AJ Mendez in the ring. Credit: © Cathy and David Photography, via theajmendez.com.
AJ Mendez in the ring. Credit: © Cathy and David Photography, via theajmendez.com.

Wrestling with Mental Health, with AJ Mendez

Photo Credit: © Cathy and David Photography, via theajmendez.com
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AJ Mendez in the ring. Credit: © Cathy and David Photography, via theajmendez.com.

About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson enters the ring with former WWE star AJ Mendez (aka AJ Lee) to explore her latest book, Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules, and how she turned her mental illness into a superpower. Joining Neil in-studio is comic co-host Chuck Nice and neuroscientist and StarTalk All-Stars host Dr. Heather Berlin, PhD. 

You’ll learn how AJ took solace in the world of fantasy and fiction growing up, and who her favorite superhero was. We debate whether professional wrestlers are, in fact, superheroes themselves. Find out how AJ first got into professional wrestling, and go behind the scenes as she sheds light on the pageantry that goes on in pro wrestling. We discuss how pro wrestling is a cross between art, dance, improvisation, and more. You’ll also hear why pro wrestling is a “team effort’ between the audience and the performers. 

Learn more about AJ’s bipolar disorder diagnosis and how it’s shaped her life. Heather weighs in on what’s going on in the brain when someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. You’ll hear if an emotional problem can turn into a neurological problem. You’ll also discover why AJ wanted to reclaim the word “crazy” and how she’s fighting to destigmatize the mental health conversation. 

Next, we debate the future of mental health treatment, and investigate the use of psychedelic drugs to help with mental illness. Can gene editing and CRISPR be used to stop mental health issues before they even happen? You’ll also learn why treating bipolar disorder varies depending on the individual case. All that, plus, Neil ponders whether the mysteries of the brain are waiting to be solved by a yet unknown “Isaac Newton” of neuroscience – someone who will not be frightened by the complexities of the brain, but someone who will revel in its simplicity.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Wrestling with Mental Health, with AJ Mendez.

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