Dr Bruce Scott: Turn your illness into a weapon - mental distress from a socialist perspective

Dr Bruce Scott explores the definitions and ideas attached mental health, and offers a socialist perspective

THIS short and preliminary article was written as a response to an article that came to my attention that was posted on the CommonSpace website concerning 'mental health' and the fact that it was recently Mental Health Awareness Week.

It is laudable that the aforementioned CommonSpace article, many such similar articles, and 'mental health' campaigns show concern for the 'mental health' of our citizens.

However, I have serious reservations with the concept of 'mental health' which are routinely overlooked.

The biological model of 'mental health' is not watertight and it remains a highly dubious concept.

First, the discourse of 'mental health' or 'mental illness' is not all it is cracked up to be. In other words, the biological model of 'mental health' is not watertight and it remains a highly dubious concept.

The evidence of organic substrates attributed to the cause of 'mentall illness' is nowhere near to that of physical illness; in fact they are incomparable from a scientific point of view; for example see the work of Healy (2003), Moncrieff (2003), Boyle(2002), and Kutchins and Kirk (2003).

Second, the cognitive imperialistic discourse of 'mental health' (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy) is misleading and excludes other discourses of conceptualising mental distress.

There are thousands of years of philosophy and numerous other alternative psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic practices which deal with mental distress in rather different ways, which are very effective, but are hardly amenable to the 'rigorous' nature of 'evidence-based medicine.

Certain discourses like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (one of the main dogmas which create the deployment of the concept of mental illness) destroy other ways of conceptualising meaning making regarding mental distress.

The symbolic (language) of the DSM discourse is regarded as cast iron; words are taken as entities, these entities are taken as facts, and as a result of the proliferation of DSM diagnoses in the media, the DSM discourse becomes solidified into the symbolic/language of the public.

However, such a covering-over and domination of the symbolic prevents one from contributing to the meaning-making of the world. What the systematisers cannot accept is that there may be many meanings or even that there is no final meaning.

Why is the realisation of a questionable or imperfect symbolic such a terror? Is it such a terror? For many it is a terror; we live in a society where risk prevention is paramount, where avenues of alternative thought and searching for alternative meaning are outlawed or hidden, and where the questioning and traversing of ideological borders are taboo and not taught in any of our state educational contexts (e.g., questioning the psychological and psychiatric masters' ideas about the psychological and neurochemical basis of mental illness).

Why is the realisation of a questionable or imperfect symbolic such a terror? Is it such a terror?

Karl Marx alluded to this situation of alienation. Alienation has certainly occurred in work or labour especially in the 21st century (e.g., McJobs and zero-hours contracts), but also most certainly in our productivity regarding our subjectivities; we have depression, we have OCD, we have ADHD etc.

Our products or our productions of our psyches are limited within narrow confines; in other words, we produce or are coerced to produce subjectivities in relation to the dominant congnitve-neuro imperialistic discourse of 'mental illness'.

As Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (authors of Capitalism and Schizophrenia; Anti-Oedipus, and A Thousand Plateaus) would argue, we have been territorialised by the machines of capitalist discourse to only produce subjectivities which place mental distress within an individual context; the individual is to "blame", one's faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame and we need experts to fix this.

After all, the state needs workers who blame themselves and put themselves at the mercy of the psycho-experts to rehabilitate them, but never to question the socio-economic ideology.

Yes, austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. That is not the whole story, or an accurate story.

Yes, austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'.

So, while I wholly understand the need and desire to campaign for those in mental distress, we have to be very careful what we demand. Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst, who had quite a few things to say about the ravages of capitalism, warned about asking the masters (e.g., Government) for change.

He said beware what you ask for, because all you will get is a new master; here is a harsh lesson for aspiring developing subjectivity and consciousness in light of the glut of campaigning for 'mental health' at this poignant time.

We have a long way to go, for those of us, all of us, in mental distress, to subvert the master-slave dialectic of the cognitive-neuroscientific imperialistic and alienating discourse of 'mental illness'.

We have a long way to go, for those of us, all of us, in mental distress, to subvert the master-slave dialectic

'Mental illness' is holed up in all the nooks and crannies of the establishment; universities, psychiatry, psychology, pharmaceutical companies, and also in certain psychotherapeutic fashions (e.g., Mindfulness) who want a piece of capital pie.

Mental distress is far more than an alert to an illness to be cured by a pharmaceutical straight jacket (i.e., drugs), or a programme of thought control (i.e., cognitive behavioural therapy).

We would be wise to lend an ear to the wisdom of Jean Paul Sartre in these turbulent austere times of 'mental health' campaigning: "Comrades, turn your illness into a weapon!"

Picture courtesy of GollyGForce

Comments

mary@macpsych.co.uk

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

mary@macpsych.co.uk

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

Ali Kartal (not verified)

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

Chrys Muirhead (not verified)

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

Jeannie Mackenzie (not verified)

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

Derek Louden

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

Derek Louden

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

Derek Louden

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

Derek Louden

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

Derek Louden

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

pictishbeastie

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

pictishbeastie

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

pictishbeastie

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

pictishbeastie

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

pictishbeastie

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

Robin Barclay

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

Robin Barclay

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

Robin Barclay

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

Robin Barclay

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

Robin Barclay

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

markryle

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

markryle

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

markryle

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

markryle

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

markryle

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

Karen Dietz

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

Karen Dietz

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

Karen Dietz

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

Karen Dietz

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

Karen Dietz

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

Roisin Murphy

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

Roisin Murphy

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

Roisin Murphy

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

Roisin Murphy

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

Roisin Murphy

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

William Steele

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

William Steele

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

William Steele

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

William Steele

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

William Steele

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

Steve West

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

Steve West

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

Steve West

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

Steve West

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

Steve West

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

DAVID SMART

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:14

Sometimes it's simply true that "faulty cognitions or neurochemistry is to blame" and that austerity exacerbates mental illness. In fact pretending these problems don't exist can only do harm. I don't need glasses because of a dominant perceptual imperialistic discourse of 'physical debility'. I need them because my eyes don't work properly.

DAVID SMART

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:24

Well said, Bruce! '...austerity causes distress, but please do not call it exacerbating existing 'mental illness'. Can we talk, rather about 'distress'?

Despite the best intentions and efforts of the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Executive before it, mental distress is still a major worry in Scotland. Too much in the way of resources and energy has been devoted to well-meaning and well-intentioned groups, organisations and professions, all wanting 'a piece of capital pie', as Bruce says. Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists do their limited best, but don't really begin to address the problem; still the incidence of distress - however defined - remains stubbornly high.

I would argue (Disclosure: I am a UKCP-registered psychotherapist and Chair of a Scottish therapeutic training organisation - Human Development Scotland) that we could usefully begin a public conversation about 'distress', starting from our shared experience of distress, in all its manifestations: physical, emotional, 'spiritual' - even 'psychotic' (Glasgow psychiatrist and philosopher Ronnie Laing would share Bruce's revulsion at the appropriation of 'faulty cognitions or neurochemistry', whilst urging us to find ways of getting alongside those in distress) .

Too many public services work in the dark, afraid of their own distress in the face of someone suffering some kind of 'meltdown'.

Distress is experienced when a person is overwhelmed by emotions that cannot be managed; such distress can be 'acted out' in a range of harmful or self-harming ways. People in a state of distress cannot easily engage with anything other than a compassionate and empathic response from others, a response which fully 'recognises' the distress and its impact on the individual's nervous system.

The paramount need for such a person is for 'a place of safety'. Those representing services, such as A & E staff, police, or social services, may find it difficult to get behind the 'acting-out' behaviour: self-harm, violence, or other behaviours labelled 'psychotic'. Anxiety, reality-based stress, the precariousness of current 'working' life, and oppression by social welfare cuts and sanctions. In the face of such suffering, medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are often experienced as insulting. Restraint 'in the interests of professional or public safety' can be brutal.

We need a new language, and a new conversation about this.

DAVID SMART

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:27

Great graphic, by the way!

DAVID SMART

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:53

Bruce I agree and have been resisting the mental illness mantra for a lifetime. Because they pinned it on family members and had a go at sticking it on me. But I'm a psychiatric survivor. It's a matter of principle. I will not comply.

And anyway it doesn't make sense. If the drugs don't work then the drugs don't work. They really do need to stop fiddling in brains. It's like using a sledgehammer to tackle a skelf in the finger. Wrong tools for the job. Scapegoating the non-compliant.

The mad people are living next door tae us, in the same hoose or in the places of power, not in mental hospitals. It's a diversionary tactic. Containment. When in fact we are one step away from chaos. That's life.

DAVID SMART

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:13

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