[ONLINE] - Daniel Bergner, The Mind and the Moon: My Brother's Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches


The Mind and the Moon is an important—and intimate—interrogation of how we treat mental illness and how we understand ourselves.

In the early 1960s, JFK declared that science would take us to the moon. He also declared that science would make the “remote reaches of the mind accessible” and cure psychiatric illness with breakthrough medications. We were walking on the moon within the decade. But today, psychiatric cures continue to elude us—as does the mind itself. Why is it that we still don’t understand how the mind works? What is the difference between the mind and the brain? And given all that we still don’t know, how can we make insightful, transformative choices about our psychiatric conditions?

When Daniel Bergner’s younger brother was diagnosed as bipolar and put on a locked ward in the 1980s, psychiatry seemed to have achieved what JFK promised: a revolution of chemical solutions to treat mental illness. Yet as Bergner’s brother was deemed a dire risk for suicide and he and his family were told his disorder would be lifelong, he found himself taking heavy doses of medications with devastating side effects.

Now, in recounting his brother’s journey alongside the gripping, illuminating stories of Caroline, who is beset by the hallucinations of psychosis, and David, who is overtaken by depression, Bergner examines the evolution of how we treat our psyches. He reveals how the pharmaceutical industry has perpetuated our biological view of the mind and our drug-based assumptions about treatment—despite the shocking price paid by many patients and the problematic evidence of drug efficacy. And he takes us into the pioneering labs of today’s preeminent neuroscientists, sharing their remarkably candid reflections and fascinating new theories of treatment.

Join the New America Fellows Program for a conversation with Daniel Bergner and 2018 Fellow Katie Engelhart for a conversation about seeking a deeper engagement with ourselves and one another—and how to find a better path toward caring for our minds. 

Follow the conversation online using #MindandtheMoon and follow us at @NAFellows


Daniel Bergner

2021 New Arizona Fellow, New America
Author, The Mind and the Moon: My Brother's Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches

Katie Engelhart, @katieengelhart
2018 Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow, New America
Author, The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die

Copies of The Mind and the Moon are available for purchase here through our bookselling partner Solid State Books.