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Dr. Nassir Ghaemi

Nassir Ghaemi (@nassirghaemi) is a psychiatrist and researcher specializing in depression and bipolar illness.

He is Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, a Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

He has published over 200 scientific articles, over 50 scientific book chapters, and has written or edited over half a dozen books, including the book which forms the basis of today’s discussion, the New York Times Best-Seller “A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness”.

In today’s episode we discuss the subject of Psychobiography and the methods involved in learning to understand the psychology of historical figures, we explore the link between manic depressive illness and leadership through examples such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, why mentally normal politicians make for good peacetime leaders but poor crisis leaders, and how people with mental illness can learn to channel their illness into something positive.

Related Links

NassirGhaemi.com – Nassir’s web site

Mood Swings – Nassir’s blog at Psychology Today

Book Recommendations

Image courtesy: Nasir Ghaemi / Penguin Press / Nicole Laroche

Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter (@chimairamark) is a musician and photographer who spent almost two decades as the vocalist and one of the main songwriters for the heavy metal band Chimaira, a group which has sold more than a million albums worldwide and has debuted on the Billboard 200 Chart six times.

Marks latest project, in collaboration with award winning director Nick Cavalier, is a documentary film entitled “Down Again” in which Mark shares his personal story about utilizing art to combat personal struggles, which in his case includes depression and bipolar disorder.

In today’s episode we discuss Mark’s journey from a heavy metal fan to a heavy metal icon, his experience with a specific form of bipolar know as “hypomania”, the relationship between art and mental illness, the power of music to both represent and relieve emotional distress, the evolution of Mark’s artistic expression from music to photography, and whether of not creativity inspired by personal darkness is worth the price of admission.

Related Links

Mark Hunter Photo – Mark’s photography website

Down Again – A film exploring the connection between mental illness and creativity told through the lens of photographer and Chimaira frontman Mark Hunter.

@markhunterphoto – Mark’s Instagram page

Music Recommendations

               

Image courtesy: Nick Cavalier

Julia Samuel MBE

Julia Samuel is a psychotherapist and paediatric counsellor specialising in grief.

In 1994 she helped launch and establish Child Bereavement UK, a charity aimed at educating professionals in supporting children facing bereavement and families who have lost a child, and continues to play an active role as the charities Founder Patron.

Julia is a Vice President of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, an Honorary Doctor of Middlesex University, and in 2015 was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to bereaved children.

Her first book is The Sunday Times bestseller “Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving“, which was published in 2017.

In today’s episode we discuss Julia’s work as a grief counsellor and how encountering death so frequently affects her own mental health, why death is such a taboo subject and the price we pay for this, whether it’s justified to classify prolonged grief as a mental illness, and we also explore some of the most and least helpful ways to deal with the death of a loved one.

Related Links

Grief Works – Julia’s website

Child Bereavement UK – Supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.

Julia Samuel on Facebook

Book Recommendations

Image courtesy: Marcela

Prof. Linda Gask

Linda Gask (@suzypuss) is an Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and a retired psychiatrist with over thirty years of experience working in the NHS.

She is the director and co-founder of two social enterprises including STORM, which provides training in suicide prevention, and Six Degrees, providing primary care mental health services to people in Salford, in Greater Manchester.

Linda has worked as an adviser to the World Health Organization, served on the board of the World Psychiatric Association, and in 2010 she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of General Practitioners in recognition of her teaching in primary care mental health.

She is the author of more than 180 published articles, a number of books including “A Short Introduction to Psychiatry” , and the book which forms the inspiration for today’s conversation “The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression“.

In today’s episode we explore Linda’s experience of walking the tightrope between both sides of the therapeutic process; as a trained psychiatrist helping clients through their darkest days whilst simultaneously engaged in a lifelong battle with her own recurrent bouts of severe depression.

This episode has 11 minutes of bonus content! Subscribe for as little as $2 /month to gain access to this and other exclusive content.

Related Links

Patching the Soul – Linda’s blog about mental health and fighting stigma

Book Recommendations

                    

Image courtesy: Peter Burka

Dr. Brian King

Dr. Brian King (@drbrianking) is a psychologist, stand-up comedian and public speaker who travels the world as a performer and an instructor, giving seminars to thousand of people each year on the health benefits of humor.

He was the founder and producer of the highly reviewed Wharf Room Comedy show in San Francisco and produces the annual Bay Area comedy competition “Walk the Plank”.

Brian is the author of a number of books including “Frozen Coffee Melting“, “A Field Guide to the North American Bloody Mary“, and the book which forms the basis of today’s discussion, “The Laughing Cure: Emotional and Physical Healing – A Comedian Reveals Why Laughter Really is the Best Medicine“.

In today’s episode we explore the evolutionary origins of humor, whether being funny is a natural ability or a skill that anyone can learn, the anatomy of joke-telling, the mental and physical benefits of laughter, and why humor can be the perfect antidote to some of life’s darkest moments.

 

This episode has 22 minutes of bonus content! Subscribe for as little as $2 /month to gain access to this and other exclusive content.

 

Related Links

Brian’s Website

Brian’s Facebook Page

Brian’s YouTube Channel

Science declares this is the funniest joke in the world – CNet

Book Recommendations

               

Image courtesy: Petful via Flickr

Roland Griffiths, Ph.D.

Roland Griffiths, Ph.D. is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Roland is author of over 360 journal articles and book chapters. He has been a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, and to numerous pharmaceutical companies in the development of new psychotropic drugs. He is also currently a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Dependence for the World Health Organization.

In 1999 he initiated a pioneering research program at Johns Hopkins investigating the psychological and therapeutic effects of the hallucinogen psilocybin, a naturally occurring psychedelic compound produced in psilocybin mushrooms, known colloquially as magic mushrooms.

His studies have included investigations into psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experiences in healthy volunteers, psilocybin-facilitated treatment of cigarette smoking cessation, and treatment of psychological distress in cancer patients with life threatening prognoses.

In today’s episode we explore the origin and history of psilocybin research, what it looks like to experiment with psychedelics in a clinical setting, the nature of the hallucinations experienced by participants, and the potential for psilocybin to produce long term, clinically significant reductions in depression and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, with just one single dose.

 

Related Links

Roland Griffiths Laboratory at John Hopkins

The science of psilocybin and its use to relieve suffering – Roland’s TEDMED Talk

Book Recommendations

               

Images courtesy: Bernard Spragg. NZ 

 

Dr. Christopher Hamilton

Dr. Christopher Hamilton is Reader in Philosophy at King’s College, London, where he teaches philosophy, literature and film.

His research interests include the relationship between philosophy and literature, and between moral, religious and aesthetic value, the nature of good and evil, the philosophy of tragedy, and the work of both Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard.

He is the author of a number of books including “How to Deal with Adversity“, “A Philosophy of Tragedy“, and the book which forms the basis of today’s discussion “Middle Age” from the Art of Living Series.

In today’s episode we discuss the philosophy of middle age, and the midlife crisis.

What does it mean to be middle aged, when does middle age start and why does it matter? We discuss the relationship between the midlife crisis and such things as loss of identity, the search for meaning, and the fear of death.

We ask why the crisis of middle age tends to be a uniquely male phenomenon, whether or not our cultural worship of youthfulness is justified, reasons why the midlife crisis can sometimes find expression in immature and reckless behaviour, but also, why purchasing a leather jacket and a convertible sports car might not necessarily be such a bad thing.
 

Related Links

Christopher’s Profile at King’s College London

Christopher’s Speakers Profile at the Institute of Art and Ideas (includes a bunch of different video talks and debates)

Christopher’s FREE online course on Life, Meaning and Morality

Book Recommendations

                          

Image courtesy: Ubi Desperare Nescio

Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson (@Psychobiotic) is a veteran science journalist with specialization in medical research and computer programming. He is the author of a number of books covering topics as diverse as Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Video Production skills, and he was also one of the creators behind the computer game Lego Island, which was one of the biggest selling computer games of the 90’s.

Scott runs a laboratory called Freedom Health that studies bacterial health in racehorses and has developed prebiotics for animals and humans, and his newest book “The Psychobiotic Revolution“, along with John Cryan and Ted Dinan from the APC Microbiome Institute, explores how and why your brain health and state of mind are intimately connected to your gut microbiome.

In today’s episode we discuss the history of the gut-brain research, how the gut and the brain communicate with one another, why the bacteria living in your digestive system may contribute to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, how western dietary habits lead to the destruction of a healthy gut ecology, and we also discuss some of the pre and probiotic foods that you can start consuming to bring your brain and body back into balance.

 

Related Links

Feed Your Microbes, Nurture Your Mind – John Cryan, TEDx Talk

Food for thought: How gut microbes change your mind – John Cryan TEDMED Talk

Book Recommendations

Images (modified) courtesy: Hey Paul Studios (Brain, Gut

Well, it had to happen sooner or later, I suppose.

In today’s episode I share my own story of my decent into madness. Beginning with my early childhood flirtations with hypochondria, I take you all the way through my battles with depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, and depersonalization, right the way through to hitting rock bottom in early 2015 when I experienced a brief period of suicidal ideation.

If that doesn’t sound morbid enough, on the way we’ll encounter adoption, drugs, prostitution, strip clubs, brothels, lies, infidelity, gangland violence, ambition, failure, bankruptcy, nudists, modern art, tongue piercings, and my illustrious career as a dog shit picker-upper.

Enjoy!

I’ve included some photos and links below to add a few visuals to the narrative, or just in case anyone thinks I might be telling porkies pies.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Related Links

Hit me up on Twitter: @dannydwhittaker

Calls for investigation after brothel charges – Manchester Evening News

Clubland shooting victim named – BBC

Teen’s key-fob death is still a mystery  – Manchester Evening News

Skinbook: Facebook for 21st Century Nudists – TIME

Book Recommendations

 

Elaine Hanzak

Elaine Hanzak (@elainehanzak) is an author and speaker who uses her experience with postnatal depression and bereavement to deliver keynote presentations on overcoming loss and perinatal mental health.

She is the author of two books, “Eyes Without Sparkle: A Journey Through Postnatal Illness“, which today’s discussion is based on, and the follow-up “Another Twinkle in the Eye: Contemplating Another Pregnancy After Perinatal Mental Illness“.

In 2016 Elaine was nominated for the “Cheshire Woman of the Year” Award for her contribution to community services, and in 2017 she was a finalist at the British Journal of Midwifery Awards in the category of contribution of a non-midwife to mid-wifery practices.

In today’s episode Elaine shares her experience of postnatal depression. How despite dreaming of motherhood her entire life, a traumatic labour, months of sleep deprivation, and the pressures of aspiring to be the perfect mum, eventually caused her to spiral into a period of depression, self-harm, psychosis, and eventually being admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Having since made a full recovery, Elaine tells us what the experience has taught her about motherhood and life, and she also offers some simple self-care practices to help future mums avoid a similar fate.

 

Related Links

Hanzak.com – Elaine’s website

Elaine Hanzak Facebook Page

Maternal Mental Health Alliance – a UK coalition improving the mental health of women and their children during the perinatal period

Book Recommendations

     

Image courtesy: Jake Guild