Why would anyone fake their own death? Some seek a departure from royalty, a career as a pirate, or a quiet life after taking down the Third Reich. Usually, they're chasing an escape from bankruptcy or bad marriages. But for some, it may seem that staging their own death is the only way to feel like they're alive.
Tagged With 7852
If you’ve ever woken up on the brink of a heart attack, drenched in sweat and convinced you’ll never live down the shame of sprinting nude through downtown Pittsburgh, you know that some dreams are more memorable than others. Most dreams, in fact, seem totally unmemorable—at least in the sense that we can’t remember them. And yet every now and then a dream will linger into breakfast and well into the day, or month, or year—will become a memory like any other.
It's no surprise that mental illness is depicted somewhat more dramatically in movies compared to real life. But that doesn't mean actors (and directors and writers) can't strive to be both accurate and compassionate in their portrayals. Fortunately, most do, according to this breakdown of cinematic classics by psychologist Ali Mattu.
Let’s say your long-term relationship totally implodes. Browsing for a new apartment, or a therapist, you hear your dog bark in the other room — and realise, with a start, that it isn’t actually your dog. Once you’re all moved out, the dog will be out of your life, too.
Stewing in self-pity, you think — and subsequently become convinced — that this dog, who you’ve fed and bathed who knows how many times, and coined several adorable nicknames for, will forget you ever existed by the start of next autumn.
It’s easy to feel smug around kids. You might not have it all together — you might, in fact, be rapidly disintegrating professionally and psychologically — but at least you can spill some apple juice without wailing inconsolably for six hours. Comparatively terrible things happen to you all the time, and you don’t freak out about it, or if you do, you do so quietly, not right there in the gym/office/Macca's parking lot.
But are you really feeling any less, or have you just become more adept at deceiving others, and/or yourself?
Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves. Cats — or at least some cats, some of the time — can spend years at your side without making it totally clear that they know, or care, who you are. An expression vaguely resembling contentment flits across their face and you think, triumphantly, "See! My cat doesn’t despise me."
Not everyone who is close to death — or thinks they are, at least — has a “near-death experience”. But those who do often hallucinate that they leave their bodies, meet otherworldly beings, or see bright flashes and tunnels of light. Those who take the psychedelic drug dimethyltryptamine, or DMT — a compound found in the hallucinogenic Amazonian brew known as ayahuasca — experience many of the same things.
Every life-stage has its share of novelty — first kiss, first tax return, first twinge of certain death — but when it comes to new experiences most of us peak in infancy. Just laying there, gargling and soiling our nappies, we as infants cycle through thousands of firsts.
It would be nice to remember some of them, as our lives slow down — as we settle into the same office chair for the 200th time, and sip from the same novelty coffee mug. But infancy scans as a blank for most of us.
Animal rights activists have done stellar work in foregrounding the question of creature-consciousness: no meat-eater is now ignorant of the fact that their food once lived, breathed, maybe nuzzled its kin in a blood-soaked slaughterhouse. Environmentalists have a harder go of it. Fracking footage will always be less upsetting than your average fast food expose: Plants, after all, can't wail frantically as they're mowed down by the millions. But does that mean they're not conscious? Is it sensible, or desirable, to start anthropomorphizing crabgrass and dandelions, or are plants really as insensitive as we all instinctively assume?
Cats are enigmatic little creatures. It's hard to get a read on them. Does your cat love you, or would it gladly stab you in your sleep, if only it had thumbs and a slightly larger brain? The cat never tells - it thrives on inscrutability. But it can't help betraying certain signs of its inner life: It's hard to play things totally cool when you have a large, ungainly tail sticking out of your back, swishing this way and that for no immediately clear reason.
The term "Asperger's syndrome" will never be heard the same way again, owing to new research showing that Hans Asperger - the Austrian pediatrician for whom the disorder was named - was an active participant in the Nazi eugenics program, recommending that patients deemed "not fit for life" be sent to a notorious children's "euthanasia" clinic.
Anyone who's taken the psychedelic drug LSD (formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide), or spoken to someone who's taken it, knows it can be a utterly bonkers experience. A small new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience seems to offer some insight into what's happening in the brain while we're on a LSD trip. And it might even provide a hint as to how certain mental disorders develop.
Scientists have long been interested in understanding the underpinnings of empathy. Being able to share the feelings of another person plays a critical role in our inner lives, how we behave towards others, and the way human societies function as a whole. Harnessing the power of empathy, some suggest, could go a long way toward solving problems such as racism and sexism, and help us better understand non-neurotypical people. At the same time, another corner of the research world worries that constant immersion in technology is making it harder for today's kids to empathise.