Wednesday August 02, 2017

Wit's End: Understanding mental illness, Part 1


Listen to Full Episode 54:00

What's it like to go mad and be crazy, living at wit's end? First comes diagnosis, followed by treatment. Then there's stigma and stereotyping. This two-part series looks at mental illness, past and present, theory and practice, from asylums to labs in neuroscience. Marilyn Powell talks to those dealing with mental illness with their own truth to tell. Part 2 airs Wednesday, August 2. **This episode originally aired June 20, 2016.

"One thing that we're starting to learn by doing brain imaging in a way that allows us to assess connections between brain regions — different parts of our brain develop at different times as we grow up. So the motor or sensory pathways develop when we're very young — which makes sense, you know, babies learn how to walk. They're starting to talk, so their language pathways start to develop early. But then, what's fascinating is, the front parts of the brain, the pathways to the very front parts of the brain, don't fully mature or finish developing until our twenties. So those key functions: the ability to stay organized, be on time, plan, think abstractly, all those types of things, really take until our early to mid-twenties to finish developing. It also is meaningful in terms of why mental illnesses emerge. So if we think of a disorder like autism, where some kids with autism have speech impairment, significant language or speech impairment, that's because their pathways probably don't develop appropriately as early as one year of age. And, similarly, with schizophrenia, these higher order, more complex pathways probably don't develop correctly in our teens or early twenties. And I think this gets more to the heart of what disorders like schizophrenia are about because if those pieces of communication go wrong, that might make someone at higher risk of psychosis or schizophrenia or other problems that can onset in adolescence. --  Aristotle Voineskos, psychiatrist and neuroscientist.

Guests in this episode: 

  • Joel Gold, psychiatrist, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, co-author or Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness
  • Ian Gold, philosopher, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Psychiatry, McGill University, co-author of Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness
  • Kevin A. Hall, writer, racing navigator, speed testing manager, sailing performance and racing instruments expert, author of the memoir, Black Sails White Rabbits: Cancer Was the Easy Part 
  • Erin Soros, writer, oral historian, author of Hook Tender, a novel in progress
  • Elyn R. Saks, writer, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, Associate Dean and Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould Law School; adjunct professor of psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; research clinical associate, New Center for Psychoanalysis
  • Aristotle Voineskos, neuroscientist, psychiatrist, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the University  of Toronto; Director of the Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition; Head of the Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Laboratory.

Reading List:

  • Further neuroimaging evidence for the deficit subtype of schizophrenia: a Cortical connectomics analysis by Wheeler AL, Wessa M, Szeszko PR, Foussias G, Chakravarty MM, Lerch JP, DeRosse P, Remington G, Mulsant BH, Linke J, Malhotra AK, Voineskos AN JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 May;72(5):446-55. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3020PMID:25786193
  • "Re-socializing psychiatry: Critical neuroscience and the limits of reductionism" by Ian Gold in Critical Neuroscience: Challenging Reductionism in Social Neuroscience and Psychiatry. S. Choudhury, & J. Slaby, eds., Oxford: Blackwell

WEB EXTRA | Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness -- from the inside | TED Talk

Related Websites:

**This series was produced by Sara Wolch