Joshua Gordon Wants to Remake Mental Health Care


From Undark Magazine: Joshua Gordon, the new director of the National Institute of Mental Health, plans to invest heavily in brain research; he hopes to use “precision medicine” – treatments targeted to the specific biological makeup of the patient – for mental illnesses including schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. Gordon’s critics argue that the NIMH’s focus on brain research has not done much to help patients suffering from mental health conditions.

“Richard A. Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, who specializes in psychopharmacology, agrees that the mental health institute’s decades of brain research have yielded few tangible results. Friedman, who is also a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, faults the institute for spending only 10 percent of its research funding on clinical trials research — and just half of that on psychotherapy clinical trials. ‘Looking at the basic mechanism of disease is useful, but we can’t wait for complete knowledge to explain all of human behavior,’ he says. ‘Psychiatry as a whole has been neglecting the benefits of both psychotherapy and self-understanding.’ Friedman argues that Gordon should fund more studies designed to help patients now coping with such common disorders as depression or anxiety.”

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