Alix Spiegel

NPR correspondent Alix Spiegel works on the Science desk and covers psychology.

Arriving at NPR in 2003, much of Spiegel's reporting has been on emotion mental health. She has reported on everything from the psychological impact of killing another person, to the emotional devastation of Katrina, to psycho-therapeutic approaches to transgender children.

Over the course of her career in public radio, Spiegel has won awards including the George Foster Peabody Award, Livingston Award, and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. Spiegel's 2007 documentary revealing mental health issues and crime plaguing a Southern Mississippi FEMA trailer park housing Katrina victims was recognized with Scripps Howard National Journalism Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Her radio documentary 81 Words, about the removal of homosexuality from psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is being turned into a film by HBO.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Spiegel graduated from Oberlin College. She began her career in radio in 1995 as one of the founding producers of the public radio show This American Life. Spiegel left the show in 1999 to become a full time reporter. She has also written for The New Yorker magazine and The New York Times.

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Shots - Health News
1:17 am
Mon September 1, 2014

Our Use Of Little Words Can, Uh, Reveal Hidden Interests

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Sun October 5, 2014 7:50 pm

One Friday night, 30 men and 30 women gathered at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C. Their goal was love, or maybe sex, or maybe some combination of the two. They were there for speed dating.

The women sat at separate numbered tables while the men moved down the line, and for two solid hours they did a rotation, making small talk with people they did not know, one after another, in three-minute increments.

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Shots - Health News
2:07 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

The Secret History Behind The Science Of Stress

Camel marketed smoke breaks at work as time spent relaxing instead of stressing. Camel, 1964.
Stanford University

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 1:47 pm

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.

This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.

"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."

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Shots - Health News
1:27 am
Mon June 23, 2014

How A Woman's Plan To Kill Herself Helped Her Family Grieve

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 3:06 pm

This story is in no way an endorsement of suicide. It's a description of one woman's choice and what came of it.

Five years ago, after doctors told her that she had Alzheimer's disease that would eventually steal her ability to read, write and recognize people, Sandy Bem decided to kill herself.

Sandy was 65 years old, an unsentimental woman and strong willed. For her, a life without books and the ability to recognize the people she loved wasn't a life she wanted.

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Shots - Health News
1:22 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach

Bianca Giaever for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 12:58 pm

It was late, almost 9 at night, when Justin Holden pulled the icy pizza box from the refrigerator at the Brookville Supermarket in Washington, D.C.

He stood in front of the open door, scanning the nutrition facts label.

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Shots - Health News
4:30 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Play It Again And Again, Sam

Rick Blaine, the sentimental tough guy in Casablanca, pined for "As Time Goes By."
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 6:57 am

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Parallels
1:55 am
Wed April 2, 2014

So You Think You're Smarter Than A CIA Agent

A group of 3,000 ordinary citizens, armed with nothing more than an Internet connection, is often making better forecasts of global events than CIA analysts. Here, a man crosses the CIA logo at its headquarters in Langley, Va.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 11:04 am

The morning I met Elaine Rich, she was sitting at the kitchen table of her small town home in suburban Maryland trying to estimate refugee flows in Syria.

It wasn't the only question she was considering; there were others:

Will North Korea launch a new multistage missile before May 10, 2014?

Will Russian armed forces enter Kharkiv, Ukraine, by May 10? Rich's answers to these questions would eventually be evaluated by the intelligence community, but she didn't feel much pressure because this wasn't her full-time gig.

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Shots - Health News
3:02 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

When Memories Never Fade, The Past Can Poison The Present

Having a perfect memory can put a strain on relationships, because every slight is remembered.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:08 am

On Feb. 21, Alexandra Wolff ate steak, mashed potatoes and broccoli for dinner. Later that night, sitting in her room, she spent 20 minutes scanning pictures in InStyle magazine.

She remembers those things, just as she remembers that on Aug. 2 she stopped at Target and bought Raisin Bran; and on April 17 she wore a white button-down shirt; and on Oct. 2 she went to TGI Fridays and spoke to the hostess, who was wearing black leather flats with small bows on them.

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Shots - Health News
1:04 am
Mon May 20, 2013

If Your Shrink Is A Bot, How Do You Respond?

Ellie is a computer simulation designed to engage real people in meaningful conversation and take their measure. The computer system looks for subtle patterns in body language and vocal inflections that might be clues to underlying depression or other emotional distress.
YouTube

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 3:19 pm

Her hair is brown and tied back into a professional-looking ponytail. She wears a blue shirt, tan sweater and delicate gold chain. It's the first time she has met the man sitting across from her, and she looks out at him, her eyes curious.

"So how are you doing today?" she asks cautiously, trying to build rapport.

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Shots - Health News
1:55 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Big Sibling's Big Influence: Some Behaviors Run In The Family

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 10:02 am

Patricia East is a developmental psychologist who began her career working at an OB-GYN clinic in California. Thursday mornings at the clinic were reserved for pregnant teens, and when East arrived the waiting room would be packed with them, chair after chair of pregnant adolescents.

It was in this waiting room, East explains, that she discovered her life's work — an accidental discovery that emerged from the small talk that staff at the clinic had with their young clients as they walked them back for checkups.

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Shots - Health News
8:37 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Boston Blasts A Reminder Of 'The Fragility Of Life'

Jillian Blenis, 30, of Boston reacts while stopping at a makeshift memorial to marathon bombing victims Wednesday.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 3:33 pm

From the first explosion in Boston on Monday to the second, just 15 seconds elapsed. And in those 15 seconds, three people were mortally wounded, including an 8-year-old boy. The number of injured topped 100, and for those of us watching, it was a profound reminder of a reality we'd prefer to ignore.

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