Neuroscience and Mental Illness

In Felipe De Brigard & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (eds.), Neuroscience and philosophy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press (2022)
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Abstract

The fast-developing field of neuroscience has given philosophy, as well as other disciplines and the public broadly, many new tools and perspectives for investigating one of our most pressing challenges: addressing the health and well-being of our mental lives. In some cases, neuroscientific innovation has led to clearer understanding of the mechanisms of mental illness and precise new modes of treatment. In other cases, features of neuroscience itself, such as the enticing nature of the data it produces compared to previous behavioral methods, together with its costliness and “coldness” have complicated understanding of mental illness and decision making about mental illness. Taking neuroscientific information into account can leave practitioners in psychiatry and law with difficult questions, stemming not only from the complexity of these fields, but also from our rapidly evolving understanding of and facility with neuroscience. In this chapter, we will review several examples of the insights and dilemmas that have unfolded as mental illness has been examined through the lens of neuroscience, covering diagnoses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, addiction, and severe mood disorders.

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Author Profiles

Laura Niemi
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Natalia Washington
University of Utah

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