Brave New Brain: Conquering Mental Illness in the Era of the Genome

By Nancy C. Andreasen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Conquering Mental Illness
in the Era of the Genome

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't! —William Shakespeare The Tempest, v, i, 182–186

We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Alphas or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or … future World controllers. —Aldous Huxley Brave New World

Concern for man himself and his fate must always be the chief interest of all technical endeavors… in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. —Albert Einstein Lecture at the California Institute of Technology

D uring the coming century we will combine our knowledge of the human genome and our knowledge of the brain to develop new weapons with which to wage a war on mental illness that may eventually lead to a definitive victory. As Einstein reminds us, our minds can create powerful tools that can be used wisely, for good purposes. But these tools can also be used foolishly, and for evil ends.Aldous Huxley's futuristic novel Brave New World predicted in 1936 that scientists would develop methods to clone human beings, practice eugenics to create a society in which people were stratified into classes based on intelligence, and misuse knowledge in the service of selfish hedonism and a totalitarian worldview. His vision of the future is terrifying. Fortunately, it has not come true. But we have also never been so close to having the methods that could actually be used to achieve the sardonically evil brave

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