Freudian Script Fortnight 25/04/17

A slightly delayed review of two weeks of mental health and disability in the news... "Survival of the fittest" is bullshit, pass it on https://twitter.com/twomiletower/status/852670630516457473 As Petya points out later in the thread, the inverted commas are important here - this is a misuse of Darwin's concept. It is "survival of the fittest" as used by survivalists, eugenicists and Nazis. It is arguably what drives the "American Dream" and Tory Britain - if you work hard and contribute, you will succeed. Exploring this topic further, Darwin did not originate the phrase "survival of the fittest". It was commentary by Herbert Spencer, which was incorporated into later volumes of Darwin's work. It is used by biologists to refer to the survival of random mutations in a population. One of my favourite examples is sickle cell anaemia. This is an autosomal recessive condition, which means you need a pair of defective genes to cause the disease. However, if people have only one gene, they can better fight...
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Freudian Script Fortnight 10/04/17

What's the buzz on mental health for the past two weeks? Let's find out! "The Trauma of Facing Deportation" (The New Yorker) Photograph by Magnus Wennman for The New Yorker Sixty children in Sweden entered a coma-like state last year and no one knows why! Except we have a pretty good idea why - they are refugees and their families were denied asylum. This is a classic example of "medicine" v psychiatry, particularly neurology v psychiatry. Perhaps more than other specialities, neurologists love tests. They are infamous in the medical world for ordering 101 tests - and shrugging their shoulders when they all come back negative. So, when professionals say this condition cannot be explained - and neither can the "cure" of granting asylum - they mean the tests don't fit or are inconclusive. Psychiatrists are used to working in this zone of uncertainty. Most conditions we manage do not have easy tests or narrowly-defined definitions. When I describe things like non-epileptic attack disorder (seizures that...
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Freudian Script Fortnight 27/03/17

In which I look at mental health and disability stories over the past fortnight and commentate on them for writers and other interested parties. "This is Why People With Anxiety Are The Best People To Fall In Love With" https://twitter.com/NotAllBhas/status/841759204469821440 We kick off with this gem that combines several of my pet peeves when it comes to mental health reporting and writing - romanticisation of mental health problems, illness as identity, and "all people with X are the same". Firstly, living with a person with anxiety is difficult. Both my personal and professional experience tell me this, as do carers groups and charities like Mind. This article implies its some kind of all-consuming rapture. My second point is a controversial one. I hold my hands up - I am a psychiatrist and I favour a biological model of mental illness. Therefore, when a person with anxiety comes to me, I see someone with an illness that can be treated or, at least, managed to improve...
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Freudian Script Fortnight: Mental Health In The News

In a new series called Freudian Script Fortnight, I will be looking at news items relevant to mental health and disability and commentating on them/snarking at them/throwing them in the sea. Mary Creagh MP is not "hysterical" https://twitter.com/Alison1mackITV/status/836577143203184640 This beautiful speech against the use of the word "hysteria" is rooted in mental health history, where women's emotional state and mental wellbeing was entirely attributed to the womb. More specifically, the "wandering womb" - the travels of an entire organ around a woman's body, making her inexplicable and quite, quite mad. The clue is in the word itself - from hysteros, the Greek for womb, from which we also get the word hysterectomy. I wish I could say that such silly notions had gone away, but note the continued use of "PMT" or "time of the month" to dismiss a woman's anger, concerns or complaints. Note an MP using the word "hysterical" to describe one of his colleagues in the House of Commons. For a more...
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