Lately, I have been on a bit of an anthropology kick due to my Research Methods in Religious Studies class as we examine the evolution of thought, culture, and society. Because of this, I have been drawn to the shifts in understanding subjects from the origin and purpose of religion to the progression in the psychological field. Thomas Insel’s TEDx talk regarding mental illness caught my eye because it presented a new, revolutionary understanding of mental illness. I’m not too sure of Insel’s trustworthiness as a candidate for this TEDx talk because he never specifically stated where he was getting his information from, nor provided information on what his job was, except for that he worked for the government. To me, that’s a huge red flag in the issue of trust.
In his presentation, Insel stressed the importance of early detection in regards to illness. At first, he provided the life changing results of when early detection has been applied to diseases such as AIDS. He went on to present results of the morbidity of mental illness as it interferes with everyday lives due to how common it is and how young patients are diagnosed. After explaining the effects of these mental illnesses on the brain, Insel stated how he, among other scientists, is striving to combat these illnesses earlier on.
However, Insel admitted that technology has not advanced to the point where scientists, researchers, or doctors could detect and prevent mental illness at an early age before the outward behavioral influences began to impact the patient’s life. One day, I can see how technology will be advanced enough where during routine physicals, doctors will be able to take a look at the brains of children and young adults in order to diagnose and therefore prevent the magnitude of illnesses early on.
One thing I would be interested in researching would be looking at the brains of young children whose parents are known to have mental illnesses and then comparing them to the parent’s brains. This could be done using an MRI to create a map of the brains. This experiment could provide insight into the early signs and correlations of mental illnesses.