Half Psychiatric doctor, half opinionated human being
I am a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist. I have worked in psychiatry for over 12 years in a variety of settings. I now mainly work within the Criminal Justice System (within a major prison and in a criminal court in London). I also run my own medico-legal practice (www.sigmadeltapsych.co.uk); through this, I carry out a range of psychiatric assessments as an expert witness for the criminal and civil court. However, my most challenging role is a mediator between two arguing young boys (who are my progeny).
I care about mental health and the way it is portrayed. I care about the mentally unwell and the way they are portrayed (and treated).
Stigma and ignorance surrounding mental illness irritates and saddens me. My blog is my attempt at doing my tiny bit to fight against stigma by de-mystifying mental illness and all things psychiatric.
I want to provoke thought and discussion.
I don’t want to provoke insults and arguments.
I blogged for a while then my pesky life got in the way. Fatherhood tested my patience and my comfort, but I survived. Now I’m back… Like Craig David (but I don’t take myself as seriously). Plus I don’t start my blogs by melodically repeating my name (which many of my colleagues still struggle to pronounce properly).
Read my blog.
Tell me your views
Challenge my opinions; I want to see other perspectives.
Don’t be a troll.
I am always interested in journalistic opportunities and correspondence. I can be contacted at email@example.com or twitter
Severely psychiatrically unwell prisoners are people who, very likely, have been failed by services over and over again. They are very likely to have had horrific experiences (abuse seems to come as standard for the women, and even the men that I have assessed in prison). Sure, some of them have made poor choices and may have wronged others, and that can't be ignored. Nevertheless, for those who are too unwell to look out for themselves, we, as an apparently mature, developed society should step in and shoulder some of the responsibilities. It is not always simple; there are complications and barriers, but there are no excuses for floridly unwell psychotic prisoners to be trapped inside cells for weeks and months awaiting treatment.
I've been reading various blogs surrounding this issue with interest. As far as I understand, the doctor had sectioned this man several times in the past against his will. However on this occasion, he had apparently escaped during a consultation.
hose who cringe at the S-word I suspect would eventually discover its successor (probably from reading the <em>Daily Mail</em>), and react similarly to the new name. I doubt changing in the terminology would improve their attitudes. Bigots are bigots.
I very much doubt Tom Cruise will be reading this. If you are, Tom, I just like to say that I accept that trying to pacify the war of the worlds between Scientology and psychiatry is mission impossible. I know psychiatry has its shortcomings.
I recently watched a film - a terrible film - which had an archaic, grotesque depiction of life in a psychiatric ward. After I recovered from the boredom, I woke up, wiped dribble from my shirt, and then started to ponder over it. It was frustrating to think that people who have no experience of this kind of environment may be influenced by such a portrayal.
I've been around many people with mental illnesses in my career. Some can be challenging and difficult, but the majority are friendly, pleasant and thoughtful. I've also been around many more people without mental illnesses in my life. It is the same.
Know somebody that you just cannot get on with? Does their behaviour irritate and confuse you? Are they generally a massive pain in the distal digestive tract? There is always the possibility that they have a <strong>personality disorder.</strong> If, however, everybody you know seems like this... maybe <strong>you </strong>do!
In psychiatry, we make a distinction between "normal" grief and "abnormal" grief. The latter condition has other aliases such as "pathological grief" or "morbid grief". Should psychiatrists meddle in such a natural human reaction?
If I was Breivik's doctor (which I'm not), I would want to at least attempt to rehabilitate him. If I was a relative of one of his victims (which I'm even more not), I would want him to suffer. Thinking about it now, I don't know which is right. Neither? Both?
I find it interesting how keen we are to vilify 'freaks', and define them by their eccentricities. Yet often when the outcome is something as serious as a suicide, or a breakdown, then we quickly do a U-turn. We deem the case 'tragic' and retrospectively show pity.
Like many other doctors, I am not against the principles of the Health and Social Care Bill or against the theoretical restructuring of the NHS. What worries me is the potentially misguided and hasty way it is being proposed. One only has to look at the outcome of the privatisation of rail services - dire quality and ever inflating fares.
One thing that really struck me from getting to know the prisoners - there was the moral code they lived by. The code seemed bizarre and contradictory to a naive yet inquisitive man like me. Some staff members called it the "con code".
Being a psychopath is not just about anger. It's about all these other traits that Hollywood may not have the inclination to research or portray. Maybe that's because they are not really that glamorous.
Many of my patients have had horrific childhoods, been involved in high levels of lifelong criminality, had severe mental illnesses, have serious drug and alcohol problems, and have committed several violent offences, including murder. After analysing and dealing with these characters all day, it's unlikely I'm going to be stimulated by Average Joe, his mundane background, and his mediocre chat.
03/11/2011 21:57 GMT
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