Psychotherapy and the NHS: time for a rethink?

In the early 2000s I spent three years working as an honorary psychoanalytic psychotherapist in an NHS mental health trust as part of my analytic training. Back then, this was the time-honoured route to becoming a psychotherapist. What was particularly interesting about this experience was that I saw my first patient for three years and […]

Culture and mental health

There was an interesting article in the Healthcare Network section of yesterday’s Guardian by Yasir Abbasi, a British south Asian Muslim psychiatrist working in the NHS, regarding the importance of recognising and understanding different cultural beliefs and how these can become intertwined with mental health problems. 1 Abbasi gave two examples of patients he had worked […]

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 […]

Physician, heal thyself?

For a while now The Guardian has been running a blog entitled Views from the NHS frontline in which a range of health professionals comment upon their experiences of working in the NHS.  What’s quite telling is that a significant number of these articles relate to the mental health problems experienced by such professionals.  These […]

A new (dis)order?

I recently posted a piece on depersonalisation and conversion disorders.  The post initially focused on an article in The Guardian which looked at  the phenomena of depersonalisation, and had interviewed three people who had experienced a sense of feeling estranged in some way from their bodies and from the world.  The post then briefly touched […]

Depersonalisation and conversion disorders: old wine in new bottles?

There have been a couple of interesting articles relating to mental health that have caught my eye recently.  They both highlight a longstanding trend within psychiatry (and, unfortunately in some parts of the psychoanalytic world) to redefine various forms of human suffering and disturbance as ‘disorders’.   This seems to directly correlate with what might be […]

Andreas Lubitz and mental illness

In the wake of the horrific crash of the Germanwings Flight 4U9525 which killed 150 people on 24 March there has been mounting speculation and anger about the mental state of the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who was responsible for this act of mass murder.  The more that is discovered about him, the more it becomes […]

ME: all in the body?

There’s been yet another news story that purports to ‘prove’ that myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is a ‘real’ illness rather than being ‘all in the mind’.1  To quote from the story: The researchers, from Columbia University in New York, analysed hundreds of blood samples taken from ME patients and healthy […]

Private madness

On Private Madness is a collection of papers by the French psychoanalyst André Green. 1 In his introduction to the book, Green writes: Freud already knew that the boundaries between neurosis and normality are barely discernable.  Following him, we have learned that many persons who are well adapted to social and external reality harbour what I […]

Mental health and the web

It might seem somewhat ironic (and possibly hypocritical) to be posting a piece on the possible downside of the web in relation to mental health.  After all, my hope is that people who are interested in mental health will read it – on the web!  However, life is full of irony, not to say hypocrisy […]

Does mental illness exist?

There is currently an acrimonious spat developing between psychiatry and clinical psychology.  The catalyst for this is the imminent publication of DSM V, but this argument goes back much further and is a lot deeper than simply arguments about what should and should not be classified as a ‘mental illness’.  A series of articles in […]