233 episodes

Programme exploring the limits and potential of the human mind

All in the Mind BBC Radio 4

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.5 • 49 Ratings

Programme exploring the limits and potential of the human mind

    Urban rewilding for wellbeing, oxytocin and kindness, false alarm crowd panic

    Urban rewilding for wellbeing, oxytocin and kindness, false alarm crowd panic

    What amount of biodiversity in our cities is enough to benefit our wellbeing? Good evidence can be hard to come by. Andrea Mechelli, professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health at Kings College London, together with landscape architect Joanna Gibbons discuss their pioneering Urban Mind citizen science project which adopts a smartphone app to work out how much trees, birdsong and access to water have a significant effect on an individual’s mood.

    How does kindness breed kindness? Daniel Martins reveals his new research into the so called 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin which helps to uncover the biological mechanism into how well our brains learn the impact of a task when we’re doing it to benefit someone else.

    Are crowd stampedes to a false alarm a genuine overreaction? Claudia hears from Dermot Barr whose team have been analysing the dynamics of crowd flights from around the world in the hope of preventing them from happening.

    Claudia’s guest is Professor Catherine Loveday from University of Westminster.

    Made in partnership with the Open University

    Producer: Adrian Washbourne

    • 27 min
    One mother's story of the psychological impact on her children of her ex husband's sexual offences

    One mother's story of the psychological impact on her children of her ex husband's sexual offences

    They call it "the knock" - when the police are at the door and demand to take away laptops and phones to search for evidence of images of child sexual abuse. Our reporter Jo Morris talks to "Emma" (not her real name) about the moment her life was turned upside down when her then husband was accused of looking at indecent images of children. She felt isolated and wasn't given any support to explain to her children about what was happening, once social services had made sure that the children hadn't been directly harmed by their father. She told her younger children that their father's computer had been taken away because it was broken - and was more open with the older children about what he'd done. The family moved house and changed their name once vigilantes became aware of the case and her oldest child had suicidal thoughts and was hospitalised.

    Emma eventually got support from the charity Children Heard and Seen, which offers face-to-face support to children in Oxford and Birmingham and online support to families across the country. Sarah Burrows and James Otley explain how their online groups and mentoring help to support families like Emma's.

    The Ministry of Justice say that there is help for children who are victims of crime, but a victim is defined as someone who is directly affected by a criminal offence, so families of offenders are not deemed to be victims of crime. There are no plans to change this as it could result in victims of crime receiving less support.

    Robin Dunbar examines the psychology of religion in his new book How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures. The Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford believes that the number 150 which he popularised as the "optimum" number for successful social groups also plays a significant role in religious gatherings. He explains how the bonds created by religion offer benefits to individuals and communities.

    Our studio guest Professor Catherine Loveday from the University of Westminster offers ideas on how to avoid doomscrolling, when the news feels overwhelming and whether professional or amateur musicians are more at risk of developing anxiety and depression.

    Producer: Paula McGrath

    Made in partnership with the Open University

    • 27 min
    The Psychology of Regret

    The Psychology of Regret

    Claudia Hammond explores the psychology of regret with an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival. What role do rueful thoughts on "what might have been" play in our lives? Is regret a wasted emotion or does it have some hidden benefits?

    Joining Claudia on stage : Teresa McCormack - Professor of Cognitive Development at the School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast who researches how regret in childhood can shape our decisions; novelist and essayist Sophie White - whose latest novel The Snag List examines the opportunity to go back in life and follow the road not taken; Fuschia Sirois - Professor of social and health psychology at Durham University whose research examines the impact of those "what if" thoughts on our health and wellbeing.

    Producer Adrian Washbourne

    Made in partnership with the Open University

    • 39 min
    Breastfeeding Trauma and the Psychology of Awkwardness

    Breastfeeding Trauma and the Psychology of Awkwardness

    When breastfeeding goes wrong some women feel guilty that they have failed to do what should come naturally. But Professor Amy Brown from Swansea University says those with the most severe physical and emotional impact could be experiencing trauma, similar to the effects of a traumatic birth. We hear from Linzi Blakey who had problems with breastfeeding when she gave birth to her daughter and son and had to give up before she wanted to. A specialist therapist has helped her to realise that she did the best she could - despite a lack of the right kind of support when she was feeling vulnerable.

    Awkwardness can result when we do something embarrassing - and science writer Melissa Dahl set out to write a book on how to overcome those feelings of embarrassment. Cringeworthy: How To Make The Most Out of Uncomfortable Situations is the result of her discussions with scientists. She challenges herself to feats such as performing a stand-up routine, going to see a professional cuddler and reading out her teenage diaries to an audience at the Brooklyn show, Mortified. She now feels awkwardness is part of being human- and encourages us all to show more empathy to each other.

    Claudia's studio guest Catherine Loveday, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Westminster shares her own cringeworthy stories plus news of a spat in the world of psychedelic drugs research and how hallucinations seem to be a lot more common than we thought.

    Producer: Paula McGrath
    Made in Partnership with The Open University

    • 28 min
    Post-pandemic mental health; navigation ability; conversations with strangers

    Post-pandemic mental health; navigation ability; conversations with strangers

    Back in 2020 at height of pandemic lockdown the “ Social Study” a longitudinal study began looking at the psychological and social impact of the pandemic involving over 95,000 UK adults. What started as a 12 week study has now been running for 2 years. So now, as we’re emerging from restrictions of the pandemic, epidemiologist Daisy Fancourt of University College London discusses the post -pandemic’s impact on our mental health.

    Do you find yourself keep getting lost? Many factors influence our ability to navigate but the environment we grow up in is often overlooked. Could living in the city compared to the countryside help or hinder our sense of direction? Claudia hears from Professor Hugo Spiers whose major new study across 40 countries reveals people who grew up in rural or suburban areas have better spatial navigation skills than those raised in cities, particularly cities with grid-pattern streets.

    Good conversation can be one of life’s most enjoyable experiences, but we are surprisingly bad at judging how well conversations could go with a stranger. Mike Kardas of North Western university has attempted to examine the time course of enjoyment after getting 1000 participants to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Surprisingly we don’t run out of things to say. but how deep can a conversation go?

    Claudia Hammond’s studio guest is Professor of health psychology Daryl O’Connor from the University of Leeds

    Producer Adrian Washbourne
    Made in Partnership with The Open University

    • 27 min
    Gardening and mental health

    Gardening and mental health

    Claudia Hammond reports on a trend which has emerged from the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show this year - a growing number of gardens designed with mental health in mind. So what is it about gardens and nature which makes us feel better?

    The Mothers for Mothers "This Too Shall Pass" garden is designed by Polly Wilkinson - a former counsellor who's worked with adolescents and new mothers with anxiety and depression. The charity's CEO Maria Viner wanted to reflect the joys and pain of motherhood - so Polly constructed a pathway with a crack in it - which narrows and is almost "fixed", echoing the impact that peer support can bring. The lifting of low mood is also seen as muted green and blue flowers give way to apricots and pinks.

    Sue Stuart- Smith is a psychiatrist, psychologist and now author of the bestselling book The Well Gardened Mind. She says it's hard to untangle the factors which might be contributing to the impact of nature on us. Dr Stuart-Smith explains how a study in the British Medical Journal found 8,000 studies on the impact of nature - but just 8 were randomised controlled trials. where people are randomly allocated gardening or another activity - so more research is needed.

    The mental health charity Mind has its first ever garden at Chelsea this year which will be relocated in Barrow-in-Furness once the show is over. We hear from Alice - who had an eating disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder from an early age - and Faris, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, and sought asylum in the UK after he was orphaned in the conflict in Sudan. They say that growing vegetables and caring for bonsai plants has helped to relieve their symptoms.

    The Place2Be garden will also be relocated at the end of the flower show - to Viking School in Northolt, west London. For the last 15 years the children there have been able to get support from the charity's school-based counsellor Miss Angela. CEO Catherine Roche says the garden will provide a safe space so the pupils relax during a busy day. The children helped to design the garden's oak benches with gardener Jamie Butterworth. He says having a mum who's a teacher and a dad who's a mental health nurse made the Place2Be the perfect match for him.

    Made in Partnership with The Open University

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
49 Ratings

49 Ratings

nonickmamesavailableforme ,

Excellent podcast

I always look forward to each new episode of All in the Mind. It is intelligent and engaging and covers a wide array of interesting topics in mental health and wellness, from scientific, clinical and personal perspectives.

dettifoss ,

Serious insights, delightfully presented

Each episode deals with pressing issues in modern psychology, new research, and promising therapies. The presenter is a real psychologist with a refreshingly down to earth approach.

jennwangster ,

Interesting, balanced, and informative!

This podcast is interesting and informative. The views expressed are balanced and well-informed. Thanks and keep up the great work!

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