Sleep and dreams

To continue my reblogging of my own posts, here is a very brief thought on sleep and dreams – and the cultural status of dreaming in our society

Séamus Sweeney

One of my interests is sleep. Some of this is personal; I  used to think I was a “bad sleeper”, until I discovered that thinking you are a bad sleeper makes you a bad sleeper, and also that my sleep pattern wasn’t as bad as I thought (one of the advantages of a sleep diary approach)

Some of this is professional. Sleep problems are a major contributor to and marker of mental distress, and a warning sign of relapse in mental illness. Empowering someone to sleep better often makes a massive difference to people’s live.

Overriding all this, however, is a sense of wonder that this universal human experience is so little understood and so unknown to our conscious self. Unlike eating or drinking, the physiological function of sleep is unclear. We notice its lack, but what is it we are noticing?

On this blog I have tried to collect…

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Apologia pro blogging-hiata sua

Somewhat without my being aware of it, this blog has been pretty quiet for a while – indeed I have mainly been reblogging other people’s content or posts from my other blog .


There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, my involvement in the CCIO and specifically the Lighthouse Projects has obviously taken up more of my time.


Secondly, to a certain degree this blog’s original intention of being a personal archive of my more medically themed writing has reached a little bit of a stop – most of what I can easily access of my own writing has already been posted. There is still quite a bit of stuff I have written for the Irish Medical Times and Eurotimes which I have not full access to, but the interest of this may be limited. There are also some academic papers I have written. However most of the purely medical writing I have done which is readily accessible is now somewhere on this blog.


Thirdly, both this blog and my other one were  intended as purely personal fora for working out ideas and to find common themes in my writing. With both, I have found a more public purpose also. On the Seamus Sweeney blog I have found myself exploring my interest in nature more and more, and dipping my toe in the world of nature blogging .In a way, the blog has helped me notice that this interest is more than an “interest” but something vital and key for me. Here, the blog has been a forum to discuss meetings I have been to and in particular my journey into CCIO land , as well as bookmarking paper that seem interesting (or just odd)

Finally (for now), I practice medicine as Séamus Mac Suibhne and for everything else, including non-medical writing, I am Séamus Sweeney. This developed not through any design on my part but simply because my birth cert is in Irish, therefore my degree, therefore my Medical Council registration and so on. However, one wouldn’t have to be any sort of psychotherapist to interpret this split in all sorts of interesting ways, some of which might even be correct. Of late I have noticed a bit of a convergence of interests between Séamus Mac and Séamus S, most evident here by the reblogging of pieces from one blog on the other. So perhaps this dichotomy may be closing.

I am hoping in the coming weeks to be able to blog a little bit more here. On the Lighthouse Projects in particular I hope to have some exciting announcements. I can also reveal that I have been given a copy of Helen Pearson’s Life Project to review.


Four score and more: Review of “Moral Coil” by David Boyd Haycock

As this has a medical theme I am reblogging it here

Séamus Sweeney

In contast to David Adam, this is a book whose place in my mental library has diminished rather than increased in the years since – to the extent I had forgot reading it at all until I searched the TLS site. Go figure. As time goes by, the omission of any discussion of dementia (as marked by the non-mention of Alzheimer) strikes me as even more notable, especially as a figure like Aubrey de Grey is given such prominence.


A short history of living longer 308pp. Yale University Press. £18.99 (US $30).


In March 1626, Sir Francis Bacon stopped his carriage to stuff a chicken with snow, thus contracting the bronchitis that would kill him. The experiment was intended to investigate a potential means of immortality.

Bacon, four years earlier, had written his History Naturall and Experimentall of Life and Death, intended as a manual of the…

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No off-switch – review of “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop” by David Adam. TLS 16 July 2014

As this book review has a medical theme I am reblogging it here …

Séamus Sweeney

Although this is explicitly not a self-help book, perhaps the highest praise I can give is that I regularly recommend this in clinical practice and have had very positive feedback in this context (although I once wrote the title as  “The Man Who Wasn’t There” which did confuse things ) – and not only when obsessions are the main issue. Adam’s explanation of dimensional versus categorical approaches to diagnosis, as well as his nuanced but clear account of what obsessions actually are and the potential and limits of psychiatry, render this a book which really everyone could profit from reading. This is an example of what I could call a reverse Oxford Murders effect – I would give this a more positive review now. It is also an example of a review which, while I think reasonably well written, I was trying too hard to summarise as much content as…

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