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

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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Autonomy and Mental Health

By Rebecca Brendel | Cosmologics | July 29, 2015

Very early in my training, a middle-aged mother of two school-age children was referred to me for psychiatric care. In the past, she had struggled with periods of depressed mood, but she had never sought treatment. She came to me after, as she described it, her husband had “dropped her off” at the hospital and she was sent to me.

“Why would your husband do such a thing?” I asked her, trying to understand more about what had happened.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“Perhaps we can figure it out together?” I suggested, feebly trying to establish rapport.

“The only thing you can do is tell them all that there is nothing wrong with me. I don’t need medication. I don’t need you. I just want to go home to my kids and never come back here again.”  Continue reading »