The entrenched hierarchy is beginning to crumble — is the industry ready for a radical makeover?

The same flippant look and smile emerge from the women sitting across the table from me — senior level executives in Hollywood talking about “social responsibility,” but with zero followup. I’m accustomed to the caricature of this in film and TV — eery wide-eyed smiles — but to actually witness it up close for the first time is confusing. Some amount of warmth is palpable, but it’s not the whole picture? “I don’t know how anyone lives like this,” I think to myself, aghast at the taunting insincerity.

Americans need to interrogate their failure of moral imagination, and pop culture needs to participate.

I sit at a juxtaposition as an interracial family advocate and mental illness media strategist and the killing spree of six Asian American women in Atlanta leaves me in paralysis.

The murderer’s horrifying behavior was a hateful choice he made, not the result of mental illness, as much as people try to make it so. It is not about having a bad day or being mentally unwell. This was a man who engaged with every other facet of life and chose, of his own volition, to commit murder against vulnerable targets.

Mental illness has been the scapegoat for far too…

Why we need them now more than ever.

The cold linoleum floor was a comfort to my pale, frail, freckly 16-year-old legs, a place to ground my overwhelm and confusion as a sensitive youngster.

My black hair always pulled back, my ears adorned with something, a long necklace draping my chest.

Cement pathways etched the wavy hills of a foggy campus; heavy textbooks weighed me into my body. I took long steps looking out at what felt like a big world. An open sky, a few buildings dotting the horizon, and us students.

My first friend was Aiko; an 18-year-old student from Japan, who was in my Afro-Haitian…

This is the list you’ve been waiting for.

I’m a neurodivergent writer and happen to know a bunch of other neurodivergent writers, too. Here are the books that every neurodivergent reader (and ally) needs to know, in no particular order:

How to talk about mental health during the holidays and why it’s vital we create an anti-sanist culture

The year 2020 forced us to reimagine life on the planet in diverse ways — socially, ecologically, politically. Nothing was “normal,” and yet our basic human needs remained and confronted us: how to eat anew, how to schedule our lives anew, and how to live in even closer emotional proximity with those in our immediate environments.

And yet, for a unique and oft-neglected demographic, the conditions of 2020 made things easier — for those with some forms of mental or psychiatric difference, the abrupt shift to quiet, home, and routine was a welcome balm, and a relief from the frenzy…

The entrepreneur’s death highlights society’s role

Tony Hsieh, the beloved entrepreneur and bestselling author, died just shy of his 47th birthday due to a house fire during a time of his life that can best be described as a hazy blazing fire as well, as reports come out about his final days and months on drugs and attempting to create more utopian communities. As the founder of the online shoe retailer, Zappos, he was widely known as someone who cared immensely about his customers, colleagues, and friends.

I didn’t know him personally, but like Tony, I grew up in the Bay Area, and like Tony, I…

Photo by Tony Reid on Unsplash

Thoughts on a Lonely Psychological Condition

My book launched in lockdown, which is a bummer, but there is one thing that surprised me more than anything else: the perky, cheerful graphics appearing across social media from readers, supporters, and organizations. “Huh?” I thought to myself. “This book is kind of subversive?” Like, I could not understand the amount of birthday-looking confetti that was being used to celebrate my book.

The book is about gender bias and hidden sensory worlds in women — more specifically, it’s about cognitive diversity and the ways in which we pathologize “normal” healthy traits like sensitivity, for example, and how women bear…

Neurodiversity, sensitivity, and how the status quo snubs 20–30% of us

Multicolored blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange human brains floating mid air on a gradient brown background.
Multicolored blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange human brains floating mid air on a gradient brown background.
Photo: PM Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images

“We’d love your help promoting our conference,” the woman said over the phone. “We have some of the biggest names in psychology.” I flip open my laptop to see who she has lined up.

To be clear, I’m no therapist. I’m a journalist with a public health degree and a media consultant covering the future of psychology.

Scrolling through the website of this large industry conference, I see the predictable lineup of balding white men. I take a deep breath to calm my nerves, but quickly and politely end the call.

The history of Western psychology is plagued with a…

Finding the heart of San Francisco beyond the city

Illustration: Aaron Alvarez

Ali, decked out in a striped gym suit with gold chains as though he’s from Jersey, knocks on my front door every few weeks to offer my family food. He’s from Iran and knows how much I love Persian cooking, since I grew up with my Iranian stepfamily. A self-made taxi driver with his own taxi business, he shares more than food, such as stories about the Gulf War and his PTSD.

I wonder if he hears my meltdowns through the walls. I have sensory processing challenges, and despite being able to focus on writing this essay and holding degrees…

Jenara Nerenberg

Author, Divergent Mind (HarperCollins). Journalist at UC Berkeley & Garrison. Founder, The Neurodiversity Project.

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