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Novel compound keeps Parkinson's symptoms at bay in mice Scientists report that they have developed a novel compound that appears to protect mice against developing movement problems associated with Parkinson's disease (PD). The research could one day in the future translate into a therapy that could halt the progression of PD.
Depressed girls suffer most: Adolescents with psychiatric problems also likely to suffer chronic pain Seven out of 10 adolescents with mental health problems also suffer from chronic physical pain. Depressed girls suffer the most.
Texas ban on same-sex marriage challenged in federal court A federal judge will hear a challenge to Texas' ban on same-sex marriage.
Women face high sexual assault rates globally An estimated 1 in 14 women worldwide is sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, a new study has found.
Are money-making moms less happy? New survey finds moms who didn't choose to be breadwinners less satisfied.
From netball team to psychopath: the strange descent of Joanna Dennehy She grew up with no apparent problems but within a few years she was a sadomasochist, drifter and addict. What happened?Joanna Dennehy could be charming, a good friend, and attractive to both men and women. But if she did not get her way, she was prone to explosive, frightening outbursts of temper and violence. She would punch and lash out at those closest to her and friends and lovers got used to getting out of the way quickly.Over a fortnight in early spring last year, Dennehy went much, much further, killing three men, possibly only because she had been annoyed by their unwanted attention or grown bored by them after casual sexual liaisons. Having tasted and apparently been thrilled by violence, she went in search of more and only narrowly failing to murder two other men before she was caught.Doctors who have examined Dennehy before and after her killing spree have diagnosed a range of conditions. A year before she struck she was found to have a psychopathic anti-social personality disorder that manifested itself in anger, aggression, impulsivity and irresponsibility. She did not care about the safety of others, felt no remorse when causing harm, and was a skilled deceiver and manipulator. Like many who have a severe anti-social personality disorder, Dennehy has frequently been in trouble with the law and has a long history of serious drug and alcohol abuse. Her sexual preferences disturbed some of her many partners – men and women – but added to her allure for others. After her arrest she was diagnosed as having paraphilia sadomasochism: deriving sexual pleasure from both giving and receiving pain and humiliation. She did not hide her tendencies, often wearing a pair of handcuffs attached to her trousers. She was a consumer of violent pornography and an habitual self-harmer, cutting her body, sometimes even during intercourse.All that said, her murderous spree in the spring of last year was a huge shock to her friends, her very respectable home counties family and to police. Though she had significant mental health problems and a criminal record, there was nothing to suggest she should suddenly murder three times and try to kill twice more.Born in August 1982 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, Dennehy grew up in nearby Harpenden. Her father, Kevin, worked as a security guard, while her mother, Kathleen, was a shop manager. She has a younger sister called Maria, who had a successful career in the army and went on to run her own IT company. Denneny has claimed that she was abused as a child but there is no evidence of this, and her family and friends insist she was always treated well.Her childhood sounds comfortable and ordinary. As a little girl she shared a bunk bed with Maria, who was two years her junior, and they were so close that they invented their own secret language. Dennehy was fond of her dolls and as she grew up loved make-up, doing her hair and fashionable clothes. Friends say their parents were strict with the girls and protective but never overbearing.At first Dennehy did well at Roundwood Park School in Harpenden. Bright and capable, her parents hoped she would go on to university and become a lawyer and even paid for extra tuition for her. She played for school hockey and netball teams.It all began to go badly wrong in her mid-teens. She started skipping lessons and associating with a crowd of older boys. When she was about 15 she fell for a man called John Treanor, who was five years her senior, and ran away with him. Her family were frantic. The pair were eventually found living rough on wasteland close to the family home and there was a reconciliation.But by this time Dennehy had begun taking drugs and drinking, even turning up to school high or drunk. Aged 16 she left home for good, only returning occasionally when she needed money.Dennehy and Treanor set up home first a few miles up the road in Luton, then in Milton Keynes. While she was still in her teens, she had two children. She became permanently estranged from her parents following the birth of her first child when she told her parents that they would have pay to see their grandchild.The relationship with Treanor was stormy. She cheated on him with men and women. She was a poor mother, telling friends she had never wanted children. Dennehy would leave home for days or weeks on end, then return and ask for forgiveness.They tried a fresh start, moving to East Anglia, but her drinking got worse. She worked as a labourer on farms and would sometimes be paid in alcohol rather than cash. She harmed herself, cutting her arms, body and neck with razor blades and etched a tattoo of a star under her right eye herself.While Joanna's decline accelerated, her sister Maria was serving with British troops in Afghanistan. After her tour of Helmand, she traced her sister and Treanor to an address in Cambridgeshire. But Dennehy made it clear she wanted nothing to do with her family.Her violent tantrums became worse. She would kick and punch Treanor when she was drunk. She began to carry a dagger in one of her boots and told friends she often felt like killing someone. Afraid that she would use the dagger on him, Treanor left in 2009, taking the children with him.Dennehy's behaviour went from bad to worse. She drifted from address to address in East Anglia, stealing and sometimes turning to prostitution to fund her drug and drink habit. She served time in prison and received some treatment for her mental health problems.In February 2012 – just over a year before the murders – Dennehy spent a few days in Peterborough city hospital, where she was diagnosed as having an anti-social personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. After her arrest she was examined by a consultant forensic psychiatrist, Frank Farnham, while she was being held at Bronzefield prison in Surrey. He said she had paraphilia sadomasochism. Those with the condition experience sexual excitement from acts involving the infliction of pain, humiliation or bondage. Dennehy liked to give – and receive – pain.It is also clear that she revelled in her notoriety, jumping for joy when police appealed for help finding her and describing herself as a "monster" while on the run. She boasted that she had killed eight men in all – including her father, two people in a house fire and two in a hit-and-run. Her father is very much alive and no evidence has been produced so far that she has murdered more than three men.Strictly speaking, she is not a serial killer – criminologists say there has to be a "cooling off" period between murders and would classify her as a "multiple murderer or "spree killer". She will join the likes of Rosemary West and Myra Hindley as one of Britain's most infamous female murderers but detectives and academics see her as a one-off."This case is unique and unprecedented," said David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University. "Serial killers disengage from the process of killing and revert to their normal life. There was never any sense of her disengaging. She seems to have constantly been in the moment of killing." Wilson, who has studied the case closely, said this could have been due to a number of factors, including her use of drugs and alcohol, and the relationship she had with Gary Stretch, who helped her dispose of her victims' bodies and went on the run with her.Wilson suggests this created a syndrome called folie í  deux, or shared psychosis. "It creates a world in which even the most extraordinary ideas and behaviours are seen as being permissible. So often it is the woman who follows the world view of the more dominant male partner. In this case Dennehy was the dominant partner and Stretch accommodated her world view."CrimePsychologyPeterboroughSteven Morristheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Elevated brain aluminium, early onset Alzheimer's disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium Research has shown for the first time that an individual who was exposed to aluminium at work and died of Alzheimer's disease had high levels of aluminium in the brain. While aluminium is a known neurotoxin and occupational exposure to aluminium has been implicated in neurological disease, including Alzheimer's disease, this finding is believed to be the first record of a direct link between Alzheimer's disease and elevated brain aluminium following occupational exposure to the metal. 
Sometimes – unfortunately – being an asshole is the way to get ahead Oliver Burkeman: From Tom Perkins to Tim Armstrong, high-profile obnoxiousness is everywhere. And with good reason, sadly: there's evidence that acting dislikeably can boost your statusOliver Burkeman
I spent 20 years of my life trying to 'prove myself'. What a mistake | Elad Nehorai Life is the opposite of fixed. Life is a verb. An action. A motion. It took me way too long – and therapist visits – to figure that outI was sitting in my therapist's office. I had screwed up again. I don't even remember what it was, but I remember how I felt.It was a year since I had been released from a mental hospital, and months after returning to some of my past addictions. I was confused, lost, and feeling absolutely pathetic.I remember how those words were starting to come out with him, just word after word of how bad I felt, how lost ... and he just sat quietly listening.But I could feel there was something more, something deeper, and it kept coming close to my lips and then disappearing. I needed so badly to get it out.So I stopped myself. I looked at him. I took a deep breath."I'm afraid ... I'm afraid that I'm a bad person."I knew the words were real because I felt this immediate recognition of truth inside of me. Yes, this was my fear, what I was so afraid of. He asked me why. I explained how time after time, I screwed up, I hurt people with my screwups, and that I never seemed to really recover from my failures. The only answer that I could come up with was that I was inherently flawed. That there was something wrong with me, something broken.When I look back on that day, what I realize is that this was the first step in a larger realization of the way I looked at the world, and how I looked at myself. When I review my life, I am amazed at how I spent so much of it worrying about the possibility that there was something "wrong" with me.Despite going to "gifted" classes, I never seemed to be interested in school. I had anger problems, I would let out my frustrations on my parents with yelling, with huge fights. I was addicted to practically everything that was "bad" for me, from video games to gambling to pot. As the years progressed, I just got more sucked in.In my mind, there was a case being built against me. Even though I wasn't religous, I subconsciously imagined some divine detective gathering evidence every time I screwed up. Soon, I was convinced, the evidence would be so stacked against me that I would simply have to accept it: I was bad.Of course, those thoughts never consciously entered my mind until that day in the therapist's office. But there were indications. I always seemed to be much more worried about what people thought of me than how I actually acted. I would sometimes obsess over a tiny mistake, verbally abusing myself for it, calling myself names and generally hating myself. Often, I would judge friends and people close to me just as harshly. If they hurt me, something I judged as "wrong", it would be almost impossible for me to let it go. I would drop them, convincing myself I had left the "bad" people.And so my life went. Judging myself and others by what I felt was inherently within us: a goodness or a badness. A completeness or a brokenness. That day in the therapist's office, after I told him about my ultimate fear: that I too was a bad person, he started questioning me. He asked me, "Define you."I tried and I tried. I came up with about a million definitions, but he refuted them all. There was no way to define me. No way to pin down what I was. I was just ... a soul."You keep trying to pin down this 'you'," he told me, "But that's no way to live. You are indefinable. And your life is spent just trying to be the best of that indefinable self." He's a deep guy.It took me some time to wrap my head around what he said. Maybe it was only recently that I truly grasped it. But he laid a seed in my mind. The seed grew into a full-on realization. The realization that when we live our lives like they are already defined, like someone set our soul in stone and all we have time left to do is prove to the world that this soul is worthy ... then we are missing out on the most important fact of life.The fact that the world, including us, is in constant motion. From the particles that make up physical reality, to the planets themselves, to our own physical selves. Physical reality is constantly evolving, constantly growing, constantly changing. There is no way to completely pin it down, to grab a hold of it and make it all stop and say, "This is the state it will always be in!" And the same is true with us.I spent 20 years of my life trying to prove to myself that I was worthy. I saw every failure as a sign that I was worthless. Part of the evidence against my soul. I saw every success as something I had to grab onto, hold onto for dear life for whenever the court case was brought against me.Relationships were the same way. Instead of spending my time loving friends and family, giving to them, I was always building a case for and against them, weighing whether they deserved my attention.This is no way to live, this "judgment". And it's not just about morality. It's about reality. Judgment implies a fixed-state of things. It implies no change. It implies lack of growth. But life is the opposite of fixed. Life is a verb. An action. A motion.And so are we. Until our bodies are dead, frozen and decomposing in the ground, we are creations in motion. When we accept this reality, we can accept ourselves. We can focus on our actions.As this realization has oozed its way into my mind, I've learned to embrace failure as a part of my ever-evolving attempts to grow into a better person. I've learned to realize that love is a verb, that my wife and I grow together, and aren't defined by any one negative interaction. I've learned to stop trying to impress people.I've learned that I am a verb. And the more I embrace that, the more I focus on the verbs of life and the less I focus on defining it.DepressionAgeingPhilosophyPsychologyElad Nehoraitheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
What would Superman do about the latest news on video games? | Ally Fogg Whether you game as Voldemort or Superman can affect your behaviour, apparently, but applying such research to real life is fraught with problemsVideo gaming has never been my primary vice. I did wrestle for a year or two with an addiction to Mario Kart, but it left me with few consequences other than over-developed thumbs and a filthy habit of throwing my banana skins out of the sunroof when driving.The impact of gaming on personality is in the news again this week. Researchers at the University of Illinois have found that just five minutes spent playing a game as either a hero (Superman, to be precise) or a villain (Lord Voldemort) had a significant impact on behaviour when in a subsequent test a person had to administer helpings of either chocolate sauce or chilli sauce to a stooge. Five minutes spent as Superman meant extra chocolatey loveliness; Voldemort heralded a mouthful of spicy torture for the unfortunate muggle.The way in which this was reported in press headlines would make for an interesting social sciences thesis of its own. The buoyant Business Standard chirruped that "Playing Superman may turn you into a real life superhero" while, perhaps inevitably, the Daily Mail portended: "Playing the villain in video games makes you CRUEL".What this experiment teaches us, above all, is that we should be very careful in how and what we learn from experiments. First there is the cultural specificity. Most of what we claim to know about humanity we learned by prodding 19-year-old, white, North American middle-class psychology undergraduates, who may not be entirely typical, and this is no exception. More significantly, the experimental conditions which force subjects to play either hero or villain simply do not exist in our everyday lives.It might suit experimental psychologists and tabloid journalists to imagine that video-game characters can be easily categorised as good or evil, but that is not how they are experienced by those playing. The modern, open-world video game places the player at the heart of his or her own ethical vortex. Just as in life, we are all the heroes of our own adventures, and whether a course of action is good or evil is often entirely dependent on circumstance. I can think of no better illustration of this than my own son, who boasted to me recently of how he had adopted a dog in one of his sword'n'sorcery games. A group of shady characters had kicked this beloved pet, and my lad couldn't stop playing until he had hunted them down and mercilessly slaughtered every one of them with extreme prejudice. I was so proud. He says he'd like to work for the RSPCA when he's older, but may settle as a hitman for the Sicilian mafia. Such are the fine lines of applied moral philosophy.Applying the findings of experimental psychology to the real world is similarly fraught. There is a cavernous gap between the purpose of experimental research and its reporting in the media. Experiments are an essential tool in constructing models to understand how our minds work. Very rarely do they describe how human beings, in all our messy, unpredictable glory, behave in the real world. Studies designed to illuminate one small theoretical detail of social psychology are too often amplified into grand theories of human behaviour. All the while, other factors which may be vastly more influential, but harder to squeeze into an easily budgeted, modestly experimental design are forgotten. There is near-endless scope for short, fun, media-friendly experiments into the short-term impacts of video games, violent movies or pornography. Demonstrating the long-term impacts on behaviour of low-quality housing, structural economic inequality or emotional and physical neglect and abuse is a different matter entirely.Our viewing and playing habits are a legitimate and endlessly intriguing topic of investigation, but too often they serve a similar role to the evil spirits of medieval times – an explanation for behaviour that owes more to convenience than accuracy.In one particular respect, the latest study is refreshing. It allows for the possibility that mass media and entertainment platforms can affect us for the better, rather than being a purely negative effect. It would be pleasing to imagine that the much-vaunted decline in interpersonal violence of recent years can be accounted for by generations who have grown up inspired by the examples of Mario the plumber or Lara Croft. The more probable if prosaic truth is that there is less violence because an entire generation is perched on its voluminous arse playing video games. I think that is progress, of sorts.GamesPsychologyUnited StatesAlly Foggtheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Positive Thinking Leads to Economic Decline Expressions of positive thinking about the future"”in inaugural addresses from 1933 to 2009 and newspaper articles from 2007 to 2009"”reliably predicted economic decline.read more
In praise of grey matter | Editorial Research emerges to prove that, as Bertie Wooster always suspected, grey matter matters"How is the grey matter, Jeeves," pleads Bertie Wooster, appealing for aid to get a friend out of a fix – "surging about pretty freely?" Always keenly aware that his manservant was more cerebrally endowed than himself, Bertie also fretted that his quotient of the grey stuff would not be sufficient to dabble in publishing (until he figured out that a cheque book could be used to hire Substantia grisea from elsewhere). Now research emerges to prove that Wooster couldn't, after all, have been thick as a plank, because – as he always suspected – grey matter matters. People with one gene, found scientists at King's College London, had a thinner cortex in the left hemisphere (and thus less of the so-called grey tissue, which, in the living, retains a pink hue) and also fared worse in trying to solve tricky problems. All this accounts for 0.5% of observed variation in intelligence, leaving 99.5% still to be sorted out. But then Jeeves is still going to need something to do.NeuroscienceKing's College LondonPG WodehousePsychologyGeneticsEditorialtheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
'Growth charts' for cognitive development may lead to earlier diagnosis, treatment for children with risk for psychosis Researchers have developed a better way to assess and diagnose psychosis in young children. By "growth charting" cognitive development alongside the presentation of psychotic symptoms, they have demonstrated that the most significant lags in cognitive development correlate with the most severe cases of psychosis.
How chronic stress predisposes brain to mental disorders Biologists have shown in rats that chronic stress makes stem cells in the brain produce more myelin-producing cells and fewer neurons, possibly affecting the speed of connections between cells as well as memory and learning. This could explain why stress leads to mental illness, such as PTSD, anxiety and mood disorders, later in life.
The science of comedy: can humour make the world a better place? Academics are considering how comedy can be socially beneficial'You know what's not funny?" said the comedian Chris Rock once. "Thinking about it." As if to prove the point, last weekend's Playing for Laughs symposium at De Montfort University in Leicester brought together academics, practitioners, educationalists and service providers to investigate how comedy can be used as a force for good within communities in Leicester and beyond. Laugh? Not often, but thanks for asking.Thinking about comedy is becoming a big academic industry. Last year, Dr Sharon Lockyer set up the Centre for Comedy Studies Research at Brunel University, London, and even an academic journal, Comedy Studies, published in print for the first time later this year.The speakers at De Montfort University included comedian and adoption campaigner Joy Carter discussing how comedy can be used to tackle issues of transracial adoption; Karian Schuitema of the University of Westminster discussing the role of comedy for children with special needs; and Liselle Terret, of Coventry University, on how comedy could be used to challenge social ideas on women and the mental health system.Tell me a joke, I ask one of the speakers at the conference, Geoff Rowe, founder and producer of Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival. "I don't tell jokes," he replies. "I pay professional comedians to do that for me." Oh dear. Oh well. Here's mine: How many comedy conference delegates does it take to tell a joke? A not inconsiderable number.I never said it'd be funny."Over the last five to eight years there's been a shift in the public perception of academics studying comedy. It's becoming regarded as a worthwhile area," says Lockyer before her symposium talk entitled Exploring Comedy and Disability in Live Performance. Comedian Jo Brand, the Brunel alumna who is the CCSR ambassador says it is "great to see that comedy is being taken seriously".Perhaps it is, but what's most intriguing about Lockyer's work is that it considers how comedy can be socially beneficial. "The media fixates on comedy controversies where comedy has been deemed to be problematic or offensive," says Lockyer. "You can see that in the controversies over the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad, the film Borat and what it did to Kazakhstan, and Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand."Those examples seem to bear out venerable theory of comedy set out by the Chuckle Brothers of philosophy, Plato and Hobbes, namely that we're always laughing at someone else's expense. Or, as Hobbes put it in Human Nature: "The passion of laughter is nothing else but sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves, by comparison with the infirmity of others, or with our own formerly." Thus understood, comedy isn't just Mock the Week, but invariably mocks the weak.But must it? Psychiatric-nurse-turned-comic Rob Gee, one of the speakers, says: "Every joke has a target and therefore every joke has the potential to be cruel or hurtful. It also has the opposite." But what could that opposite be? Gee has organised award-winning workshops in sports centres and acute psychiatric units aimed at adults with severe and enduring mental health problems, and is often invited to schools to teach kids improvisation and sketch performances. He says: "The idea that comedy could be therapeutic or give people skills seems absurdly worthy, but that's exactly what I've been trying to do."When Gee visits schools to give comedy workshops, he finds the best students of comedy improvisation are nine year olds. Why? "They're already a little worldly wise but they aren't yet concerned about being cool like adolescents are. So they're very creative and unafraid and savvy. Some teachers run scared of allowing comedians to teach their kids, but they shouldn't be so sceptical." Why not? "Think of what a huge problem it is getting boys to read and write. When I teach kids about sketch comedy, they love to write down their sketch ideas. It's one of the few times you can see them enjoying writing. So learning how to do sketches helps improves their literacy, their confidence, their self-esteem."What would Michael Gove say? "It's the antithesis of the traditionalist view of what should be happening in schools, but given that most of the jobs that our kids will be doing in the next 50 years haven't been invented yet, it seems important to train kids to be flexible, have self-esteem, be literate, rather than follow a traditional curriculum – comedy can help with those things."But still, the idea of comedy as socially beneficial remains a stretch. "It's counterintuitive, I agree," says drama lecturer Roger Clegg, who organised the symposium. "But think of it this way. Most standup comedians started in the playground when they were bullied. It starts off as a defence mechanism and ends up as empowerment. That's why it can be a force for good.""What I've really noticed in my research," says Lockyer, "is a rise in the bullied or demonised or oppressed taking ownership of comedy directed at them, subverting it and using it to make people laugh with rather than at them." Her latest academic paper Exploring the Potential of Disabled Comedians in Improving the Lives and Experiences of Disabled People consists of interviews with disabled comedians and their audiences. "In the past eight years there's been a rapid rise in the number of really talented disabled comedians. I think one big impetus was the foundation of a group called Abnormally Funny People set up by Simon Minty in 2005. They did a really successful Edinburgh run. Thanks in part to them, some disabled people have seized that sense of empowerment comedy can give them."That said," Lockyer adds, "I'm not saying comedy can change the world for the better."But maybe it can. Maybe it already has. "Remember those HIV campaigns in the 1980s with TV ads showing tombstones and icebergs?" asks Leicester comedy festival's Geoff Rowe. "When I was a teenager I didn't get my education from those ads or from government leaflets, but from comedians. It was Lenny Henry, French and Saunders, and Rik Mayall doing things with condoms and cucumbers who really educated me."Thirty years on, Rowe runs the Big Difference Company, that similarly tries to use comedy to raise awareness of social, health and environmental issues. "We do projects to improve public health and reduce health inequalities. That can mean projects to do with quitting smoking, alcohol, healthy eating and we often work with the NHS to targeted groups – primary-school children, minority groups and men."But isn't there an inverse relationship between funny and informative? When Rowe hires professional comedians to do comedy routines about cancer, surely it isn't the subject matter but the prospect of being subjected to improving messages that is liable to be a turn off? "You'd think so but some of the best comedy shows I have been to have tackled cancer. They're really life affirming and positive experiences."In collaborating with the NHS, Rowe's professional comedians are often required to perform sets in front of health professionals to make sure the material is medically accurate. "They are the toughest critics and those are probably the worst gigs anyone will ever play. But they're worth it. After public gigs, members of the audience will come up to me or the comedians and say, 'I think I've got lung cancer,' and we can be a signpost, directing them to the medical people who can help."The late Monty Python's Graham Chapman notwithstanding, Leicester hasn't exactly a reputation for comedy excellence, but now it is at the forefront of using comedy to remedy social ills. "Other cities specialise in dance, theatre, music or film. For good or ill, I hope good, Leicester specialises in comedy," says Rowe.Mark Charlton is project manager for Square Mile, De Montfort University's programme to improve local lives with academic expertise. In one sense it's a typical outreach project of the kind that many British colleges and universities run to make themselves relevant to the local community. But one of its 40-odd projects is unusual. "We asked people in Leicester what they would like from us," says Charlton. "And quite a lot said standup comedy workshops. Why? "Some were determined to become standups but others in the group wanted to boost their confidence and self esteem and make themselves feel good about themselves."The 15-week course is now in its second year, with DMU alumnus Alan Seaman from Leicester's Ship of Fools comedy club taking on residents with no performance skills and training them to become stars of their own show – or at least perform a 10-minute routine at a local community centre during the comedy festival."It's not just standups but a really diverse bunch. One's a really aggressive performance poet and another's quite a gentle poet in the Pam Ayres vein," says Charlton. "Another's a sharp-suited well-spoken Jimmy Carr-like comedian – all great in their own way."But how can you gauge whether the course has been successful? "Only from feedback from the participants and that's been overwhelmingly positive. We're thinking of taking the course further and putting on a show in Edinburgh at some point. What really struck me is that two of the people who took part had quite severe mental health problems but the rest of the participants became very protective of them. And there were all these people from different parts of the community – different races, occupations, classes, ages – all coming together." Vice chancellor of De Montfort University, Barbara Matthews, says: "If you think about the sense of community comedy gives, then I think Leicester is benefiting from projects like this one and that will evolve over the years."For Roger Clegg a lot of these comedy initiatives have a topical political significance. "If they're not the encapsulation of David Cameron's Big Society I don't know what is." If Britain is broken as the prime minister suggests, maybe comedy can help repair it.Dave's Leicester comedy festival runs until 23 February. Details: www.comedy-festival.co.ukComedyComedyPsychologyStuart Jeffriestheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Excess weight linked to brain changes that may relate to memory, emotions, and appetite Being overweight appears related to reduced levels of a molecule that reflects brain cell health in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotions, and likely also involved in appetite control, according to a new study.
What makes older people happy? As people age and become more settled, ordinary experiences become central to a sense of self and therefore more valued and satisfying.
Coping with a problem 'child' at the office There are ways to alter one's work environment and goals can be restated in a way that could help employees get through troubled waters.
How Parents Can Protect Kids From the ADHD Epidemic One of the pioneers of the ADHD diagnosis expresses his concern about its overuse and advises parents how to avoid unnecessary stimulant medication.read more
Aging and the pursuit of happiness As human beings, we expend a great deal of time, money, and energy in the pursuit of happiness. From exotic travel to simply spending time with our grandchildren, the things that make us happy change as we age. A new study explores the role of age on the happiness we receive from both the ordinary and the extraordinary experiences in our lives.