Groopman, Dr. Jerome — Facing Illness with Success

Hope is one of the most fundamental and powerful of human emotions, and also one of the least studied and understood. “The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness,” by Dr. Jerome Groopman, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and a writer for the New Yorker magazine, examines the role hope plays in the practice of medicine, and the ways in which hope can release chemicals powerful enough to change the outcome of otherwise fatal diseases.

Dr. Jerome Groopman recommends the book “The Old School,” by Tobian Wolff.

Originally broadcast February 20, 2004.

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Richmond, Martha — Lead in the Blood: Dangers and How to Protect

The level of lead in the blood of children is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Dr. Martha E. Richmond, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of Environmental Science, at Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts. 

Dr. Richmond’s current work centers on lead poisoning in children and involves  assessment of environmental regulation to effectively protect public health, including the effectiveness of regulations for air pollutants, and protection of children against lead toxicity.

Approximately 500,000 children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 5 suffer from lead poisoning as a result of lead in their blood above the level for which public health action is recommended. 

No safe blood lead level in children has been identified and lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized.   This results in short and long term adverse consequences in the exposed children and to society in general.

When Dr. Richmond visited by phone from her home near Boston, Massachusetts, on October 19, 2014, she began with a description of the issues surrounding lead poisoning.

The book Dr. Martha Richmond recommends is “Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children,” by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner.

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California Burning: The Mendocino Lodge Fire

California wildfires present a serious public safety concern, create fear of serious loss for many and cost millions of dollars to fight. In California each fire is given a name, as is done for hurricanes. We devote this edition of Radio Curious, to the Lodge Fire that occurred in Mendocino County, California in August 2014.  We visit with four Mendocino County people who meet the public need at times of crisis.

We begin with Mary Aigner, program director of KZYX and KZYZ, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, the public radio station where Radio Curious was originally broadcast beginning in 1991.  She describes what local public radio is able to do at a time of crisis. We then hear from Chris Rowney, the Mendocino Unit Chief for Cal-Fire, the California fire protection agency, who explains what Cal-Fire does when confronted with a wildfire. We also hear from Mendocino County Sheriff, Tom Allman, whose responsibility it is to order a mandatory evacuation if a crisis so requires. Finally we hear from Dr. Sharon Paltin, a family physician in Laytonville, California, the community closest to the Lodge Fire.  She describes the public health effects of exposure to the extraordinary amount of smoke created by a wildfire.

We begin our conversation, recorded on August 29, 2014, with Mary Aigner from Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, describing the role of community radio when a wild fire occurs.

The book Mary Aigner recommends is “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,” by Charles C. Mann. The book that Chris Rowney recommends is “Young Men and Fires,” by Norman McClean. The book Dr. Sharon Paltin recommends is “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster,” by Rebecca Solnit.

This program was recorded on August 29 and September 1, 2014.

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Dole, Robert — Homosexuality and Schizophrenia

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, this edition of Radio Curious discusses one man’s personal experience in recognizing his homosexuality. Until the mid 1970s many people considered homosexuality to be a mental disorder and/or a crime, as it is still in some personal and political belief systems. Homosexual people sometimes were housed in mental institutions, given medication and suffered an array of treatment methods, including shock therapy and other forms of behavior modification.

Professor Robert Dole, our guest in this edition of Radio Curious, was one of many individuals subjected to behavior modification. In his book, “How to Make a Success of Your Schizophrenia,” he explains how the “treatment” he endured as an attempt to alter his homosexual preference made him schizophrenic. His personal memoir describes his experiences growing up in the 1960s as a gay man, his institutionalization at the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, the insanity that consumed him as a result of his treatment, his self-led recovery, partially based on a spiritual experience, and his subsequent extraordinary life in academia.

Professor Dole, who is fluent in seven languages, teaches English as a Foreign Language at the University of Chicoutimi in rural Quebec, Canada, where he has lived for 30 plus years. He is the author of several books including, “The American Nightmare.” Robert Dole and I visited by phone from his office at the University of Chicoutimi on November 4, 2011 and began our conversation when I asked him to describe the schizophrenia he experienced.

The books he recommends are: “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” by Leo Tolstoy and any book from Stefan Zweig. 

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Dammann, Dr. Grace –Dr. Grace Dammann: In Her Own Words

In our last interview we visited with the producers and directors of the film “States of Grace,” about the life of a woman honored by The Dalai Lama for her medical work at the height of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, Ca.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with that woman, Dr. Grace Dammann.  Dr. Grace had a near death experience resulting from a head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge in 2008.  She awoke 48 comatose days later after multiple surgeries for, as she says, “trashed bones and internal organs.”  With her cognitive abilities in tact, she began rehabilitation and was able to go home a year later.  Now, in 2014 she has returned to work as the Medical Director of the Pain Clinic at the Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, California, where she had previously worked as a physician for 18 years. 

Notwithstanding her confinement to a wheelchair she proudly describes her legal efforts to urge the Golden Gate Bridge Authority to install a dividing barrier intended to prevent future head-on collisions on the bridge.  The installation is scheduled to being in the fall of 2014.

Dr. Grace and I visited by phone from her home at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, in Muir Beach, California on May 23, 2014.  We began our conversation when I asked her describe her current station on the continuum of her life’s experience. 

The book Dr. Grace Dammann recommends is “The Last of the Just,” by Andre Schwarz-Bart. 

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Cohen, Helen & Lipman, Mark –”States of Grace:”  Difficult to Imagine – Impossible to Comprehend

On May 21, 2008 Dr. Grace Damman was crushed in a head-on collision on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.  Her abdominal organs were shoved into her lung cavity and her bones and muscles were extensively injured. 

A practicing Buddhist, Dr. Grace engaged her spirituality to survive this crisis, heal and accept the new terms of her life.  Three years and 15 surgeries later, Dr. Grace Damman became the Medical Director of the Pain Clinic at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital where she had previously worked as a physician for 18 years.

“States of Grace” is a documentary film about Dr. Grace Damman, produced and directed by Helen Cohen and Mark Lipman, our guests on this edition of Radio Curious.  We visited by phone from their home in San Francisco, California, on May 16, 2014, and began our conversation with Helen Cohen describing her friend, Dr. Grace.

The films Helen Cohen recommends are “The Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Guest of Cindy Sherman.” The film Mark Lipman recommends is “Sherman’s March.”

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Brizendine, Dr. Louann — The Female & the Male Brain: There is a Difference

Have you ever been curious about the difference between the male brain and the female brain? Well I have, for a long time. Dr. Louann Brizendine, founder of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco wrote two books about those differences. In 2006 she wrote a book called, “The Female Brain,” and in 2010 she wrote “The Male Brain,”–very different books about very different genders of our human species.

The interview with Dr. Louann Brizendine was recorded by phone from her home in San Francisco, Ca on March 21st, 2011. We began by discussing the mail brain and in particular, the chapter to her book titled “Seeing the World Through Male Colored Glasses.”

The book Dr. Louann Brizendine recommends is “The Emperor of All Maladies,” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Click here or on the media player below to listen to part two.

Cochran, Gregory — The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution Part One

Have humans changed in the last 10,000 years?  Are we biologically the same as we have been for the past 60,000 years? Recent evidence suggests that so called civilization has promoted rapid evolutionary change in our species in the last 10,000 years.

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Gregory Cochran, a physicist and anthropologist, who is the co-author of the book “The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution”.  His book asserts that changes in human biology, lactose tolerance and resistance to malaria for example, represent human evolution accelerated by civilization.

In this, the first of two Radio Curious conversations with Gregory Cochran we discuss some of these evolutions.

In part two we discuss the evolution and genetic mutations of race and physiology.

I spoke with Gregory Cochran from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23, 2009 and began by asking him what biological indications exist to show an increase in human evolution in the past 10,000 years and why they occurred.

The book Gregory Cochran recommends is “Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Re-Wilding of America” by Paul S. Martin

Click here or on the media player below to listen to part one.

Fogg, Laura — Traveling Blind

The ways different creatures, especially us humans, use our senses to guide ourselves through life has long attracted my curiosity.   I’ve often wondered how blind people seem able to orient themselves, and also wondered about their dreams. 

From time to time, over the years, I would see an attentive woman walk past my office window next to a young person of student age.  They would walk together talk, and the young person almost always carried a white cane with a red tip. 

Laura Fogg is this woman, the author of “Traveling Blind:  Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers,” and our guest in this archive edition of Radio Curious.  

Laura Fogg worked as a Mobility and Orientation Instructor for the Blind in Mendocino County for over 35 years beginning 1971.  She pioneered the use of the red tipped white cane with very young blind students some of whom had multiple impairments.  She traveled long distances over the rather spectacular back roads of Mendocino County to work with each student his or her home.

When she visited the studios of Radio Curious on December 1, 2008, I asked her about the lessons that she learned that have changed her life. 

The book Laura Fogg recommends is “My Year of Meats,” by Ruth Ozeki. Published in 1999.

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Nuland, Dr. Sherwin — Wisdom of The Body: Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, Remembered

Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, our guest in this archive edition is the author of several books, including “How We Die,” and “The Wisdom of the Body.”  He died on March 3, 2014, at his home in Connecticut, at the age of 83.  Dr. Nuland and I visited, shortly after “The Wisdom of the Body” was published, in the back of a bookstore in Santa Rosa, California on May 6, 1997.

In “The Wisdom of the Body,” Dr. Nuland, describes the synergistic functions of the human body and considers the brain, language, and civilization from developmental perspectives.  He reflects on children, and humankind as a whole, and explores aspects that have separated our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

In this interview, originally broadcast in May, 1997, we began with his answer to the question, what is it about the human species that has allowed us to learn so much about ourselves.

The book Dr. Nuland recommended is “The Meaning of Yiddish,” by Benjamin Harshav.

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