physicists are proving that they describe the hidden shape of nature

Karmela Padavic-Callaghan

The will to fight | Aeon
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War and peace

The will to fight

Throughout history, the most effective combatants have powered to victory on commitment to core values and collective resolve

Scott Atran

Seeing life | Aeon
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Biology

Seeing life

Driven by insatiable curiosity, early histologists revealed the hidden structures of cells in works of sensual artistry

Benjamin Ehrlich

The dreams of animals | Aeon
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Sleep and dreams

The dreams of animals

The psychic lives of nonhuman dreamers reveal colours, harmonies and beauties of which we had little inkling until now

David M Peña-Guzmán

The art of listening | Aeon
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Self-improvement

The art of listening

To listen well is not only a kindness to others but also, as the psychologist Carl Rogers made clear, a gift to ourselves

M M Owen

Aristotle goes to Hollywood | Aeon
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Stories and literature

Aristotle goes to Hollywood

Today, the ancient Greek storyteller would be winning Oscars. To learn how, turn to the Poetics, his masterwork on writing

Philip Freeman

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



Recent Comments

To heal trauma from childhood, relive the neglect and abuse

Pam Weintraub

There may be no other way to truly, deeply recover. The method might amount to breaking all your bones and waiting while they heal. But adopting just rote behavioral responses (via CBT) to such early pain is probably a bandaid, and won’t work well when you’re under life’s greatest stress -then, the fix had better be real.

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Bookish fools

Pam Weintraub

Perhaps it is a sign, but in recent years my aim has been to discard books -to get rid of the clutter from the 1000s of books I own, and it has been wrenching and difficult. My dream is of a shelf with just a few print books at any one time -without all the paper, but I’m unable to get there. I am attached to my books, but not because they mark me as culturally evolved to the outside.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Symmetry is crucial to biology: a Q & A with Robert Trivers

Pam Weintraub

Symmetry can be boring -In fact,when things are too symmetrical, too even, my eyes glaze over and I enter a state of ennui. I find the symmetrical in art, often, to be flat and unchallenging. In my rooms, symmetry makes me feel blank. One place I have loved symmetry is organic chemistry, where it was truly beautiful because it was also complex. Simple flat symmetry, however, is dull.

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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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