“docu-mental is high quality, passionate, thoughtful. Your authentic voice makes it a rare gem.”

~Madelyn Glist, producer: The Smithsonian Channel, NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS’s Moyers on America


I’m Whitney M. Fishburn, a Washington, DC-based journalist and critic.


docu-mental is my answer to the “news fatigue” that stops us from thinking clearly.

It started well before this administration, but now there’s no denying that our minds have been deranged for a while. It’s because we’ve outsourced our thinking to so many others: politicians, the media, celebrities, anyone with a pitch to sell. 

But now that our norms are shattered, we can’t resort to automatic thinking.

docu-mental relies on data, thoughtful commentary and analyses, and interviews with innovative and surprising thinkers ranging from policymakers to monks to poets to scienstists and others in between. 

Do you even realize how often you are told what to think, all day, every day? Some studies place it at about an average of 6,000 times per day.

No wonder we check out.

But mindlessness leads to bad policies and corruption. Being firehosed with information such as we are these days makes it tempting to just tune out and let others do our thinking for us. That’s great for people who want to profit from our mental exhaustion, but not for our individual empowerment.

Through reporting, commentary, and podcasts with a variety of thinkers from industry, politics, culture and the arts, docu-mental deconstructs what we used to take for granted as the so-called american “norms” so you can see how we all participated in helping them become “normal” and consider how we can reclaim our individual power and capacity for authenticity.

Your mind is being harvested nearly every waking moment by people who want more control, more money, more influence, at your expense.

Our minds and all that they generate, including ideas, hope, faith, love, and understanding, are the only infinite resources on this earth. At a time when so much of what we once took for granted would always be available to us — abundant land, oil, potable water, a sense of identity with community — is now vanishing or diminished, our minds and all their potential are a precious commodity.

‘What’s with the weird name with the dash in it?’

Those noisy states of mind make us weak, I realized. This leaves us vulnerable to being in a constant state of anxiety and or worse, depression. It’s when we are anxious and or depressed that we are too tired think for ourselves.

This makes us ripe for manipulation.

I started connecting the dots between how these states of mind, compounded by anxiety and depression can lead to the creation of bad policy, which then leads to bad outcomes, which leads to more anxiety and depression, which leads to more bad policy, and so on.

I thought if I could show others how this is happening, we could reverse the trends. To that end, in 2018, I trademarked "Creating herd immunity to anxiety and depression (TM)".


There might be more than five states of mind that leave us vulnerable to those who wish to harvest our minds, but these are the five I have identified:

  1. Identity

  2. Scarcity

  3. Hierarchy

  4. Apathy

  5. Trust


If you’d like to know more about those five states and how I came to chart them, please visit this page.

About me:

Formerly the managing editor of Psychiatric Annals, Pediatric Annals, and several other lifestyle and trade publications, I also was an award-winning reporter of policy and practice in Clinical Psychiatry News, Pediatric News, and Internal Medicine News, among other medical titles. Named 2017 Journalist of the Year by the Washington Psychiatric Society for my coverage of mental health policy and practice, I now focus on the mind sets that contribute to bad policy, and bad mental health outcomes.

You can find my opera and classical music reviews at DC Metro Theater Arts, and my thoughts on creativity in my column for The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md.

To see clips from when I was a fulltime medical and policy reporter, visit here.

I am a member of the American Health Care Journalists; the National Association of Science Writers, where I sit on the Peggy Girshman Ideas Grant Committee; and the Music Critics Association of North America.