Free associations

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The combination of a narcissist’s high but easily undermined self-worth might seem paradoxical. pixabay

Self-esteem among narcissists is ‘puffed up, but shaky’

Like a grotesque mask reflected in a pool, narcissism has two faces, neither of them attractive. Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-worth, seeing themselves as superior beings who are entitled…
People draw animal comparisons using countless expressions.

Why it’s so offensive when we call people animals

Comparing humans to animals is vexed but irresistible. We are animals, but animals who like to believe we are not merely animals. When we do liken people to other creatures – when sports fans use racial…
edward lear.

Snout, sniff and sneeze: the language of the nose

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that language is “fossil poetry”. It is made up, he said, of images which “have long ceased to remind us of their poetic origin”. Some of that poetry is on the nose. An extraordinary…
Freud’s “anal character” theory may appear to have disappeared, but it’s really just been recycled.

Leaving the past behind: what became of the anal personality?

Writing in 1908, Freud identified a cluster of personality traits that came to be known as the "anal triad". Orderliness, obstinacy and parsimony.
People are sometimes very willing to blatantly deny others’ humanity. Wikimedia Commons

Trump and the cycle of dehumanisation

American psychologists Nour Kteily and Emile Bruneaushow how some politicians appeal to those who demonise marginalised groups, and how those groups respond with intensified hostility.
A team of researchers has begun to unlock the secrets of the heart-melting state.

Goosebumps, tears and tenderness: what it means to be moved

Emotion embodies motion. When we experience emotions were are agitated and stirred, transported and animated. Motion is at the root of the word itself: emotion comes from the Latin, meaning to move out…