Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness

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.

Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness

2 thoughts on “Towards a New Understanding of Mental Illness

  1. Oh that class sounds interesting and that is a nice way to progress in this field I think. The TED talk by Thomas Insel sounds interesting about mental illnesses and their key parts but you are correct about trust issues and red flags thrown by him. So , then what should we believe and should we even let some of this info into our heads if they are false because I feel like possibly that could make a “mental illness” be created. Let’s say he didn’t have any reputable results, then we could still listen to some of the facts about AIDS and other illnesses beginning processes at first. Then we could apply it possibly early to an even smaller group of people young or old that have a certain mental illnesses because of the complexity. Next we could accept the information about using a MRI and maybe other equipment that we have learned in class to map the brain and check and detect certain things but not all things. I will agree and accept his thought and admittance about technology not advancing them enough to help mental illnesses before the outward behavioral influences impacted his life. I also want see the prevention of so much pain and agony from any magnitude of illnesses. Your research idea is pretty good about checking the children of parent’s that have mental illnesses but I feel like some data would be useless if nothing goes “down” to the child. I like the use of MRIs to create brain maps and the insight this project/experiment could bring to the world, because just a little data could change everything for the better…or at least that’s what I believe.


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