Psych Lounge

Capturing the science of the mind

The Lives They Left Behind

LivesTheyLeftBehindI recently finished reading a fascinating book a fellow Soomoan recommended to me, called The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic . In 1995, after the Willard Psychiatric Center in upstate New York closed, more than 400 suitcases belonging to former patients were discovered in the attic. The authors spent a decade researching just 10 of these patients and chronicled what they could of their lives.

The accompanying museum exhibit has a Flash website with a brief bio of the patients and the Facebook page includes historic photos as well as color images from the book's photographer, Lisa Rinzler. The most heartbreaking, to me, of the patients is Herman, a man who developed a love for photography at a colony for epileptics but was transferred to Willard and disallowed access to his cameras for his remaining 35 years.

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The Quintessential Unitasker

MastermindcoverMaria Konnikova is one of my favorite bloggers and has written about psychology topics for Scientific American and Big Think.

In her new book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes—published this month—Konnikova explores the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes. Could a real-life person be as observant as he is? And is such a skill innate or learned?

This article in the NYTimes gives you a taste of the ways in which she uses Sherlock Holmes’ character to illustrate psychological concepts. In this instance, she points to his habit of concentrating on a new case and the parallels between his cognitive abilities and the studies that have been done on mindfulness.

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