Welcoming the Mentally Ill Back Into Our Community
Brain research may be the greatest scientific adventure of our time, but it has had no practical payoff for the mentally ill. We have learned fantastic things about what makes us tick, but none of the findings has helped a single patient.
The National Institute of Mental Health is betting billions of dollars that useful answers are just around the scientific corner. My guess is that if there were low-hanging fruit, we would already be picking it.
Progress in understanding and treating mental disorders will be slow and piecemeal. Don’t hold your breath waiting for breakthroughs. With its 100 trillion connections, the human brain is the most complicated contraption in the universe. Things can go wrong in lots of different ways. The more we learn about mental disorders, the further we seem from really understanding them.
The fascination with brain research has in fact been paradoxically bad for patients. Its future promise distracts attention from their pressing current needs. Vast amounts of money, time, and talent are devoted to the high-tech stuff, while the simple things that would make patients’ lives livable are terribly shortchanged. We could, but don’t, provide a decent place to live, caring people to live with, and easy —> Read More Here