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In all societies there are specific laws and practices which exclude people thought to be mad or mentally ill, and medicine and law have worked together to achieve this exclusion.

I am writing here as a person who became a mental patient in and received a PhD in through study of the mental health system and patients' perspectives. The treatment of madness in previous centuries has rarely been humane or democratic:. There was an awareness that people could be arbitrarily labelled as lunatics and their liberty and property unfairly taken from them.

The Divine Conspiracy -

The Lunacy Acts in England and other countries were aimed to make loss of freedom less arbitrary. However, this did not improve the way that the mad were treated, or the conditions in the madhouses. There was little conception that people might recover, and little distinction was made between permanent conditions of brain damage or learning disabilities and problems that might have been temporary.

An early 19th century medical journal [ 2 , p. Lord Shaftesbury, an English aristocrat and member of parliament, dedicated his life to trying to help the poor. He was instrumental in the Lunacy Act of He spoke of the way that people deemed to be mad lose their personhood:. His words are generally disbelieved …. We know him to be insane, at least we are told that he is so, and we place ourselves on guard—that is, we give to every word, look, gesture a value and meaning which … it would never bear in ordinary life.

Thus, we too readily get him in, and too sluggishly get him out, and yet what a destiny! Many people expect this to be an opportunity to tell all that is troubling them to an expert who will help.

But much of the interview is … baffling. Many reformers have addressed the de-humanising effect of psychiatry on the person. In the UK, R. Laing called for patients' experience to be the central focus and Suman Fernando wrote about the Western imperialist assumptions of psychiatry.

by Lucy Johnstone

In the 20th century, psychiatric patients and former patients began to set up self help and campaigning groups in the USA, UK, and many parts of Europe. Early groups were small, vocal and angry, sensing their lack of power and the unwillingness of society or professionals to take them seriously. Many wanted psychiatry abolished, and were against medication and ECT because of their damaging effects. It was only when this movement gained strength and numbers with the support of non-patient allies that it was possible to refute the assumption that we could never be full members of society or participate in philosophical, political and scientific debates about mental illness.

Judi Chamberlin in the USA wrote an influential book about her own recovery and about how survivors of psychiatry were organising to raise their consciousness and help each other:. UK Psychiatrists Thomas and Bracken [ 5 ] argue for psychiatry to abandon its grandiose modernist assumptions that it had, or was about to discover, the explanation of and answer to mental illness.

They propose a more equal place for psychiatry among other professions, such as social work and psychology. They argue its concern should be good mental health care, not control, coercion and social exclusion, and for real partnership between doctors and patients. They call for an end to pharmaceutical company funding of research. British journalist, Jeremy Laurance [ 6 ] describes how patients are reclaiming their personhood:. A plethora of groups representing different user interests have sprung up … the organisations are demanding the right for mentally ill people to take charge of their own lives and, wherever possible, their treatment.

My report [ 7 ] showed that there is a shared agenda among service users in mental health:. A key shared issue is the right to be an individual and to have services that fit the person, not the label. Acute services should be drastically improved, perhaps with the help of advance directives. There should be more emphasis on prevention and non-medical alternatives, such as safe houses.

With regard to psychiatric and mental health research, service users want to be involved in setting research agendas and to be fully involved in how research is conducted, analysed and disseminated [ 8 ]. Based on my life and work experience these are views commonly expressed by patients and service users:.

Nosological diagnoses do not help us much. They are for classification and resource allocation. We need comprehensive or integrative person-centered diagnosis where we are enabled to tell our stories in our own way and in our own time. Community Reviews.

Also by Lucy Johnstone

Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 16, Sophie Budge rated it it was amazing.

CCHR: What's Wrong with Psychiatry? A Psychiatrist Explains...

Should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in the field of psychology and psychiatry - including those interested in their own treatment and the course that has taken for them. Completely changed my view of my own experiences of mental health and diagnosis.

Critical Psychiatry Network

Feb 12, Alison rated it really liked it. Fascinating, thought-provoking and at times, downright disturbing. Aug 31, Ellie Spencer rated it it was amazing. This was an absolutely fantastic read. I would recommend this to anyone studying psychology or looking to go into the field of mental health, or anyone who has dealt with the mental health system first hand. Jun 09, Cathryn rated it it was amazing. Lucy Johnstone writes fluidly which makes this a fanastic and gripping read.

She takes us through the various examples and evidence that contradict the 'system' of psychiatry and the assumption that the issues we face mentally are all "mental illnesses" needing medical treatment e. Only in the Western world could we be so stupid, and so bought into this myth, despite ongoing failure to 'treat' mental issues and numerous hidden success stories demonstrating that hu Lucy Johnstone writes fluidly which makes this a fanastic and gripping read.

Only in the Western world could we be so stupid, and so bought into this myth, despite ongoing failure to 'treat' mental issues and numerous hidden success stories demonstrating that human care, support and attention works. In perhaps a century's time, we'll look back at ridiculous and inhumane procedures such as electric shock treatment ECT , injecting strong toxic drugs that make someone lactate and have a distended stomach, and other similar atrocities, and realise that we're supporting a system that does not work and is impactful to people that need help.


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If it wasn't for big business and misguided science creating 'illness' upon 'illness' to fill up pages of the latest psychiatric journal to sell more drugs, perhaps more people would stop and question what we're doing and call a halt. We really seriously need to realise that modern life is causing stress, which is turning to distress in many normal people, who in turn need our support rather than being 'diagnosed' as ill or genetically weak, and then drugged up for decades on end.

Read this, and the evidence outlined, and then see whether you still believe schizophrenia and other 'new' 'illnesses' are real or not. Aug 20, Sian Bradshaw rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. This book is very worrying and cautiously hopeful at the same time. I read this as pre-reading for a course I am about to take. The book outlines the problems with current treatments of psychiatric conditions and how the structure of mental health services and those working in them, seems to work against the patient's recovery.

It queries the diagnosis of schizophrenia in many cases where it is used. It questions the use of medications in the majority of cases. It very much supports the importan This book is very worrying and cautiously hopeful at the same time. It very much supports the importance of talking therapies and occupational therapies which have in the past been derided in favour of pharmacological interventions. It also looks at the class, gender and race bias in diagnosis and treatment. This book appears to support the psychosocial model of mental illness. Kss rated it really liked it Oct 16, Maxine rated it really liked it May 18, Deborah rated it liked it May 15, Sophie Robinson rated it it was amazing Mar 12, Luke rated it really liked it Feb 06, Kate Hickling rated it it was amazing Jul 23, Madeleine Dalsklev rated it it was amazing Apr 03, Boytha rated it it was amazing Dec 15, Cathy Wood rated it it was amazing Sep 24, Harm Bos rated it it was amazing Dec 30, Katerina Filipovna rated it liked it Aug 20, Rob rated it really liked it Dec 21, Chamzi rated it really liked it Mar 04, Stacey McEwan rated it really liked it Aug 26,