Wanted: mental health/therapy podcasts and leftist history podcasts
September 22, 2017 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for two different types of podcasts: podcasts that focus on therapy and/or mental health aspects of specific people AND podcasts that focus on leftist history. Examples and parameters inside.

Mental Health podcasts

I love Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin? (NYer article here). I also enjoyed the problematic Missing Richard Simmons and S-Town. I am a therapist and enjoy listening to actual therapy sessions, so the former example is a gimme, but I also enjoy hearing intimate narratives of people's lives that skew partly around their mental health. I DO NOT like generalized lifehack-y mental health podcasts like Happier and most TED talks. I do like TAL but sometimes the episodes are dull so I haven't peeled through that stash for a long time.

Leftist History Podcasts

While I enjoy leftist podcasts like The Intercept, Jacobin, District Sentinel, Chapo and others, I think I need to take a break from the upsetting current affairs. I've really, really enjoyed Trillburne's The Age of Napoleon, which isn't explicitly leftist but focuses on race, capitalism, and colonialism. The presentation is well-written, engaging and easy to follow. I remembered very little about European history from my school days and easily absorbed most of this podcast's facts. Now that I'm all caught up on episode 10, I need something to tide me over until the next installment arrives!
posted by zoomorphic to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Death, Sex, and Money is the illustration next to the dictionary entry for "intimate narratives of people's lives that skew partly around their mental health." Anna Sale is a great interviewer -- she gently opens up intimate realities of people's lives.

Backstory is a podcast about American history. While it's not explicitly leftist, it tends to focus on often-unheard perspectives in a way that I think you might enjoy. I often find it very happy-making, for some reason, especially in these hard times. Maybe it's because the hosts seem like pretty decent people; maybe it's because the show provides some perspective on where we've been and on our capacity to improve.

You might also enjoy The History of Rome and Revolutions, which are even less explicitly political than Backstory but are, nonetheless, fascinating and relevant to our times.

Also: thanks for bringing The Age of Napoleon to my attention! It looks amazing and I look forward to trying it.
posted by ourobouros at 9:59 AM on September 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mental Illness Happy Hour. I don't know if it's still going on, but even if not, the archived episodes will satisfy you.
posted by janey47 at 10:11 AM on September 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm a big fan of the Weird History podcast. It's not explicitly leftist, but listen to enough and you can clearly tell what the host is thinking. Like, he subtweeted (sub-podded?) Trump pretty amazingly with a multi-part series on Italian Fascism, while never uttering the name Trump once, but by the end the listener (or, at least, this listener) is like, "Yes, this is clearly about Donald Trump being a fascist and the current danger to our Republic." His recent episode about Confederate monuments was also pretty on-point, while also managing to not tip over into polemic.
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:12 AM on September 22, 2017

curated links. i don't know most of these, but The Hilarious World of Depression is not bad.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:22 AM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hilarious World of Depression is really good, though it seems like all he's released in quite some time are shorter bits and outtakes.

It's by no means every episode, but I feel like RadioLab does at least several episodes a year about behavior, neurology, neuropsych, and health science that might scratch your itch.

I think of podcasts like Stuff You Missed In History Class, 99% Invisible, Kitchen Sisters Present, The Memory Palace, and Lore - all of which cover true stories about things and places and people, usually in a historical context - as left-perspective. There is a conscious awareness of social justice running through them. (And boy howdy do they make cranky white guys mad, when they realize the authors don't hold the exact same shitty same beliefs as them.)

You Must Remember This did a whole season on the HUAC hearings and the Hollywood blacklist that's super interesting. She doesn't delve deeply into, like, the socialist perspective (which would be an analysis I'd love to hear) but it is entirely sympathetic to the victims and aware of one overarching goal being to de-fang the unions for the benefit of studio bigwigs.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:51 AM on September 22, 2017

Best answer: Terrible, Thanks For Asking isn't exactly about mental health, but it is about people who have experienced loss or trauma and how they are dealing with it.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:35 AM on September 22, 2017

Oh, agreed that you GOTTA try Mental Illness Happy Hour! Each episode centers on an in-depth interview with one person, usually about their own mental health struggles (with occasional expert guests as well). Each episode also includes a lot of listener mail and responses to questionnaires that the host puts up online for his listeners to answer. It can get tough to listen to sometimes (like questionnaire answers from people with extreme trauma, etc), but the host is wonderful and super kind to his guests, and there are individual episodes of the show that are absolute stunners. Here's a link to the listener-selected best episodes.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:30 PM on September 22, 2017

Just to add about Mental Illness Happy Hour, the one with Danielle Koenig, about her brother's suicide, is pretty remarkable. She is very open about her experience and it is a difficult but very worthwhile listen.
posted by janey47 at 12:42 PM on September 22, 2017

Best answer: I really like Sean's Russia Blog, it's focused on Russian history with a lot of Soviet content. Each podcast he interviews an expert on some aspect of Russia or Soviet history or culture.
posted by DoveBrown at 3:14 PM on September 22, 2017

Umpteenthing The Mental Illness Happy Hour. The host can sometimes be a bit too navel-gazey, but it's an overall great listen.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:45 PM on September 22, 2017

The only thing I'll say about The Mental Illness Happy Hour is that many of the episodes were super triggering for me; I'd not realised how much trauma I had surrounding certain mental health experiences before I binged on the podcast, and really regretted having done so as soon as I'd put two and two together and stopped dissociating wildly. You're a therapist and I imagine this won't be a problem for you at all; I'm just putting this information out there for others reading the thread who may have had less opportunity to process things.
posted by Acheman at 5:09 AM on September 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

The only leftist podcasts I tend to listen to are Chapo and current ones, so I don't have any other suggestions as far as historical leftist podcasts go, but as far as podcasts on/about mental illness, I would recommend...
Risk! β€” Story-telling podcast similar to The Moth. Not every story has to do with mental illness, but MANY of them do. Skip over Kevin Allison's intro because it's usually long and somewhat annoying.
Chris Gethard's Beautiful/Anonymous β€” Again, not every episode has to do with mental illness, but this show is basically an hour-long recording of the host (Chris Gethard) talking to an anonymous caller about anything. He has to keep them on the phone for the full length of time, and as you can imagine, it gets pretty deep/intimate. Gethard himself struggles from Bipolar (and actually has a great story about it on the aforementioned Risk!β€”it's the last story on this episode)
posted by LonelyOnes at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions! I'm really enjoying Sean's Russia Blog and would recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in Russian history. I did try Mental Illness Happy Hour and while some of the episodes have been pretty good, I do find the lack of editing and narrative meandering really grating. I'm also fast forwarding through a lot of housekeeping. Seems like it'd be a solid 30-40 minute podcast instead.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:41 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

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