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Mark Twain In Context provides the fullest introduction in one volume to the multifaceted life and times of one of the most celebrated American writers. It is a collection of short, lively contributions covering a wide range of topics on Twain's life and works. Twain lived during a time of great change, upheaval, progress, and challenge. He rose from obscurity to become what some have called 'the most recognizable person on the planet'. Beyond his contributions to literature, which were hugely important and influential, he was a businessman, an inventor, an advocate for social and political change, and ultimately a cultural icon. Placing his life and work in the context of his age reveals much about both Mark Twain and America in the last half of the nineteenth century, the twentieth century, and the first decades of the twenty-first century.
Psychiatric treatments have specific and non-specific components. The latter has been addressed in an extensive literature on the placebo-effect in pharmacology and on common factors in psychotherapy. In the practice of mental health care, pharmacological, psychotherapeutic and social treatments are combined in complex interventions. This paper aims to review non-specific components across diverse psychiatric treatments and consider implications for practice and research.
We conducted a non-systematic review of non-specific components across psychiatric treatments, their impact on treatment processes and outcomes, and interventions to improve them.
The identified research is heterogeneous, both in design and quality. All non-specific components capture aspects of how clinicians communicate with patients. They are grouped into general verbal communication – focusing on initial contacts, empathy, clarity of communication, and detecting cues about unspoken concerns – non-verbal communication, the framing of treatments and decision-making. The evidence is stronger for the impact of these components on process measures – i.e. therapeutic relationship, treatment satisfaction and adherence than on clinical outcomes – i.e. symptoms and relapse. A small number of trials suggest that brief training courses and simple methods for structuring parts of clinical consultations can improve communication and subsequently clinical outcomes.
Methodologically, rigorous research advancing current understandings of non-specific components may increase effectiveness across different treatments, potentially benefitting large numbers of patients. Brief training for clinicians and structuring clinical communication should be used more widely in practice.
Increasingly, narrative and creative arts approaches are being used to enhance recovery after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Narrative and arts-based approaches congruent with Indigenous storytelling may therefore provide benefit during the transition from hospital to home for some Indigenous TBI patients. This qualitative study explored the use and impact of this approach as part of a larger, longitudinal study of TBI transition with Indigenous Australians.
A combined narrative and arts-based approach was used with one Indigenous Australian artist to describe his transition experiences following TBI. Together with the researchers and filmmaking team, the artist was involved in aspects of the process. The artist contributed two paintings, detailing the story of his life and TBI. Based on the artworks, a film was co-created. Following the viewing of the film, impacts of the narrative and arts-based process were examined through semi-structured interviews with the artist, a service provider and a family member. Multiple sources of data were used in the final thematic analysis including transcripts of the interviews and filming, paintings (including storylines) and researcher notes.
Positive impacts from the process for the artist included positive challenge; healing and identity; understanding TBI and raising awareness.
This approach may enable the individual to take ownership over their transition story and to make sense of their life following TBI at a critical point in their recovery. A combined narrative and arts-based approach has potential as a culturally responsive rehabilitation tool for use with Indigenous Australians during the transition period following TBI.
James Wilson, born in Scotland and educated during the Scottish Enlightenment, became one of the most influential jurists and statesmen of the American founding era. He signed the Declaration of Independence, served as an influential delegate to the Constitutional Convention, became one of the first justices of the US Supreme Court, and was the first law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. As a Framer, jurist and educator, he consistently argued for recognizing the sovereignty of the people themselves, which he believed was a central component of a God-given natural law. Many of Wilson's views that were innovative or controversial at the time – such as the concepts of popular sovereignty, one person-one vote, and the power of the Supreme Court to strike down unconstitutional laws – have become important elements of modern American government.
The Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria beckii is a ‘Critically Endangered’ seabird whose breeding sites remain unknown. Historic observations suggest the species’ distribution is concentrated in the Bismarck Archipelago and particularly southern New Ireland. Over the course of two research expeditions in 2016 and 2017 we used on-land and at-sea observations, local interviews and satellite telemetry to understand the distribution of the species, its at-sea movements and potential breeding locations. Land-based and at-sea observations indicated that the area of Silur Bay in southern New Ireland was a significant site for Beck’s Petrel with numbers of birds increasing near shore prior to dusk and birds observed in spotlights over land. A local population is estimated to be in the low thousands. In 2017 a single Beck’s was captured at sea, fitted with a satellite transmitter and tracked for eight months. This bird maintained a core distribution off the south-east coast of New Ireland and north of Bougainville for 122 days. During the tracking period, the bird was located over land at night seven times; predominantly over southern New Ireland, where the signal was also lost for extended periods suggesting occupancy of an underground burrow. In August the bird migrated 1,400 km to a core pelagic habitat north of West Papua before the signal was eventually lost. Our combination of land- and sea-based observations and analysis of behaviour from satellite tracking supports the conclusion that a breeding site for Beck’s Petrel lies in the inland mountains of southern New Ireland and most likely in the high-altitude zone (> 2000 m) of the Hans Meyer Range. Further investigations are required to determine the exact location of breeding colonies in the mountains of southern New Ireland and the importance of a potential west Papuan non-breeding pelagic habitat for the species.