While killing time during my Pamidronate appointment I picked up the July/August 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind. It was so interesting that I read it cover to cover! It's a bi-monthly magazine focusing on brain and mind research.
One of the most interesting articles was When Passion is the Enemy about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This article talked about how people with BPD are hyper-sensitive to emotional facial cues and also have less control over their emotions, which I didn't know. Seen from that perspective, of course someone with BPD will react more strongly to things than some others might.
I try to read whatever I can about BPD so that I can understand it as much as possible since both my mom and one sister have been diagnosed with it. If I can understand why someone is doing what they're doing, I can empathize more and hopefully not make things worse. My natural tendencies are to be quite cold which can end up being especially hurtful if someone is already hurting.
From there, it occurred to me that the lines separating different mental illnesses aren't set in stone; they change, and they're fluid. This might be because the symptoms overlap in kind or degree or because one or another of the illnesses is not well-understood or because different professionals interpret the criteria in different ways. As my family doctor said, "normal" is really a continuum, not one specific type of person. Plus the definition of mental illness changes over time: years ago, homosexuality was considered a mental illness - and it is most certainly not an illness.
Aside from that one article, there were other super-cool articles in the magazine, too. There was one on mind-reading by asking someone to think of a certain action that represents "yes" and an image that represents "no". The person is asked a yes or no question and an fMRI shows which area of the brain is activated with the response, telling the questioner the answer without the person having to speak yes or no. Cooool. Apparently other technologies can show images, too.
I wish this magazine put all their past content online. Sadly, not every article is free so I might think about actually subscribing to it. There's so many aspects of the brain and the way we think that interest me.