Sunday, November 14, 2010

“Mental illness is a global family affair and our heredity connects us all”

What a great kickoff to SfN 2010 with the Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society talk! The purpose of this presentation, by Hollywood actress Glenn Close and her family, was to bring change to how people perceive mental illness.

Glenn spoke about the psychiatric conditions of both her sister Jessie, who has bipolar disorder, as well as Jessie’s son, Calen, who suffers from schizo-affective disorder.  It also highlighted the impact these mental illnesses had on the lives of her family.  About two and a half years ago, Glenn founded Bring Change 2 Mind, an organization whose purpose is to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and to help patients lead a balanced and productive life.


Glenn was a sensational speaker! She was witty, funny, charming and very engaging with the audience.  Did you know that she comes from a family of Neuroscientists?  Wow! Did you also know that she was the first (named) female to have her genome sequenced cover-to-cover! Wow^2!

Glenn spoke about the prevalence and influence of mental illness in the world, as it affects 1 in 4 families in one way or another.  Mental disorders and other such conditions are stigmatized in society and she stressed the importance of bringing change to such harmful perspectives.  To address this issue, Glenn, teaming up John Mayer and Ron Howard, organized an outstanding event at Grand Central Station, which may be seen at

Glenn’s talk was brought to a close as she stated, “mental illness is a global family affair and our heredity connects us all.”

And then, a very well deserved standing ovation… Awesomeness!

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  1. I agree - Glenn Close and her family were fantastic! A truly great way to begin the conference.

  2. And I thought her role in Fatal Attraction was impressive :) Great to hear this! Thanks!

  3. Sounds like a really interesting session! Thanks for sharing!