Must-Read Young Adult Fiction Hidden Gems

Young adult fiction novel book hidden gems

Awesome Books You’ll Wish You Were Reading Right Now!

There are some fantastic young adult fiction books out there, but not every great novel makes it into the spotlight right away. In fact, a lot of the time, the attention a book gets is based more on its publisher’s marketing budget than its actual merit as a great read.

So instead of focusing on some of the top titles that millions of people are already enjoying, here are some of the best hidden gems that need to be discovered. If you love young adult or new adult fiction, you simply must add these titles to your to-read list. They’re just that good!

To make things a bit more fun, The Discovery Spot asked the authors of the books if they would provide their own descriptions of their young adult fiction novels. After all, the back of a book can say only so much. Sometimes you need to go to the source to get to the heart of the matter.

Here’s what they (very generously) shared:

Love at First Plight (Perspective, book 1)

By Amanda Giasson and Julie B. Campbell

Perspective - Love at First Plight

Visit the official Perspective series site at:

Here’s the scoop: While preparing for her first year of university, Megan Wynters is dropped onto another planet, Qarradune, where she’s suddenly dealing with slavery, freaky flame-red-eyed villains, and some kind of elite super-power enhanced military unit that really doesn’t want her to attend a masquerade ball. That’s sure going to make an interesting “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay, if she ever gets home…

But wait, there’s more! Irys Godeleva, who lived in Qarradune in the first place, has spent most of her life reading books and looking like an etiquette’s guide to being a pretty well-behaved young lady. If she’d ever wished to leave that boring lifestyle, her wish was granted…sort of. She was captured, beaten, and dumped in a ship’s brig to die. The good news? (for-real, this time) Megan temporarily lost her mind and went for an afternoon stroll in the disgusting, reeking, rat-infested brig and found her. That’s when things really get interesting.

IA: Initiate (IA, book 1)

By John Darryl Winston

IA Initiate by John Darryl Winston

Visit John Darryl Winston’s official site at:

The most important thing in the world to thirteen-year-old, orphan “Naz” Andersen is keeping his little sister safe from the mean streets of the Exclave. Good luck with that!

However, after he becomes the target of initiation by a street gang, he begins to discover that the voices in his head, his nightmares, and sleepwalking are actually telekinesis and telepathy: a gift from his father of whom he has no memory.

When the gang threatens his sister and friend, It’s Clark Kent meets the Bloods and Crips as Naz uses his new found abilities to wield his own unique brand of justice.

Connected (Connected, book 1)

By Kat Stiles

Connected by Kat Stiles

Grab your copy of Connected at

Em knows high school is difficult— freshman year introduced her to all the cliques and annoying teachers. But tracking down a telepathic serial killer using her newfound ability to heal? Not exactly the ideal extracurricular activity.

Strange things are happening in Cannondale. A car hits Em and she walks away unharmed, her best friend Roz has unusual dreams that come true, and the new boy, Tommy, hears the softest whispers in class. With the help of the mysterious school nurse, Em discovers the amazing truth—she’s not the only one with super-powers.

As Em falls for Tommy, she has to contend with not only her overprotective psycho sister, but also her own emotional confusion about love. The shrink isn’t helping – besides being totally creepy, her doctor always gives her the worst migraines.

The situation turns grim when new victims are murdered. Can the serial killer be stopped, before one of them is the next victim?

Black Fall (The Black Year, book 1)

By D.J. Bodden

Black Fall by D J Bodden

Learn more about D.J. Bodden at

Reading Black Fall is like when you don’t like raisins, and you bite into a cookie, and you find out it has raisins in it, but you keep eating it because it tastes pretty good and then the whole box is empty, and you want more. You still don’t like raisins, but you really like Black Fall.

It’s a story about a boy and his 500-year-old mother, and how she ruined his dad’s funeral. He gets over it though, cracks a lamp over a guy’s skull, robs a bank, gets the girl, then uses his new psychic powers to take down the big-bad. If you’re into the Dresden Files, Hellboy, and Electronic Dance Music, this might be the book for you.




Thanks again to the authors who were so generous with their time and skills for the creation of this young adult fiction book list of hidden gems.


5 Travel Gadgets Cool Enough To Change Your Life Forever

Mogix external battery charger

Some of these devices are so awesome, you’ll use them at home, too.

There are some travel gadgets that are so cool that you wonder how you ever lived without them. It’s like trying to think back to a time before you had a microwave or the internet. How did we get anything done?

Here are 5 amazing travel gadgets that are going to blow your mind in exactly that way. Your trips will be easier, safer, and more convenient. You might even find that some of these will make their way into your daily life at home, as well!

  1. Mogix External Battery Charger

Mogix external battery chargerIf you travel a lot, then you may already have a portable power bank and know what a difference they make to your ability to keep your smartphone, tablet, GPS, digital camera, and all of your other rechargeables full of juice. But your current backup battery pack isn’t this one. This thing is not just huge (10,400mAH!!!) but you can charge two devices at a time (fast!) and it’s as small as an iPhone, meaning that you can fit it into virtually any pocket or purse. Whether or not you have an external battery charger, the Mogix will change your life.

  1. Micro Luggage Scooter

Micro Luggage ScooterOne of the worst parts of travel is dragging your luggage around. It seems alright, at first, but after a long day of travel, when all you want to do is find your hotel and flop into your bed, a foldable scooter attached to your luggage will suddenly be your hero. Small enough to fit into an overhead compartment, you can use this luggage scooter from Micro Kickboard to zip through an airport, down the street, or even make your commute just that much more fun every day!

  1. Peak 630™ Red LED Light Therapy Set

peak 630 LED Red light therapy setKeep your skin beautiful whether you travel or stay at home. This red light therapy set is small, light and durable. It goes wherever you do and you can complete treatments in as little as 30 seconds! Red light therapy is used for everything from natural rosacea treatments, to healing acne and its scarring, and is even often applied as an anti-aging treatment. Few things are harder on your skin than travel, so look your best and treat your skin like gold, no matter where you are in the world. Keep up the treatments at home and you’ll be shocked at how great your skin can look every day.

  1. ThermaCELL Heated Insoles

Thermacell heated insolesGoing somewhere cold, but would rather have toasty tootsies? These rechargeable heated insoles not only keep your feet warm, but you can turn them on, up or down with a remote control! You will never have better customized foot happiness. On the medium heat setting, they’ll last for up to a solid five hours of continual use. They can be recharged up to 500 times (about the same as a smartphone battery throughout their lifetime). They come with a free charger that plugs into your car, but if you’ve got the Mogix, mentioned above, you’ll be able to charge them anywhere you go.

  1. BACtrack Smartphone Breathalizer

BACtrack smartphone breathalizerThis little keychain is a lot more than a place to keep track of your car keys. It is compatible with any Android or iOS based smartphone and lets you estimate your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in a convenient and affordable way. These smartphone breathalyzer travel gadgets work along with a convenient app that allows you to track your current estimated BAC, as well as the estimates you’ve measured over time.


Note: This is not paid content or advertising.  These products were selected for this list simply because they’re cool.



The 7 Best Must-Read Young Adult Book Series

Love at First Plight mask music

If you love YA novels, then these are the series that you can’t miss.

The young adult fiction genre has been adding some awesome books to personal, public, and ebook library shelves. Both stand-alone and series books have been taking off explosively!

It’s no wonder why. There have been some fun, unique, and genuinely captivating reads tossed into the mix over the last while. Readers of all ages are grabbing hold of the latest in young adult fiction at the same time that they reach back through the decades and centuries to some of the classics that are timeless enough to keep their audiences entranced.

Check out this list of young adult series favs. Obviously, this is far from a complete list. It is just a mention of the top few that are making waves in today’s reading scene based on results from sources like Goodreads, Google, Amazon, and others.

Warning: each series on this list is accompanied by a brief summary. While it has been written to provide the type of information you’d find on the back of the book so that there won’t be any spoilers, if you were hoping to start to read one of these books without any prior knowledge whatsoever, you might want to stop here.

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games – Root for Katniss Everdeen, the tough, independently-minded teen whose story begins on the day of the “reaping”, when tributes are chosen to take part in the Hunger Games. For purposes ranging from politics to sheer twisted entertainment, these representatives are pitted against each other to see which one will stay alive.


TwilightTwilight – Follow Bella Swan, as she arrives in the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father, after having moved away from her mother in Phoenix, Arizona. She quickly finds herself facing danger – and one heck of a deadly crush – when she meets Edward Cullen, a vampire.


Perspective - Love at First PlightPerspective – Set on the world of Qarradune, this story begins with Love at First Plight, in which you meet Megan Wynters, an 18 year-old from Earth, and Irys Godeleva, a young lady of about the same age from Syliza, a country that is somewhat like a Victorian England-spinoff. The story of these books is told from each of the points of view of these two young women, as they fight with everything that they know to save each other, stay alive, and discover what is truly going on around them.


DivergentDivergent – This series drops you into a futuristic dystopian society that is broken down into five different factions. Each one represents a different virtue. Adolescents in this world need to decide whether they want to remain within their current faction or transfer to another one. Their choice will decide the path for the rest of their lives. In the case of Tris Prior, the selection she makes shocks everyone around her. Tris and the rest of her faction must then make their way through a brutal initiation process to be able to live with their choices.


The Maze RunnerThe Maze Runner – Thomas awakens on an elevator, one day, with only one memory: his name. Everything other than that is a mystery. When the doors to the elevator open, a group of teenage boys – who also remember only their names – pull him into a glade.


The 100The 100 – Following the destruction of Earth by nuclear war, the only remaining humans return to the planet after having lived on the Ark space station for 97 years. The decision is made to send 100 young prisoners to the surface, where they quickly establish a “no law” government system. Soon, though, the 100 discover that they are not alone, and must adapt rapidly to their new lives.


The SelectionThe Selection – This series combines romance with a dystopian society as America Singer finds herself among 35 young women who are chosen in a type of lottery to live in a palace and vie for the heart and hand of the handsome Prince Maxon. Unfortunately for America, her heart already belonged to Aspen, a young man who is trapped in a caste below her own. Living in the palace proves to be a far different experience than America had expected, and even as they suffer violent attacks from rebels, she finds herself questioning the plans that she has previously made for herself and opening her mind to different possibilities for the future.

Don’t see your favourite young adult fiction series there? Your own additions are welcome in the comments, below.

Fresh Pasta or Dry Pasta – Which One is Better?

It’s hip to be a foodie, these days, but does fresh really mean a more gourmet meal?

Penguin fresh pastaWhen it comes to food fashion, freshness is always better, but fresh pasta still isn’t nearly as popular as the dry variety. Does this mean that it isn’t as good? If that’s the case, why do all of the top Italian restaurants choose handmade noodles for their menus?  Why would so many chefs brag about it if it wasn’t superior to what you can easily purchase in a box or a plastic package in any grocery store?

The truth is that both types of pasta can be wonderful!

Fresh Pasta Barrie, OntarioThe most important factor isn’t whether you choose fresh pasta or dry. The key is to make sure that you insist on the best quality of the style that you do choose and that you use it for the right types of meals. Whether you’re choosing noodles or stuffed varieties such as ravioli and cannelloni, you need to know that the perfect flours have been selected, that only all natural ingredients have been brought together, and that no cheap fillers have been added.

Fresh pasta is an art form that is best used with high quality sauces.

Dry PastaWhen you do opt for handmade fresh pasta, then make sure that you pair it with the perfect kind of sauce. Since these noodles are softer and tender in texture, a more delicate sauce is preferable. This allows the beauty of the dish to shine through without becoming overwhelmed. Fettuccine Alfredo, for instance, is perfect when you have chosen to go fresh. Also ideal are light sauces made with tomatoes, oil, cream, or herb-flavoured butter.

On the other hand, dry pasta is a heartier, type of noodle that pairs well with more rustic types of dish, such as ragu sauces, and in casseroles and soups. It is has a firmer texture that will be able to hold its own with stronger ingredients or when submerged in liquids for a longer period of time.

Handmade Fresh PastaStrangely enough, fresh pasta can prove offer a much faster way to serve a noodle-based dish. If you make the pasta in advance, or if you pick it up from an artisan who uses traditional methods to create handmade noodles, then it takes fewer minutes to create a gourmet dish with fresh than it would with dry. So if time is a factor, freshness does help, as you don’t need to wait the extra time to rehydrate the noodles; you just need to heat them up.

10 World-Changing Geniuses Who Suffered from Mental Illnesses

As the famous saying popularized by Stan Lee’s Spider-Man (2002) movie goes: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Similar to that, though not quite as woven into comic book culture, is the phrase “With great genius comes great risk of mental illness.” Not quite as sexy, but just as fascinating! Especially when you apply that concept to some of the sharpest minds in human history.

Julie Campbell writer - geniuses with mental illnessFor over a century, speculations have been developed regarding the specific conditions suffered by many of these individuals. As it turns out, some of the brightest people throughout history have been heavily associated with fits, extreme oddness, and plain-old insanity. If you were hoping to change the world through the powers of your mind, you might think again after reading this list of some of the top geniuses that humankind has ever known, who also suffered deeply from mental woes.

Vincent van Gogh1. Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)

Who better to start the list of geniuses than the most famous individual in history to cut off his own ear? (Link 1) Indeed, van Gogh did slice off his left earlobe in 1888, with a razor blade, and then subsequently painted a self portrait of himself, cleverly entitled “Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear”. However, the behaviors of this genius who changed the face of the artistic world – with paintings such as “Starry Night”, “The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum”, Starry Night over the Rhone”, and “Irises, Saint-Remy” – indicated that he suffered from one or several different mental disorders.

Speculations (Link 2) about what condition was behind his bizarre behaviors – which ranged from attempting to eat paint to drinking turpentine, and from psychotic behaviors that aligned with the seasons to eventually committing suicide – have included bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, epilepsy, lead poisoning, acute intermittent porphyria, Méniere’s disease, and even sunstroke.

John Nash2. John Nash (1928 – )

Even without following the fascinating world of mathematics over the years (likely because most of us would describe most of mathematics as less-than-fascinating), many of us can still name a very important Nobel Prize winning mathematician (won in the field of Economic Sciences). That person is John Nash, whose story was popularized (through some artistic license) in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”.

Nash (Link 3) created the “Nash Equilibrium” and has greatly progressed the concepts of game theory and economics through his contributions. Some of his ideas were used by the U.S. Military for their own Cold War tactics. At the same time that he has come up with these groundbreaking thoughts, Nash has also been suffering from schizophrenia, which has caused him to experience delusions and hallucinations, including hearing voices.

Abraham Lincoln3. Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

Abraham Lincoln may have been the Great Emancipator who brought the United States through one of the most difficult periods in its own history, using his genius, strategy, and sheer gall, but he suffered severe consequences as a result. Indeed, the evening at Ford’s theatre was certainly a drawback to his political efforts, but aside from the loss of his life from the intensity of his career, he also suffered the loss of his mental health (Link 4).

Some of the most challenging times that he faced as U.S. President were also the periods in which he suffered from the most severe bouts of depression. He was seen as being greatly melancholy (Link 5) by those who knew him. It is even believed that he was the author behind a poem that was published in 1838, called “The Suicide’s Soliloquy”.

Isaac Newton4. Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

Know as one of history’s most brilliant thinkers, Sir Isaac Newton (the guy we know best for being hit by an apple while sitting under an apple tree) made many broad-reaching contributions to both mechanics and physics. Many believe that his influence on these fields exceed that of Einstein. He invented calculus, developed laws of motion, explained “universal gravitation” and even constructed the first reflective telescope (Link 6). Take that, Einstein!

Outside of making unparalleled changes to our understanding of the way things are, Newton suffered from massive mood swings, psychotic tendencies, and antisocial behaviors. It is now believed that he likely suffered from bipolar disorder, but that because of his delusions (as described in his own letters) it is also thought that he was likely schizophrenic (Link 7). Many have speculated that his mental conditions may have been the outcome of a prolonged and highly traumatic childhood experience.

Charles Darwin5. Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882)

The man behind “On the Origin of Species” and the tremendous controversy regarding his theories on evolution made contributions to biology and science that would change the way the world looked at all of the millions upon millions of species of life. He became famous for the voyage that he took on the Beagle over a period of five years, which was a time that defined and made his career, but during which he was nearly incapacitated for the full length of the trip. It is not known exactly what was wrong with him (Link 8) but he suffered from visual hallucinations, hysterical crying, constant trembling and nausea.

It has been speculated by many that these were all symptoms of a severe case of agoraphobia (Link 9), which were exacerbated from having to live in close quarters with the other people on the boat. After turning thirty, he was bedridden nearly all of the time, avoiding speaking with everybody; including his own children. At least one letter from Darwin mentioned that he had feelings of suicide as a result of the controversy associated with his most famous publication. It has also been suggested that he might have been a hypochondriac and that he suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), due to the meticulous records that he kept of each symptom – new or recurring – from which he suffered.

Yoshiro Nakamatsu6. Yoshiro Nakamatsu (1928 – )

Yoshiro Nakamatsu is a genius inventor who has the world record for the largest number of patents that anyone has owned in history. While Thomas Edison is typically considered to be a massive patent owner, having slightly over a thousand to his name. Nakamatsu, on the other hand, has well over 3,000 of them, making Edison look like quite the slacker! Many of the patents are for items that the world uses on a daily basis, ranging from the CD to the DVD, and from the taxicab meter to the digital watch.

That said, in the great tradition of being a genius with mental illness, Nakamatsu also has a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder. He conducts extensive analyses of everything that eats (made up almost entirely of “Yummy Nutri Brain Food” which consists of yogurt, seaweed, beef, cheese, eel, eggs, and chicken liver), meticulously recording and cataloging each ingredient and its related information, because he is determined to live to exactly 144 years of age (Link 10). He has dedicated his life to surviving for that precise number of years. He sleeps for exactly four hours every night and regularly holds his breath underwater until he brings himself near the point of death. He believes that depriving himself of oxygen to that degree provides him with the “flash” he requires to be inspired to invent something new, which he records on a special waterproof writing pad made of Plexiglas…that he invented.

Edgar Allan Poe7. Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)

Due to the nature of the poetry and prose created by Edgar Allan Poe, it may not come as a complete surprise that he was suffering from a form of serious mental illness. His genius as a horror writer – having produced works such as “The Raven”, “The Masque of the Red Death”, “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”, and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, and so on – is clear and has been celebrated worldwide.

Unfortunately, his skill as a poet did not save him from mental illness (Link 11), which included a drinking problem and a battle with suicidal thoughts, which he described in a number of letters. It has also been speculated that he may have had bipolar disorder. Although the circumstances and the causes of his death at the young age of 40 are not known, it is believed that it was likely linked to his drinking, which may have led to heart failure.

Nicola Tesla8. Nicola Tesla (1856 – 1943)

Nicola Tesla has made a long list of contributions to humanity and to the lives we live today. Among his inventions include wireless technology, the induction motor, radio astronomy, AC, radar, the Tesla Coil, and even robotics. Though he never actually created one, he was also the original person to think up the idea of a “death ray”.

Although an individual will typically need to be very focused on detail to be able to create the type of inventions that Tesla had on his list, he took that to the far extreme with a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder (Link 12). He was obsessed with the number three, needing to circle the block 3 times (clockwise) before ever entering a building. He would stay in a hotel room only if its number was divisible by 3. At his meals, he would use precisely 9 napkins (which he stacked in piles of 3). Much of his mealtime was spent calculating his food volume before he would actually consume it. Another of his obsessions was with pigeons, which he loved to the degree that he would import special seeds so that he could feed these birds in the park. Occasionally, he would bring a pigeon home with him. He despised jewelry (particularly earrings, pearls, or a combination of the two), had a fear of anything metal and/or round, and would never touch anything with dust on it.

Ludwig van Beethoven9. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

The musical genius of Ludwig van Beethoven is recognized not only for its profound beauty, but also because the composer of these magnificent works created many of them while completely deaf; a state which occurred at some point in his life between the ages of 30 and 49 years old. What is less commonly known is that Beethoven was the victim of a terrible childhood (Link 13), and that he was raised by a father who was both abusive and an alcoholic.

The struggles in his life, and in composing as he gradually lost his hearing caused Beethoven to battle with mental illness (Link 14), including suffering from thoughts of suicide, which he described in letters to his brothers. However, it is also believed that he was not just suicidal, but that he also had bipolar disorder. History has shown that the composer would have wild emotional bursts ranging from blissful euphoria to deep depression. This – and the digestive discomforts of which he frequently complained – may have been caused by lead poisoning, as tests of his hair samples have shown that they contained a lead content that was dangerously high.

Michelangelo10. Michelangelo (1475 – 1564)

One of the most skilled artists of all times, Michelangelo contributed to the world by adding stunning sculptures, paintings, architecture, poems, and even Renaissance engineering. He was the man behind the stunning ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, among other breathtaking pieces.

In 2004, however, the understanding of this artist changed when the Journal of Medical Biography published a study that suggested that he had clear signs of a high-functioning level of autism (Link 15). He had a well known single-minded routine and was, according to his friends and family “preoccupied with his own reality”. This was common among all of the male members of his family. Michelangelo was said to have experienced serious struggles in developing relationships with other people, having very few friends and not bothering to attend the funeral of his own brother. This, in combination with his clear genius in art as well as in mathematics, has brought researchers (Link 16) to believe that he likely had Asperger’s, the highest functioning condition on the autism spectrum.

We consider these ten geniuses to be among the greatest minds of all time, and yet it turns out that their minds were sometimes their own worst enemies. This certainly makes mediocrity a lot bit more appealing for the rest of us, doesn’t it?


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What Mental Illness Does Your Favourite Muppet Have?

Is there anyone who doesn’t have a favourite Muppet? Muppets have been providing children and adults around the world with entertainment for well over half of a century. They were first created in the 1950’s when Jim Henson brought the concept of marionettes and puppets together into an unbelievably unique and absolutely crazy animate-able creature.

muppet mental illnessSpeaking of crazy (nice segue, wasn’t it?), many of those creations – from those on Sesame Street to those on The Muppet Show, and everything in between – show symptoms of rather distinct mental illnesses and personality disorders. Though still lovable – as many of us with mental health issues are – the Muppets are clearly in need of a little bit of therapy…and likely a lot of medication!

Here are some of the most popular Muppets and the mental issues that plague them.

The Muppet Show

Kermit the Frog: Trauma Bonds/Battered Person Syndrome

KermitIt’s not easy being green, but for Kermit, that is only the start of his struggles. His life started in the swamp, with 3265 brothers and sisters. Though he managed to rise to fame from those humble beginnings – working as a T.V. news reporter, a stage manager at a successful theatre, and as a Johnny Carson show host – even his Hollywood Walk of Fame star can’t hide the fact that he has formed a trauma bond with Miss Piggy and that he suffers from battered person (frog?) syndrome. Even his marriage to her was forced upon him in the film The Muppets Take Manhattan, when he unwittingly became her husband. But wedded bliss didn’t stop Miss Piggy’s smothering love and violent, rage-filled tirades (followed by more smothering affection and apologies). Despite all of this, Kermit has always stayed with her and has always forgiven her. Time for an intervention?

Miss Piggy: Narcissistic Personality Disorder/Bipolar Disorder

Miss PiggyMiss Piggy is the first person to tell you how fabulous she is and why she belongs in the spotlight. At the same time, if someone tries to stand in her way, she’ll take them down like a porcine bulldozer. In her attempts to remain in the limelight, Miss Piggy has revealed her narcissism by being conceited, egotistical, vain, and even prone to violence and rather dubious behavior. These characteristics carry over to her obsession with Kermit the Frog, toward whom her moods swing wildly from romantic passion to overwhelming outrage depending on his response to her affections. These dramatic dips and peaks in her mood have reached the point of destructiveness to her ability to work and to the health of her relationships.  This indicates that bipolar disorder may also be present.

Animal: Manic Disorder/Pica Disorder

AnimalAnimal is nearly always experiencing wild manic episodes, which he vents through his extreme-level drumming for the Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band on The Muppet Show. His mania is atypical, and is defined by very high levels of energy, vocal (and only somewhat verbal) exclamations, and high levels of excitement and irritability. Perhaps unrelated to his mania is his tendency toward Pica Disorder, in which he is compulsively drawn to eat non-food objects. He requires continual reminders not to eat items that are non-edible – such as his drums. Beat them, don’t eat them, Animal.

Beaker: Anxiety Disorder

BeakerAfter years of being stretched, zapped, lit up, replicated, and blown up as Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s Muppet Labs assistant/guinea pig, Beaker has developed a powerful anxiety disorder that causes him to speak in meeps, to maintain an expression that is permanently stunned (his eyelids appear to be non-existent), and to tremble frequently. It has reached the point that Beaker is nervous to do anything in his workplace due to the dangers to which he has been exposed and from Dr. Honeydew’s apparent disregard for Beaker’s health and wellbeing. Though Beaker’s vocalizations are nearly exclusively meeps, his panic attacks can be recognized through increasingly shrill and urgent meeping. As a bright guy, he may have attempted an official workplace safety assessment, but it is difficult for him to express the details of his concerns due to his current communication limitations.

Seasame Street

Count von Count: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

CountCount von Count, also known simply as “The Count” ,is among the Muppets that is the easiest to diagnose as he shows the classic signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He has a compulsion to count things, punctuating each number with his laughter (“one” followed by “ah ah ah”). Once he is done counting, he will laugh maniacally and will often begin the counting again. Even a single item is enough for The Count to Count. Fortunately his naturally altruistic nature has allowed him to selflessly use his condition in early childhood education, familiarizing children with numbers…ad nauseum.

Big Bird: Schizophrenia

Big BirdBig Bird’s childlike nature has made it possible for kids to relate to him while they learn about new things and feel better about themselves.  In fact, Big Bird has been doing this for nearly 45 years (Peter Pan Syndrome?).  However, Big Bird’s best friend is a talking wooly mammoth (or something like one) named Mr. Aloysius Snuffleupagus…whom only Big Bird can see. It appears that “Snuffy” may be nothing more than a complex form of hallucination. As Big Bird has been left entirely untreated for his condition, the fact that he has built a profound relationship with Snuffy (who may be suffering from a bout of depression of his own) while nobody else on Sesame Street believes that he exists has caused Big Bird to feel persecuted and paranoid. Although Snuffy did become visible to others in 1985, it has been argued that this could be a case of delusional transference called Shared Psychotic Disorder. Not convinced that it’s schizophrenia? Big Bird has extensive and elaborate conversations with his teddy bear, too.

Cookie Monster: Binge Eating Disorder

Cookie MonsterCookie Monster’s binge eating disorder is completely out of control as this Muppet now has a complete lack of appetite inhibition, particularly (though not exclusively) around cookies. He often falls victim to episodes of extreme overindulgence of cookies; a behavior completely unrelated to a hunger response. It is clear that he is attempting to compensate for a lacking elsewhere in his life. This behavior is not exclusive to Sesame Street, as he has also been known to partake in these marathon eating incidents while visiting others – such as his guest appearance on the Martha Stewart Living show.  The domestic diva showed remarkable understanding when Cookie lost control and ate all of her freshly baked cookies…after having originally tied him up in order to control him.

Grover – Dissociative Identity Disorder

GroverGrover is a sweet, slim, anxious monster whose daydreams cause him to lose touch with reality to the degree that an alter-ego – Super Grover – sometimes appears and takes him over. Super Grover is very different from regular Grover. Unlike his nervous counterpart, Super Grover will take dangerous risks and believes that he can save the day. Unfortunately, his advice to children is rather disconnected with reality. For example, he once recommended that a child take a bus stop sign home as a mode of transportation, instead of the actual bus (fortunately, the kid used his own common sense and took the bus, not the sign).

Oscar the Grouch – Antisocial Personality Disorder

GroverOscar lives in a garbage can and has a rather textbook case of antisocial personality disorder (once known as sociopathic personality disorder). His symptoms include a disregard for others, frequent aggression, irritability and violence, disregard for the safety of himself and others, a lack of empathy for others, and a disregard for social norms. Oscar enjoys easy targets such as Grover and Telly, although he is surprisingly gentle with Slimy, his friend the striped worm.

It is clear that the Muppet world is rife with mental illness. It is this author’s recommendation that the plastic in the ping-pong ball eyes be tested for a leeching chemical that could be contributing to the development of these symptoms and disorders.

Until such study can be completed, however, it should be recognized that the Muppets are wonderful examples of how individuals suffering from mental disorders are not villains or freaks. Instead, just like everyone else, they can be lovable, adorable, and sweet – especially once you get to know them.  Altogether now: awwwwww!

6 Ways You’re Not Using Light to its Fullest (but probably should)

Julie Campbell writer - using light

The one resource that we all have, that we barely understand, and that we could be using for dozens of very powerful purposes (but aren’t), is light – which you have likely already figured out because of the title. 😉

Julie Campbell writer - Light spectrumLight is an incredible form of energy, but unless your favourite class in school was science, and you just can’t get enough of the latest energy, biology, and medical journals, then the odds are that you’re not using all of this free power to its fullest.

Is this an ad for solar panels? Absolutely not! This blog doesn’t sell anything! But you can choose to take this information and use it for a lot of very positive benefits in your life, if you want.

Check out some of the greatest ways you could be using light but aren’t (yet!).

1. Skin Care

You may have been told that the best way to keep your skin healthy is to stay out of the sun because the UV light will cause photodamage and increase the risk of skin cancer, which is true, but certain other wavelengths of light can do a lot of good for your skin! In fact, by using the right wavelengths of light through certain properly designed lamps and LED bulbs, you could actually throw away many of the products that you’ve been purchasing from the drugstore to try to resolve a number of your skin issues.

Light will never replace a proper cleansing and moisturizing routine (or the application of a good SPF lotion when you’re headed outside), but it can provide a natural, healthy, side effect-free substitute for many other products that you likely use – or have used – in your life. Here are some of the products you could throw away if you had the right LED lamp at home:

• Acne Creams

Julie Campbell writer - blue and red lightThrough the use of blue and red light, acne can be both healed and prevented without drying or the use of any medications. It is gentler on the skin, encourages a healthy complexion through natural processes in the skin, and the devices cost far less than the medicated products that you would purchase over the lifetime of the lamp.

• Anti-Aging Creams

Julie Campbell writer -red lightIn this case, treatments with red light that you can use at home can help to boost collagen and fibroblast production, increase circulation to the skin, and promotes better activity in the lymph system. This helps to reduce the look and appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, decrease the appearance of broken capillaries, repair damage from the sun, moisturize the skin, and even promotes smoother, more even skin. Again, like the acne creams, one lamp at home is far cheaper than all of the anti aging creams, lotions, and serums that you’ll buy over the years. NASA was behind a great deal of the research at the foundation of this discovery, for these devices that are now FDA approved.

• Skin Calming/Anti-Redness Creams

Julie Campbell writer - amber lightIf you have reactive skin or conditions such as rosacea, which cause the skin to be flushed and red, the amber light could allow you to toss all of those skin soothing and calming creams that are supposed to reduce redness, but rarely do (although many will increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, which can worsen the problem). You’ll save a fortune on all of those specialty products and give your skin a much gentler treatment than those from a bottle.

2. Hair Loss

Julie Campbell writer - hair loss light therapyBelieve it or not, low level light therapy (L.L.L.T.) is being used as an effective treatment option for hair loss. It uses red to near-infrared light that is emitted from either a light emitting diode (LED) device or a laser. Laser treatments need to be received from a licensed professional in a clinic, but LED treatments can be done at home while you surf the net or watch TV. Although not all forms of hair loss are treatable, most of the most common forms – such as androgenic alopecia (male pattern hair loss) – can benefit from this method as an alternative to prescription drugs, hair transplant surgery, and other experimental treatments. It is also being used for alopecia areata (female pattern hair loss) and can improve the health and texture of hair that is already growing unassisted.

3. Mental Health

Julie Campbell writer - SAD treatmentOur current lifestyles – combined with the fact that many of us live in climates that are too hot or too cold to allow us to remain outside for any length of time – have forced us to live the majority of our lives indoors, out of direct sunlight. Though this does help to keep our skin protected from sun damage and lowers the risk of skin cancer, it does make another condition much more common.

This condition is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and it is quite serious. It sends millions of people into a form of depression during the fall and winter months of every year. A light therapy box is a highly recommended form of treatment by many doctors and highly reputed medical organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic. It consists of a device that has a stand or that can sit on a tabletop, that shines a full spectrum light onto you as you sit at work or watch TV. It safely mimics the impact of natural light in order to help prevent and overcome SAD.

4. Physical Health

Certain forms of light can help you to heal wounds, fight disease, prevent illness, and even cure certain conditions. Some of the ways in which light can physically treat you include the following:

• Neonatal jaundice

Julie Campbell writer - neonatal jaundice light therapyFor more than 30 years, it has become a very common practice in hospitals in Canada, the United States, and many other parts of the world, to use blue light wavelength exposure to help to treat newborns and infants with jaundice. This phototherapy allows the baby’s body to naturally eliminate the bilirubin in the bloodstream. A single blue LED spotlight of the right wavelengths, or a row of smaller lights, shining directly on an undressed (diapered and eye-patched) baby is often all the treatment that is needed to overcome this condition. This completely avoids the need for a blood transfusion.

• MRSA infections

Julie Campbell writer - MRSA light therapyIt has never been more important to avoid overusing antibiotics in order to reduce the instance of resistant strains of bacteria. For this reason, it is becoming common practice (and already is in some Canadian and American hospitals) to use light based therapies and treatments to prevent and treat infections of drug-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, following a surgical procedure.

• Vitamin D Deficiency

Julie Campbell writer - vitamin DAs is the case with the development of SAD symptoms, our indoor lifestyles are also reducing the vitamin D levels in our bodies. The production of vitamin D is dependent on exposure to certain light wavelengths that we simply aren’t getting. Though milk is supplemented with this nutrient, studies are showing that the majority of the population still isn’t receiving this nutrient in adequate supply. This can lead to a number of health problems and symptoms, and researching is beginning to suggest that vitamin D deficiency is also increasing the risk of certain cancers, such as breast cancer. The use of the right light emitting products can help to make sure that our bodies are producing adequate amounts of vitamin D in order to keep us healthy.

5. Home Energy

Julie Campbell writer - solar panelOf course this list wouldn’t be complete if solar panels for home energy weren’t recognized. Though they are seen as relatively expensive, the price of the panels is falling, while their efficiency is increasing, meaning that it is costing less to be able to generate a larger amount of energy. Some programs are available in certain regions that allow a homeowner to receive the panels and their installation for free, provided that they agree to be connected to the grid so that any excess energy that is generated will contribute to the local community. Many of these programs will even share some of the profits with the homeowners. Not a bad deal for free, green solar energy!

6. Sneezing

Julie Campbell writer - sneezing from sunlightAlright, sneezing isn’t exactly an area where you can benefit from light but it was considered fun and interesting, so it couldn’t be left out of this list! After all, interesting information is what The Discovery Spot is all about!

Between 18 and 35 percent of the human population is affected by what is known as a “photic sneeze reflex”. That’s why you or someone you know will often sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright light. For example, if you’ve been inside in dim light all day and you step outside into direct sunlight, you may sneeze – or you know someone who would in this same circumstance. This condition is harmless, inherited, and very poorly understood. Aristotle blamed it on the sudden heat from the sun onto the nose, while today’s scientists feel that it has something to do with a cranial nerve relating to motor control and the senses that is reacting to signals from the optic nerve. Whatever it is, it’s interesting and it’s all brought to you by light exposure.

Julie Campbell writer - using lightHave you ever used light for any of these reasons (or others, for that matter)? Please share your stories through the comments below. Find out what your friends have tried to accomplish with light by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks (buttons conveniently provided below). Sharing this kind of science will also make you look smarter. 😉