Biological reductionism is a dangerously simplistic view of mental health

“You’ll be happy and successful if you just exercise your brain in the right way.”

ABC Big Ideas reports on the current trend towards de-contextualising the distress and suffering of people with mental illness from their social and economic circumstances.


By focussing on the mechanistic explanations for mental health, are we in fact leaving people feeling alienated from themselves and from each other? Feelings of overwhelm and pain often arise when we feel our skills, resources and resiliency are unable to cope with the challenges we face, and reducing these symptoms to purely “my brain isn’t working right” leaves us feeling isolated and dismisses the real message our body is trying to send us.

At times of crisis, make sure you focus on social solutions to increasing the resources you can throw at a problem. How can you include others? Are there experts or people close to you who might be able to help? Don’t ignore them because you think the problems are purely down to misperception and misfiring neurons. This doesn’t take into account the “interrelatedness of human beings”.

Look deeper at the connections and network you are situated in and try to find ways to connect with others that may expand your outlook on the issues as well as your possibilities for dealing with it.