News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Here’s How To Responsibly Talk About Mental Health In The Public Eye

CLBB’s Director of Law & Ethics, Dr. Rebecca Brendel, comments on the consequences of speculating about the mental health of public figures. The “Goldwater rule”, an ethical guideline that encourages mental health professionals to avoid such speculation, has recently been the subject of popular conversation as various mental health experts argue that Donald Trump demonstrates characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. Dr. Brendel notes:

“Engaging in a psychiatric diagnosis requires the consent of the individual and is based on an in-person evaluation.”

“Rendering an opinion based on observed behavior in the public sphere doesn’t take into account underlying factors that may not be inherently seen,” she continued. “There’s also the potential of discouraging those with mental illness from seeking treatment out of concern that they might be talked about publicly.”

She goes on to argue:

“Mental illnesses are medical illnesses, for which there is sound psychiatric care available. Anyone with mental illness should have confidence in the integrity of their physicians.”

“Someone can have a diagnosis of depression for example, but that doesn’t mean it affects their ability to hold any kind of public responsibility.” 

Read the full article, “Here’s How To Responsibly Talk About Mental Health In The Public Eye”, published by The Huffington Post on July 25, 2017.

Synaptic Gap: 21st Century Brain Science Meets Mental Health Treatment and Policy

CLBB Co-Director Dr. Judith Edersheim will be one of the featured speakers at “Synaptic Gap: 21st Century Brain Science Meets Mental Health Treatment and Policy“, a HUBweek 2016 event that will explore ways to connect the latest advances in neuroscience with mental health treatment and policy. She will be interviewed by award-winning Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen.

The event will take place on Wednesday, September 28th from 7:30am – 4:30pm at Starr Center, 185 Cambridge Street, 2nd Floor.

Make sure to register for the event here!
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Does America Have PTSD?

By Judith Edersheim and Kenneth M. McCullough | The Huffington Post | July 27, 2016

America is afraid. There is fear of daily new terror attacks here or abroad. There is growing fear of rampant domestic gun violence. Fear that this person or that is ruining the country. It is fear aimed outward: witness the pervasive discourse of threat at the recent Republican National Convention. It is fear aimed inward: witness our 2.2 million people behind bars, a highly disproportionate number of whom are people of color. If our country were a person, we would view that person as anxious, reactive and reeling from years of trauma: major symptoms of PTSD.

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Dr. Rebecca Brendel on What Happens During Hospitalizations For Mental Health Issues

CLBB Director of Bioethics Dr. Rebecca Brendel spoke with WBUR’s Morning Edition to talk about the process that occurs when someone is hospitalized for mental health issues. Dr. Brendel, also director of the master’s program in bioethics and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, commented,

“What the evaluators in the emergency room really would be looking for would be symptoms consistent or supporting a risk of harm…and has the individual taken steps toward the plan to actually harm themselves or harm somebody else?”

Listen to the entire segment below, or go to WBUR for more on the interview.

Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

By Erica Goode | The New York Times | August 3, 2015

In 1993, Craig Haney, a social psychologist, interviewed a group of inmates in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison, California’s toughest penal institution.

He was studying the psychological effects of isolation on prisoners, and Pelican Bay was among the first of a new breed of super-maximum-security prisons that states around the country were beginning to build.

Twenty years later, he returned to the prison for another set of interviews. He was startled to find himself facing some of the same prisoners he had met before, inmates who now had spent more than two decades alone in windowless cells.

“It was shocking, frankly,” Dr. Haney said.

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