Think: Diagnosing Mental Illness | KERA News

Think: Diagnosing Mental Illness

Jul 22, 2014

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How do you know if you’re going crazy? It may sound like a funny question, but it’s one that psychiatrists seriously consider every day.

Today on Think, Dr. Joel Gold talked about how he works through the possibility.

Gold says diagnosis is often a matter of perspective.

“If someone believes that they were kidnapped by aliens and taken to another planet and examined and brought back to Earth, they might be considered psychotic," he said. "If someone believes that this has happened to other people – more of a conspiracy theory – they’re not considered delusional – they’re considered someone with an unusual conspiratorial idea."

There are also times when someone has more of a general sense that they might be mentally unstable. Gold says those questions often provide their own answers.

“People come to me and they say, ‘Doctor, I’m worried I’m going crazy.’ And frankly, when people say that, chances are that they’re not.”

That’s because, Gold says, those people still have insight. And that ability to reason can be a sign that the problem is still manageable.

Dr. Joel Gold’s new book is Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness. Think re-airs tonight at 9, or find the podcast at kera.org/think.