Reflections by Junaid Hassan on N=1
I am a PhD in systems microbiology. Academically, the only link between N=1 Conference and my background is my M. Phil. thesis, wherein I used dynamic modelling to elucidate and critically examine bio-psychological theories of anxiety-related disorders. I developed interest in this field due to my anxious brain, which has to be managed through medication. N=1, thus, was not just another conference for me, but a discussion of my personal problem. Unfortunately, I could not attend Day 2, so my account here is only applicable to Day 1:
The conference was unique in that even I, being almost a layman, was able to follow each talk and not for any moment felt like a stranger in the hall. The most enjoyable part was to hear the experts strongly disagreeing with what I thought were “agreed-upon” tools in treating psychiatric problems, for example, cognitive behavioural therapy.
The enthusiasm of the speakers for individualised treatment was inspiring, but I am not convinced that a strong-enough case was made against the current treatment/research methods to call for a paradigm-shift. At best, the criticism seemed to be worthy of consideration for improving the current methods and systems. I also felt that the alternative ideas presented were vague and underdeveloped, but that is understandable; all novel ideas start like that, and we require meetings like N=1 to turn them into clear and mature thoughts. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing various problems with the experts, their insightful opinions, and referral to some very interesting new literature.
Thank you all, especially the organisers, for such a hospitable, pleasant, organised, well-paced, well-sequenced, and enlightening conference!