The Madness of Psychiatry

One hundred years ago patients with psychosis were 4 times more likely than the rest of their contemporaries to be dead at the end of their first 5 years of treatment. The main cause of death was tuberculosis. The asylum was a place where if you had the wrong genetic makeup you were at great risk of catching tuberculosis, particularly if you were a young woman. the advent of the … [Read more...]

RxISK Stories: Listening to Parents

Anonymous When you lose a child or a partner from a rare illness, everyone is supportive, no-one denies you. They listen. But if a child dies from suicide or a complication of treatment with a drug especially a psychotropic drug no-one listens. Our culture has no place for this kind of death. They say maybe it’s for the best. He’d never have been able to face the life he’d have had - something … [Read more...]

The Madness of Young People

In 1861 Benedikt Morel, a physician in France, described a terrifying new illness. It involved young people in their late teens or early twenties about to enter what should have been the prime of their lives who instead sank into a profound and seemingly incurable state of what he termed precocious dementia. Morel painted a picture of a terrifying and seemingly close to incurable loss of cognitive … [Read more...]

The Madness of Carl Jung: a dangerous method

Carl Jung was one of Freud's earliest supporters and in many respects rivaled him in terms of influence. Some of their interactions provide the basis for the story behind the book and recent movie - A Dangerous Method. Just as Freud did, he famously analyzed himself and while doing so apparently became psychotic. His psychosis was however seen as a way to sanity - a forerunner of 1960s thinking … [Read more...]

RxISK Stories: Night of the Living Cymbalta – B’s story

This blog post has first been published on the RxISK.org website. If you would like to comment on this post, please do so using this link. I myself had been on and off a long series of antidepressants, but never had really dramatic withdrawal symptoms until I stopped the SNRI inhibitor Cymbalta. It started when I tried to step down from 120 mg per day, back to the standard 60 mg dose. From … [Read more...]

The Madness of Childbirth

The North Wales asylum made its way into my life by accident. The history department at Bangor University secured a grant to look at the social impact of the asylum. Looking at the records they collected, it was striking how people declared their madness a century ago – they tore off their clothes and escaped through windows, which they never do now. a quixotic database But when we set about … [Read more...]

RxISK Stories: Cora’s story – a benzodiazepine story

This blog post has first been published on the RxISK.org website. If you would like to comment on this post, please do so using this link. In RxISK Stories, we regularly take you to dark places where few would wish to go. We have perhaps become too used to the horrific consequences of medicines going wrong that we fail to appreciate how off-putting this sequence of posts can be. It is like a … [Read more...]

The Madness of North Wales

Influenced like many of my generation by the writings of Laing, Szasz, Illich, Jung and Freud, I studied medicine to do psychiatry. At the time research was becoming mandatory for anyone hoping to engage with the field. I chose to work on the serotonin system. But this was working on the mind as much as the brain; this was the serotonin system brought into view by LSD rather than the one that … [Read more...]