The Infinite Mind

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The Infinite Mind
GenreHealth and science national, weekly public radio program.
Running timeOne hour
Country of originUnited States
SyndicatesLichtenstein Creative Media
StarringJohn Hockenberry, Fred Goodwin, and Peter Kramer.
Created byBill Lichtenstein, Lichtenstein Creative Media.
Produced byJune Peoples (Show producer), Marit Haahr; Emily Fisher; Dempsey Rice, Devorah Klahr, Mary Carmichael, Eva Neuberg, Sharon Lerner, Jennifer Chu, Jennifer Ehrlich.
Executive producer(s)Bill Lichtenstein (1998 - 2004; 2006 - 2008); June Peoples (2003 - 2005);
Original releaseDecember 20, 1997 (pilot) – November 20, 2008
Opening themeThe Infinite Mind theme, by Art Labriola.
Ending themeThe Infinite Mind closing theme, by Art Labriola

The Infinite Mind was a one-hour, national, weekly public radio series that aired from 1998 to 2008. It was independently produced and distributed by the Peabody Award-winning Lichtenstein Creative Media. The program was hosted by Frederick K. Goodwin, the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and later by best selling author Peter D. Kramer (Goodwin served as guest host on various shows during this time). Public radio's John Hockenberry provided weekly commentary.[1][2][3] The program was dropped from NPR's satellite feed after news stories reported that Goodwin, who drew on his thirty-plus years of clinical experience when interviewing guests who sometimes discussed pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness, was receiving financial compensation from pharmaceutical companies for consulting and physician education.

The program examined all aspects of neuroscience, mental health, and the mind. With nearly one million listeners weekly[4] and 30 major journalism honors, including a U.N. Media Award for a program on "War," five National Headliner Awards, and three Gracie Awards, and nearly one million listeners weekly, "The Infinite Mind" was public radio's most honored and listened to health and science program. According to the show's producers, "The Infinite Mind" looked at "how the brain works, and why it sometimes does not, covering mental health, neuroscience and the mind/body connection from scientific, cultural and policy perspectives."[5]

The series was a non-profit production with a staff of 10, including three producers, and was reportedly budgeted for approximately $20,000 per episode.[6] Major underwriters included the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the MacArthur Foundation, William P. Grant Foundation, and unrestricted educational grants from Eli Lilly & Company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. According to the New York Times, the program went from 168 public radio stations in 2001, with an average audience of about 500,000, to 240 stations and twice that many listeners in 2008. Because it was syndicated, it ran at different times in each market. Lichtenstein Creative Media's president Bill Lichtenstein was the show's creator and executive producer and June Peoples served as show producer.[6]

Topics and guests[edit]

The Infinite Mind's "State of Mind" live broadcast with CBS News' Mike Wallace, actress Carrie Fisher, NIMH researcher Robert Post, researcher Dennis Lam, Center for Mental Health Services director Kathleen Power, and the cast of Broadway's Avenue Q performing "Schadenfreude".

The program was widely hailed for helping create a national dialog on the science and art of the human mind, neuroscience, mental health and the mind/body connection.[7] The series aired major one hour comprehensive programs on such topics as Autism (1998); Hoarding and Clutter (1999), Bullying (2003), Aspergers' Syndrome (2004); Alzheimer's (2001); Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (2000); Depression in the Brain (2004); Gambling (2003); Mental Health and Immigrants (2001); Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (2001); Schizoaffective Disorder (2006); and Teen Suicide (1999).

In the two months following the September 11th attacks, The Infinite Mind produced a series of five programs on the mental health impact of the terrorism, which were first national programs to examine the mental health impact of the September 11th attacks, as well as two live "State of Mind" broadcasts that featured guests Tipper Gore, Rosalynn Carter, Al Franken, Judy Collins, David Straithairn, Surgeon General David Satcher and Marian Wright Edelman, among others. For the broadcasts, producers did groundbreaking primary research[8] with the American Psychological Association into the extent of PTSD and trauma nationally following the September 11th attacks.

The program featured the leading experts in the field of neuroscience, mental health and the mind, including Steven Hyman, immediate past Director, National Institute of Mental Health; Steven Pinker, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT; Bernard Arons, National Institute of Mental Health; Robert J. Ursano, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; David Clark, Director of the Center for Suicide Research and Prevention at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago; Ira Katz, Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania; Norman Rosenthal, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown Medical School ; Trey Sunderland, Chief, Geriatric Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health; Robert Pynoos, UCLA Department of Psychiatry; Connie Lieber, President, National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (now known as the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation); Charles Curie, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Mary Guardino, Founder and Executive Director, Freedom From Fear; Jan Fawcett, Rush Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center; Tom Wehr, Chief, Biological Rhythms in the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institute of Mental Health; Peter Jensen, Director, Center for the Advancement of Children’s Mental Health, Columbia University; Nancy Andreasen, University of Iowa; Herbert Meltzer, Vanderbilt Medical Center; Lee Cohen, Harvard University; and Janice and Demetri Papalos, authors of “The Bipolar Child”; and Alexander Glassman, Chief of Clinical Pharmacology, New York Psychiatric Institute.

In addition to world-leading scientific researchers and medical professionals, The Infinite Mind featured subjects of interest to a broad listening audience with celebrity guests including author John Updike; actors Carrie Fisher, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Edwards, Mercedes Ruehl, Margot Kidder and David Straithairn; comedians Richard Lewis and Lewis Black; the Firesign Theater; author William Styron and his wife Rose Styron; baseball batting champ Wade Boggs; former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; documentary filmmaker Ric Burns; television pioneer Norman Lear; business journalist James Cramer; Tipper Gore; Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman; and live performances and discussions with musicians including Aimee Mann, Jessye Norman, Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega, Janis Ian, Laurie Anderson, Cowboy Junkies, Loudon Wainwright III, Philip Glass, and Emanuel Ax, and the casts of the Broadway hits Avenue Q and Wicked.

Use of Virtual Reality/Second Life[edit]

Lichtenstein Creative Media was a pioneer of the social uses of the on-line 3-D virtual world, Second Life.[9] For "The Infinite Mind," Lichtenstein Creative Media produced the first ever concert and live radio broadcasts from Second Life in August 2006, with singer Suzanne Vega, author Kurt Vonnegut who appeared in avatar form, Internet visionary Howard Reingold, and design guru John Maeda.[10]

Pharmaceutical funding controversy[edit]

On May 9, 2008, posted an article about a segment, "Prozac Nation: Revisited," with four medical experts who said that the link between antidepressants and suicide had been overblown. The show did not disclose the fact that all four experts, including Goodwin, had financial ties to the makers of antidepressants, nor did it disclose that The Infinite Mind had received unrestricted grants from Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac.[11]

On November 21, 2008, The New York Times reported that the staff of Senator Charles Grassley had "uncovered"[4] the fact that host Fred Goodwin had received "at least $1.3 million from 2000 to 2007 giving marketing lectures for drugmakers, income not mentioned on the program", largely speaking fees for talks to clinicians. Goodwin told The New York Times that The Infinite Mind's executive producer, Bill Lichtenstein, was aware of his activities, while Lichtenstein said he had not been informed. National Public Radio dropped The Infinite Mind from its satellite feed.[12] The show was already slated to end production due to a lack of funding.[13]

Goodwin said that in 2005, recognizing that his involvement with some drug companies might be seen to be in conflict with his role as host, he and Lichtenstein agreed that he would assume the role of guest host, involved only with programs that did not relate to treatment issues. Peter Kramer served as regular host during this time.[14] When Goodwin resumed his role as host in 2008, he was no longer involved in pharmaceutical speaking activities.


  1. ^ "On an Expedition Through the Mind," Meisler, Andy, Sunday New York Times, (August 12, 2001)
  2. ^ Feeney, Mark (May 9, 2005). In its eighth year, public radio's 'The Infinite Mind' continues its exploration of the thought process. Boston Globe
  3. ^ Simon, Clea (October 11, 2007). Public radio's new morning show set to go. Boston Globe
  4. ^ a b Harris, Gardiner (November 21, 2008). "Radio Host Has Drug Company Ties". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  5. ^ "On an Expedition Through the Mind," Meisler, Andy, Sunday New York Times, August 12, 2001
  6. ^ a b On an Expedition Through the Mind," Meisler, Andy, Sunday New York Times, August 12, 2001.
  7. ^ Hinckley, David (April 14, 2005). "Show's got ideas on the brain". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on April 18, 2005.
  8. ^ "unknown title". Highbeam Research.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Why Savvy CEOs Hang Out in Second Life". BusinessWeek. November 20, 2006. Archived from the original on December 2, 2006.
  10. ^ "A Second Life to Live". Talk of the Nation. October 24, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  11. ^ Brownlee, Shannon; Lenzer, Jeanne (May 9, 2008). "Stealth Marketers: Are doctors shilling for drug companies on public radio?". Medical Examiner. Slate. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  12. ^ Harris, Gardiner (November 22, 2008). "Radio Host Has Drug Company Ties". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "Bio". Frederick K. Goodwin. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  14. ^ "Fred Goodwin's statement in response to the November 22, 2008 "New York Times" article" (PDF).[dead link]

External links[edit]