“Google’s Latest Hire Has a Creepy Plan to Track Your Mental Health”


Google has hired the former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Thomas Insel, with plans to create “a wearable sensor to measure mood, cognition and anxiety.” Gizmodo points out the problems with this idea:“One can easily imagine a message popping up on some poor desk jockey’s monitor: ‘You’re not in the right mood today. Please take a day of unpaid leave.’ Or, worse: ‘We’ve detected signs of mental instability, based on how you’ve been talking and sleeping. Please report to a doctor immediately.’”

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    • “Insel wants to prevent people from suffering when they experience mental illness, which is a worthy goal. But his ideas about how to do it may cause more harm than good.”

      His previous ideas caused more harm than good, too, in his own words:

      “The goal of this new [DSM] manual, as with all previous editions, is to provide a common language for describing psychopathology. While DSM has been described as a ‘Bible’ for the field, it is, at best, a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each. The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been ‘reliability’ – each edition has ensured that clinicians use the same terms in the same ways. The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. Indeed, symptom-based diagnosis, once common in other areas of medicine, has been largely replaced in the past half century as we have understood that symptoms alone rarely indicate the best choice of treatment. Patients with mental disorders deserve better.” (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml)

      I agree, “Some people need to know when it’s time to give up.”

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  1. Insel claims that the suicide rate is rising because we’re not giving more care to people. Then how does he explain that a person is at higher risk of killing themselves right after being discharged from the psych “hospital”?

    I tried to kill myself because I was overwhelmed by a number of losses and difficult things that happened one after another. I felt helpless and just wanted the emotional pain to stop. I didn’t try to kill myself because I needed more psychiatric “treatment”. And in fact, the psychiatric “treatment” that I got for being suicidal made me consider killing myself even more once I got out of the “hospital” where I was sent. When will psychiatry stop with all this craziness?

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