Micah Johnson ’13: Fixing the brain, ‘the greatest magic show on earth’

As a professional magician, Micah Johnson excels at using the quirks of the human mind to create illusions. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he hopes to leverage the power of culture to help fix minds broken by mental illness.

While studying in Ghana, Johnson witnessed how the mentally ill sought relief in prayer camps, not in medical facilities. He hopes to harness the native cultural belief that mental illness is a spiritual disorder into finding new ways to help people suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

In order to facilitate that goal he plans to study public health policy and medical anthropology at Oxford.

Johnson is a senior at Yale, where he majors in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and in psychology with a neuroscience concentration. Johnson was elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa and won the Hunt Lyman prize as the outstanding junior at Yale, both intellectually and socially.  He founded a program at Yale that assists in public health programs in Latin America, and is executive editor of the Yale Journal of Medicine and Law.

The former international close-up champion magician hopes to merge science and policy to improve mental health around the globe.

“The brain is the greatest magic show on earth,” Johnson said.

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