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.
How writer (and frequent This American Life contributor) David Sedaris and his family reacted when Sedaris's mother—a lifelong, unrepentant smoker—developed lung cancer. After a lifetime of barbed, funny remarks, no one in the family is prepared to talk about their feelings.
Julie Hill with a story about her six-year-old son, and how he tries to make sense of his father's terminal illness.
Most sperm banks provide all sorts of information about their donors: Education level, medical background. They even have videotaped interviews and recorded answers to essay questions.
Scott goes on a quest to discover if the amnesia in the movies—where someone gets bonked on the head and forgets everything—ever happens in real life.
The 2000 election season was strange in that many of the issues that the candidates debated most heatedly were ones that most of us have no handle on—prescription drug policy, social security solvency...and educational accountability. Producer Alex Blumberg travels to North Carolina, a state where many of the promises both candidates make regarding education are already in place.
After he died, Albert Einstein became a figure of international kitsch: Appearing in computer and Pepsi ads, showing up a comic character in movies with Meg Ryan, and until very recently his brain was on the loose without his family's consent...in the unauthorized possession of the doctor who did the autopsy, a man named Thomas Harvey. Mike Paterniti took a cross-country roadtrip with Dr Harvey and the brain.
What happens when you want your dad to change—and he wants to change, too—but there's literally nothing that can be done to change him. Jon Sarkin was a chiropractor with workaholic tendencies.
Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic, in Pontiac, Michigan, explains how every crime scene is like a novel.
Host Ira Glass talks with people who've been hit by lightning. They describe what happened at the moment the bolt struck ... and how they came to view it later.
David Rakoff goes in search of the only existing mementos of a year-and-a-half of his life when he nearly died from Hodgkins Disease. The missing relics are his own pre-chemotherapized sperm — which reside somewhere in a Toronto lab.
Mike Paterniti talks about working on a teen ambulance corps, growing up in Connecticut.
Host Ira Glass talks with Robert Lipsyte, author of In the Country of Illness, who tells a story of how one lady in New York won the hospital staff over to her side with one conversation.
When Terry Shine's father was in the hospital, Terry and his brothers spent weeks trying to do whatever they could to help. But first they had to learn the language and customs of the average American hospital.
No radio program about caregivers in a hospital would be complete without a few words about the caregiver that is the most omnipresent...in every room, in the waiting rooms, at the nurses' stations. It's television.
When a nurse asks a 14-year-old burn victim out for ice cream, is it a date? Brent Runyon tells the story, which was produced by Jay Allison, part of his Life Stories series, with help from Christina Egloff and funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The story is part of Runyon's book The Burn Journals. Ira then speaks with an interested party.
Wendy Dorr, an assistant producer at Radio Diaries, has this story of what happens to you if you break one of the cardinal rules of a hospital, over and over, for years.
The teenagers arrive in West Virginia and take a look around.
One of the most powerful forces in a room can be the thing that is unspoken between people. Five writers—Scott Carrier, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Brady Udall and Lan Samantha Chang—give us case examples: stories when they felt the presence of something unspoken.