Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 15–25

This is Why you’ve Been Suffering”: Reflections of Providers on Neuroimaging in Mental Health Care


DOI: 10.1007/s11673-010-9271-1

Cite this article as:
Borgelt, E., Buchman, D.Z. & Illes, J. Bioethical Inquiry (2011) 8: 15. doi:10.1007/s11673-010-9271-1


Mental health care providers increasingly confront challenges posed by the introduction of new neurotechnology into the clinic, but little is known about the impact of such capabilities on practice patterns and relationships with patients. To address this important gap, we sought providers’ perspectives on the potential clinical translation of functional neuroimaging for prediction and diagnosis of mental illness. We conducted 32 semi-structured telephone interviews with mental health care providers representing psychiatry, psychology, family medicine, and allied mental health. Our results suggest that mental health providers have begun to re-conceptualize mental illness with a neuroscience gaze. They report an epistemic commitment to the value of a brain scan to provide a meaningful explanation of mental illness for their clients. If functional neuroimaging continues along its projected trajectory to translation, providers will ultimately have to negotiate its role in mental health. Their perspectives, therefore, enrich bioethical discourse surrounding neurotechnology and inform the translational pathway.


Neuroethics Mental health Psychiatry Neuroimaging 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Borgelt
    • 1
  • Daniel Z. Buchman
    • 1
  • Judy Illes
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.National Core for NeuroethicsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics, Division of NeurologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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