The CEOs of the world's biggest chemical and agribusiness companies recently petitioned the Presidents of the EU Commission, Parliament and Council to downgrade the Precautionary Principle and focus instead on a new 'Innovation Principle'. On what grounds? That taking an excessively precautionary approach to policy-making and regulation is holding Europe back in the cut-throat world of global competitiveness.
When I was a child, someone was only mad if they thought they were Napoleon or a teapot, and everyone else was 'normal'. Thankfully, things are a little more nuanced now, but how far from 'normal' do you have to get before you have a 'condition'? The answer seems to be: not very far at all. The latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published last month. It lists mental disorders and symptoms, and every edition is fatter than the last. Why is there this boom in new disorders?
It recently came to my attention that the best person to assess a client with mental health needs is in fact, the postman. Firstly, yes I have been taking my lithium. Now, think about it, the postman, if a regular to the same address, ticks the box that good psychiatry practices, but very often fails.
We all know about the insanity that Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath lived with, and we perhaps are guilty of believing their work is made more beautiful because of our knowledge of their suffering. However I tend to wonder if we overlook the integrity of such works in light of their illness, and how condescending this really is.