Karen Sosnoski's one-year-old son, Anton, was born with what's known as Mosaic Down Syndrome, a rare condition where some of his cells have the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome and other cells don't. So as he grows, he could end up having all the health risks and challenges of Downs syndrome...or just a few of them. Through a website, Karen found a kid with the same diagnosis, named Tim Colvin, who was doing really well...perhaps because his mother, Kristy, invented a surprising and unusual way to raise her son.
Host Ira Glass describes the thing that we all do at some point: Talk expertly about something we don't actually know anything about. It's so common, explains This American Life contributing editor Nancy Updike, that some friends of hers invented an imaginary magazine devoted to such blathering.
Until recently, most insurance companies didn't want doctors to apologize to patients they'd harmed, for fear it could be used against them in lawsuits. Now, though, there's a new movement encouraging doctors to 'fess up and say sorry.
Susie and John Drury moved to their farm just two years ago. But when John got sick for awhile, people who were no more than friendly acquaintances started helping out in ways that completely surprised them.
Jo Giese's husband, a doctor named Douglas Forde, had spent his life caring for other people. But then he had some strokes and developed a kind of dementia.
Lisa Carver's nine-year-old son, Wolfgang, was born with a rare illness that, among other things, makes it impossible for him to eat anything by mouth. He's fed through a g-tube, straight into his stomach.
Host Ira Glass talks with Dr. Stephen Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute about a cancer patient of his who spontaneously healed.
This American Life contributor Davy Rothbart goes to Brazil with his deaf mother to try and get her hearing back from a miracle healer called Joao de Deus, or John of God. They had trouble agreeing whether the things they witnessed down there were miracles or not.
Julia Whitty's father's cancer medication cost $47,000 a year if she bought it in the United States. It cost $1,200 a year if she bought it in a foreign country.
When you get to know someone, really know them, you can almost predict their behavior. It's comforting, this intimacy.
A lot of life's inevitability is hazy; it'll happen some time, but you're not sure when. But with pregnancy, it's on an invariable schedule: forty weeks.
Producer Alex Blumberg explains that he wanted to do this show because of his conflicted relationship with his own testosterone. He tells host Ira Glass that the reasons go back to a girl in his eighth-grade homeroom and the 1970s seminal feminist novel The Women's Room. We also hear from a man who stopped producing testosterone due to a medical treatment and found that his entire personality was altered.
The interview with a man who lost his testosterone continues. He explains that life without testosterone is life without desire—desire for everything: food, conversation, even TV.
An interview with a transgender man, who started life as female and began taking testosterone injections several years ago. He explains how testosterone changed his views on nature vs. nurture for good.
The men and women on staff at This American Life decide to get their testosterone levels tested, to see who has the most and least, and to see if personality traits actually do match up with hormone levels. It turns out to be an exercise that in retrospect, we might not recommend to other close-knit groups of friends or co-workers.
What if a new Palestinian leader came on the scene who was neither part of the corrupt autocracy of the Palestinian Authority, nor part of fundamentalist, suicide-bombing Hamas? Nancy Updike follows around possible future Palestinian political candidate Mustafa Barghouti, a doctor who's well known for setting up clinics.
Host Ira Glass goes to a fake wedding at a home for Alzheimer's patients in Davenport, Iowa. Two high school kids who've never even kissed are the bride and groom.
The story from the prologue continues, with the groom who refused to be a groom, and the one person who'll probably remember the fake wedding, namely, the fake bride.
In any family, giving other people what they want becomes fantastically complicated, often because people tend to give others the things they'd like themselves. Curtis Sittenfeld explains how the drama plays out in her family, when it comes to her father's weight.
Alix Spiegel reports on the "Recovered Memory" movement. In the early 1990s people across America turned to experts in psychology for help...and many people were told that the source of their problems could be traced to traumatic events they could not even remember, to memories that had to be recovered through special techniques.
Host Ira Glass explains that when you name names, when you whistleblow, when you tell on someone, you often do it anonymously. We hear from one anonymous squealer, who was done wrong by her doctor—he messed up a procedure and then refused to fix it.
We hear from a mother and her son. By age seven, he'd had heart failure and been diagnosed as bipolar.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declared that homosexuality was not a disease simply by changing the 81-word definition of sexual deviance in its own reference manual. It was a change that attracted a lot of attention at the time, but the story of what led up to that change is one that we hear today, from reporter Alix Spiegel.
Alix Spiegel's story continues, with a man dressed in a Nixon mask called Dr. Anonymous, and a pivotal encounter in a Hawaiian bar.