New York made sweeping changes this week to the way prisons use solitary confinement.

The deal, signed by a federal judge on Wednesday, was prompted by a federal lawsuit filed by critics who say thousands of inmates — some of them pregnant or mentally ill — are being held for months and even years in isolation, often for minor infractions.

Years Spent In Solitary

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Today's show previously aired on April 30, May 30, and August 29, 2013.  

We all know love matters, but today, positive emotions expert Barbara Fredrickson joins Faith to show us just how much. Even more than happiness and optimism, love holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our lives. Using research from her own lab, Fredrickson redefines love not as a stable behemoth, but as micro-moments of connection between people—even strangers. She demonstrates that our capacity for experiencing love can be measured and strengthened in ways that improve our health and longevity. Finally, she introduces us to informal and formal practices to unlock love in our lives, generate compassion, and even self-soothe.

Javie Delgado, Flickr Creative Commons

It's hard to improve on the poet, Rilke, who wrote, "Love consists of this, that two solitudes meet, protect, and greet each other." But did Rilke have to deal with Angry Birds and Snap Chat?

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On Thursday, February 13 -- the day before Valentine's Day -- The Colin McEnroe Show is talking about modern love, its staggering beauty, and its profound absurdity.

We'll hear from Laura Kipnis, the author of Against Love: A Polemic, and Dan Jones, an editor for the Modern Love column at The New York Times.

Here's where you come in. We want you to call our voicemail, and tell us your story about when you started or stopped believing in romantic love.

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The first secret society, according to Theodore Ziolkowski, a Princeton-based scholar on the literature of cults and conspiracies, "consisted of Eve and the serpent and then it just kept going," Ziokowski writes.

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From Faith Middleton: As we can see from a recent Planet Money story on NPR, millions of people are quitting their jobs each month, and Janet Yellen of The Fed thinks this is a good sign. She says if people are quitting in high numbers, that signals they're sure better jobs are available. In other words, a strong signal for the economy.

shehal / Creative Commons

In 1905, a young German physicist proposed an equation that would forever change our perception of special relativity. His name was Albert Einstein and his equation was E = MC2. Over a century later, Einstein’s theory of relativity still stands as one of science’s greatest achievements. It established Einstein as one of the 20th-century’s greatest celebrities, and one of history’s greatest thinkers.

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Exposure to weight stigma actually causes physiological stress in women, according to a new Yale University study published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

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Today's show originally aired October 29, 2013. 

From Faith Middleton: Music and art can make your life bigger. And, under the theory that the world is now “flat,” music and art just might dissolve boundaries, making the world a more manageable place.

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Afraid to fail? Eager to please? Chances are you'd like to become more brave. Discover why people from all walks of life found some nerve and immediately felt more alive.

A Tribute To Failure

Jan 8, 2014

In a society where success is pursued and celebrated above everything else, where media stars, sport champions and the very rich are idolized, failure is seen as an embarrassment, something we must avoid at all costs and, when we can't, must be hidden from everyone else.

People are increasingly turning to mindfulness mediation to manage health issues, and meditation classes are being offered through schools and hospitals.

But doctors have questioned whether this ancient Eastern practice really offers measurable health benefits. A fresh review of the evidence should help sort that out.

Atlantic magazine editor Scott Stossel has countless phobias and anxieties — some you've heard of, others you probably haven't.

"There's a vast encyclopedia of fears and phobias," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "and pretty much any object, experience, situation you can think of, there is someone who has a phobia of it."

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This hour, we talk with neuroscientist James Fallon. He found something shocking when he was looking at brain scans of serial killers. We’ll talk about his book The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain and what his research might tell us about Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.

Ticktock. Ticktock. Ticktock.

The seconds left in 2013 are slipping away. And you know what else is slipping away? The seconds left in your life.

Luckily for you, there's a new product called Tikker, a wristwatch that counts down your life, so you can watch on a large, dot-matrix display as the seconds you have left on Earth disappear down a black hole.

Ray Hardman / WNPR

In a press conference at the legislative office building in Hartford on Monday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal called on energy drink companies to stop marketing their product to children through toys bearing the energy drink's logo.

Tiffany Assman, Creative Commons

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and author who may be best known for his writings on emotional intelligence, an idea that challenges the old concept of IQ as the most important measure of one’s abilities. He joined Where We Live to talk about his new book FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.


Psychologist and former New York Times reporter Daniel Goleman presented us with an important idea - “Emotional Intelligence” - it challenges the old concept of IQ as the most important measure of one’s abilities.

But his newest research might be even more important for our current world - filled with multiple screens and distractions. It’s all about “Focus.”

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The discussion after last year's Newtown shootings was dominated by two topics: gun control and mental health. Many people focused on possible illnesses of the shooter, but there’s another side to the mental health discussion. In the aftermath of a tragedy, communities need help healing.

Residents of Newtown, Conn., have decided against a public commemoration to mark the first anniversary this coming Saturday of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

Instead, the town is endorsing a “year of service” and is asking residents to put a candle in their window on Dec. 14, the day of the shooting, to show their commitment to the idea of service to each other.

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From Faith Middleton: I'm featuring New York psychiatrist Dr. Mark Epstein's fascinating new book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, because it explains the big pay-off for learning to notice the small and big traumas we all experience daily in an unpredictable world. By comprehending these traumas, he says, we permit their release, which leads to less stress and a greater sense of feeling fully alive. Dr. Epstein is a Harvard trained psychiatrist with a private practice in New York City. He's interested in the interface of psychotherapy and Buddhist philosophy.

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

"I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains."

Chion Wolf

In 1965, the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, spread stamped and addressed but un-mailed letters around public locations in New Haven. Most of the letters were picked up and mailed by strangers who could not possibly derive any material reward for doing the right thing. The strangers also lived out their values based on the address.

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From Faith Middleton: How do we "curate" our own personalities—ditching self absorbed childish behaviors, yet maintaining a child-like sense of wonder about the world? Bruce Clements and I explore this human conundrum.

What makes trick-or-treaters happy is candy. And more candy is better, right?

Well, it turns out that might not actually be the case. A few years ago researchers did a study on Halloween night where some trick-or-treaters were given a candy bar, and others were given the candy bar and a piece of bubble gum.

Chion Wolf

I've been writing a newspaper column for The Hartford Courant since 1982. For my first 15 years or so, I tended to write the column at The Hartford Courant. In the last ten years, I have written columns in the following places: a sports bar in San Francisco; a boat moving along the Rhine; the famous Brasserie Balzar in Paris; an outdoor clearing in the Yucatan jungle where, bizarrely, there was WiFi; and a living room in Kobe, Japan.

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From Faith Middleton: Music and art can make your life bigger. And, under the theory that the world is now “flat,” music and art just might dissolve boundaries, making the world a more manageable place.

A Sweet And Sour History Of Our Obsession With Candy

Oct 27, 2013

Trick-or-treaters demand it. Dentists despise it. Pop musicians have sung odes to it.

Love it or hate it, candy is a cultural fixation — and it isn't going anywhere.

Ed Yourdon/flickr creative commons

by Faith Middleton 

Psychologist Dr. Nancy Horn explores how we control one another and try to control ourselves.

Questions: Have you ever been called controlling? Why do couples struggle with who is in charge? When is it smart to give up control? When does a manager become too controlling? When is control a great idea? Is government over-controlling in an age of terrorism?

John Dankosky

Near the beginning of Thursday's Colin McEnroe Show about guilt, Colin referenced a selection from the Book of Common Prayer:

"Almighty and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.