Reading Our Minds

Reading Our Minds
The Rise of Big Data Psychiatry

How can Big Data help us improve our mental health?

In the last hundred years, most of the medical sciences have progressed in immense and unforeseeable ways—except for psychiatry, which has somehow remained immune to this progress. Daniel Barron, a psychiatrist who trained at the Yale School of Medicine, asks an important question: What’s holding psychiatry back?

Reading Our Minds takes us to a psychiatric hospital, where Barron evaluates a young woman with psychosis, and shows how his exam is limited by his own ability to ask questions and observe, and by his patient’s ability to sense, interpret, and report her experience. Barron shows why psychiatry must move beyond conversation—and how sensors, measurements, and algorithms might progress psychiatric practice. At once pioneering and engaging, Reading Our Minds introduces readers to the Big Data technologies that might revolutionize the way we evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental illness and bring psychiatry firmly into the fold of 21st-century medical science.

This book is published with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Read CGR Director Nicholas Lemann’s Letter to the Reader

Reading Our Minds
  • ISBN: 9781734420784
  • Price: $15.99
  • E-book ISBN: 9781734420791
  • On Sale: April 27, 2021
  • Pages: 175


“Psychiatry needs innovation. While new insights may come from genetics and imaging, the smartphone and our digital data may prove an even better tool for objective evidence about our minds and brains. Daniel Barron takes us through the possibilities of this brave new world where technology, often cited as the problem, can become part of the solution for our mental health. With clarity and clinical relevance, he shows us that the future of psychiatry may be already in our hands (or our pockets).” —Tom Insel, former director, National Institute of Mental Health, and co-founder of Mindstrong, Humanest Care, and Neurawell Therapeutics

Reading Our Minds is a fascinating book about how psychiatrists (and others) can think about and use large quantities of everyday information to refine diagnoses and even employ the results to determine therapeutic success. It reflects the future of psychiatry by bringing hard evidence to a ‘soft’ specialty.” —Robert I. Grossman, M.D., Dean & CEO, NYU Langone Health

“Barron’s Reading Our Minds is wonderfully written and fun to read, a smart and lively exploration of how we can leverage the richness of digital data in a transparent and ethical way to make psychiatry more precise and better understand—and ultimately help—our patients. Barron shows how psychiatry can use technology and keep its humanity.” —Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry, Director of Psychopharmacology Clinic, Weill Cornell Medical College


The Rise of Big Data Psychiatry —Wall Street Journal

The computer will see you now: is your therapy session about to be automated? — Guardian

Psychiatry Is Still Stuck in Freud's Era. Big Data Can Revolutionize How We Care for Patients — TIME

Meet your doctor’s AI assistant — Axios

Data-Driven Psychiatry: The Future of Clinical Interactions and Decision-Making —Psycom Pro

Be it resolved: The future of mental health is big data — Munk Debates podcast

The Rise of Big Data Psychiatry — Columbia University virtual event (video)

About the author

Daniel Barron
© Daniel Berman

Daniel Barron is Medical Director of the Interventional Pain Psychiatry Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He completed medical school and residency at Yale University, holds a PhD in human brain imaging from the University of Texas, and is a fellow at the University of Washington. He is a regular contributor at Scientific American and hosts Science et al., a podcast produced by the Yale School of Medicine.  @daniel__barron