Stop the Madness
by Johnathan Cohn
There is a miraculous new treatment for schizophrenia that could transform the way we treat mental illness. And then there are the terrible reasons why most medical professionals have never heard of it.
In his quiet, modest way, Glenn was proud of his robot. It was 1974, at a local high school science fair in Boca Raton, Florida, and Glenn, a 15-year-old sophomore, had spent months painstakingly constructing a jumble of wires and circuits on wheels with three arms, each containing a photosensitive panel. He called it a “light-searching, maze-overcoming robot.” The contraption would circle around inside a box until one of the arms detected light, in the form of a bulb Glenn placed at different locations. Then it would move towards the light, circumventing the obstacles that Glenn put in its way.
Someday, Glenn explained to the judges, this kind of technology could be used to mow lawns, even to transport equipment on a lunar terrain in a future space mission. The robot won several prizes, and the next year, Glenn updated the project and won yet more awards in Colorado, where his family had moved. Impressed, one of the judges wrote a letter to Glenn urging him to pursue electronics as a career. In a photo that appeared in the local paper, he is wearing a neatly pressed, button-down shirt and is resting one hand on the robot he created, a hint of smile in the corner of his mouth.