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The Groundbreaking Link Between Mental Illness And Literature, Part I

The recent episode of Charlie Rose: The BRAIN Initiative features a panel of experts at the forefront of the latest discoveries of the brain.  The panel includes: Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health, Story Landis of the National Institute of Health, Cornelia Bargmann of Rockefeller University and William Newsome of Stanford University.  At the head of the discussion is Eric Kandel of Columbia University.  He stated we are 15-100 years from coming close to understanding the dynamics and intricacies of the brain.


The panel discusses recent technological advances that allow experts of the brain to better unfold the complexities of the brain. They analyze brain scans to learn about the mind. Midway through the discussion, Charlie poses a fundamentally crucial and significant addition to the discussion worthy of notable discovery:

3 Comments to
The Groundbreaking Link Between Mental Illness And Literature, Part I

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  1. Wow!

    I empathize with these great poets.

    How fortunate that we modern-day bipolar & depressive beings have medication & therapy to help us.

  2. When I listen to programs such as the Charlie Rose one, I am upset by how the “scientists” ignore anything that includes personal insight and self-examination — as though it is “scientific” to ignore parts of the evidence. Why does psychotherapy work at all? Why does putting things in words work? Why do some talk therapists have success and others do not? I don’t see those people even considering those questions.

    • I absolutely love Charlie Rose. Primarily because he is interested in what makes up the “human condition” and what better way to have a conversation about the human condition then shelving science for a sec and taking a closer look at the points you made. The bridge between psychiatry and literature could use some attention. Thanks for your comment, erica

  3. While I might agree that Emily Dickinson had issues, I believe it’s totally irresponsible to say “Emily Dickinson suffered from manic-depression…….”. How is it possible that you have come to that diagnosis merely by reading her poetry. There can be many reason for her reclusive behavior. At the time this article was written Ms. Dickinson had been dead 127 years. With the little that is known about her personal life how did you manage to glean your ‘diagnosis’? I’ll give you that her writings can give you a hint of what she MIGHT have been like but certainly not enough to make the claim you have.


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