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 […]

A culture of madness?

In the 1960s and into the 1970s the psychotic individual increasingly became positioned both as ‘victim’ and ‘anti-hero’.  Psychiatrists such as Ronald Laing and his colleagues argued that schizophrenia was caused by dysfunctional (if not outright pathological) family relationships, in which the schizophrenic subject found themselves in an impossible, no-win situation.  And although the proponents […]

Psychosomatics: when the soul meets the body

A while ago I posted a piece on medically unexplained symptoms.1 This was in response to an article by Louise Atkinson in the Daily Mail on chronic back pain and how this might be caused by stress and tension rather than any underlying physical problem.2 One of the reasons I wanted to write this current […]

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 […]

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 […]