Only Human

Only Human
Only Human is a podcast about making the most of our health, whether we are training for a marathon, overcoming an illness, or trying not to go broke paying for healthcare. Hosted by Mary Harris, Only Human is a show where we’re not afraid to have uncom
Only Human Presents: Undiscovered
Sep 27, 2018 • 37 min
Only Human presents: Undiscovered, a podcast from WNYC Studios about the left turns, missteps, and lucky breaks that make science happen. In this episode, a new life support technology leaves a doctor wondering how far she’ll go to save a life. Subscribe…
The Realness Ep6: Missing You
Aug 10, 2018 • 29 min
Prodigy is supposed to fly back home right after a show in Vegas, but he never gets on the plane. As the world of hip hop mourns, there are still questions surrounding his death. We try to find answers, and go inside Prodigy’s memorial service to say…
The Realness Ep5: Go See About the God
Aug 6, 2018 • 31 min
It’s The Alchemist’s birthday, but thanks to the NYPD’s “Rap Intelligence Unit,” he and Prodigy are forced to celebrate in a jail cell, and soon after, P is headed upstate. But even Prodigy says prison changed him for the better. LANGUAGE WARNING: The…
The Realness Ep4: The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County
Aug 3, 2018 • 35 min
When Prodigy goes on trial for violating probation, his lawyer files over 90 pages of P’s medical records in his defense. We find those records buried deep in a Brooklyn courthouse, and they open a window into how Prodigy’s body was at war with itself.…
“The Realness” B-Side: Roxanne Shanté
Aug 1, 2018 • 18 min
Roxanne Shanté is the queen of Queensbridge rappers. As a teenager in the 1980s, she lyrically demolished all comers. In this B-side outtake, we talk with Roxanne about meeting Prodigy, encouraging Hav to go solo, and how the water in Queensbridge…
The Realness Ep3: Son, They Shook
Jul 30, 2018 • 23 min
Someone is shot inside Def Jam. A rap star chases Mobb Deep through Lower Manhattan. And Prodigy convinces a hip hop mogul to sneak weapons into one of New York’s most decadent nightclubs. Mobb Deep came up in rap’s golden age. No other group defined the…
The Realness Ep2: T’Chaka
Jul 28, 2018 • 29 min
As a kid with sickle cell anemia, Prodigy was told he’d barely make it to adulthood. The work of doctors, athletes, Hollywood stars and The Black Panthers help transform his fate. But what kind of life would he lead? LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness…
The Realness Ep1: This Sunny Day Right Here
Jul 27, 2018 • 30 min
Prodigy and Havoc begin laying down rhymes together in high school. When their first album flops, they come up with a new sound that’s directly influenced by P’s sickle cell, and it helps define a generation of hip hop. Plus: Big Twins talks about the…
Aftereffect Ep8: “They call him Cheese”
Jul 20, 2018 • 33 min
One day in February, a group of staff packed up Arnaldo’s belongings, moved him out of Carlton Palms and into a three-bedroom house in a suburban neighborhood. On its face, it’s the type of setting disability advocates strive toward. Arnaldo has his own…
WNYC Studios presents: The Realness
Jul 19, 2018 • 4 min
The Realness is about how a sick kid became a legendary rapper, but still couldn’t escape sickle cell anemia.
Aftereffect Ep7: “The man behind an empire”
Jul 16, 2018 • 28 min
For decades, Carlton Palms’ elusive founder, Ken Mazik, has wielded his power and influence to sway members of Congress and state legislatures into bending the rules in his favor, from scuttling laws that would have limited the use of physical restraints,…
Aftereffect Ep6: “When they don’t behave”
Jul 13, 2018 • 32 min
A cup of hot water thrown on a developmentally-disabled resident. Another kicked in the ribs. A tooth knocked out by a staff member. Carlton Palms had a dark history long before Arnaldo arrived. So why is the state of Florida so reluctant to close it?
Aftereffect Ep5: “I need to believe”
Jul 9, 2018 • 34 min
A year and a half after the shooting, there are signs of trouble at Arnaldo’s new home, Carlton Palms. The staff isn’t keeping an eye on him. There are unexplained injuries. His mother isn’t allowed to see his room and he’s being physically restrained in…
Aftereffect Ep4: “I Baker Act you. You Baker Acted me.”
Jul 6, 2018 • 28 min
The day of the shooting wasn’t Arnaldo’s first encounter with the police. In fact, they’d loomed large in his life for years before that. Even as he bounced from one group home to another, the people that consistently showed up for him, often in the worst…
Aftereffect Ep3: “He was definitely a handful”
Jul 2, 2018 • 44 min
Since the beginning, Arnaldo’s mother struggled to find adequate care for her autistic son. Her memories are often painful: the doctors who wouldn’t diagnose him; the staff who punched him, drugged him, tied his hands behind his back in a classroom chair.…
Aftereffect Ep2: “Suck it up, buttercup”
Jun 29, 2018 • 34 min
The shooting left Arnaldo severely traumatized, unable to remain in the home where Charles Kinsey had taken care of him. The next day, he was involuntarily committed to a hospital psych ward, where days stretched into weeks into well over-a-month as the…
Aftereffect Ep 1: “Let me get this on camera”
Jun 28, 2018 • 36 min
Only Human listeners, we’re here with a new podcast series that we think will be right up your alley. Aftereffect touches on the same themes of how health intersects with our lives everyday. Give it a shot. Let us know what you think. Just before 5pm on…
Aftereffect: A SWAT team, an autistic man, an American tragedy.
Jun 21, 2018 • 3 min
In summer 2016, a police shooting upended the life of Arnaldo Rios Soto, a 26-year old, non-speaking, autistic man. Aftereffect tells Arnaldo’s story — a hidden world of psych wards, physical abuse and chemical restraints — and asks the question: What…
Caught: “The Teenage Brain is Like a Sports Car”
Apr 4, 2018 • 35 min
We’ll give a sneak peek at what’s next for Only Human, and then share an episode of one of WNYC’s latest podcasts, Caught. Mary Harris reports on Stephen Hall, one of thousands of so-called “juvenile lifers” who have an unexpected shot at freedom today.…
The Birth of Climate Change Denial
May 17, 2017 • 38 min
Starting with the 1925 Scopes Trial to climate change, we look at how even well-established science can remain controversial.
The Handshake Experiment
May 3, 2017
Neil deGrasse Tyson and microbiome science help answer this question: when we touch greatness, how much of it stays with us?
“I Got Indian in My Family”: An Another Round Takeover
Apr 19, 2017 • 40 min
Another Round co-host Tracy Clayton enlisted Only Human to help her with an experiment, to find her roots.
Trans Kids Update: Dating, PMS, And, Yeah, Bathrooms
Apr 5, 2017 • 36 min
When North Carolina passed HB2 last year — a controversial law also known as the “bathroom bill” — it seemed to many that the rights of transgender people in that state were under threat. Now that the bathroom bill has been repealed, we wanted to check in…
Mar 22, 2017 • 30 min
If you’ve ever worried about catching a cold from a co-worker who came into work when he (or she) should’ve taken a sick day, then this episode is for you.
Just Put Some Vicks On It
Mar 8, 2017 • 29 min
A granddaughter sets out to find the roots of her grandmother’s obsession with Vicks Vaporub. The little blue jar ends up changing their relationship.
A Three Year-Old Girl, a Colony of Dogs, and One Very Rare Side Effect
Feb 22, 2017 • 23 min
When Mathilda Crisp was three years-old, she got sick. She stopped sleeping through the night, but during the day, she would fall asleep without warning — during a swim lesson, for example, or straight into her cereal bowl at breakfast. For one doctor,…
The Woman Behind a Secret Grey’s Anatomy Experiment
Feb 8, 2017 • 33 min
Jennifer Jako spent a lifetime trying to explain a single mistake she made. In this episode, we tell the story of that mistake and how it ultimately took a secret experiment buried deep inside one of America’s favorite television shows to help correct the…
The Crowd Made You Do It
Jan 25, 2017 • 42 min
Who knew counting a crowd would be so… political? If the election felt contentious, the inauguration seemed to make the country even more divided, between “us” and “them.” After many gathered on the Washington Mall for President Trump’s inauguration and…
Meet Crowd Safety Expert, Paul Wertheimer
Jan 19, 2017
To understand crowds, Paul Wertheimer threw himself into the mosh pit — literally.
Take Our Survey!
Jan 17, 2017 • 2 min
Only Human is working on an episode about the psychology of crowds. We’re looking at what happens to us as individuals when we join a rally, a ceremony or a protest — such as inauguration, or the Women’s March on Washington. And we need your help! This…
Please Spit in This Tube: An Election Experiment
Nov 4, 2016 • 32 min
The 2016 election has certainly felt stressful. But what is the Trump-Clinton saga actually doing to us, physically? It turns out there’s a way to measure this. Researchers at the University of Nebraska have been looking at the intersection of biology and…
Me and My Therapist
Aug 9, 2016 • 31 min
We have this idea of what therapy is supposed to look like. There’s a couch. An objective therapist sitting across the room scribbling notes. But of course it’s not that simple. In this episode, six short stories, many from our listeners, looking at how…
I’d Rather Have a Living Son Than a Dead Daughter
Aug 2, 2016 • 27 min
Earlier this year, North Carolina passed HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill.” But the state is also home to one of the few clinics for transgender kids in the South. This week, we spend some time in that clinic, at Duke University’s Children’s Hospital, to…
Growing Up “Ugly”
Jul 26, 2016 • 24 min
Robert Hoge doesn’t look like most people. He was born with severe defects; growing up, he had to get used to people calling him “ugly.” This week, Robert reflects on the lie we all tell ourselves: that it’s what on the inside that counts, and looks don’t…
Yes, Simba, Chimps Laugh
Jul 19, 2016 • 26 min
Is laughter really the best medicine? This week, Mary Harris and Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen try to find out. We go to laughter yoga in New York, an improv class for doctors and nurses in Chicago, and talk to some brain scientists about why humans laugh in…
The Prank Your Body Plays On Life
Jul 12, 2016 • 22 min
Poet Max Ritvo is back on our show this week, for what he’s calling his “farewell tour”.The 25-year-old has spent years living with terminal cancer and says he’s now at the end of his road. But in typical Max fashion there are as many laughs as there are…
Your Brain On Sound (Rebroadcast)
Jul 5, 2016 • 19 min
When Rose was growing up, she knew something wasn’t quite right about how she heard the world. But every time she got a hearing test at the audiologist’s office, she aced them. It took her years to figure out what was happening — until she met Professor…
I Thought the Truth Would Be Enough
Jun 28, 2016 • 26 min
Marc Edwards uncovered the dangerous lead in Flint’s water last year. Like a lot of other people crusading for change, he discovered the struggle isn’t just about getting the science right. It’s also about convincing people to listen.
Vacation Is All I Ever Wanted
Jun 21, 2016 • 30 min
For some people, there is no “getting over” being sick. There’s just an occasional break from the pain. Three people tell Only Human what it’s like when life hands you a vacation from disease and then sends you home again.
One Doctor’s Mission: Safe Abortions in the South (Rebroadcast)
Jun 14, 2016 • 22 min
As the Supreme Court nears its decision on a landmark abortion case, we revisit a favorite episode. Dr. Willie Parker, a devout Christian, refused to perform abortions in his early career. Then he heard a Martin Luther King Jr. speech that changed his…
Part 3: A Star With Schizophrenia
Jun 7, 2016 • 23 min
In part three of our mental health series we meet Rachel Star Withers, a fearless woman with schizophrenia who offers a rare snapshot of mental illness on YouTube. Follow along on Facebook at Only Human Podcast.
Part 2: Be the Doctor Your Mom Wanted You to Marry
May 31, 2016 • 21 min
Medical school culture isn’t known to be open about mental health issues. But many students like Giselle suffer from intense anxiety and depression. And she doesn’t want to stay silent. This is part two of our mental health series. Follow along on…
Part 1: ‘You Don’t Watch Bollywood With Me Anymore’
May 24, 2016 • 26 min
What happens when you’re becoming a psychologist but you’ve never come clean to your own family about your struggles with mental health? This is the dilemma Rose confronts, and she lets us eavesdrop when she finally confesses to her mother that she’s been…
Too Ornery to Die
May 17, 2016 • 29 min
Scientist Paul Quinton has lived twice as long as expected for someone with cystic fibrosis. He also made a discovery that led to a breakthrough treatment for the disease. But now that this new drug is available, who gets to decide how much it costs?
Medicine and Mistrust on Native American Reservations
May 10, 2016 • 25 min
Native Americans have struggled with poor access to health care for many years. Two doctors who grew up on reservations are trying to change that, one patient at a time.
A Deaf Composer Holds Out for Science
May 3, 2016 • 26 min
Jay Alan Zimmerman is a musician who has been losing his hearing over the past several decades. As his hearing worsened, Jay considered other professions, but couldn’t imagine a life without music. Now he’s trying to decide if he’ll risk the unknown and…
How a Prenatal Test Is Transforming Modern Medicine
Apr 26, 2016 • 29 min
Prenatal screening keeps getting more precise, more accessible, and less stressful — at least in terms of the basic procedure. But what happens when these tests catch something? This week, the life and death decisions that come with genetic information.
The Robot Vacuum Ate My Pancreas
Apr 19, 2016 • 33 min
A young woman with diabetes hacks her insulin pump and takes DIY medicine to a new level. But could she find herself in trouble with the federal government?
Doctor Stories: The Patient I’ll Never Forget
Apr 12, 2016 • 38 min
Doctors listen to stories from patients all the time. This week, we give them the mic to hear about the patients who left a lasting impression on their lives.
Real Doctors, Fake Medicine?
Apr 5, 2016 • 25 min
What actually makes you feel better when you go to the doctor? This week we explore that question and the power of a placebo – the most misunderstood “medicine” of all.
Every (Dead) Body Has A Story
Mar 29, 2016 • 29 min
When it comes to dissecting a cadaver, medical students don’t always know who is under their scalpel. This week, Only Human’s Fred Mogul learns about a musician who spent his life educating others, and continues to do so after he dies.
The Man Who Cured Everything
Mar 22, 2016 • 35 min
In the early 1900s, an eccentric fitness guru named Bernarr Macfadden discovered what he believed was a treatment for everything: fasting. In this episode, how Macfadden’s miracle cure got big, was forgotten and came back nearly a century later.
When Risky Sex Lands You in Jail
Mar 15, 2016 • 24 min
We’re often taught that sex can come with consequences. But is our fear of these risks making us alienate and punish people with sexually transmitted disease?
The Science of Turning Her On
Mar 8, 2016 • 24 min
The new “female Viagra” has been underwhelming. But researcher Nicole Prause is on a mission to find out what it takes for women to have better sex.
Your Sanity or Your Kidneys
Mar 1, 2016 • 22 min
Jaime Lowe started taking lithium when she was 17, after a manic episode landed her in a psychiatric ward. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, andor more than 20 years, the drug has been her near-constant companion. “It’s hard to know if lithium is…
When Opera Meets Autism
Feb 23, 2016 • 24 min
A neuropsychologist and an opera singer have teamed up to create a form of vocal training for people on the autism spectrum. So far they’ve had success, but what does it mean for the patients who have to change and conform just to fit in?
A Doctor’s Love Affair with Vicodin
Feb 16, 2016 • 26 min
Peter Grinspoon spent years addicted to painkillers – as a successful physician who also prescribed them. He kept his addiction secret and often shared pills with his patients, until he was caught. In this episode, the author of “Free Refills” talks about…
Don’t Count on the Calorie
Feb 9, 2016 • 22 min
Calories, the longstanding building blocks of a diet, can be sneaky. It turns out that measuring what we eat through these units of energy isn’t as foolproof as we thought. We team up with the podcast Gastropod to find out the truth about calories, and…
One Doctor’s Mission: Safe Abortions in the South
Feb 2, 2016 • 20 min
Dr. Willie Parker, a devout Christian, refused to perform abortions early in his career. Now he travels across conservative states like Alabama and Mississippi, amid threats and criticism, providing safe abortions for women. Parker talks about the Martin…
How to Stop an Outbreak
Jan 26, 2016 • 29 min
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease had New Yorkers panicking last summer. We go behind the scenes to find out how the city stopped a deadly bacteria that claimed 16 lives, and left more than a hundred people sick.
When Life’s a Medical Experiment
Jan 19, 2016 • 19 min
Ever since Susannah Ludwig was born without an esophagus, her life has been a series of medical experiments. In this episode, the Academy Award-nominated movie producer talks about the uncertainty of living with a rare condition, and the optimism that…
Bacon, Booze and the Search for the Fountain of Youth
Jan 12, 2016 • 29 min
When we ask the world’s oldest people a simple question — what’s your secret to longevity? — we walk away with some pretty illogical answers. In this episode we set out to see what we’ve actually learned from supercentenarians and, along the way, reveal a…
This Is the Year You Stick to It
Jan 5, 2016 • 20 min
Behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s insights into why we do what we do have made him a best-selling author and a star TED talker. Now, he’s going to help you stick with your New Year’s resolution to exercise. In this episode, Ariely partners with Only Human…
Why is Healthcare So Expensive? We Ask an Expert
Dec 29, 2015 • 15 min
We all know the cost of healthcare is staggering in this country — but is there anything you can do about it? Dr. Zeke Emanuel talks about how we can be a smarter consumers of healthcare, and the ways the system might be slowly changing to help all of us…
Patients and Doctors Fess Up
Dec 22, 2015 • 29 min
(REBROADCAST) When we asked you to share your health confessions with us we didn’t know what to expect. Turns out you guys have all kinds of vices: you eat the wrong things, you use drugs, sometimes you lie to your doctors. And doctors are no better. In…
Putting Care Back in the ICU
Dec 15, 2015 • 19 min
Does a more humane hospital equal a safer one? That’s a question Johns Hopkins is grappling with — and Dr. Peter Pronovost believes the answer is yes. His Project Emerge aims to reengineer the way patients are cared for in the ICU.
Let’s Talk About Death
Dec 8, 2015 • 23 min
Bishop Gwendolyn Phillips Coates is on a mission. She’s a preacher in a small church in South L.A., and she’s made it her job to get her congregation prepared for the end of life. Bishop Coates is trying to make conversations about death easier because…
Your Brain On Sound
Dec 1, 2015 • 20 min
When Rose was growing up, she knew something wasn’t quite right about how she heard the world. But every time she got a hearing test at the audiologist’s office, she aced them. It took her years to figure out what was happening — until she met Professor…
Listen Up! The Big Turkey in the Sky
Nov 24, 2015 • 14 min
It’s not coincidental that Only Human decided to tackle listening right before a big holiday, when a lot of us will spend time with family. Sometimes the people we love the most can be the hardest to listen to. So we’re rounding out our Listen Up project…
Listen Up! Day 5: Yes, And… !
Nov 20, 2015 • 10 min
When you’re in a situation where you have to collaborate with other people, it’s easy to get stuck in a sludge of unproductivity. So we’re borrowing an exercise from the world of improv comedy, “Yes, And… ,” which is used to keep conversation flowing.…
Listen Up! Day 4: Memorize This!
Nov 19, 2015 • 8 min
Memory and listening go hand-in-hand. But you know the feeling: You’re at an event where you don’t know anyone. And then you get introduced to lots of folks — only to forget their names ten minutes later. The good news? We can work on our memory. Memory…
Listen Up! Day 3: Take a Breather
Nov 18, 2015 • 13 min
We often scramble to fill up “awkward silence” in conversations. But the best listeners know when others just need to be heard. Renowned mediator Ken Feinberg listens to thousands of heartbreaking stories after tragic events — and embracing silence is…
Listen Up! Day 2: Mirror, Mirror
Nov 17, 2015 • 9 min
Being a good listener isn’t just about your ears. Body language can tell you a lot about a person’s intentions, and it’s one of the keys to Hamilton actor Okieriete Onaodowan’s success on stage. And with the help of movement instructor Fay Simpson, we’ll…
Listen Up! Day 1: Face-to-Face
Nov 16, 2015 • 6 min
We’re so used to communicating with each other through email, text, tweets — everything but face-to-face. But when we are left with tech, we might be missing a lot of crucial information. With the help of MTV’s Franchesca Ramsey and cognitive psychologist…
Dreaming of a Deaf Utopia
Nov 10, 2015 • 31 min
As a kid, Marvin Miller dreamed of starting an all sign language town. A place where deaf would be the norm and everyone from the garbage man to the mayor would sign. Ten years ago he found the land to build it.
A Deaf Composer Holds Out for Science
Nov 3, 2015 • 26 min
Jay Alan Zimmerman is a musician who has been losing his hearing over the past several decades. As his hearing worsened, Jay considered other professions, but couldn’t imagine a life without music. Now he’s trying to decide if he’ll risk the unknown and…
Who Are You Calling ‘Inspiring’?
Oct 27, 2015 • 21 min
At 24, Max Ritvo has a lot going for him. He’s a gifted poet with a teaching job at Columbia University and a manuscript that he’s shopping to publishers. He’s a new husband. He’s a comic in a darkly funny experimental improv group. But he’s also a cancer…
Patients and Doctors Fess Up
Oct 20, 2015 • 28 min
When we asked you to share your health confessions with us we didn’t know what to expect. Turns out you guys have all kinds of vices: you eat the wrong things, you use drugs, sometimes you lie to your doctors. And doctors are no better. In this episode,…
Your Sanity or Your Kidneys
Oct 13, 2015 • 21 min
Jaime Lowe started taking lithium when she was 17, after a manic episode landed her in a psychiatric ward. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and for more than 20 years, the drug has been her near-constant companion. “It’s hard to know if lithium is…
Keep the Baby, Get the Chemo
Oct 6, 2015 • 18 min
A young mom learns she has breast cancer. Then, while she’s scheduling surgery and planning for chemo, she finds out something else: she’s pregnant. That’s what happened to Only Human’s host, Mary Harris, two years ago. She tells her story – and asks you…
Welcome to ‘Only Human’
Sep 22, 2015 • 2 min
A deaf composer gets a shot at hearing again. A woman with bipolar disorder tries going off her usual medication. Our host finds out she has breast cancer—and is pregnant—at the same time. This is Only Human, a new podcast from WNYC Studios. Health is…