Geneticists have long argued about the effects of having an extra male chromosome, a condition found in 1 of 1,000 men A battered paperback entitled The XYY Man, by Kenneth Royce, leans in a corner of my bookshelf. It’s a spy novel that chronicles the adventures of “Spider” Scott, an ex-felon who wants to become law-abiding, but…

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The portrait that Göring signed to Kelley

My book The Nazi and the Psychiatrist has just been published. It had strange beginnings. When one dead man passes you a tip about another, you pay attention. Years ago, while researching my book The Lobotomist about Walter Freeman, the psychiatrist and neurologist who pioneered lobotomy for mentally ill patients, I read the late Dr. Freeman’s writings on a…

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The Nazi and the Psychiatrist book cover

I’m happy to announce that Mythology Entertainment — the production and writing talent behind such films as Shutter Island, Zodiac, The Amazing Spiderman and the upcoming White House Down — has optioned stage and screen rights to my forthcoming book The Nazi and the Psychiatrist. Psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley, who spends months examining Nazi leader Hermann Göring in my forthcoming book…

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screen cap of YouTube Titticut Follies video

Several years ago I finally got the chance to watch a documentary that had been in my thoughts for a long time. It was Titicut Follies, which the renowned filmmaker Frederick Wiseman shot in Bridgewater State Hospital in Massachusetts in 1967. I had heard that Titicut Follies included gruesome and horrifying scenes of the abuse of mentally ill…

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Lou Gehrig

I recently wrote here on my thoughts about waiving considerations of privacy for medical patients who are long deceased and revealing their names and opening their medical records to journalists and the public. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has just published a fascinating article by Mike Kaszuba about a current controversy over the disposition of the medical records of the baseball star…

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William Heirens in 2004

I recently wrote a post in the Wonders & Marvels blog about the history of truth serum. I didn’t have space in that post to mention an interesting article from the February 1960 issue of Popular Science that gave some accounts of various truth serum drugs in use. I especially liked the magazine’s anecdote of Chicago criminal William Heirens, who police…

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gold

Gold has real medicinal value. It is used in implanted devices like pacemakers, and of course in dental work. Some people believe a controversial liquid suspension called colloidal gold may have uses in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and in the delivery of tiny amounts of medications. But of all the medical uses involving gold and…

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In 1960, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a manuscript credited with saving more lives than any other medical article of the previous hundred years.CPR training using a life-saving mannequin Modestly titled “Closed-Chest Cardiac Massage,” it described a simple method of keeping alive people in cardiac arrest. “Anyone, anywhere, can now initiate cardiac resuscitative procedures,” the manuscript’s…

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Last month, I posted the first in a series of short essays adapted from an article on hypnotists and hypnotism that I wrote for (but was never published in) Harper’s magazine several years ago. What follows is the second part of the series, which focuses on my meeting with a working stage hypnotist. I met Frank Pruden, who uses…

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