Saturday, 29 November 2014


I'll be adding links as I find them

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TWO months ago, the British Psychological Society released a remarkable document entitled “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.” Its authors say that hearing voices and feeling paranoid are common experiences, and are often a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation: “Calling them symptoms of mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia is only one way of thinking about them, with advantages and disadvantages.”

Carl Heneghan: 

Evidence based medicine on trial

4 Dec, 14 | by BMJ Evidence based medicine (EBM) should form the foundation of effective clinical decision making; however, growing unrest—and an awful lot of criticism—suggests the evidence bit of EBM is increasingly part of the problem, and not the solution.

"Carl Heneghan jointly runs the Evidence Live conference with The BMJ and is a founder of the AllTrials campaign." 

Interesting. And does this study of "low and moderate use" invalidate all other studies? 


Via Tallaght Trialogue :

A movement to bring people with experience of mental distress into the discourse around care and treatment can revive services in the UK

The article was written in 2013. A quote:
The desire to be more like the hard sciences has distorted economics, education, political science, psychiatry and other behavioral fields. It’s led practitioners to claim more knowledge than they can possibly have. It’s devalued a certain sort of hybrid mentality that is better suited to these realms, the mentality that has one foot in the world of science and one in the liberal arts, that involves bringing multiple vantage points to human behavior.

I wish I could get in touch to ask An Observer for permission to quote the entire comment. Instead I'll paste in some paragraphs:
But I’m not entirely happy with Mental Elf’s reflection. The most unhelpful part is the subtle (deliberate?) slide from ‘psychology vs psychiatry models’ (fairly accurate, although actually the report calls for a psychosocial model) to ‘psychologists vs psychiatrists.’ The other side of the coin from the extraordinarily aggressive responses by (some) defenders of psychiatric models was, in my view, the admirable restraint shown by the report’s authors – and from their colleagues. In fact, one of the charges levelled against them was that they were NOT responding – despite what seemed to be numerous provocations.
And let’s not forget the (inconvenient to some) fact that the report was launched and endorsed by two of the most senior psychiatrists in the country. So, I would argue that at least in relation to the recent debate, it is both untrue and unhelpful to talk about an interprofessional war. No wonder service users get upset if they are constantly told that this is what is going on. Why, then, do (some) people in responsible positions continue to promote this narrative? Well, I don’t think it’s too cynical to speculate that this serves as a convenient way of defusing challenges to entrenched positions and vested interests. Far easier to depict these uncomfortable but necessary critiques as some kind of narrow professional spat, and call for everyone to behave themselves – which is thinly disguised code for ‘Don’t dare challenge the status quo.
(Highlighting mine)

 - See more at:

Complementary what? Belief systems?

Critical appraisal of what? 

And before this report, no patients with symptoms of psychosis have died by suicide or gone to prison, and no carers have suffered? 

  1. Dismayed by tone and content of much of the critique of "Understanding Psychosis" report? is too
  2. I certainly am. App am 'a liar' & 'a bad journalist' with 'blood on my hands' for writing pos response to it
  3. . Ridiculous responses which expose the threat some feel at the very idea of SU choice. It was a great article.
  4. Thanks Lucy. I have been pretty shocked at the level of vitriol and the with us/against us mentality
  5. to reveal fear, contempt & too-frequent prejudice ("") from MH profs. Felt, but seldom naked-- like now

  6. Totally agree. Hope you'll write more about it. And... I didn't know what a 'circle jerk' was. I do now!

Crucial that people who do not connect trauma with psychosis also be heard. 

I will be embedding some tweets that make me wonder if the tweeter and I are living in parallel universes. Like this one by dr Ivana Fulli

Bookmarking this to read later 

Is James Coyne actually comparing use of positive narratives from service users with massively unethical marketing of psychopharmaceuticals?

Further down there is a collection of links and tweets about the discussion that Charlotte Walker describes here:

I have been a service user, I don't belong in any of the warring ideological camps, and following this discussion is like watching turf wars of woo. Is it hopelessly naive of me to wish that professionals in a field called "mental health" could engage in more mentally healthy forms of communication?

Steve Flatt says it for me in:
The futility of medicine versus psychology in mental health
Thanks to dr Samei Huda for giving me the link to this article on Twitter.  

So much of the time the focus is not on the client but professional standing, service requirements and power.
I have worked in and around primary care for 20 years after qualifying and during that time I have seen so many professionals lose sight of their role as a health professional and focus on their careers rather than promoting health or at least “doing no harm”.
A good doctor will focus upon the best medication for a particular presentation, the characteristics of the individual and the situation. The trouble with psychiatric medicine is that while there are symptoms there is no source and no signs for most psychiatric diagnoses. This reality makes diagnosis at best a finger in the wind task as it is reliant upon the person’s self report.
However, psychology has the same problem with formulation. How does the clinician know when they have gathered enough of the right information to make an accurate formulation, even with the wholehearted co-operation of the individual. Furthermore, how much of the past is relevant to the formulation? Even that knowledge of the past may adversely bias attention toward a particular formulation or diagnosis that is a pet issue for the professional.
In mental health, psychiatry, psychology the only expert in their lives is the person experiencing it. Surely our first and foremost question to them should be, what would your life be like if it were working better, if our intervention had been useful; if you were experiencing more of what you wanted? Rather than assuming that they wish to get rid of something, which is the traditional approach in both psychiatry and psychology. An approach that has developed from the medical model of treating illness, the removal of infection, pain and physical distress.

The sentence that I have bolded is reinforced here:

This book is relevant: 
Power, interest and psychology by David Smail

The link is to a review by Andy Fugard, @, and I quote him here:
Therapy, Smail argues, tries to boost the perception of clients’ power to change, when in reality it is actual power that clients often need: power over material resources, money, employment, education; personal resources such as confidence and intellect; home and family life, a love life, and an active social life (Hagan & Smail, 1997). These are areas which often cannot be influenced by talk in the clinic. So why has individual therapy grown so popular? Smail argues – and emphasises that it’s nothing to be ashamed of – that therapists rely on income to put food on the table and pay the rent, just like their clients. He illustrates with the example of Sigmund Freud (p. 3) who wrote that “My mood also depends very strongly on my earnings… I have come to know the helplessness of poverty and continually fear it”. Freud, he argues, changed his theories so as not to offend those who paid the bills, e.g., clients’ parents. Smail argues that there is a great mysticism around therapy (p. 8): “rituals of therapeutic cure… bear a strong resemblance to the spells and incantations of sorcerers”, with practitioners rarely explaining to clients how their techniques (supposedly?) work. Together these interests help sustain psychotherapy.

The comment section to "Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: a critique by Laws, Langford and Huda" has embedded tweets, so my embeds are superfluous, but I'm keeping them anyway.

And my contribution to the discussion is a link to this book:

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma 

Bessel van der Kolk MD 
He has a trauma-informed view of psychosis: 
Our great teacher, Elvin Semrad, actively discouraged us from reading psychiatry textbooks during our first year. (This intellectual starvation diet may account for the fact that most of us later became voracious readers and prolific writers.) Semrad did not want our perceptions of reality to become obscured by the pseudocertainties of psychiatric diagnoses. I remember asking him once: What would you call this patientschizophrenic or schizoaffective?He paused and stroked his chin, apparently in deep thought. I think Id call him Michael McIntyre,he replied.

via @beyondmeds:

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