Author Archives

An Interview With a Therapist Who Was Once Insane

Michael Hobbes | Longreads | March 2014 | 10 minutes (2,425 words)


Joe Guppy is a writer, actor and psychotherapist living in Seattle. Thirty-five years ago, he was 23 years old and a mental patient. He spent 10 weeks in a mental hospital and another 10 weeks in a halfway house after Atabrine, an old-school malaria medication, gave him visions that he was living in hell and that his family was trying to kill him.

Thirty years after he was released, Guppy decided to investigate his own case of mental illness. Through physicians’ notes, journals and interviews, he took stock of how he got sick, how he got better and what his story says about how therapy helps people heal. He is working on a memoir about the experience, and was kind enough to send me a draft and let me interview him about what he found.

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Five Stories About Sports for People Who Hate Sports

OK, “hate” is too strong a word. But I fundamentally do not get sports. Playing them, yes, fine. But knowing players’ names, arguing that this one guy is better than that other guy, keeping a little Excel sheet of strikes and yards and rebounds in my head? Baffling.

But that doesn’t mean, as it turns out, that stories about sports can’t be fascinating. The economics! The moral gray areas! The egos! It’s like a reality show in there.

I’m not going to start watching sports anytime soon, but thanks to these stories, I’m starting to see why other people do.

Does Football Have A Future? The N.F.L. and The Concussion Crisis

Ben McGrath | The New Yorker | Jan. 31, 2011

This story has moved on quite a bit since 2011—there is now a book, a movie and something called The Concussion Blog—but McGrath’s story is a good primer on the issue of football players suffering severe mental damage in old age, and foreshadows both the huge pressure on the NFL and its head-in-the-sand response.

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Famous Cases of Journalistic Fraud: A Reading List

Washington Post Investigation of Janet Cooke’s Fabrications

Bill Green | Washington Post Ombudsman | April 19, 1981

In 1980, Janet Cooke made up a story about an 8-year-old heroin addict, won the Pulitzer Prize for it, then, two days later, gave it back. Here’s the internal investigation of how the Post leaned on her to get her to admit she faked it.

[Cooke’s] new resume claimed that she spoke or read French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Her original resume claimed only French and Spanish. The new form claimed she had won six awards from the Ohio Newspaper Women’s Association and another from the Ohio AP. […]

Janet was crying harder, and Bradlee began to check off her language proficiency. “Say two words to me in Portuguese,” he said. She said she couldn’t.

“Do you have any Italian?” Bradlee asked.

Cooke said no.

Bradlee, fluent in French, asked her questions in the language. Her answers were stumbling.

(The formatting is not that great, but if you save it in Instapaper and read it there, it’s easier to follow. Here’s a non-single-page link).

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