Cathryn Jakobson Ramin is an American journalist, investigative reporter, and author. She has written for publications such as The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine, Discover, Craftsmanship Quarterly, Aeon, NewYorker.com and More (magazine). To date, she has published two books, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery (2017, HarperCollins), and Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife (2007, HarperCollins), which became a ''New York Times'' bestseller.
Early life and career
Ramin (who uses the unhyphenated last name “Jakobson Ramin”) was born in New York City. She graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1974, then went on to earn a B.A. in theater and psychology from Tufts University in 1978.
Ramin remained in Boston after college. She began her career as a writer and photographer at a monthly tabloid trade journal, The New England Fashion Retailer, starting in 1978. She then worked as an assistant editor at Inc. Magazine until 1981, when she moved to Manhattan. In New York she worked as a writer and editor for Barron's and Money, and freelanced for New York Magazine and The New York Times Magazine, among many others. On a trip to Los Angeles to report a story, she met Ron Ramin, at that time, a composer for television and movies. She moved to LA in 1987, and she and Ron Ramin were married in 1988. In 1998, the family moved to northern California with their two sons.
Career in journalism
After a year of writing feature stories and shooting pictures for The New England Fashion Retailer, she was hired by Inc. Magazine in Boston to write and edit a section of the magazine called "Ideas You Can Use." Shortly, she began writing business features for the magazine.
After she returned to New York City in 1981, she worked for Money magazine and then for Barron's, as a writer and editor. She also contributed articles to many other consumer magazines. Her most well-known piece from that period is a 1986 cover story for New York Magazine called “The New Orthodox.”
In Los Angeles, she wrote features for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and a biweekly column for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. The column, called "Connecting" in a pre-Internet era, explored issues affecting the personal lives of people in that city. During this period, Ramin began to develop the engaging narrative style that would come to be her trademark. In 2004, she published “In Search of Lost Time,” in The New York Times Magazine, a prequel to her book on memory and attention. In 2006, she published “Valley of the Dulls,” an article about the adverse cognitive effects of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs in O, the Oprah Magazine. In 2013, after receiving a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, she published a groundbreaking investigative report on the drug compounding industry, “The Hormone Hoax” in More (magazine), which has helped alter public policy in the field of women's health.
Ramin’s latest book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, was published in May 2017. Her reporting and writing, which took six years to complete, examines why so many patients fail to get better, reveals the cost of industry malfeasance, and offers practical solutions.
The book is divided into Part I: Problems, and Part II: Solutions. Ramin explores the political, psychological and economic context that greatly influences how patients with back pain are treated – and whether they’ll recover. Readers learn which approaches are likely to reliably bring them some relief, and exactly what's involved in each. “Though Ramin asserts that she knew very little about the back-pain industry when she began her research, she soon realized that she was delving into a checkered subject with ‘twists, turns and corrupt characters’ worthy of a Le Carré novel,” wrote Publishers Weekly. “Crooked is a well-researched and fascinating read detailing the heart-wrenching experience so common to millions of back pain sufferers,” wrote Miranda Esmonde-White, author of the New York Times bestseller Forever Painless.
The book was exceptionally well-received, with multiple interviews on radio and television. As of June 2018, Crooked had received 145 five-star reviews on Amazon. She is represented by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management in New York City.
Ramin's first book, Carved in Sand, is about what happens to the brain in middle age. She chose to address this topic because in her 40s, she observed changes in her own memory (and those of her peers) that concerned her. Her investigative reporting skills helped her delve into the field of cognitive neuroscience, psychology and neurobiology and to write a book that critics and authors have praised as "enjoyable [and] highly informative" (Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Spook), "a frank examination of a near-universal disability" (Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon), "an enlightening and rather reassuring book on fading memory in midlife" (Jane Brody, writer for The New York Times), and, as author David Shenk of The Forgetting puts it, "a book for our time - a book about decline, how to face it, respect it, and fight back. On our behalf, Ramin courageously navigates the baffling limbo between 'normal' and 'disease.'" The book first appeared on The New York Times bestseller list in April 2007, and was ranked number 5 on Amazon within a week of its publication. Ramin appeared for two consecutive episodes on Good Morning America. She was also interviewed on Talk of the Nation, The Leonard Lopate Show, Michael Krasny's Forum and several other public radio affiliate stations.
From Publishers Weekly: "In her first book, veteran journalist Ramin turns herself into a guinea pig as she seeks ways to restore her own failing memory and growing inability to concentrate. Looking at a wide variety of genetic, biochemical and environmental factors that slow the connections among the brain's 100 billion neurons, especially in the hippocampus, Ramin undertakes 10 interventions, methods of achieving her cognitive enhancement. She logs the ups and downs of medications such as Adderall and Provigil; she looks at dietary supplements and biofeedback. … Overall, the variety of perspectives and the wealth of scientific information Ramin provides, as well as her warm personal style, will reward readers and may help them stay mentally sharp."
Awards and recognition
Ramin has spoken before many audiences, including physicians at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, scientists at the George Institute in Sydney, Australia, the Feldenkrais Institute in New York City, the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, the American Bankers Association, the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Harmonie Club of New York, the Society of the Four Arts, the Christamore House Guild and the Inner Circle of Advocates, a group of the top trial lawyers in America. Ramin is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, the National Association of Science Writers, the Authors Guild and the Journalism and Women Symposium. In 2013, she was awarded a grant by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. She is also a MacDowell Colony fellow, a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and an Emeritus member of The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
- Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery. HarperCollins. 2017. ISBN 9780062641786.
- Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife. HarperCollins. 2007. ISBN 9780060598709.
- Cathryn Jakobson Ramin. "In Search of Lost Time". The New York Times Magazine. 2004-12-05. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- Jakobson Ramin, Cathryn (1986-11-17). ""The New Orthodox"" (PDF). New York Magazine. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Valley of the Dulls". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "To treat back pain, look to the brain not the spine – Cathryn Jakobson Ramin | Aeon Essays". Aeon. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Why Did the F.D.A. Approve a New Pain Drug?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- Cathryn Jakobson Ramin. "Concierge Medicine; Having a Doctor On Demand" Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine. More (magazine). 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Crooked - Cathryn Jakobson Ramin - Hardcover". HarperCollins Publishers: World-Leading Book Publisher. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Carved in Sand - Cathryn Jakobson Ramin - Paperback". HarperCollins Publishers: World-Leading Book Publisher. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5821fcda579fb3ff43e5876c/t/58af2147be659461bb75c47a/1487872335219/Ramin-NewOthordox-NewYorkMagazine+%281%29.pdf[bare URL PDF]
- Ramin, Cathryn (1989-05-15). "Skies still friendly with kids in tow" (PDF). Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- "Nonfiction Book Review: Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin. Harper, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-264178-6". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Praise for Crooked". CATHRYN JAKOBSON RAMIN. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- results, search (2016-11-15). Forever Painless: End Chronic Pain and Reclaim Your Life in 30 Minutes a Day (1st ed.). Harper Wave. ISBN 9780062448668.
- "Crooked". CATHRYN JAKOBSON RAMIN. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Amazon.com: Customer reviews: Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- Shelah Moody. "Five Questions for Cathryn Jakobson Ramin - Explaining the science behind memory loss". SFGate. 2007-05-27. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Carved in Sand: Praise". Cathryn Jakobson Ramin. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Critical Praise for Carved in Sand" Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine. HarperCollins. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- Jane Brody. "Mental Reserves Keep Brains Agile". The New York Times. 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Best Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. 2007-05-06. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Cathryn on GMA April 6, 2007". YouTube. 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "The Leonard Lopate Show: Memories and Middle Age". WYNC. 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Talking About Forgetting". KQED Radio. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife". Publishers Weekly. 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Cathryn Jakobson Ramin: Reporting From the Trenches on What Happens to Memory and Attention in Midlife". Speakerpedia. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "The 2005 MacDowell Colony Newsletter" Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine. MacDowell. 2005. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Panelist: Cathryn Jakobson Ramin". Second Opinion. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
- "Former Grotto Inhabitants" Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine. The Grotto. Retrieved 2013-10-17.