Illness and disease


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Photo by Martin Roemers/Panos

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Mental health
Unboxing mental health

Our system for diagnosing mental disorders doesn’t work. The transdiagnostic model offers a humane, clinically sound alternative

Melissa Black

A group gather to watch another victim taken to a hospital during the 1956 polio epidemic in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

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Illness and disease
Stealth infections

From the Black Death to polio, the most dangerous pathogens have moved silently, transmitted by apparently healthy people

Wendy Orent

Joan Miller in labour. Chicago, 19 September 1946. Photo by Wayne Miller/Magnum

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Pleasure and pain
The hysteria accusation

Women’s pain is often medically overlooked and undertreated. But the answer is not as simple as ‘believing all women’

Elizabeth Barnes

Photo by Mayr/Flickr

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Consciousness and altered states
Consciousness regained

After years of deep therapeutic pessimism, emerging therapies offer hope for patients trapped between coma and wakefulness

Aurore Thibaut

Photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Medicine
The medicalised life

Why do so many see vaccines and other medical interventions as tools of social control rather than boons to health?

Bernice L Hausman

Saint Catherine of Siena (c1612) by Juan Bautista Maíno. Courtesy the Museo del Prado, Madrid

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Illness and disease
Unholy anorexia

Medieval mystics starved the body to feed the soul. Understanding this perfectionist mindset could help treat anorexia today

Paul Broks

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Illness and disease
Traumatised by the cure

Survivors of life-threatening illness can be left in profound fear and distress. Are they suffering from a form of PTSD?

Liza Gross

From Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale, (v.IX, 1835-47), by Alcide Dessalines d’Orbigny. Courtesy the Biodiversity Heritage Library/Public Domain

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Illness and disease
This ragged claw

It is a crab; no, a worm; no, a wolf. Early physicians weren’t entirely wrong to imagine cancer as a ravenous disease

Ellen Wayland-Smith

Isabelle, 57, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 15 years ago, works on her watercolour paintings at home in northern France. Photo by Patrick Allard/REA

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Illness and disease
The best life possible

Living with chronic illness is hard. But there are psychological techniques that make it possible to thrive even when ill

Joseph Trunzo

An inmate sits on her bunk in an HIV-segregated dorm at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. Photo by Dave Martin/AP/Rex

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Human rights and justice
Purity rules

It is difficult to catch and straightforward to treat. So why does society still shame and punish people infected with HIV?

Rose George

Photo by Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty

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Illness and disease
Chronic

For big pharma, the perfect patient is wealthy, permanently ill and a daily pill-popper. Will medicine ever recover?

Clayton Dalton

At Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1984. Photo by Pierre Perrin/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

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Genetics
Haunted by history

War, famine and persecution inflict profound changes on bodies and brains. Could these changes persist over generations?

Pam Weintraub