Critical Psychiatry in The UK: A Personal View: Philip Thomas

Critical Psychiatry in The UK: A Personal View

“Of all tyrranies, a tyrrany sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  C. S. Lewis,

God in the Dock

This is the English version of a paper originally translated into French by Patrick Landman, to be published in the journal Espace Analytique.

The revolution of the 1960s, aborted almost immediately it was conceived, nevertheless left its traces on the later years of the twentieth century. These are the movements of liberation and emancipation – of women from the authority of patriarchy, of Black people from the oppression of racism, of former colonial subjects from the ravishment of colonialism, of gay people from the tyranny of heterosexuality, and most significant of all for psychiatry, of mad people from subjugation and incarceration imposed by rationality.

Madness found a place in the ferment of the time, through the Dialectics of Liberation conference organised by a group of antipsychiatrists, which took place in London (Cooper, 1968). Themes of revolution and liberation featured prominently at the event, but there was no contribution from radical or critical survivors. In those days there was no survivor movement.

In this paper I will outline the origins of contemporary critical psychiatry in the UK. There is a sense in which critical psychiatry can be seen as a legacy of the 1960s, but there is much more to it than that, and to equate critical psychiatry with antipsychiatry is to commit serious historical and conceptual errors. For this reason I will set out my personal view of the main points of agreement and disagreement between antipsychiatry and critical psychiatry. Then I will describe the main areas of work of the Critical Psychiatry Network (CPN) in the UK, before dealing with what has come to be known as postpsychiatry. I will end with a personal view of the future challenges that face critical psychiatry. …”

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All in the brain? Prof Richard Bentall | Discursive of Tunbridge Wells

Stephen Fry’s exploration of manic depression (in the current BBC series on mental health, ‘In the Mind‘) has drawn both praise and criticism.  Psychology Professor Richard Bentall, has sent an open letter to the actor which offers a differing perspective.



Rights for Life Declaration Launch: 22Feb16: I’ll be there!

No more psychiatric abuse. Human rights for ALL.

Rights for Life

rights for life identityWe are delighted to announce that the Rights for Life Declaration will be launched on 22 February 2016.

This landmark document sets out the human rights being called for by people affected by mental health issues in Scotland. It reflect the principles, rights and standards of international human rights treaties to which the UK and Scotland are bound and is guided by the rights-based PANEL Principles: Participation, Accountability, Non-discrimination, Empowerment and Legality.

One of the outcomes from the 2015 Rights for Life event was a clear mandate to develop the work generated over the course of the two days. Since then, the Steering Group* have been developing the Rights for Life Declaration and Change Agenda. After analysing all the event outputs, we produced a Draft Declaration and Change Agenda. During the past four months we have consulted widely on these documents: at a national event in Glasgow; regional events in Edinburgh, Inverness, Arbroath and Perth; and online.


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Further evidence of the adverse effects of antidepressants, and why these have taken so long to be confirmed.

Joanna Moncrieff

When the idea that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might make people feel suicidal first started to be discussed by people like David Healy, I admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem to me the drugs had much effect at all, and I couldn’t understand how a chemical substance could produce a specific thought. Since that time, however, the evidence has accumulated, and moreover, it is clear that the suicidal thoughts and behaviours usually occur in the context of a state of intense tension and agitation that the drugs seem to precipitate in some individuals, especially the young. It seems this state can be so unpleasant as to make people impulsively harm themselves, and some evidence suggests it may lead to aggressive behaviour as well.

Because these effects did not show up in randomised controlled trials, however, they were dismissed and few efforts were made to study them properly. Then…

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