I recently was sent a copy of a BJPsych article, strapline of ‘An integrated biopsychosocial model of childhood maltreatment and psychosis‘ by Victoria Barker , Andrew Gumley , Matthias Schwannauer , Stephen M. Lawrie. [Link to journal, short abstract as article hidden by paywall]
I knew the 3 male authors personally, 2 professors of clinical psychology and the other a professor of psychiatry, at Scottish universities, having engaged with them at various times over the last few years when trying to get meaningfully involved in Scotland’s mental health matters. I didn’t know the female author.
The title annoyed me and each page fuelled the fire of my discontent so I put fingers to keyboard and immediately sent off an Email to the professors, on a Sunday morning, shortly after receiving the paper. I admit to using words like cow dung and eugenics, and could have used even stronger language, such was the passion I felt at the biological psychiatry’s narrow, reductionist focus.
My Email, sent on 1 March 2015 at 11.49, strapline: (bio bio bio) ‘An integrated biopsychosocial model of childhood maltreatment and psychosis’ – not in my family’s experience
Psychosis is normal in my family and we weren’t maltreated as children. It is psychiatry which has subjected us to abusive treatment. Plus the article had a flow chart and many technical, biological and scientific terms to back up its premise but I wasn’t convinced of their validity, particularly when it admitted using “rat pups” and animal models in the research.
Then to my surprise (since usually it’s a monologue), 20 minutes later I got a response from the psychiatrist. Patronising me. To which I made a swift, reply, appreciating the opportunity for engagement, ignoring the put down.
Here are jpegs of the piece, in 3 parts, followed by the Emails between Prof Lawrie and myself:
Here are biographies of Prof Stephen Lawrie from the SMHRN website and on a presentation slide from an event on psychosis he spoke at in July 2014 which I attended:
Here is Prof Lawrie’s Email response to me on 1 March 2015 at 12.08:
And my response to the professor, at 12.58:
Strapline: (bio bio bio) thanks for responding Prof Lawrie – what about resilience? – the damage done by drugs – blog post on being called a “pistol”
Thank you for responding at length. I think it is the first time of you doing so. I must have hit a nerve.
“Mentalisation based psychotherapy” – unfortunately, from what I’ve heard, in Cornhill, Aberdeen (a workshop at a nurse research conference last year in Napier Uni), this results in the nurses using military language to describe the supposedly “BPD” patients – tools as “weapons” and suchlike. I wasn’t impressed.
I would like you to ask yourself, Stephen, what about the children who had difficult childhoods yet developed resilience to cope, to survive and to overcome their difficulties? That, I maintain, is a much more interesting topic for scientists such as yourself and others, to consider. Discovering the strengths within human beings that result in them striding forth into the world, brains intact and ready for what life throws at them. Speak to the survivors.
I can understand that you have personal reasons for concentrating on genes, neurones and the like, due to your many years of investment in this area of science, and because you have links with pharmaceutical companies whose drugs target brains and affect their function. I can testify to this, having been forced to ingest and swallow neuroleptics which took away my agency and decision-making abilities. I contend it was the drugs that damaged my brain in the short term and therefore I had to get off them to recover. My wellness and my optimal brain function. And so I did.
Others haven’t been so fortunate. The psychiatric drugs have shortened their lives, caused untold damage to their nervous systems and removed or distanced them from life. It’s a crime. There has to be other, far more better ways of working with people in mental and emotional distress that doesn’t mean forcing a biomedical model of mental illness on to a person, and a lifetime of neuroleptic dysfunction.
As for soothing my “ire”, I like to fuel the fire of my discontent with biological psychiatry. Because it isn’t the whole picture or even a major part of the picture. In fact it is, and should be, a very small part of the meaning of our existence. We are far more than brains and chemicals. You just need to look out of your window, see the beauty of nature, listen to musical creations, view artistic endeavours and read stories, biographies and non-fictional books, to see how very much more there is to life and living.
I recommend looking outside of yourself rather than inside the brains of others. Consider a shift in your field of study and in your practice. It’s never too late to have a change of mind/heart.
Change of topic. My blog post for today, still in construction, strapline of “”pistol”: a notably sharp, spirited or energetic person (Merriam Webster); synonyms: dynamo, fireball, live wire”.
I then sent the professor and others my completed Pistol blog post. There was no further communication ….