Most brain scientists will never know what it feels like to live with the mental illnesses they study. Barbara Lipska is the exception; brain tumors caused her to lose track of her left hand, forget where she lived, go running with hair dye dripping from her head, and accuse a familiar pest exterminator of trying to kill her family.
In hindsight, Lipska says the scariest part is that she never recognized that anything was wrong.
Lipska details her dive into mental illness in a new co-authored memoir, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind. She says it has changed how she approaches her work as a leading schizophrenia researcher and director fo the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health. And she has a message for all of us:
“Mental disorders are brain disorders," Lipska said. "They are part of the big array of illnesses that people suffer from. They are illnesses of the body.”
Lipska hopes that her experience and her book can help break down the stigma attached to mental illness, and help health care professionals begin to better treat brain disorders.