17 episodes

Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken explore if people can change and how they do it. How much of our personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

A Thorough Examination with Drs Chris and Xand BBC Radio 4

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.7 • 60 Ratings

Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken explore if people can change and how they do it. How much of our personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    8. Changing our environment

    8. Changing our environment

    Most of us would like something about ourselves or our lives to be different, but how easy is it to actually change?

    Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken are looking at whether people can change and how they do it. Exactly how much of any aspect of personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    Chris wants to be a better doctor, friend, husband and father. But most urgently he wants to be a better brother, and is determined to improve his relationship with Xand. They’re best friends and talk to each other every day, but they are also business partners who find it very hard to work together without having a visceral row.

    Chris wants to change how he relates to his brother and believes it is possible, but Xand is less convinced that we can or that he needs to change. In this series, Chris confronts that pessimism.

    In episode 8 - Changing Our Environment - Xand convinces Chris to come into his pottery shed and give it a whirl. Working together has historically resulted in heated arguments, so it’s time for Chris to act on what he’s learnt about improving his relationship with Xand. The twins consider how easy it is to roll out change on a large scale and ask Will Norman how he manages to implement change in the face of opposition.

    Presented by Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken
    Produced by Hester Cant and Alexandra Quinn
    Series Editor: Jo Rowntree
    A Loftus Media and van Tulleken Brothers Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

    • 29 min
    7. Changing in a crisis

    7. Changing in a crisis

    Most of us would like something about ourselves or our lives to be different, but how easy is it to actually change?

    Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken are looking at whether people can change and how they do it. Exactly how much of any aspect of personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    Chris wants to be a better doctor, friend, husband and father. But most urgently he wants to be a better brother, and is determined to improve his relationship with Xand. They’re best friends and talk to each other every day, but they are also business partners who find it very hard to work together without having a visceral row.

    Chris wants to change how he relates to his brother and believes it is possible, but Xand is less convinced that we can or that he needs to change. In this series, Chris confronts that pessimism.

    In episode 7 - Changing in a Crisis - the twins speak with Louise, a social worker who supports people every day to make changes in their lives. Chris wants to know how people facing significant obstacles can make positive and successful changes. Louise’s experience prompts Chris to consider the way he approaches improving his relationship with Xand as well as how he advises his own patients.

    Presented by Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken
    Produced by Hester Cant and Alexandra Quinn
    Series Editor: Jo Rowntree
    A Loftus Media and van Tulleken Brothers Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    6. How to listen to your body

    6. How to listen to your body

    Most of us would like something about ourselves or our lives to be different, but how easy is it to actually change?

    Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken are looking at whether people can change and how they do it. Exactly how much of any aspect of personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    Chris wants to be a better doctor, friend, husband and father. But most urgently he wants to be a better brother, and is determined to improve his relationship with Xand. They’re best friends and talk to each other every day, but they are also business partners who find it very hard to work together without having a visceral row.

    Chris wants to change how he relates to his brother and believes it is possible, but Xand is less convinced that we can or that he needs to change. In this series, Chris confronts that pessimism.

    In episode 6 - How To Listen To Your Body - Professor Sarah Garfinkel teaches the twins about interoception - or how we understand and act on what’s going on inside our bodies. She tests their ability to interpret their emotions and both Chris and Xand are surprised at the results.

    Presented by Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken
    Produced by Hester Cant and Alexandra Quinn
    Series Editor: Jo Rowntree
    A Loftus Media and van Tulleken Brothers Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    5. Learning to listen

    5. Learning to listen

    Most of us would like something about ourselves or our lives to be different, but how easy is it to actually change?

    Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken are looking at whether people can change and how they do it. Exactly how much of any aspect of personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    Chris wants to be a better doctor, friend, husband and father. But most urgently he wants to be a better brother, and is determined to improve his relationship with Xand. They’re best friends and talk to each other every day, but they are also business partners who find it very hard to work together without having a visceral row.

    Chris wants to change how he relates to his brother and believes it is possible, but Xand is less convinced that we can or that he needs to change. In this series, Chris confronts that pessimism.

    In episode 5 - Learning To Listen - Chris considers the triggers for his many arguments with Xand and wonders if it might be because he’s not being a good listener. The psychotherapist Erene Hadjiioannou offers Chris some advice on how to react in the heat of an argument. Xand meanwhile is cocooned in his pottery shed contemplating Chris’ complete disinterest in his hobby. He wonders why everyone else in the family shows some enthusiasm, except his twin.

    Presented by Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken
    Produced by Hester Cant and Alexandra Quinn
    Series Editor: Jo Rowntree
    A Loftus Media and van Tulleken Brothers Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    4. Does willpower even exist?

    4. Does willpower even exist?

    Most of us would like something about ourselves or our lives to be different, but how easy is it to actually change?

    Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken are looking at whether people can change and how they do it. Exactly how much of any aspect of personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    Chris wants to be a better doctor, friend, husband and father. But most urgently he wants to be a better brother, and is determined to improve his relationship with Xand. They’re best friends and talk to each other every day, but they are also business partners who find it very hard to work together without having a visceral row.

    Chris wants to change how he relates to his brother and believes it is possible, but Xand is less convinced that we can or that he needs to change. In this series, Chris confronts that pessimism.

    In episode 4 - Does Willpower Even Exist? - Chris examines the slippery concept of willpower. Is it something that we all need in order to make personal change and if so, can Chris harness it to encourage Xand to make changes in their relationship? Xand is preoccupied with his exercise bike which stands unused and dusty in his house, can he find the motivation to use it? The psychologist and psychoanalyst Dr Stephen Blumenthal explains willpower in the brain - when does and doesn’t it work?

    Presented by Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken
    Produced by Hester Cant and Alexandra Quinn
    Series Editor Jo Rowntree
    A Loftus Media and van Tulleken Brothers Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min
    3. Nature via nurture

    3. Nature via nurture

    Most of us would like something about ourselves or our lives to be different, but how easy is it to actually change?

    Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken are looking at whether people can change and how they do it. Exactly how much of any aspect of personality is genetic destiny and how much are we shaped by the world around us?

    Chris wants to be a better doctor, friend, husband and father. But most urgently he wants to be a better brother, and is determined to improve his relationship with Xand. They’re best friends and talk to each other every day, but they are also business partners who find it very hard to work together without having a visceral row.

    Chris wants to change how he relates to his brother and believes it is possible, but Xand is less convinced that we can or that he needs to change. In this series, Chris confronts that pessimism.

    In episode 3 - Nature via Nurture - the psychologist Wendy Johnson explodes some home truths around the great nature vs nurture debate. The twins speak to their younger brother J about some changes he’s been trying to implement in his own life that he hopes will improve the way he interacts with his kids. It leaves Chris wondering what he needs to exploit to continue trying to convince Xand to improve their relationship.

    Presented by Drs Chris and Xand van Tulleken
    Produced by Hester Cant and Alexandra Quinn
    Series Editor: Jo Rowntree
    A Loftus Media and van Tulleken Brothers Ltd production for BBC Radio 4

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
60 Ratings

60 Ratings

Sulamaye ,

Second series increasingly fascinating

I really enjoyed the first series about ultra processed food because it echoed and enforced much of what Tim Spector's research in to diet and food has also shown, but the second one looking at personality, nature and nurture just grew increasingly interesting as it considered the broader context of science and psychology behind why we behave the way we do and how to intervene to some extent in how we acton our feelings. Excellent amd personal exploration brings the science to life.

A london dad ,

Excellent listen

Warm and engaging look at nature and nurture. Nice to hear from their families and fascinating case studies and interviewees from science. Made me think about change and about “choosing the line of greatest advantage”.

jelly 75 ,

I swapped a choc ice for plain yogurt!

My story reads a bit like that of Dr Xand. In Pandemic times of Christmas 2020, I was sent to A and E as an emergency due to a problem with my heart detected by my GP. Unlike Xand, I fortunately didn’t need immediate treatment but had ongoing tests for the following two years. Two years later and I have been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease that had been causing pressure on the rest of my body. At the time of entering hospital I was given several talks about losing weight. I know I needed to but felt it was a near impossible task. I felt I had been eating sensibly. I had even been doing the recommended nhs level of exercise, on an indoor static foldable exercise bike most days. I felt confused and lost at how to resolve this. In my younger years I just exercised my way into ideal weight territory. Then, I had a bicycle accident in 2012 resulting in bi -lateral radial head fractures, with permanent loss of arms extension and rotation. Aka broken elbows. My exercise options became limited. I couldn’t now comfortably ride a bicycle. Each time I attempted couch to 5k, I became injured. I struggled. Now I have a new plan, I will check what I am eating going forward and am excited that this could work. I am going to ditch the chemicals unless it’s a special mine off occasion when out with others. Thanks for giving me some hope Drs Chris and Xand. Your honesty and emotions alongside being Drs, showing you are just like the rest of us is really helpful. Also, Two weeks ago, my son helped me set up a Tacx turbo trainer on my bike so that I have more control over my exercise. I am finally getting somewhere. Please keep going with your podcasts and Thank You - Clare

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