Many people believe there is no changing the human brain – that humans are stuck with, and often limited by, the brains with which they are born. Dr. Daniel Amen is not one of those people.
Recognized as one of the most influential mental health experts to impact modern science, Amen revolutionized psychiatric treatments by using brain imaging to actually look at his patients’ brains. He said people underestimate the innate power of the brain.
Dr. Daniel Amen: You Need Brain EnvyMany people believe there is no changing the human brain – that humans are stuck with, and often limited by, the brains with which they are born.
“A lot of people don’t really get how special the brain is. It uses 20 to 30 percent of the calories you consume, so it is the most expensive ‘real-estate’ in your body and it uses 20 percent of your blood flow,” Amen said.
The Founder and Medical Director of Amen Clinics, Amen has the world’s largest psychiatric database of functional brain scans. The database is comprised of nearly 100,000 scans of patients from 111 countries.
Despite his success, Amen’s ground-breaking argument – psychiatrists are the only medical specialists who don’t look at the organ they treat – has endured harsh criticism. Some scientists have equated his work with pseudoscience. They claim that no scientific research proves brain imaging is effective in making clinical decisions.
But Amen remains dedicated to optimizing and healing the human brain.
While he renounces the accepted psychiatric diagnostic standards and says he has seen significant results through the application of brain scans, he also recognizes that his method is radically innovative, and therefore, potentially daunting to his opponents.
“What we do is very controversial. Why? Because you have this whole field that’s not looking at the organ that it treats. Most people don’t like to be told what they’re doing is wrong and I don’t really like telling them that, but it’s the truth. When you don’t look, you hurt people, you miss really important things,” Amen said.
Amen’s popularity with his patients seems to support his claims – his clinics treat more than 1,000 patients each month, nearly 6,000 mental health providers have referred patients to him, and he was also the lead researcher on the largest brain imaging and rehabilitation study of NFL players.
Amen joined Full Frame to talk about his experiences as a leading mental health expert, address his critics, and explain steps every person can take toward having a better brain, and ultimately, a better life.
Follow Dr. Daniel Amen on Twitter: @DocAmen