If you have yet to join the fan club of “We’re All Mad Here,” then let me introduce you. Our benevolent and well-researched host, Rachel, is taking us through the history of mental illnesses and the people involved. Meet the shady doctors and prominent patients with sordid tales. Learn the details of experimental treatments and surgeries fit for a murder mystery. This is a compelling podcast filled with stories fit for the screen and an education fit for a lecture hall.
“We’re All Mad Here” is a bountiful blend of medicine, mystery, history, and macabre. Rachel is passionate about the dark secrets that were once held in the medical world and is committed to breaking the stigmas surrounding mental illnesses. Episodes range from mysterious disappearances, mysterious reappearances, and records of disorders and disabilities. Typically short and sweet, episodes can be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.
With over 150 episodes under her belt, where does one start? Here’s a list of the most bingeable and most compelling episodes of “We’re All Mad Here”.
009: Rosemary Made All the Difference
The story of Rosemary Kennedy, the younger sister of President John F Kennedy, is well known in most communities. While her outgoing personality and exceptional beauty certainly surpassed those of her siblings, her parents feared that her intellectual disability would mar the Kennedy name. They were trying to groom a president for God’s sake! In this episode, Rachel talks about the often overlooked aspects of Rosemary’s life, from her difficulty in school to her time in London to the start of her seizures. This is one of the earliest episodes of “We’re All Mad Here,” and most definitely ranks as one of the best.
059: Clinically Shy
This episode is less dark than some of Rachel’s other episodes. It focuses on Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as SAD. She walks through the history of SAD before it first appeared in the DSM III and was officially classified as a disorder. As we as a society have learned more about this disorder, the more apparent it’s become that it is extremely difficult to live with. This episode of “We’re All Mad Here” is a great explanation of anxiety to those who live with it and those who won’t ever be able to fully understand it.
In just the past two years, the use of the term gaslighting has risen exponentially. But what does it really mean? In “107: Gaslighting”, Rachel gives examples of the tactic used by abusers. A form of psychological manipulation, “We’re All Mad Here” dives into the history of the word and how to detect it if it’s happening to you.
029: Miss Unknown
“029: Miss Unknown” tells the history of The Urban Asylum at Dalldorf in Berlin. Built in the 1880s, it was widely considered to be one of the better facilities for people with disabilities to be. Enter Miss Unknown – a young woman who was admitted to Dalldorf but refused to speak or reveal her name. For two years she would not reveal her identity, but when she finally did start talking, rumor spread quickly that she was one of the Romanov’s who had survived the murders of the Tsar of Russia and his family. Was this the real Anastasia, or an imposter?
I thought that buzzword might grab your attention. True to its name, in this episode, Rachel looks at mental illness in the world of chess. She covers the severe mental illness that a number of accomplished chess players have battled, sometimes ending in them taking their own lives. This episode is a fascinating look at a very odd phenomenon that’s plagued the game of chess.
098: The Halo Effect
I think many of us have a general idea of what the Halo Effect is, but Rachel goes beyond a textbook definition. A bias that we face everyday, the Halo Effect, and its opposite, the Horn Effect, can make us believe someone is good or bad just based on their looks. It affects our view of their personality, morality, intelligence and mental state. Rachel does a wonderful job of giving examples of clinical studies proving this bias and explains what that means for us.
150: The Development of Autism
The history of autism is long, arduous, and not one of humanity’s brighter spots in history. Autism first got its name in the early 20th century, and for 100 years since then, doctors, researchers, celebrities, and many more have thrown in their theories on the developmental disorder. The autistic community has dealt with a multitude of abuses, exploitation, and overall harm to their wellbeing. It’s a very difficult history to listen to that unfortunately has been carried over into the present. Rachel breaks down what autism spectrum disorder actually is, the controversy of autism’s therapy, the stigmas people with this disorder face, and what people with autism spectrum disorder actually have to say.
078: The Upp Identity Part 1
This episode is the story of Hannah Upp, a New York City Teacher who up and vanished without a trace. She was eventually found, but had no memory of being gone and had no idea what could have happened in that time. Doctors also could not figure it out. Was it amnesia? Perhaps schizophrenia? Rachel tells a compelling narrative on the people who disappear and reappear without any idea where they’ve been.