Documentaries

Staying Alive: The Art and Science of Living to 100

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

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Photo by Karen Brown/Peter Chilton.

More people are living to a hundred than ever before — twice as many as twenty years ago. And they’re often living quite well – which is why centenarians have become a popular group to study in the science of aging.

Listen here to an audio essay of my quest to meet centenarians in Western Massachusetts and learn the secret to their longevity. Voices of: Arky Markham, Helen Backiel Krok, Althea Cowles and Eva Blondin. (Music by John Townsend.)

This story was first performed as a staged reading at Live Art Magazine in Northampton, MA on Oct. 23, 2015.

To download audio, right-click here

Sequel: Lance and Nina – A Recovering Addict Moves On …

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Lance Rice graduates from ‘drug court’ in Greenfield, Mass., April 2015.

Last Spring, New England Public Radio aired a story about a recovering heroin addict in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, named Lance Rice and the woman whose house he robbed, Nina Rossi.

Back then, sitting in Rossi’s kitchen, Rice said, “I’m so grateful there’s people like Nina out there, because the normal person would automatically hate somebody who did that to their home.” And Rossi responded, “Well, I did hate you, Lance. We had your picture from the newspaper with ‘F.U.’ written on it on the refrigerator. Cuz we felt violated.”

And yet they forged an unlikely friendship as Rice entered a court program that offers treatment instead of jail.

A year later, many things have evolved – in Rice’s recovery, and in his relationship with Nina Rossi.

To hear the update, visit here.

The Path to Primary Care: Who Will Be The Next Generation of Frontline Doctors?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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Remember the grandfatherly doctor who makes house calls and treated three generations of the same family, nursing them through everything from skinned knees to cancer?

For the most part, that Norman Rockwell ideal is long gone, and replaced with busy group practices that usher through patients in 15-minute increments. But even that model is struggling. There simply aren’t enough primary care doctors, period. So when the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, the government included money to train and inspire a new generation of primary care doctors. Are those efforts working?

For a year, I followed a group  of doctors-in-training in Western Massachusetts as they weighed this major career decision, while trying out the profession first-hand.

This documentary was funded by a fellowship from the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Commonwealth Fund. [Full transcript and photos at NEPR.net]

Listen to Rob Rosenthal’s interview with me on HowSound Podcast, hosted by Transom.org, here.

Read my companion story in the Boston Globe here.

 

And to hear a follow-up feature, which looks at some unconventional, activist efforts to reverse the trend away from primary care, click here.

Life After Stress: The Biology of Trauma and Resilience

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

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After September 11th, social scientists really began to focus on the psychological impact

Photo by Mike Carroll for Harvard University.

of trauma, and the power of resilience. But long before that horrible event, and certainly since, there have been brutal wars, natural disasters, mass shootings, and bombings — not to mention the chronic stress of poverty, illness, or domestic abuse.

An emerging field of science is looking at ways trauma of all sorts gets embedded in the body and brain, and who weathers it best. Stay with us for the half-hour documentary — “Life After Stress: The Biology of Trauma and Resilience.”

First broadcast on New England Public Radio, November 13, 2014. Edited by Sam Hudzik. Original Music by John Townsend. Funding contributed by the Falcon Fund and the Knight Fellowship in Science Journalism at MIT.

To download audio, right-click here

Full transcript available at NEPR.net

For companion print article I wrote for NOVA Next (PBS Online), “What Makes a Resilient Mind,” click here.

 

Never Forget: Holocaust Survivors Contend with New Memories from Traumatic Past

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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An estimated 200,000 Holocaust survivors are still living. Many were only children during the Nazi terror.

Michael and Ilana Krauss

Michael and Ilana Krauss

Today, the world relies on their memories as testimony against genocide. But for survivors themselves, memory can also represent a present danger. They fear memory loss….as many elderly do….. but they also risk becoming overwhelmed by the memories they’ve worked so hard to control.  (Aired WFCR, 4/19/12)

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This report was produced in collaboration with Vox Tablet, the weekly podcast of Tabletmag.com.http://www.tabletmag.com/author/vox-tablet/

To download audio, right click here

To read the related Boston Globe story I wrote, click here

Living with Hypochondria: The Real Costs of Imagined Illness

Friday, July 1st, 2011

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Our health is all over the news these days: whether it’s the contentious debate on american health reform,

Sheila Murphy

Sheila Murphy

the latest study on cell phones and cancer, or advances in genetic testing that can pinpoint who’s at risk for which disease.

This focus on health care motivates some people to eat right, exercise, and stay in good medical shape. But others grow to fear everything that could possibly go wrong with their body. And in some cases, they imagine that it already has.

Dr. Daniel Levy

Dr. Daniel Levy

In the next half hour, an in depth look at “Living with Hypochondria: The Real Costs of Imagined Illness” — a radio documentary, written and produced by Karen Brown.

First aired on New England Public Radio/WFCR on July 1, 2011.

To download audio, right-click here.

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