Richard J. McNally


On his book What Is Mental Illness?

Cover Interview of March 15, 2011


What is mental illness?

There is no sound-bite answer to this question.  We will never have a clear-cut set of criteria that identifies all instances of mental disorder and excludes everything else.

The reason for this is that we do not discover mental illnesses in nature as scientists have done with the elements of the periodic table.

Nevertheless, there are facts about how the mind/brain produces psychiatric symptoms, and these are discoverable by science.

Ideally, science can illuminate what has gone with a person and can inform us about what treatments will work best to fix it.  These facts provide the basis for sound arguments about where to draw the boundary between distress and disorder even though social, political, cultural, and economic factors will always play a role in this process.

© 2011 Richard McNally