The Writing Cure

Great faith has been placed in ‘talking cures’ for many years. American psychologist James Pennebaker came up with the writing version and this edition of Mind Changes tells the story.

One surprising thing, for me at least, was that this refers to temporary writing about a stressful event and not the kind of continuous writing of, say, diary keeping.

In addition to immune/healing there seem also to be improvements in cognitive abilities, specifically working memory.

The programme also touches upon analysis of text and what might indicate that some benefit has occurred. Pronouns are important here.

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Lutosławski

Of all the composers I remember coming across at music college for the first time, the one who sticks out is Witold Lutosławski. This year being the centenary of his birth he is enjoying a high profile.

This Music Matters special includes conversation with his step-son. I often find that there are contradictions housed within many interesting people and Lutosławski is no exception.

Raymond Tallis

It’s interesting to hear a scientist caution against ‘scientism’ but Raymond Tallis puts the case well during this chat on Belief with Joan Bakewell. Of course, he’s much more than a scientist: philosopher, novelist, poet, playwright….

You’ll have to be quick, though. According to the BBC it’ll only be available for 85 years.

Comfort and Joy

Do you ever get the feeling that one area of your life eclipses all others? Spare a thought for Alex Comfort.

In this edition of The Sunday Feature writer Matthew Sweet explores his life as pacifist, anarchist, anti-nuclear campaigner, novelist, gerontologist, doctor and writer of the book on 12 million British bookshelves. His son, Nicholas Comfort features.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Every time I come across Stuart Maconie I’m impressed by his enthusiastic and honest-sounding take on life.

Here he is on Radio 4’s Great Lives discussing that most English of composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The Self

I was enlightened to discover that David Hume didn’t believe in the self. He thought more in terms of bundles of experience but no constant or continuing self. Heady stuff for 18th century Edinburgh. Nevertheless, ‘the self’ made three radio appearances in as many days.

Biographer Martin Goodman knows all about putting others before himself; or himself in their shoes; or even conjecturing on what historical characters would have made of our times. Where his Free Thinking talk became interesting was his description of time spent studying Zen in Japan. The self he had set out to diminish put up quite a fight. His talk is here.

Low self-esteem can stunt growth and potential. Are there dangers in inflated self-esteem? Scroll to 9:40 of this edition of All in the Mind to hear some opinions.

Can there be any more self-orientated quest than the search for happiness Might there be a better approach to life? Scroll to 1:45:34 of this to hear about recent research.

Last Word

Amazing to think that a composer who was a contemporary of Gershwin and Copland has just died. Elliot Carter died this week aged 103. He wrote his first opera aged 90. I’ll bear this in mind the next time I think it’s possibly too late in life to start something.

You can hear about his life on Last Word. It’s the second article. The first is about Clive Dunn. There are a few surprises. Herbie Flowers, who penned the highly successful anthem to sentimentality, ‘Grandad’ tells with fetching modesty how the song was put together.

Also, Brian Cobby aka The Speaking Clock appears. Does the speaking clock still exist?

Matthew Bannister presents.