Do we overdiagnose mental ill health? Jon Ronson (TED) on Psychopaths.


Jon Ronson: Strange answers to the psychopath test (March 2012)

Jon Ronson raises a good point about our desire to label people. I often do think that once we believe someone has an illness, we continue to read any behaviour as a sign that we are right. This has a name – confirmation bias. In some of my placements, I did wonder if we often noted something down as a sign of a mental problem, when it could simply be explained by the circumstances. For example, working with teenagers, it’s normal for them to try and rebel against the authority, and don’t most teenagers feel like being lazy sometimes?

Back in the UK.

I took a look around Stellenbosch University on Monday. I wish I had done my undergraduate degree there, although it wouldn’t really have been in Stellenbosch, so maybe not. The OT department is over in Cape Town. My cousin took me around Stellenbosch and showed me the university grounds. They were amazing. Even though it’s winter down there, it was warm and sunny, and I could just imagine myself lying out in the sun with my books. He’s doing a master’s in industrial engineering, and he showed me the massive collection of engineering buildings.

He also introduced me to a few lecturers there that might be able to help me sort out a masters for myself within the engineering department. One suggested Engineering Management, which would look at the implementation of technology and devices, testing their usability. I’m sure OT could apply there! The other was a researcher within the mechatronic/biomedical engineering department, and he was personally creating an app (iOS and Android) that, with the help of a few sensors, could monitor maternal health and predict eclampsia. I was so inspired by this lecturer to think of my own ideas for rehabilitation devices, as you might have guessed that I am a big believer in telerehabilitation, or simply getting the regular exercise that a weekly OT/PT sessions can’t quite provide. However, he also said that it wouldn’t be a simple programme for me to fit into. For a start, I don’t have the engineering background, so I’d have to do a few classes to at least get a basic understanding. At Stellenbosch, you need to achieve a certain number of credits, even when doing a research masters. So I’d need to work with various departments to tailor my degree to my needs and interests, getting credits from engineering, OT, maths and possibly human biology classes.

Sounds like my kind of fun.