I am a psychiatrist interested in how the brain builds up an image of the world in which it must survive. Many of us think that we see the world as it is: we don’t.
Our conscious experience of the world has been highly processed, refined and often warped by largely unconscious processes. Most of us are a mass of preconceptions, biases and guesses that enable us to muddle through our everyday lives. If we bear this in mind, perhaps it becomes easier to understand what mental illness is and how perilously close the average person is to it. This is what interests me and drives my research and clinical work.
I like to use brain imaging to understand how the brain goes about its deceitful business. I also give drugs to people. These drugs alter their perceptions of the world and help me to understand how the early symptoms of mental illness might arise. I don’t require my students to act as volunteers for these studies.