Tuesday, 23 February 2016

What I have said for years, but with academic credentials.

Around ten years ago I read Richard Bentall's book, 'Madness Explained'. His second book, published in 2009 is called 'Doctoring the Mind'. I have heard him lecturing and agree with most of his findings. The only area of concern I had, was with his research when he was describing his work with mothers and babies and their communication. He was not aware of the problem with front-facing pushchairs, so his research was flawed. Now it would have to include the ubiquitous use of mobile phones and tablets by toddlers and babies, as well as older children.

That was some years ago and I was interested to read an article by him last week. It comes in the form of an open letter to the actor and presenter, Stephen Fry, after his BBCTV programme on bi-polar disorder.


It begins:

Dear Stephen,
You and I attended the same public school (Uppingham, in Rutland) at the same time, in the early 1970s, and our unhappy experiences there have undoubtedly helped to shape our different trajectories, which have led us to a shared interest in mental health.
In your case, your premature departure from Uppingham, and your adventures immediately afterwards, were documented in your wonderful book, Moab is my Washpot. Your subsequent openness about your own mental health difficulties, for which I salute you, has been an inspiration to other mental health sufferers.
In my case, despite a lacklustre academic performance which I attribute mainly to spending much of my adolescence feeling depressed and emotionally abused, I managed to make my way to university and eventually pursued a career in clinical psychology. (My brother, unfortunately, was much worse affected by his time at the school; his expulsion was the start of a long downward spiral that culminated in his suicide, an event that haunts me twenty years later, and which reinforces my determination to improve the public understanding of mental ill-health.)
I have now spent more than thirty years researching severe mental illness, focusing especially on patients with psychosis (who, in conventional psychiatry, are typically diagnosed with ‘bipolar disorder’ or ‘schizophrenia’). It is from this perspective that, reluctantly, I must now ask you to rethink the way that you portray these conditions to the general public. I know that you wish to demystify and destigmatise mental illness, which are surely laudable aims, but my worry is that some aspects of your approach may have the opposite effect from that which you intend.
and carries on...please click on the link above.
In response to that open letter, Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool & President-Elect, British Psychological Society, has written another open letter on behalf of many of his profession.

It begins:

Open Letter about BBC Coverage of Mental Health

Following Richard Bentall’s inspired OpenLetter to Stephen 
Fry, we – a group of people who have (and still do) use 
mental health services, who work in mental health, or 
who work as academics... or fall in to more than one of 
those categories – have decided to write a parallel Open 
Letter to the BBC and other media organizations about 
their coverage of mental health issues.

We need as many signatures as possible! If you wish to sign, 
please email Peter Kinderman at 
p.kinderman@liverpool.ac.uk with ‘BBC letter’ in the 
subject heading, and your name, title and organization as 
you would like to be represented. You can also leave 
comments below.

And carries on...Please click on the above link.

Why are these academics not listened to seriously? If they are not 
listened to, there's no hope for the non-academic professionals such 
as me and my colleagues. It is so frustrating with the unnecessary 
suffering loss of life and tragic loss of life we have been witness to 
over the last twenty years?

But then I read and listen with interest to the latest horror stories 
about sugar. That's not news. Professor Yudkin wrote about the 
dangers in 1972, 'Pure, White and Deadly', and was ridiculed. 

To those of us questioning the food industry, Big Pharma and other 
large, influential organisations. We must never give up, whoever we 
are. If it can save one life, it will be worth doing. 


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