Peter Sutcliffe: mad or/and bad?

Last Thursday a mental health tribunal ruled that Peter Sutcliffe (aka ‘The Yorkshire Ripper’ and now know as Peter Coonan) no longer required clinical treatment and could be moved back to a mainstream prison. 1  Some in the tabloid media have inferred from this decision that this means that Sutcliffe is ‘bad’ rather than ‘mad’; in […]

Mad, bad, or…..?

What was rather striking about the (British) media’s response to the recent knife attack in Russell Square, London, where a nineteen year old Norwegian national of Somali origin murdered an American woman and injured five others1 was that as soon as it became apparent that the perpetrator was suffering from mental health problems the story […]

What is psychosis?

The term ‘psychosis’ has a number of connotations, all of them negative. It’s often used in place of the word ‘madness’. It is also used as a term for schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder (manic depression), and paranoia. There is also a fairly widely held, though mistaken, view that psychotic individuals cannot be treated by psychoanalysis or […]

Schizophrenia and genetics

There was an interesting news item yesterday on the BBC news site about schizophrenia and genetics1.  The story reports on an article published in Nature, which is the write- up of a large research project into the genetic dimension of schizophrenia. According to the story, scientists have found more than 100 genes that make people […]

Why psychosis?

There is a long and somewhat unfortunate tradition within psychoanalysis that appears to ‘downgrade’ psychosis.  In other words, psychosis is seen as something of an aberration in relation to the ‘norm’ of neurosis.   This is not to say that psychoanalysts don’t work with psychotics – far from it- but one often gets the impression when […]

Bipolar and psychosis

Darian Leader has recently written a book on bipolar1, which is the new name for an old form of psychosis, namely manic-depressive insanity (to use the term adopted by Emil Kraepelin). Leader’s central argument is that manic depression (bipolar) is an attempt to avoid contradiction, because the individual is unable to bear conflicting ideas, e.g. […]

Schizophrenia: a challenge to our culture?

The Schizophrenia Commission has just published a report on schizophrenia in this country.1  The findings highlight many of the problems surrounding people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, or as the Commission prefers to call it, psychosis.2  These problems include a lack of proper care in acute settings, a lack of access to talking therapies, and […]

Ordinary madness

There is a myth within our culture, and within mainstream psychiatry and psychotherapy, that most people are (relatively) ‘normal’.  To be fair, psychoanalysts are more likely to say that most people are ‘neurotic’, or that by ‘normal’ we mean neurotic, but essentially it amounts to the same thing.  To put it another way, the myth […]

Is James Holmes psychotic?

In the wake of James Holmes’ shooting frenzy in Aurora, which left twelve people dead and at least 58 injured, arguments have already begun about his state of mind, and more specifically whether he is mentally ill or not.  Interestingly, part of the argument seems to hinge on whether a psychotic individual could have planned […]

Psychosis: the Breivik dilemma

One of the interesting things to come out of the ongoing Anders Breivik trial is that there seems to be a disagreement amongst the psychiatric profession regarding Breivik’s mental state.  The original psychiatric report published last November concluded that he was psychotic.1 The second psychiatric report, published in April by two forensic psychiatrists concludes that […]