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Science plays a long game. But people now have mental health problems.

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When it came to government-funded research projects, presumably a cleaner enterprise, judging, I again asked the questions that people in crisis kept asking me. Is this study helpful to my son or sister? Or, more generously, given the pace of research. Can this job be potentially useful to someone at some point in their life?

The answer, almost always, was no. Again, this does not mean that the tools and technical understanding of brain biology have not advanced. It’s just that these advances had no effect on mental health in one way or another.

Do not take my word for it. Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, in his upcoming “Rehabilitation. “Treating the American Mental Health Care Crisis,” he writes. “Scientific progress in our field has been shocking, but while we were studying the risk factors for suicide, mortality has increased by 33 percent. By the time we discovered the addict neuroanatomy, overdose deaths had tripled. “While we were mapping the genes for schizophrenia, people with the disease were still chronically unemployed, dying 20 years earlier.”

And it continues to this day. Government agencies, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Mental Health, continue to double, squandering huge amounts of taxpayer money on biological tests to one day find the nerve signature or “blood test” for psychiatric diagnoses that is possible. , maybe one day in the future, useful, everyone is still in crisis.

I have written about some of these studies. For example, the National Institutes of Health is conducting a $ 300 million brain imaging study of more than 10,000 young children who have so many interactive developmental variables of experience that it is difficult to determine what the main goals of the study are. The agency also has a $ 50 million project to try to understand the myriad of cascading, partly random processes that occur during nerve development that can lead to some mental health issues.

The efforts of such great sciences are purposeful, but the repayments are in fact uncertain. The late Scott Lillienfeld, a skeptical big money brain psychologist, had his own terminology for this type of project. He said. “They’re either fishing or ‘Hello Meris.’ “Take your choice.” When people drown, they are less interested in the genetics of respiration than the rescuer.

In 1973, Norton Inder Inder, a prominent microbiologist, set up a committee to review grants from the National Cancer Institute to study viruses. He concluded that the program had become a “seed train” for a small group of popular scientists, and advised to halve their support. I doubt that a solid, current study of behavioral science, like Zinder, would, I doubt, lead to equally severe reductions.

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