This is a very bold book indeed, setting out, as it does, to chart the evolution of western thinking on happiness over the last 2,000 years. Freud, nearly a century ago, aware of the complexity of even defining something as elusive and subjective as happiness, not to mind writing a history of the term, glumly counselled all would-be historians of... Read More
Posted: 02 September 2006
The mock-Gothic subtitle of this brilliant piece of medical scholarship - "A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine" - hardly prepares you for the almost unbelievable horrors that Andrew Scull documents within:
how Dr Henry Cotton, one of the leading psychiatrists in America in the early 20th century, in his grandiose pursuit of a biological basis of mental disorders, maimed,... Read More
Posted: 14 January 2006
It's New Year's Eve. Many of you - maybe even governments and governments-in-waiting - are making resolutions. For the past decade, governments have concentrated on making us prosperous. For the new year, they might consider trying to make us happier.
We are at a golden moment in Irish life. But there is a fork in the road. One way is to... Read More
Posted: 31 December 2005
In her column of last Saturday Breda O'Brien takes issue with my "certainty" regarding the effect of childcare on children's emotional attachment: that is, that the quantity, quality, stability of arrangement and age of entry into childcare have no effect on the security of mother-child attachment.
She goes on to cite - in apparent opposition to that conclusion - the National... Read More
Posted: 17 September 2005
This is the kind of book that had me regularly thinking, "Oh, yes, I remember that", or, more often, "How could I have forgotten that?". Yet, the half-unconscious memories evoked were so intensely private that I have never said them out loud to anyone.
But Anne Enright has - to great effect. This is a book about the experience of motherhood... Read More
Posted: 14 August 2004
After reading a newspaper profile of someone prominent and successful, do you find that you sometimes react with a preoccupied gaze, a brittle smile?
Or after hearing news of a colleague's achievement, or even of the great success of a friend, do you react with an over-extended pause? Of course you don't . . . But if you do, you are... Read More
Posted: 01 May 2004