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Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Back in 1953, Brock Chisholm, a psychiatrist and first Director-General of the World Health Organization, commented, “Without mental health there can be no true physical health.” More than 60 years later, this lesson has never felt more crucial.

Many of us can cite the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19–357,000 right now, with upward of 21 million cases. President-elect Biden recently announced a task force to address the problem. The glaring omission in that task force, as STAT News pointed out, are mental health professionals.

That matters because the pandemic affects mental health as well as physical health…


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Photo by Obi Onyeador from Unsplash

If you’ve never personally experienced institutional discrimination — racism, sexism, homophobia — there’s no way you can understand it. You can’t get how deep it goes, how irresistible it is. If you’ve never been the target of any kind of institutionalized stigma it’s easy to think each incident or encounter stands on its own. You believe each act of violence, physical or not, has its own origin story and its own specific solution.

But anyone who’s ever realized that the crappy treatment they got at a job, in a store, at the doctor’s office isn’t just about them but is…


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Photo by MINDY JACOBS on Unsplash

Anorexia nervosa is one of the most pernicious diseases around. People who develop it are sick, on average, for four to seven years. A third never recover. Ten percent die from the disease, either from malnutrition or from suicide.

Some of these depressing statistics can be chalked up to the nature of the illness. But too many of them come from misconceptions and wrong-headed ideas about anorexia and what it takes to recover. Too many nutritionists, dietitians, therapists, and psychiatrists still prescribe treatments that are outmoded, outdated, not evidence based, and often just plain wrong. …


Beyond Small Talk

Each interaction is part of a bigger process of acceptance

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Illustration: Heeje Min Heo

This story is part of How to Talk to Anyone, Forge’s guide to moving past the chitchat and truly connecting.

My relationship with my mother was traumatic and dysfunctional and, I’m convinced, nearly killed me. When I finally cut her off, three years before she died, my life improved dramatically.

But any estrangement has its collateral damage — and in my case, going no-contact with my mother meant giving up the rest of my family, too. My father and I had been close when I was growing up, but as things with my mother deteriorated, he made it clear he…


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Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

It began with an email, one that dropped into my inbox from someone I did not know. Over the years of our correspondence her email names and address changed, from Azhe’n to Be Love to Opus Literati to Private Soulstice. Eventually she trusted me enough to give me her real name; I’ll call her Sue.

Many people write to me because I published a book about helping my daughter recover from anorexia. They write looking for help, for guidance, for validation. With most I exchange a couple of emails, point them toward real-life help and support if I can, remind…


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With my older daughter, age 1

I’d been dreading this moment for 27 years, since the day my older daughter was born. As I stood holding her at the hospital window that night, looking into the darkening intersection of Sixth Avenue and 11th Street, I thought Someday she’ll leave me.

She did, of course, moving out after college to a city several hundred miles away. I’d just about gotten used to her absence when it was my younger daughter’s turn to trek halfway across the country for grad school. Some parents can’t wait for their children to go; I’d been ugly-crying every night for months, my…


Dear Republicans,

It’s human nature to want power. Republicans and Democrats and Libertarians and Green Party members and Independents — we all want the power to run things the way we think they should be run. And as human beings we have our own interests at heart. Preservation of the species and all that. I get it. It’s cool.

But what you’re doing now is not cool. And you can’t seem to stop yourselves. So listen: Cut it out, right now.

Your party is like a robot that’s outlived its creators and continues to blunder through the universe, blindly crushing…

Harriet Brown

Science writer and storyteller. I wrote Shadow Daughter: A Memoir of Estrangement, Body of Truth, and Brave Girl Eating. I teach Magazineland @NewhouseSU.

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