Paul Tough's (subscription-only) story in this week's New Yorker is a really fascinating read. It's basically about new research which shows that traumatic childhood experiences have permanent, chemical effects upon people. It further hypothesizes that these effects spiral into larger sociological and cultural problems.

Though he doesn't mention this in his piece, Tough is also the author of "Whatever It Takes," an important book that explores similar themes. "Whatever It Takes" explores the Harlem Children's Zone, which is an ambitious attempt to remake social services by tying together all the social services -- education, medicine, parental training, prenatal care. The thesis, in other words, is that all these social ailments are related to each other, and the correct approach of social policy is to address them in tandem.

His New Yorker story essentially traces this thesis back to bio-chemical roots, but Tough is really capturing some cutting-edge concepts in social science. The story is also a gripping read, so don't miss it.