Sarah Swedberg

What Would Philippe Pinel Do? Old and New Understandings of Mental Illness

I was intrigued when, on February 1, 2018, I heard the journalist and author Johann Hari on Democracy Now! talking about his most recent book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions. In this book, Hari argued that the primary cause of “rising depression and anxiety is not in our heads.”… Read more →

Take a Hay Ride: Remembering Louise Hay

On August 30, 2017, Louise Hay died. Hay was a metaphysical healer who began her journey in healing at the First Church of Religious Science in the late 1960s. Her first publication was a 1976 pamphlet that came to be called, “Heal Your Body.” She became a best-selling author and publisher in the 1980s in… Read more →

Fleas, Fleas, Fleas

In September, I turned on Democracy Now! and came into a story about the mass extinction of a third of the world’s parasites. Although I made sure that my response to the story included the morally and ethically correct alarm and horror, I must admit my initial response was relief. After all, parasites are, um,… Read more →

Not Going Back: Queer American Families and the Value Voters Summit

On October 12, 2017, the day after National Coming Out Day, I received an email from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) informing me that President Donald Trump was scheduled to appear at the Value Voters Summit, a venue that combines virulently anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim “values.” Like I have almost every day since last November’s… Read more →

The Same Red Blood?: AIDS, Homophobia, and an American Tradition of Hate

This summer, I embarked on an oral history project about resistance to a 1992 anti-gay ballot initiative in Grand Junction, Colorado. I wanted to bring queer history to the airwaves (albeit the low-power airwaves). I interviewed folks who had lived in Grand Junction between 1992 and 1996 to learn about what it was like to live… Read more →

Was the Founding Generation Right to Worry?

On February 13, 2017, thirty-five physicians signed a letter to the New York Times that stated: “We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.” Even a quick glance at social media or political buttons and bumper stickers shows us that these… Read more →

Silence and Noise: What AIDS Activism and Social Memory Can Teach Us

In the mid-1980s, when I was a twenty-something college dropout, I met people my age or older who knew a lot about history, about our history, the history of queer people. Part of this history included that of the men who were forced to wear the pink triangle in the Nazi concentration camps. And maybe… Read more →