Book Review: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig

John Koenig’s book The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows takes its name from the website and YouTube channel that Koenig set up for defining neologisms. Koenig’s dictionary compiles these new words for obscure emotions – extremely specific feelings that are commonplace but which we have not yet seen articulated. Koenig is a keen and brilliant writer,…

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On Travel and Escapism

The impulse to travel can be cryptic; sometimes it seems to be a kind of knee-jerk escapist tendency, while other times it is based more on a wish for expansion – for broader and more novel experiences. Actually deciphering the impulse can be tricky, though, as it’s not always clear if it – and the…

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As in the Streets, So in the Mind: Flânerie as a Way of Thinking and Living

Flânerie refers to the lifestyle practice of walking aimlessly (typically around a city, with Paris being the epitomical city of the flâneur – the street wanderer). I analysed this concept in a previous post, touching on its historical, philosophical, literary, and cultural dimensions. However, flânerie extends well beyond the limits of the city, or I…

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Ethics in Psychedelic Therapy: The Promises and Pitfalls of Increased Suggestibility

Psychedelics are known to enhance suggestibility – in other words, the quality of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others. (Interestingly, those who score high in trait conscientiousness – or being careful, diligent, efficient, and organised – are the most sensitive to this effect of psychedelics.) Psychedelic users are well aware…

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Where Ecstasy Meets Power: The Unique Risks of MDMA Therapy

Several clinical trials have concluded that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy – utilised for the treatment of PTSD – is safe (as well as highly effective). But this doesn’t necessarily mean the treatment is risk-free.  MDMA therapy entails unique risks, and here I don’t mean concerns about possible neurotoxicity. The subject of MDMA’s neurotoxicity is complicated; while some…

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