PSYCHOLOGY

On Loneliness and Solitude

For weeks, a bright-green advertisement for Meals on Wheels in The New Yorker delivered the bad news: Social Isolation is as deadly as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness. It is toxic, pernicious, erosive. Popular and academic publications are exploding with articles about the current epidemic. Experts all over the world are trying to figure out its root causes and possible antidotes. In The New York Times Jonathan Haidt and Jean M. Twenge note that “smartphone access and internet use increased in lock-step with teenage loneliness.”

Read More »

Re-entering the World

For a time, home was a window on the world—an odd encampment where we zoomed through business, online schooling and relationships, while longing for the camaraderie of the crowd. What will the balance of home and outside activities look like in the months ahead?

Read More »

Far from the Irish Sea

Home structures the story of our lives. Mine began in Ireland, in a cloud of unknowing. I was told that I cried so much in the first few months of my life that I had to be operated on for a ruptured hernia. In my 4th year, I contracted tuberculosis, discovered accidentally while I was staying with relatives in England. Unable to walk I created an imaginary home, inhabited by imaginary parents, during the two years I was in hospital.

Read More »

Coming Home to the V.A.

In the early years of the Iraq War, female veterans slowly trickled in. They, too, were thrust into the general patient pool. Sometimes we had fifty-seven male residents and three females on the same floor. Of course, the women complained that they were “hit on.” And they were scared—because their doors had no locks. The open-door policy had been in place for decades, to ensure staff access to all rooms in case of emergency.

Read More »

The Soul of Washington

As the nation absorbs gripping accounts from lawmakers who sheltered within the U.S. Capitol during the riot, and from the Capitol Police—a lingering trauma remains. If there is a redemptive dimension to this tragedy, it may be that it has brought home the city’s significance in our collective American story.

Read More »

Rising Seas and Falling Stars

There’s a jarring sense that we are living in apocalyptic times, and we hope and pray that all the turmoil—social, political, economic, and ecological—will somehow lead to a last minute save or revelation.

Read More »

Beasts of the Southern Wild

What to watch when life is looking grim and you’re searching for a story of resilience and hope? Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) spins a dreamlike fable. It starts in a magical landscape that’s facing a great flood. It’s about the redemption of feeling, and the family as the crucible of initiation. And it introduces us to some fiercely proud people who know a lot about loss and survival.

Read More »

Up Against the Wall

In her new book, Wall Disease, Jessica Wapner considers how living up against a border creates stress, fear, mistrust and a host of serious health conditions, including trauma and early childhood development issues, and even a subtle reshaping of the brain—in particular, the area that contains our compass for survival.

Read More »

What Myth Now?

Americans of all stripes have been in a state of great distress, wondering what the future will hold—yearning for a vision, new or old, that will help resolve what I term “cultural complexes” that divide us on issues of immigration, race, gender, abortion, health care, the relationship between rural and urban populations, between the individual and the broader community, and our views on the role of government today.

Read More »