All in the Mind

BBC  |  Podcast , ±30 min episodes every 2 weeks, 1 day  | 
All in the Mind examines how we think and behave. It’s presented by psychologist Claudia Hammond. She investigates the latest techniques being used by mental health practitioners, speaks to people with psychological issues and uncovers all the most recent research from the world of the mind. Every year there are 2 series of 8 episodes of All in the Mind, in the spring and autumn. Each programme is 28 minutes long.

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Can you knit away your worries?

Many people say that knitting or crochet helped ease their anxiety during the Covid-19 lockdowns - but what is it about these repetitive, absorbing and creative hobbies which soothe the mind? Claire Anketell set up free Yarn for Mental Health courses in Northern Ireland a year ago and Gemma was one of the first to attend. She says crochet has helped to reduce her stress levels and she's graduated onto making blankets.

Esther Rutter's book This Golden Fleece: A Journey through Britain's Knitted History aims to unpick what textiles mean to us - including how they became part of the treatment for mental health problems. Learning a skill by following a pattern, connecting with other people and being distracted from everyday worries tick some of the boxes which we associate with wellbeing. But it's hard to pin down exactly which elements can boost our mood. Dr Sarah McKay author of The Woman's Brain Book: the Neuroscience of Health, Hormones and Happiness assesses whether we need hard evidence to carry on casting on.

The charity Fine Cell Work has been teaching prisoners embroidery, needlepoint and quilting for 25 years. CEO Victoria Gillies says the idea is to rehabilitate prisoners and ex-prisoners as they sew high-quality elaborate cushions and footstools. We hear about the difference it's made to stitchers like Ben and how crafting can cut the reoffending rates of ex-prisoners who work in their Hub in London.

Fergal Keane and PTSD

Fergal Keane describes living with PTSD. For thirty years Fergal covered some of the most brutal wars for the BBC, including Rwanda, Iraq and Ukraine.
Despite having PTSD he kept going, taking more and more risks until witnessing a massacre in Sudan, he realised he couldn't do it anymore, that for him going to war had become an addiction. He talks to Claudia about his ongoing work, recovering from PTSD.

Professor Daryl O'Connor's new research shows finds that people who got COVID -19 early in the pandemic were twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms than those who didn't.

And Dr Gillian Sandstrom on why men ask 2.4 more questions than women at conferences.


The show on how we think, feel and behave. Claudia Hammond delves into the evidence on mental health, psychology and neuroscience.

Can Mental Health Awareness have unintended consequences?

Mental health awareness campaigns have reduced stigma and changed attitudes to mental illness, but has the messaging also led to unintended consequences?
With the help of a panel consisting of mental health campaigner James Downs, the former director of Time to Change England Sue Baker, psychologist and author Lucy Foulkes and Katja Pavlovna of the Lives not Labels (sorry my mental illness isn't sexy enough for you) website, bring their own experiences of mental health problems and expertise in their fields to debate with Claudia the nuanced implications around increasing awareness and what they would like to see in the future.


With busy lifestyles many turn to devices for aide memoires. Claudia discusses new findings with Dr Sam Gilbert who studies so called ‘offloading’ and gives tips on how best to remember the important things. And a visit to Manchester’s Turn it Up exhibition reveals what psychological research can tell us about the safest music to drive to; while guest Professor Catherine Loveday unpicks this year's trend, 'Dopamine Gifting'.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder and the launch of the 2023 All in the Mind Awards

Claudia launches the 2023 All in the Mind Awards with mental health campaigner Marion Janner and actor Maddie Leslay, Chelsea from Radio 4's "The Archers" and a 2018 awards finalist.
We ask why it takes nine and a half years to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder following a recent report and joining Claudia in the studio is Professor Catherine Loveday whose recent paper tells us about the benefits of swearing.

Negotiating a crisis

Claudia meets Professor Elizabeth Stokoe author of 'Crisis Talks' whose research shows when preventing a suicide, that words really do matter and can save lives during a crisis. Through analysing real time recordings of actual conversations between people in crisis and police negotiators, new findings highlight what can work and what doesn't. And are you good with faces? Dr James Dunn from the University of New South Wales explains his new research on the top 2% who are so called 'super recognisers'. Plus Science writer David Robson reports on the big neuroscience conference from San Diego with news of sleeping spiders and seeing faces in clouds.

Presenter: Claudia Hammond
Producer: Erika Wright

Steven Pinker

Claudia Hammond meets cognitive scientist and author Steven Pinker. He describes the times we are living in as a pandemic of poppycock and has advice on how to be more rational.

Urban rewilding for wellbeing, oxytocin and kindness, false alarm crowd panic

What amount of biodiversity in our cities is enough to benefit our wellbeing? Good evidence can be hard to come by. Andrea Mechelli, professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health at Kings College London, together with landscape architect Joanna Gibbons discuss their pioneering Urban Mind citizen science project which adopts a smartphone app to work out how much trees, birdsong and access to water have a significant effect on an individual’s mood.

How does kindness breed kindness? Daniel Martins reveals his new research into the so called 'cuddle hormone' oxytocin which helps to uncover the biological mechanism into how well our brains learn the impact of a task when we’re doing it to benefit someone else.

Are crowd stampedes to a false alarm a genuine overreaction? Claudia hears from Dermot Barr whose team have been analysing the dynamics of crowd flights from around the world in the hope of preventing them from happening.

Claudia’s guest is Professor Catherine Loveday from University of Westminster.

Made in partnership with the Open University

Producer: Adrian Washbourne

The Psychology of Regret

Claudia Hammond explores the psychology of regret with an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival. What role do rueful thoughts on "what might have been" play in our lives? Is regret a wasted emotion or does it have some hidden benefits?

Joining Claudia on stage : Teresa McCormack - Professor of Cognitive Development at the School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast who researches how regret in childhood can shape our decisions; novelist and essayist Sophie White - whose latest novel The Snag List examines the opportunity to go back in life and follow the road not taken; Fuschia Sirois - Professor of social and health psychology at Durham University whose research examines the impact of those "what if" thoughts on our health and wellbeing.

Producer Adrian Washbourne

Made in partnership with the Open University

Breastfeeding Trauma and the Psychology of Awkwardness

When breastfeeding goes wrong some women feel guilty that they have failed to do what should come naturally. But Professor Amy Brown from Swansea University says those with the most severe physical and emotional impact could be experiencing trauma, similar to the effects of a traumatic birth. We hear from Linzi Blakey who had problems with breastfeeding when she gave birth to her daughter and son and had to give up before she wanted to. A specialist therapist has helped her to realise that she did the best she could - despite a lack of the right kind of support when she was feeling vulnerable.

Awkwardness can result when we do something embarrassing - and science writer Melissa Dahl set out to write a book on how to overcome those feelings of embarrassment. Cringeworthy: How To Make The Most Out of Uncomfortable Situations is the result of her discussions with scientists. She challenges herself to feats such as performing a stand-up routine, going to see a professional cuddler and reading out her teenage diaries to an audience at the Brooklyn show, Mortified. She now feels awkwardness is part of being human- and encourages us all to show more empathy to each other.

Claudia's studio guest Catherine Loveday, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Westminster shares her own cringeworthy stories plus news of a spat in the world of psychedelic drugs research and how hallucinations seem to be a lot more common than we thought.

Producer: Paula McGrath
Made in Partnership with The Open University

36 episodes

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