Sleep, Stress and the Science of the Mind-Body Connection: Interview with Whitney McKnight | Episode 10

NOTE: This podcast aired live on 3/13/18 at 10AM ET


About 350 years ago, philosopher René Descartes took the brain out of the body – and we’ve been trying to put it back ever since. Descartes believed that the immaterial mind was separate from that matter of the body, and this dualism started many down a path of treating mind and body differently.

In this episode, we work to reunite the two to explore how their interconnectivity affects well-being. In this episode, we talk about how critical bodily functions like sleep, pain and our stress response are so closely tied to our emotional health. My guest Whitney McKnight, a clinical reporter whose work has focused primarily on the brain, encourages us to be our own scientists in our approach to understanding anxiety and depression and to always “improve our questions.”

Whitney is the founder of the discussion forum “docu-mental” – a play on the words "document" and "mental". In these forums she brings together thought leaders to explore how mental health extends beyond clinical diagnoses to how we can find mattering and meaning in our respective emotional and mental crises. Over the course of her career covering the latest in clinical medicine, she has made connections between mental health conditions and communicable diseases – specifically, that it’s not just about personal vulnerability but also collective vulnerability. When we live in a society where policy aims and personal goals are misaligned, health dysregulation results. Her goal is to “strengthen the herd” by encouraging people to think critically and develop self-agency in matters of their mental health.

About Whitney McKnight

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Whitney McKnight is an award-winning, Washington, DC-based health sciences and mental health policy reporter, producer, and editor. Formerly the editor of Psychiatric Annals and of Pediatric Annals, she has also reported on clinical medicine and policy from meetings in the US and internationally for a variety of medical titles.



Show Notes:

Mind-Body Therapies: NIH report on effectiveness

Mammalian Diving Reflex and emotional regulation:

Pain management and mental health:

Exercise and depression:

More on Whitney’s next “docu-mental” event on April 4th in Washington, DC:

Book: “Why We Sleep”

Article on Suicide and Smartphone Use:

Article on Teen Suicide:

NIH Brain Initiative:

Solutions Journalism:


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