Category Archives: Psychology

“Can thinking about death kill me?” – Thought-Action Fusion in suicidality

Imagine the following scenario: You’re waiting for your train at the station and there’s an announcement telling you to stand back for a train passing through. You see that train approaching at high speed and start wondering: “What if I walked three steps to the front and jumped?”

A very scary thought indeed and I’m sure some people reading this article will have had that thought, or a variety of it, at some point of time- I know I have. Now, still picturing this situation, ask yourself the following: Does having this thought (you might even call it a suicidal thought) put you in actual danger of committing suicide? Personally, I feel quite secure about myself not taking those three steps to the front and onto the railway tracks but this will be different for different individuals. In this blog, I will describe thoughts like these in more depth based on a new study we published on a construct called Thought-Action Fusion (or short: TAF) and its association with depression and suicidality.

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Hallucinations: It’s not what you hear but expect to hear

Hallucinations are a cue word for schizophrenia and severe mental illness. Yet, in themselves, hallucinations are neither unique to schizophrenia, nor are they uniquely related to ill people. Instead, they are common in other diseases, such as Parkinson’s, and even occur in some people without any mental illnesses. Have you ever heard your name in a place where you knew nobody could have said it? Have you ever had a creepy-crawly feeling without anything bugging you? Or have you ever thought you’ve seen someone you know at first glance, yet realised later it was someone else? Chances are high that you’ve had one of these experiences because hallucinations lie on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, people suffering from severe diseases like schizophrenia might hear vicious voices they can’t turn off, that are terrifying and aggressive, while, on the other end, there may be such common everyday misperceptions. In fact, if you regarded my very minor examples as hallucinations, we all might be susceptible to hallucinating to an extent and a recent study published in the renowned journal Science does indeed suggest that this is the case. The study led by researchers Powers, Mathys, and Corlett has looked closely at how hallucinations come to life and suggests they may be failures in how we integrate our previous knowledge with the actual perceptual input.

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