Psychiatrist, Writer, Commentator


Tuesday, 14th October 2014

KPIs for your life

Anyone who’s worked in a big organisation will know about KPIs – key performance indicators. Numbers to measure how the organisation is functioning. We have dozens in hospitals – time from arrival to discharge, infection rate, falls rate, seclusions rate, sick leave rates etc, etc. They annoy some people who claim they’re “too simplistic” or “don’t give the full picture”,...
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Thursday, 25th September 2014

Uncharted passion, disrupted hormones and weird superstitions – the life of a football fan

It’s Grand Final season – it might seem that nothing else matters about now. Writing about the psychology of football is like writing about the psychology of love. A fool’s business. Nothing (so far) has quite made sense of how 100,000 people turn up to shout and scream, cry and gasp, and pin their fortunes on a bunch of athletes...
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Thursday, 18th September 2014

Ethics, group psychology and Meteora – a tour group dilemma.

Everyday life is full of mini-ethical moments. Do you own up to being under charged? Do you push in when the traffic is heavy and you’re running late? Do you hassle your kid’s teacher to get little Jimmie or Jane an advantage? Most of us do our best, but various emotions, motives, and practicalities act to push us to our...
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Thursday, 04th September 2014

How well do you know your own feelings?

A patient screamed, “I’m not angry.” Another on finding out about their partners infidelity claimed “I’m not jealous, just disappointed.” And they believed it, at least in the heat of the moment. But were they right? I’m pretty good at recognising the emotional states of others, but pretty poor when it comes to myself. Not always, but fairly often, I...
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Wednesday, th August 2014

Comedians and mental illness – is there a link?

The coroner has now released preliminary findings confirming that Robin Williams died by suicide. Mixed with the eulogies and grief over the loss of such a talented comedian, his family, friends, fans and admirers are starting to ask why? In particular, we are trying to understand how a man who could be so funny and create so much happiness, could...
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Thursday, 17th July 2014

When AIDS came to town

Next week the 20th International AIDS Conference comes to Melbourne (starting July 20). This will be the biggest medical conference ever held in Australia. President Bill Clinton and Sir Bob Geldof are attending. So are about 12,000 advocates, consumers, carers, scientists and health care workers. The ramifications of big events usually take decades to become evident. AIDS first entered consciousness...
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Monday, 19th May 2014

Political lies, white lies and damned lies

Lying has been in the news this week. Apparently some politicians, somewhere, made all sorts of claims prior to an election, and then did the opposite after the election. Go figure. Lying is ubiquitous. According to this study humans tell about two lies per day. Women are more likely to lie to protect someone’s feelings (the so-called altruistic lie) while...
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Thursday, 01st May 2014

Aiding and abetting suicide in terminal illness

It is illegal in Australia to aid or abet suicide. Despite this Dr Rodney Syme publicly announced this week that in 2005 he provided a lethal drug, Nembutal, and advice to a patient who two weeks later used the drug to end his life. The police have re-opened the case, and will now decide whether his actions warrant criminal charges...
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Tuesday, 22nd April 2014

Digital love

I recently saw the movie Her. Without giving too much away – it’s the story of a recently heart-broken guy who gets a new operating system (or OS) for his computer. The OS uses voice, not a keyboard and screen. The OS is clever and has the ability to learn, and the voice of the OS is, well … sexy!...
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Friday, th April 2014

Suicide – the disclosure dilemma

In my time as a public hospital psychiatrist, I’ve seen many suicides. It is the most common cause of death for those aged under 45. Despite this statistic and suicide’s undeniable presence in our society, it remains for the most part, the elephant in the room. beyondblue - flickr/David Wallace The founding chairman of beyondblue, Jeff Kennett, recently wrote...
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