How uniformity kills unity

We tend to mistake uniformity for unity. Uniformity is about looking the same, while unity is about actually being one.This means that unity is internal: it begins with agreeing on some fundamentals as being most important and then working together to build in alignment with those fundamentals. Uniformity, on the other hand, is external: looking …

Pain is life’s “cost of doing business”

Life is much harder if we’re convinced it shouldn't be. Pain comes to us all, but it lands much harder when we think of it as something we shouldn’t ever experience, and not simply as life’s “cost of doing business”. The reason for this lies in how pain works. Pain has two sides to it: …

Don’t turn from the dark side—of you

We often downplay our capacity for evil. We do it every time we explain people doing terrible things by insisting they must be ignorant, mentally ill or subhuman. And it's understandable: the darker parts of ourselves are—well, dark. Easier to turn away than face that head-on. But to turn from our dark side is to …

Words are a superpower

When I teach medical students on psychiatry posting I emphasise how important it is to avoid words that convey a dim view of patients. It goes back to a consultant’s advice during my own training. Consider the difference between: She claimed she hadn’t been using substances recently.She said she hadn’t been using substances recently. Same …

Good or bad? Wrong question.

We’re obsessed with hierarchies. We see thing A and thing B and instinctively wonder which comes first. It’s why kids argue about whose dad is stronger and fans about whether Batman or Iron Man is smarter. (For the record, the answer is always Batman.) Our minds are meaning-making machines—which means we will sometimes impose some …

Diversity isn’t for the “other” people

When you're on the inside, it's easy to think of diversity as mainly for the benefit of the "other people"—you know, so "they" get a chance to be in the room where it happens. That's a mistake. Diversity is really just the sensible thing if we have any self-awareness of our unavoidable bias. We often …

“Culture” is all the things we take for granted

I recently read a well-intended but naive suggestion: that people should explain their cultures to others new to it. If I’ve learned anything moving to the UK, it’s that none of us really knows our cultures. Not from inside. It takes someone breaking our cultural rules for us to even see them. Why is this? …

Scroll down to content