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The Sun Magazine

Body and Mind

Psychology

The Sun Interview

Misdiagnosed And Misunderstood

Steve Silberman On The Mysteries Of Autism

People often ask if I believe autism is overdiagnosed, if we’re just slapping a label on geeky kids who in previous generations would have been considered merely eccentric. I reply that I believe autism is still underdiagnosed in two groups: women and people of color. The cultural and class bias built into the diagnostic process was so pervasive in the 1980s that psychologist Victor Sanua claimed that autism is rare among families of color. The reality was that people of color often didn’t get decent healthcare.

Quotations

Sunbeams

The timidity of the child . . . is entirely reasonable; they are alarmed at this world, because this world is a very alarming place.

G.K. Chesterton

The Sun Interview

The Long Shadow

Bruce Perry On The Lingering Effects Of Childhood Trauma

One of the most important variables, in my experience, is when things happen. If you experience emotionally disengaged caregiving, humiliation, or a sense of being unwanted in the first year or two of life, even if you then escape that environment — maybe you’re adopted, or your parent who was depressed gets better — that early experience can still cause profound social and emotional problems for you all the way into adulthood. On the other hand, kids who have a good first year of consistent, predictable caregiving and then end up in shelters or foster homes and bounce around the system, maybe get sexually and physically abused, and so on — those children often function reasonably well as adolescents.

Quotations

Sunbeams

I am troubled by my shapeless fears. My God, these anxieties! Who can live in the modern world without catching his share of them?

Vincent van Gogh

The Sun Interview

Who Are You Calling Crazy?

Gary Greenberg On How We Define Mental Illness — And How It Defines Us

Mental illness is a function of consciousness, and consciousness is something we see through a glass darkly. We simply are not prepared to understand it with the same certainty that we are prepared to understand, say, liver disease.

Quotations

Sunbeams

“Sigmund Freud was so fond of smoking that he was somewhat irritated when men around him did not smoke. Consequently nearly all who formed the inner circle became more or less passionate cigar smokers.”

Hans Sachs

The Sun Interview

As We Lay Dying

Stephen Jenkinson On How We Deny Our Mortality

At every deathbed and hospital room, I didn’t see sane dying. I saw sedated dying, depressed dying, isolated dying, utterly disembodied dying. Sane dying would require a childhood steeped in death’s presence, an adulthood employed in its service, and an elderhood testifying to its necessity. Sane dying is a village-making event: lots of people with plenty to do, the whole production endorsing life.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The R-Word

When he diagnosed my three-month-old, Fiona, with a chromosomal disorder, the redheaded, cherubic medical geneticist did not use the phrase “mentally retarded” — thank God, or the gods of rhetoric, or just the politically correct medical school the young doctor had attended.