The Healthland Podcast: Dictators, Corporal Punishment and Supermoms

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Welcome back to the podcast. You can find us on iTunes — where you can subscribe and then listen on your mobile device — or click the play button below to hear the show immediately.

This week, Sora Song (@sora_song), editor of Healthland, leads the discussion along with TIME senior writer John Cloud (@JohnAshleyCloud) and Susanna Schrobsdorff, the assistant managing editor of

Also joining us as a guest for our third segment is Bonnie Rochman (@brochman), a regular Healthland contributor who has also written for TIME, the Boston Globe and FORTUNE.

John talked about his story on the psychology of dictatorship and why strongmen like Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak try to hold power even when they could flee to a life of luxury.

Susanna discussed the bizarre, awful case of an Alaska mother convicted of child abuse for forcing her 5-year-old to swill hot sauce and then stand in a cold shower. The mother was apparently disciplining the child for bad behavior; she videotaped the punishment at the request of producers for TV psychologist and host “Dr. Phil,” in an attempt to get on his show.

Finally, Bonnie joined us to discuss her story on Supermoms and her own experience of balancing child-rearing with a full-time job.

For our Field Notes, apropos of the heightening panic over the fast-approaching Hurricane Irene, John mentioned research from the National Institute of Mental Health on the huge prevalence of anxiety disorders.

Susanna questioned the value of a new study linking Facebook and other social-network use with smoking, drinking and drug use in teens (read Maia Szalavitz’s excellent story about it here).

Bonnie talked about a forthcoming children’s book, aimed at 4-to-8-year-olds, called Maggie Goes on a Diet. As you might have guessed, it’s engendered some controversy.

And, finally, Sora talked about a new study finding that a diet rich in four specific types of foods can help you lower your cholesterol levels — without the aid of drugs. (Read Alice Park’s comprehensive piece about it here.)

Next week, Belinda Luscombe returns with stories of Australian health.