Health TED Talks

Let’s have a conversation about mental health: How Sarah Caddick curated “Misbehaving Beautifully”

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Sarah Caddick at TEDGlobal 2012

On the TEDGlobal 2012 stage this summer, guest curator Sarah Caddick hosted the session “Misbehaving Beautifully,” a deep dive into a near-taboo subject: mental health and mental illness. Today, Oct. 10, happens to be World Mental Health Day, and is premiering the final talk Sarah curated for the stage, Ruby Wax’s “What’s so funny about mental illness?” As this final talk becomes available for viewing, we asked Caddick to reflect on creating the session — as well as on the conversations that happened afterward. Below, a note from Sarah. And after the jump, watch the talks from this wonderful session.

It’s a wrap …

Mission: create a story that is compelling and challenging, that takes people on a journey while ensuring each piece is significant enough that it can be sent out alone into the vast expanse of the world to tell its own tale. Not exactly a walk in the park, especially when the story I chose to tell in just 105 minutes was how our brains dance along a fine line between beauty and devastation.

And now each story from within the journey is out there, the last making itself known loudly with funny sketches, a colorful soft clay brain and a serious message.

Every speaker bought into the whole play, performed their part and embraced the slightly quirky path I asked them to travel, and their notes to me and each other afterwards had me in tears, which for a person who rarely reaches that state is quite something! But it was the overwhelming response from the audience at TED, the individuals who came up to me after the session and throughout the rest of the meeting, that broke my heart but gave me hope.

I couldn’t know that I would open up a tear in the fabric of the usually upbeat TED vibe, with people telling me of their own “misbehaving neurons,” the depression, mania or any other flavor of disorder that you can imagine. Their relief and happiness that we had let the cat out of the bag and talked about what many shy away from. For many of them it was the first time they had publicly owned up to the frailty of their brain and mind, but they did so knowing that those same misbehaving neurons could underpin the things they have achieved in life, the beauty they experience and the social fabric they are woven into.

I wasn’t expecting this, but it reinforced why I had picked this topic, why I wanted to unpick a little bit of the brain for the audience, to get them to see that mental disorder is not so black-and-white, and that we need to talk about it and figure out how we want to see it, how to rewrite the story.

Science, inspiration, love, despair, horror, illusion, make-believe, beauty, movement, humor and so much more, all embedded in the most ultraconnected piece of technology known to man.

I hope everyone enjoys the six talks that are now all live, and takes from each what they want. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to capture the TED community for a brief period, and to have a group of individuals who signed up for the challenge and the fun!

And now the TEDTalks from Session 6: Misbehaving Beautifully:

[ted id=1573 width=560 height=315]

Read Montague, Behavioral Neuroscientist, “What We’re Learning from 5,000 Brains”

[ted id=1494 width=560 height=315]

Elyn Saks, Mental Health Law Scholar, “A Tale of Mental Illness”

[ted id=1584 width=560 height=315]

Ruby Wax, Comedian and Mental Health Activist, “What’s so funny about mental illness?”

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Vikram Patel, Mental health care advocate, “Mental health for all by involving all”

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Wayne McGregor, Dancer, “A choreographer’s process in real time”

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Robert Legato, Visual Effects Guru, “The art of creating awe”