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May 19, 2010

Rethinking Mental Illness

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

JAMA. 2010;303(19):1970-1971. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.555

In the first 2010 issue of Nature, the editor, Philip Campbell,1 suggested that the next 10-year period is likely to be the “decade for psychiatric disorders.” This was not a prediction of an epidemic, although mental illnesses are highly prevalent, nor a suggestion that new illnesses would emerge. The key point was that research on mental illness was, at long last, reaching an inflection point at which insights gained from genetics and neuroscience would transform the understanding of psychiatric illnesses. The insights are indeed coming fast and furious. In this Commentary, we suggest ways in which genomics and neuroscience can help reconceptualize disorders of the mind as disorders of the brain and thereby transform the practice of psychiatry.