For an entrepreneur, starting a venture and seeing it through to a predetermined goal makes for a dopamine surge that’s definitely motivating. But it can come with harm, too. Research now shows that entrepreneurs experience much higher rates of major depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD as compared to others. Entrepreneurs are also more likely than most to battle addictions, make irrational business investments, and attempt self-harm or suicide. Too often, entrepreneurs see themselves as failures. After business ventures fail, they face huge hurdles in finding new employment opportunities. Even when financially successful, they can succumb to “success depression.”
Moderated by Andy Burgess ’83, Neil Seeman ’88 — an entrepreneur, author and educator — will discuss what he calls dopamine “supersensitivity.” Most entrepreneurs aren’t driven by a desire to get rich, but by a mission to solve problems to benefit the specific communities they care about most. Neil will share the vulnerabilities of an entrepreneur’s brain. His book is a message of hope for the next generation of entrepreneurs. He demonstrates how to nurture entrepreneurialism in a way that promotes the values of mental health promotion, long-term prosperity — and community-building.Neil Seeman ’88
Neil Seeman is a Canadian author, Internet entrepreneur and mental health advocate. At the University of Toronto, he teaches at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, is a senior fellow in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME), The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, Massey College, and the Investigative Journalism Bureau. Neil is also an adviser to information science startups in the private sector and innovation hubs in the university sector, notably, the Health Informatics, Visualization, and Equity (HIVE) Lab at the University of Toronto.
Neil has been an essayist for Nikkei Asia, the Toronto Star, and Healthcare Quarterly, and was a founding member of the editorial board of the National Post. Neil has published his research on mental health topics in Nature, Synapse and in other leading academic journals. He is the co-author of three books on mental health, including XXL: Obesity and the Limits of Shame, which was a finalist for the Donner Book Prize and was selected as an “outstanding” title by the University Press Books Committee. He is the author, most recently, of Accelerated Minds: Unlocking the Fascinating, Inspiring, and Often Destructive Impulses that Drive the Entrepreneurial Brain, published in May 2023 by Sutherland House Books.
Neil, a graduate of UCC’s Class of 1988, is also a graduate of Queen’s University, the University of Toronto Law School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Sarit, and their children, Dori Seeman and Davey Seeman ’23.