The talk’s title, “What Drives People Mad?” delivered the goods as expected: an expertly presented (and audience-customized) explanation of findings covering schizophrenia and its correlation with societal experiences and drug intake. I’ll post a link here to a video of the event as soon as it becomes available*.
If Prof. Murray’s teaching expertise, tact and knowledge was the real inspirational “meat” of the event, these are the two potatoes (known to normal people as “main discussion topics”):
• Does living in a city increase your risk of a mental health disorder?
• Is smoking cannabis safe?
The answer to both, as far as I understood it, was:
• Yes. Schizophrenia has been identified as a measurably dependent variable of the following:
* socially fragmented areas, where no support is provided in time to identify and treat schizophrenia;
* groupings that are conducive to bullying and victimisation;
* unsupported minorities whether religious or racial.
• Not really. The earlier you start smoking “herbs”, the higher the risk of schizophrenia. Also, new variants of “herbs” such as Skunk are proven to increase this likelihood by a few percentage points.
The above is important considering the toll this illness takes on someone’s life. However, it was emphasized that we are all susceptible to this mental illness, in fact, as far as statistics go, a well established, non-smoking average citizen has a 1% chance of developing schizophrenia, whereas a Skunk user has just over 4%.
This would, in a way, mean that regular mental check-ups for everyone are in order:
• Regardless of the statistics, each person is unique. Genetic factors are also mildly involved and the sooner the illness is identified, the earlier it is treated and “resolved”.
• 1% or circa 4% are figures that are really useful to researchers. For us this means nothing: a 1% likelihood is as important as a 99% so why not mitigate it with a counsellor if needed?
In a small nutshell, that is it.
What are your views on this? Specially the experts in the field?
The University of Westminster has committed, since the 1800s, to popularising science and engaging the public in scientific research. It’s also very close to plenty of excuses to indulge by London’s busy Oxford Circus, Soho and Marylebone so please do tell the voices in your head not to let you overspend. Mine just won’t shut up (^-^’)**!
* Sir Murray sat patiently through the introductions so do skip a few minutes if you want to get to the “mains” of the event.
** Yes, that was a joke. Yes, some of you will think it to be true or perfectly normal.
(*)Initially published on: Oct 26, 2012 @ 17:53