Are we any closer to finding a cure for depression?

Some years ago, the Harvard psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg commented that, in the course of his lifetime, his discipline had swung from the brainless psychiatry propounded by psychoanalysts to the mindless psychiatry of those enamoured of biological reductionism and neuroscience.  Camilla Nord, who runs a neuroscience laboratory at Cambridge, is firmly a member of the latter camp. Though in a few places in The Balanced Brain she is driven to concede that social factors seem to play a role in mental health or mental distress, she immediately insists that ‘the process by which social factors are able to cause mental illness is entirely biological’. With the zeal of a true believer,

How to train like Taki

Gstaad Here’s a tip for you young whippersnappers: don’t get old, but if you do, you can fool Father Time by training the smart way. By this I don’t mean you should follow all that bull that floats around online. I don’t use social media, but I’m told that a system exists, which reaches millions across multiple platforms, that spreads misinformation about health, and then some. The wellness industry means big moolah, and is as phoney as Hollywood morality. Take it from Taki: all you need in order to feel good and be able to enjoy yourself is a little exercise before breakfast, and some semi-hard training in the afternoon.

Yoga has become a hot cultish mess

Ommm… are you in the lotus position? Then I’ll begin. The studio was literally Hades, four industrial heaters blasting in each corner. We were crouching on our knees, sweat dripping, foreheads to the floor. It was a weekday morning. Then our instructor said the six words I can never unhear. ‘Flower your anus to the sky,’ he ordered all the middle-aged WFH men in shorts and yummy mummies in crop tops in this crunchy-granola bit of north-west London. He jutted his rock-hard buns heavenwards as an exemplar of the uttana shishosana pose or, as I prefer to call it, ‘kneeling’. When did the lines blur and yoga become a hot

Have my suits shrunk in lockdown?

I hadn’t noticed how much weight I’d put on during lockdown until I went out for a business lunch a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I’d put on a suit and tie in 16 months. As I struggled to pull on the trousers, I thought: ‘Something’s wrong here. Did Caroline hang one of the children’s suits in my cupboard by mistake?’ But no. It was mine. To fasten the trousers I had to suck in my stomach like Mr Incredible trying to squeeze into his superhero costume. And my ‘slim fit’ white shirt wasn’t merely snug; it was more like a straitjacket. I looked like a

Why are councils blocking parkrun?

There are few public health interventions as successful as parkrun. It wasn’t set up as a public health intervention, which may be one of the reasons it has worked so beautifully. The first one was just a group of friends doing a 5k time trial in London’s Bushy Park. But in the years since that first event in 2004, parkrun has spread across the world. It went from being a largely middle-class event for people who already considered themselves runners to being a part of many communities, deliberately expanding into deprived areas and trying to get a slower average time for participants completing the course, because that meant it wasn’t

Who came up with ‘lockdown’?

The start of lockdown The earliest known use of ‘lockdown’ in its current sense was in a 1973 story in the Fresno Bee, a Californian newspaper, referring to prisoners being kept in their cells after a knife attack. Despite apparently giving the world the concept, not all Fresno locals seemed happy to be placed in lockdown in April. A protest in May resulted in a fight between protestors and the president of the city council. Bed cover How full of Covid patients are hospitals? Hospitals with more than 200 Covid patients (data for 27 October): —Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 450 out of 1,595 beds — Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

Fat-shaming didn’t do me any harm

One of the genuine pleasures I always take in arriving back in the north-east after being in London is that I am suddenly transformed from being an aged fat pig with bad teeth into a youthful, lissome creature with teeth no different to anybody else. It is not the clean air or the glorious countryside which has this effect; it’s just that everything is comparative. Giles Coren once observed that for every 50 miles you travel away from our capital, you go back in time about ten years. If this is true — and I suspect it is — then up here on Teesside we’re in the middle of that

We don’t have lockdown in Surrey

The man was unloading cycles from the boot of his car just as I was about to take the turning for my house. It was the last straw. In the space of a mile and a half drive from field to home, I had passed 79 cyclists. I photographed each swarm as it approached me, pulling over to use the camera on my phone, before anyone accuses me of dangerous driving. At the entrance to the cricket club, a group of three men and a woman in Lycra were standing shoulder to shoulder, bikes propped idle, having a good old chinwag. I pulled up next to them and snapped them