For the second week of Mental Health Awareness Month, I am SO excited to be sharing an incredibly memorable and personal conversation with Dr. Roy Richard Grinker. Dr. Grinker is an American author and Professor of Anthropology, International Affairs, and Human Sciences at the George Washington University. His first book on autism, Unstrange Minds, was in part an “attempt to make sense of an intensely personal issue: his own daughter’s autism. Although we discuss so much in the 45 minutes of this episode, we spend the majority unpacking his most recent work, Nobody’s Normal. In Nobody’s Normal, Dr. Grinker chronicles the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma―from the eighteenth century, through America’s major wars, and into today’s high-tech economy.
Nobody’s Normal argues that stigma is a social process that can be explained through cultural history, a process that began the moment we defined mental illness, that we learn from within our communities, and that we ultimately have the power to change. Though the legacies of shame and secrecy are still with us today, Dr. Grinker believes that we are at the cusp of ending the marginalization of the mentally ill.
At the end of the episode, I share a poem written by my autistic younger cousin when he was in eighth grade. His vulnerability and eloquence highlight his beautiful mind and soul, and I could not be more proud to call him my family. This episode is dedicated to my cousin and my family, and I truly hope that everyone can take a listen.
P.S. You can check out Dr. Grinker’s TED Talk by clicking this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYVpTYKevxQ
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