With all the medical advances mankind has made over the years, we’re still no closer to understanding how the human minds works than we were a century ago.
One Cornell University scientist has likened the scenario to Copernicus’ studies on the universe in the 1400s.
Today, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have thrust themselves into the forefront of the American consciousness as more individuals become afflicted with brain illnesses. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and actor Michael J. Fox helped bring to our attention that it can hit anyone.
Last week U.S Representative Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. gathered a forum at The Crossings in Colonie to discuss the BRAIN Initiative, Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.
As with similar endeavors, the money for scientific research often falls short to other initiatives. Tonko quoted a figure that revealed less than one percent of the $200 million that Alzheimer’s disease costs the American economy is used to research its cure.
The discussion peeled another layer to the subject, and that is of public perception. People who suffer from mental illness, in many cases, can’t receive treatment because they don’t look sick. Doctors are unable to diagnose properly, because they don’t know what to look for.
Actor Dudley Moore famously played a drunk in the movie “Arthur.” Before his death in 2002, people reportedly though the actor was reprising his role and had taken to drinking heavily. It was later revealed he was suffering from a degenerative condition of the brain.
Again, people’s perception clouds the ability for some mentally ill patients to find help.
Last week’s forum deserves praise, as it helps breakdown barriers that keep us in the 15th century. When more people talk about the problem, the better chance a solution can be found. It also helps enlighten enough people so the knee-jerk reaction that feeds people into believing a Dudley Moore is a drunk, instead of recognizing the potential problem and seeking the proper help, is eliminated.
Mental illness should not be a stigma, and it should not be an embarrassment. With more discussions like this, perhaps a cure can be found for these any similar illnesses.