Doing It Right with Pandora Sykes

Doing It Right with Pandora Sykes

By Pandora Sykes

An interview series with journalist Pandora Sykes, about the myths, anxieties and trends of modern life.


We need to talk about postpartum psychosis, with Catherine Cho

So many women experience a postpartum mental disorder after having a baby. For me, it was postnatal depression. For Catherine Cho, it was postpartum psychosis.    You might not have thought about postpartum psychosis before. Certainly, I had no idea before I read Catherine’s memoir, that 1-2 in every 1000 women will be affected by it. So why isn’t it being talked about more? Or even, at all?   In this episode, Catherine explains how she came to be sectioned on a psychiatric ward, how it impacted her relationship with her baby son and the rest of her family, the depression which followed her psychosis, and how she navigated second time motherhood.   I know this episode might feel scary to some of you. But I believe that forewarned is forearmed. That knowing about these things can better protect us and those around us. And that politically, we should be talking more about matrescence - thought to be as big a cognitive change as puberty! - and how to improve maternal mental health.   If you or someone you know is struggling, please call your GP or the NHS helpline, on 111. If it is an emergency, please call 999. For more information, visit   Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness by Catherine Cho You can read an excerpt of Catherine’s book, here.   Get in touch at Presented by Pandora Sykes Sound by Kelsey Bennett Co-production by Pandora Sykes and Kelsey Bennett
30/04/2449m 27s

How tech flattened personal taste, with Kyle Chayka

The homogenisation of popular culture is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. In my 2020 book, How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right? (which spawned this very podcast), I wrote an essay called Get The Look - inspired by a wildly successful Zara polkadot dress - about how internet culture is encouraging young women to dress as facsimiles of one other.   So I was really excited to talk to Kyle Chayka, a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of a book Filterworld, about how technology - and more specifically, the algorithm - has come to shape what we watch, listen to, eat, dress and even how we travel.   In this episode, we discuss the paradox of choice, decision fatigue, surveillance capitalism, dumb phones and how to break free of ‘the algo’ in order to re-learn what you actually like.   Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture by Kyle Chayka Read Kyle’s writing on tech and social media for The New Yorker here.   Get in touch at Presented by Pandora Sykes Sound by Kelsey Bennett Co-production by Pandora Sykes and Kelsey Bennett
30/04/2442m 52s

The myth of the sociopath, with Patric Gagne

What does the term ‘sociopath’ mean to you? Serial killer? Social outcast? Or wait - is that a psychopath?    Patric first told her story in a column for the cult Modern Love series, titled ‘He Married a Sociopath: Me’. After the piece received an enormous response, Patric wrote a probing memoir about a life spent searching for answers: Why didn’t she feel guilt or shame like other people? Why did she have this overwhelming feeling of apathy? And how could she escape the strange pressure she felt, without resorting to violence?   In this episode, Patric, a qualified psychotherapist, debunks the myths around sociopathy, sharing some of the cons, but also the pros. Above all, she wants us to see that sociopathy is a part of neurodiversity - and not a mere personality type.    [NB: ‘sociopath’ is not a recognised psychiatric term in the UK - it comes under ‘antisocial personality disorder’. But Patric thinks the two are different and so I defer to her experience/ language.]   Sociopath: A Memoir by Patric Gagne The Perks of Being a Sociopath by Patric Gagne for TIME magazine He Married A Sociopath: Me by Patric Gagne for The New York Times’ Modern Love column   Get in touch at Presented by Pandora Sykes Sound by Kelsey Bennett Co-production by Pandora Sykes and Kelsey Bennett  
30/04/2440m 38s

Why you might be languishing, with Corey Keyes

Feeling demotivated? Aimless? Without meaning, or purpose? According to sociologist and psychologist Corey Keyes, you could be languishing.   In this episode, I talk to the renowned pioneer of mental wellbeing about his theories of languishing and flourishing, the subject of a thought-provoking new book. Corey explains why so many of us are languishing, how it’s different from burnout and depression, and the habits (such as ‘passive entertainment’) which can keep you stuck in the rut.    Corey also explores his opposing theory of flourishing, which is not just about “feeling good” but “functioning well’ - and how seeking it saved his life. So what does it mean to flourish? And how can we achieve it?   Languishing: How To Feel Alive Again in a World That Wears Us Down by Corey Keyes Adam Grant’s piece for The New York Times on languishing Corey’s interview with The Guardian   Get in touch at Presented by Pandora Sykes Sound by Kelsey Bennett Co-production by Pandora Sykes and Kelsey Bennett
30/04/2430m 4s

Decolonising beauty, with Afua Hirsch

I’m really interested in talking about the gnarly parts of the beauty industry - where things like tanning and hair removal actually come from. In the last series, Jessica DeFino debunked many myths about make-up and skincare. This season, I talk to journalist, author and broadcaster Afua Hirsch about beauty’s colonialist ideals and how she sought to break up with them.   Afua talks about reconnecting with her ancestral heritage through beauty ritual, why rest is resistance, how tattooing can be a sacred act, why puberty should be celebrated, and how globalisation and the borderless world has left us yearning for community and ritual.    As you’ll glean from our sprawling conversation, ‘beauty’ - and by that I don’t mean make-up, but the social, political and cultural ideals around women’s bodies - is the portal to the way we live. I found this conversation so galvanizing (I am now on the path to getting “spiritually ripped”) and I really hope you do too.   Decolonising My Body: a radical exploration of rituals and beauty by Afua Hirsch   Get in touch at Presented by Pandora Sykes Sound by Kelsey Bennett Co-production by Pandora Sykes and Kelsey Bennett  
30/04/2445m 19s

How to have a more meaningful social life, with Priya Parker

Welcome to the last episode of Series 3! I really hope you have enjoyed the series and it’s given you some pause for thoughts. Don’t forget to rate and review the show on iTunes to help other people find me.   Priya Parker is a conflict resolution strategist, based in the States and the author of a 2018 book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. I’ve wanted to speak to her since I read her book in 2019 , because so many of us - myself included! - struggle to maintain our social lives. What to say yes to, what to say no to, what to seek out and what to avoid.    Priya talks about gatherings big and small in a way that she calls “small p political” - because it is deeply political, she says, to decide what we celebrate, elevate and value through who, why and when we come together. I think Priya offers a really unique perspective on what gathering actually means. I hope you enjoy it - and thanks for joining me, for series 3!   How should we meet? And who decides? by Priya Parker for The New York Times   The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker    When do we actually need to meet in person? By Rae Ringel for The Harvard Business Review    Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove
27/10/2244m 4s

The expectation effect, with David Robson

Can the way you think about your body, change the way it works? Can a positive outcome about ageing, actually cause you to live longer?   I’ve been curious about the mind-body axis for a while, and then I read The Expectation Effect by the award-winning science journalist and author, David Robson about how our expectations can shape our experience - and I was fascinated.   Using dozens of jaw-dropping studies throughout history, David explores how thinking a certain way about something, can change the way your body responds. Now, you cannot think yourself fitter, happier, richer. This is not The Secret. But you can also harness the power of your brain’s predictive machine, to live a healthier, longer, life.   David and I discuss the power of ‘reframing’, the effect of placebos and nocebos and the incredible impact of self-affirmation in young people,  and how it can shape their entire future. I hope this episode gives you some tools to take away.   The Expectation Effect by David Robson is out now   Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove
20/10/2249m 42s

The myth of the ‘baby brain’ with Chelsea Conaboy

Did you find yourself scrambling for words, losing your keys, forgetting basically everything, when you had a baby? Perhaps you witnessed it in your best friend, your sibling, your partner. The jokes about how women are lobotomised by motherhood are damaging and misogynistic - the term ‘baby brain’ used to keep women in their place - but how was i to reconcile that knowledge with a brain that felt like it had turned to cheese?   Which is why I was so excited to speak to science writer, Chelsea Conaboy. With her new book, Mother Brain - and a searing recent New york times op-ed “Why maternal instinct was a myth created by men” - Chelsea uses science to myth bust so many idea we have around biology, birth and the brain.   We discuss why the idea of “maternal instinct” is unhelpful to new mothers AND fathers, why “the golden hour” is not the only chance you have to bond with your baby, why oxytocin aka “the love hormone” is not just released by birth and breast-feeding and - this is a big one - why the fact that a birthing parent’s brain shrinks after birth is not a negative thing, but a sharpening of the synapses -- AND it happens in male primary carers, too. Chelsea doesn’t deny that the brain changes through giving birth. But the physiological changes are not relegated to the biological parent, she argues: they exist in every primary carer.   I found Chelsea’s research as fascinating as I did reassuring - and I really hope this episode helps any new parents, or anyone supporting new parents - and may help guide us towards a more equitable vision of what parenthood looks like. Buy Chelsea’s new book, Mother Brain, here:
13/10/2243m 43s

What we get wrong about sleep, with Russell Foster

Tired all the time? Worried you’re not getting the fabled ‘8 hours’ ? You’re not alone: we’ve become a nation of orthosomniacs. But panic not, because sleep scientist Russell Foster is here to help.    The University of Oxford neuroscientist and the author of a new book, Life Time, is a world leading expert on circadian rhythms, also known as: the body clock. And guess what? The whole 8 hours a night is…. A myth.   We discuss the difference between sleepiness and fatigue; why broken sleep is not a bad thing but a natural occurrence; and why we are facing a public health crisis when it comes to looking after our night-shift workers. We also discuss what works and what doesn’t work: such as sleep tracking apps, sleeping pills, CBD drops and more - and why trying to become an early bird, when you’re a night owl is so damn hard. (Blame your parents.)    Life Time: The New Science of the Body Clock, and How It Can Revolutionize Your Sleep and Health by Russell Foster Get 20% off OTO sleep drops with the code pandora20    Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove
06/10/2245m 13s

The many myths of fast fashion, with Venetia La Manna

I’ve been wanting to do an episode on the many myths of fast fashion since I wrote an essay titled Get The Look, for my 2020 essay collection (which this podcast series first spun off from). And Venetia La Manna, a presenter and podcaster campaigning against fast fashion and advocating for more mindful consumption, is the ideal guest to explore this issue with. She regularly organises protests against fast fashion brands and her Instagram account is a vital trove of statistics about what really lies behind that “sustainable” clothing tag. Venetia and I discuss overproduction, why luxury is as bad as the high street at underpaying their workers, the stigma of second hand (and how we can make it more inclusive) and why this isn’t an individual issue, but a corporate one. We also discuss the role of social media and influencer culture in maintaining fast fashion’s stronghold.  Resources:  @theorispresent Lauren Bravo on Sentimental Garbage Second hand & clothes swaps: Vinted ThreadUp Nuw  Depop eBay Imparfaite Paris Vestiaire Rococo Paris  The Real Real   Get 20% off OTO sleep drops with the code pandora20    Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove
29/09/2244m 59s

What we get wrong about knife crime, with Gary Younge

What do you know about knife crime? It’s something that happens in gangs and on the streets. It’s something you’ve never had to worry about. Right?   Gary Younge is an author, broadcaster and a professor of sociology at the university of Manchester. Formerly an editor at large of the guardian newspaper, he has written 5 books including Another Day In The Death of America, which chronicled the lives of ten children and adolescents who were shot dead on one day in November 2013.   I’ve wanted to talk to Gary since his award winning investigation for the Guardian in 2018, Beyond The Blade, where he took a similar approach to another day in the death of america: except he took a year, not a day, and he told the stories of the 39 children and adolescents who had been stabbed to death, in 2017. Gary has lived in both America - where he wrote extensively about gun culture - and now, back in the UK, where he has written extensively about knife crime, and I don’t think there’s anyone who descontructs the myths around social violence, like Gary.   We discuss why knife crime is a public health issue, why the term ‘knife crime’ itself is a social construct lacking in context, the ramifications of shutting down shared, free spaces for adolescents and how we won’t ever get on top of it until we understand that knife crime is about poverty, not race.   Follow @garyyounge on Twitter Read Beyond The Blade Buy Another Day In The Death of America   Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove Get 20% off OTO sleep drops with the code pandora20 
22/09/2250m 16s

The myth of gendered emotion, with Praga Agarwal

Professor Pragya Agarwal is a data and behavioural scientist, a visiting professor of social inequities and injustice at Loughborough University and the founder of a research think tank, The 50% Project. She is also the author of five books, most recently Hysterical: Exploding The Myth of Gendered Emotions.    In this episode, we talk about whether women really do cry more; the myth of the hysterical woman; how emotional expression varies over cultures and societies; and why we need to talk more about the biases in science.   Buy Hysterical: Exploding The Myth of Gendered Emotions Follow Pragya on Twitter @DrPragyaAgarwal   Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove
15/09/2241m 3s

What we get wrong about dementia, with Wendy Mitchell

There are 50million people living with dementia worldwide. By 2050, it’s likely to rise to 152 million. But how much do you know about dementia? When it’s a disease so rapidly on the rise, why aren’t we talking more about it?   Wendy Mitchell is a former NHS worker who was diagnosed with young-onset dementia at the age of 58. She’s written two books: Somebody I Used To Know and What I Wish People Knew About Dementia   We talk about why dementia is so much more than memory loss; how the arts often falls back on stereotypes when featuring characters with dementia; and how Wendy thinks a diagnosis of dementia could be better broken by doctors - it’s not the end of life, she says, it’s the beginning of a different one.   Buy What I Wish People Knew About Dementia, by Wendy Mitchell Follow Wendy on Twitter @WendyPMitchell    Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove  
08/09/2241m 41s

The myth of good skin, with Jessica DeFino

Jessica DeFino is not your regular beauty journalist. After finding her pieces were regularly rejected from newspapers and magazines for being too incendiary, or dissing beauty brands who advertised, she founded her newsletter, The Unpublishable, where, in her own words she “dismantles beauty standards, debunks marketing myths and explores how beauty culture impacts people”. It now has 40,000 readers.  The Huffington Post once described her as “giving the middle finger to the entire beauty industry”.    Jess and I discuss why clear skin isn’t a health objective but an aesthetic one, the evolution of a tan, the explosion of celebrity makeup and skincare lines and why we’re at a tipping point in beauty. Subscribe to The Unpublishable Follow Jess on Twitter and IG @jessicadefino_   Hosted & Exec Produced by Pandora Sykes Production by Joel Grove
01/09/2253m 43s

The nuances of grief, with Cariad Lloyd

I'm so pleased to bring you this s2 bonus episode sponsored by Sage Appliances, with Cariad Lloyd, which we recorded in front of a live audience a month ago. Cariad is a comedian and writer and the creator of the cult podcast, Griefcast, where she interviews famous people (usually comedians) like Robert Webb, David Baddiel and Sara Pascoe about the human experience of death and grief, and which has won multiple British Podcast Awards.    I'm really interested in grief: why we fear it (especially other people's), why we expect grief to look a certain way, the lack of nuance in our understanding of grief. What I love about Griefcast is the way it democratises grief: there is no one way to grieve. Grief, as Cariad digs into, is not just very sad, it is funny, absurd, weird and life-expanding.   You can listen to a new series of Griefcast now, on all good pod platforms and find Griefcast on Twitter @thegriefcast. Here are some helpful resources from Cariad: The Grief Network Let's Talk About Loss charity Dead Parent Club podcast The New Normal charity Bereavement Room podcast   And some books I recommend: Grief Works by Julia Samuel, Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene, It's Your Loss by Robyn Donaldson and Emma Hopkinson, Languages of Loss by Sasha Bates, Sunset by Jessie Cave and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
27/10/2147m 56s

How to be sad, with Helen Russell

Helen Russell is a journalist, podcaster and author of How To Be Sad, a part memoir/ manifesto which argues that we can’t talk about happiness, without making space for sadness. But why are we so scared of being sad? We discuss ‘warm glow giving’, what we can learn about sadness from the Russians and why "money can't buy you happiness" isn't quite right. Buy How To Be Sad, here:
20/10/2148m 13s

Re-thinking self-care, with Pooja Lakshmin

Pooja Lakshmin MD is a psychiatrist and writer, specialising in women's mental health. The founder of digital women's health platform Gemma, she is a regular contributor to The New York Times, where she writes about wellness and self-care (amongst other subjects) about which she is currently writing a book. We talk about what the business of wellness gets wrong, what real self-care looks like and the difference between burnout and despair.  Follow Pooja's work, here:   Gemma's first all digital course on dealing with mom guilt, martyr-mode, and perfectionism can be found here: 
13/10/2145m 29s

The lonely economy, with Noreena Hertz

Noreena Hertz is an economist and thought leader and the author of The Lonely Century, a fascinating and sprawling study of the epidemic of loneliness. We discuss why loneliness is higher in cities where people walk faster, how robots can be a force for good in social care and how to reconnect communities. Buy The Lonely Century here: Tickets for Pandora Sykes in conversation with Candice Brathwaite are available here:
06/10/2148m 41s

Introverts and Extroverts, with Arthur Brooks

Arthur Brooks is a social scientist, Harvard professor and author of multiple books, who writes a column for The Atlantic about happiness. After his column on introverts and extroverts caught my attention (I am fascinated in personality theories), I rung him up to discuss why introverts fared better during the pandemic and what extroverts and introverts can learn from one another. Plus, we take a little detour into why 'more' isn't always better. You can read that column here: Tickets for Pandora Sykes in conversation with Candice Brathwaite are available here:
29/09/2147m 33s

What the law gets wrong, with Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra Wilson is a criminal and family law barrister, the founder of Black Women In Law and the author of Black & White: a young barrister’s story of race and class in a broken justice system. We discuss the bar’s diversity and access problem, Stop & Search, the over-representation of black people in prisons and what we get wrong when we talk about knife crime. Plus, she drops some deliciously archaic nuggets about the process of becoming a barrister. Buy In Black and White   Tickets for Pandora Sykes in conversation with Candice Brathwaite are available here:
22/09/2153m 16s

Could a 4-day week ever work? with Alex Pang

Alex Pang is a futurist and tech consultant who has spent twenty years studying our relationship with work. In Shorter, he argues that you get more done, when you work less. We discuss the problem with open-plan working, why 90% of meetings are an absolute waste of time and how a 4 day week (which means, yup, a 3 day weekend) could be better for the climate, the economy and public health. Buy Shorter here   Tickets for Pandora Sykes in conversation with Candice Brathwaite are available here:
15/09/2141m 37s

Understanding autism, with Naoise Dolan

Naoise Dolan is the author of the best-selling novel Exciting Times, who explores through her journalism what it means to be neurodiverse and what allistic people often misunderstand about autism. We discuss hidden disabilities, the problem with 'likeability' and why it would benefit us all to live in an Ask Culture world. Buy Exciting Times here:   Tickets for Pandora Sykes in conversation with Candice Brathwaite are available here:
08/09/2144m 51s

Let‘s talk about sex, with Amia Srinivasan

Amia Srinivasan is the Chichele Professor of social and political theory at Oxford University and the author of thought provoking new collection of essays, The Right To Sex. We talk about incel culture, The metric of ‘fuckability’, dating apps, and why banning porn is not the answer. Buy The Right to Sex here: Tickets for Pandora Sykes in conversation with Candice Brathwaite are available here:
01/09/2146m 48s

Trusting your gut, with Stacey Dooley

Stacey Dooley is a broadcaster and presenter, known for making more than 80 documentaries for the BBC on subjects including spy cam sex in South Korea, child abuse in the Philippines, female suicide bombers in Nigeria and sex slavery in Islamic State. She is also the 2018 winner of Strictly Come Dancing and the presenter of a make-up competition, Glow Up. In short: you can't box Dooley in. In the season finale of Doing It Right, I interview one of the most famous women in British media about what makes a good documentary, the importance of trusting your gut and learning from your mistakes in the public eye.  Thank you so much for listening to the series! I really enjoyed making it and I hope you squirrelled away some helpful nuggets about how to navigate and metabolise modern life, courtesy of my brilliant guests. How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
23/08/2050m 6s

Yoda wasn‘t chill all the time, with Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton is a philosopher who has written on work, sex, leisure, architecture - and every other subject in between. I first discovered Alain's work in the early noughties, when I inhaled his debut novel, Essays in Love, which he wrote aged just 23 and which sold over 2 million copies. Whether you're a fellow fangirl, or new to his philosophy, you're in for his treat - Alain's pragmatism (and his vast bank of wisdom) are so extremely comforting and clarifying in these muddling times. We discuss the difference between interior and exterior progress, the perils of instant gratification and why no-one is Yoda, all of the time. Not even Alain. How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
16/08/2050m 1s

Arrival fallacy, with Raven Smith

Raven Smith is a British Vogue columnist, an Instagram personality and the author of the essay collection, Trivial Pursuits. I have long admired Raven's ability to move between the trivial and the weighty, with ease: writing about IKEA meatballs one minute, and his inability to live up to his father's idea of a black man, the next. We discuss arrival fallacy, being in 'the waiting room of parenthood' and why the little things - the trimmings of modern life - make us who we are. How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
09/08/2027m 46s

Why do we hate change? with Julia Samuel

Julia Samuel is a psychotherapist, the founder/patron of Child Bereavement UK and the author of two acclaimed non-fiction books, Grief Works and her new one, This Too Shall Pass. A book about why human beings find it so hard to navigate change, it could not have landed at a better time: when choice has been removed and major change forced upon us, by the pandemic. We discuss why resisting change only makes its impact worse, the impossibility of ever fully 'knowing yourself' and the scourge of comparisonitis. How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
02/08/2031m 46s

Optimism vs. hope, with Rutger Bregman

Rutger Bregman is a Dutch historian with a radical new idea: what if human beings are not innately savage and selfish, but compassionate and kind? I talk to Rutger about his uplifting new book, Humankind; the difference between optimism and hope; and why we need to look beyond cultural myth to find the truth. I felt comforted and hopeful after speaking to Rutger - I hope you do, too.   How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both  hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
26/07/2041m 54s

The age of outrage, with Dotty Charles

Ashley 'Dotty' Charles is a writer and broadcaster. The first solo female to host 1Xtra Breakfast for the BBC, she is the author of a new book, which lands at the time we need it most. Outraged: Why Everyone is Shouting and No One Is Talking is about how distracted we have become in our outrage. By shouting about the little things, are we neglecting to talk about the bigger issues in modern society? We discuss the difference between performative outrage, the role of the social media provocateur and the strange case of Rachel Dolezal.  How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
20/07/2045m 42s

Seeking inclusivity, with Sinead Burke

Sinéad Burke is a force for good. An educator and disability advocate in the field of fashion and design, she is solutions-driven in her desire to make society more inclusive. The first little person to appear on the cover of Vogue, to attend the Met Gala and to give a TED Talk, she is fast becoming one of the most important voices in conversations around social change.   Her book, Break The Mould: How To Take Your Place In The World, is published in October and is available for pre-order, now. How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
12/07/2049m 38s

Comedy for good, with Joe Lycett

Doing It Right is a new podcast series that delves into the way we live our lives. My very first guest is the comedian and TV presenter, Joe Lycett. He joins me to discuss consumer activism, parking tickets, his BAFTA nomination and why comedy should "punch up" not down. In collaboration with Penguin Audio. How Do We Know We're Doing It Right is out now in both hardback and audiobook, narrated by Pandora.
05/07/2042m 6s
Heart UK