Toward a New Understanding of Mental Illness – Thomas Insel

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Thomas Insel’s TedEducation presentation. “Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer deaths from heart disease than there were just a few decades ago. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wonders: Could we do the same for depression and schizophrenia? The first step in this new avenue of research, he says, is a crucial reframing.”

Insel concludes, in wondering how far we will get in early detection of mental illness given that we don’t even know what tools we will be using to get there, with a quote from Steve Gates: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The vid isn’t currently loading on this MIA page, so here’s the Youtube link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUuyzoTI948

    It’s really a brief talk — just sound bites — a thirteen minute TEDx, presented, this past January, at Caltech.

    A lot of it is devoted to semantics — and is clearly an attempt to spin a new narrative, re-establish some credibility, now that the old “chemical imbalance in the brain” theory has lost its charm.

    For those who may not have the time (or the stomach) to watch, here’s my review…

    This is a talk by the head of the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), which compares the U.S. mortality rates and morbidity rates of rightly termed “serious diseases” (childhood leukemia, AIDs, stroke) and of accidental injuries, to “Neuropsychiatric Disorders” — and compares them to suicide (what Insel calls the “condition or the situation of suicide”).

    Suicide is the “third most common cause of death amongst people between the ages of 15 and 25.”

    The Powerpoint images are key; e.g., there’s a list, which reads from bottom, to top:

    “Digestive Diseases, Musculoskeletal Diseases, Respiratory Diseases, Sense Organ Disorders, Unintentional Injuries, Malignant Neoplasms, Cardiovascular Disease” and, finally, “Neuropsychiatric Disorders.”

    It seems to me that Insel is suggesting suicide simply must be considered a “Neuropsychiatric” issue, at least 9 times out of 10; for, he explains, “When we talk about suicide, there is also a medical contribution here, because 90% of suicides are related to a mental illness: Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Borderline Personality…”

    And, he emphasizes that, in that age group (i.e., amongst adolescents), suicide is “twice as common as homicide and actually more common as a source of death than traffic fatalities…”

    Also, he speaks of “morbidity” — in terms of “disability from medical causes.”

    Ultimately, he says nothing about how so-called medical ‘care’ (that is, medical-coercive psychiatric ‘care’ and psychopharmacology — and psychiatric labeling) may be contributing to those high rates of suicide and disability.

    Of course, threats of suicide are no laughing matter; suicidal people need understanding support; but, IMO, that means one should *not* take a suicidal person to a psychiatrist.

    I, personally, would have *never* learned, firsthand, what it’s like to be suicidal, had it not been for the repeated ‘caring’ interventions of psychiatrists, in the course of two years, in my early twenties.

    Thankfully, I survived those times — but only by my eventually, fully rejecting psychiatry and its ‘meds’ and its strange (dare I say “delusional” ) beliefs about ‘normalcy’ and the inner lives (and outward expressions) of adolescents.

    Never before my encounters with psychiatry was I ever suicidal, nor have I ever been suicidal since putting psychiatrists out of my life.

    [Note: Here I’m using the term “suicidal” as a description of one who has a near-term plan to commit suicide; indeed, I’m pointing out, that I once developed such a plan — but only as a result of being repeatedly, forcibly drugged and “hospitalized,” upon having been *falsely* accused of being a danger to myself. Four times, in barely over two years, that happened; each time, I was *not* a danger to myself (nor to anyone else). I am now approaching age 50, and each passing year tells me that life is always worth living, without a doubt — as long as one remains free from psychiatry (and at least a good arm’s distance away from its most shameless, true-believing promoters).]

    Insel speaks in this TEDx, of what he sees as a need for, “early detection, early intervention.”

    What kinds of detections and interventions?

    He doesn’t say. In fact, he seems to be saying that there are currently no good ways of detecting and intervening; he says the next few years may bring ways; simply, he indicates (in so many ways) that we should accept, the “detection” and “intervention” shall be about brain science and technology, that’s theoretically coming to determine early, childhood developments of “brain circuit disorders” — and *not* detections or interventions that look for any noticeable behaviors.

    Amazing, yes?

    (IMO, his mild-mannered fear mongering is *precisely* the kind that drove my family and friends to repeatedly thinking that I ‘needed’ to see a psychiatrist, at age 23.5, when I’d first come to eschew psychiatric drugs.)

    Moving on now (and glad to be getting my head out of the past).

    Pointedly, his Powerpoint presentation offers this question, “MENTAL DISORDERS?” (in regards to the following list of psychiatric labels):

    “Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality.”

    [Note: That “MENTAL DISORDERS?” question of his appears, in his Powerpoint, in capital letters. Otherwise, I’d not be posting all-caps.]

    Referring to “Depression” to “OCD” and to “PTSD” and to “SCHIZOPHENIA AS A BRAIN DISEASE,” we see, Insel choosing to cross out these two terms, “Mental Disorders” and “Behavioral Disorders” with a red line… as he comes, at last, to speak, in the affirmative, only of “brain circuit disorders.”

    (And, at one point, those “brain circuit disorders” are referred to, in the Power Point, by a technical term: “DISORDERS OF THE HUMAN CONNECTOME.”)

    He concludes with the above-mentioned quote from Bill Gates, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten” — which is sort of funny, because IMO psychiatrists are always doing the opposite.

    They’re forever *overestimating* the would be, coming ‘breakthroughs’ of supposedly futuristic technologies, in their field.

    They do so, especially these days, as, increasingly, the Internet exposes them… such that they stand alone, defending a deplorable history — in particular, that of this past half century, which is so badly marked by their collusion with Big Pharma, its deceits and tragic failures.

  2. I didn’t watch the video, I usually prefer reading unless I just want to see what the person looks like, but:

    “Today, thanks to better early detection, there are 63% fewer deaths from heart disease than there were just a few decades ago. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wonders: Could we do the same for depression and schizophrenia? The first step in this new avenue of research, he says, is a crucial reframing.”

    There are, well, I don’t know how many percent more deaths from heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases now than there were just a few decades ago among mental patients, thanks to “atypical” neuroleptics, etc. Maybe to do the same thing, you could reduce the amount they’re prescribed or something? 😉

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