Christian Jarrett

A cognitive neuroscientist explains the science behind 'trigger warnings' — and why they don't actually work

Imagine you’re a lecturer teaching a celebrated novel that features violent scenes – say, F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925). It transpires that one of your students has themselves been a victim of violence and now, thanks to your words, they are reliving their trauma. Could you, should you, have done more to protect this person?

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Maslow revisited: Do you really have a self-actualized personality?

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest. Moving up the ladder, Maslow mentions safety, love, and self-esteem and accomplishment. But after all those have been satisfied, the motivating factor at the top of the pyramid involves striving to achieve our full potential and satisfy creative goals. As one of the founders of humanistic psychology, Maslow proposed that the path to self-transcendence and, ultimately, greater compassion for all of humanity requires the ‘self-actualisation’ at the top of his pyramid – fulfilling your true potential, and becoming your authentic self.

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