Editorial Note: There is no-one I know who admits to listening to The Archers. But everyone in Britain knows of it – the longest running British radio soap. It begins with a horrible theme tune that has me hitting off instantly.
But all changed in the last week or two. The Archers is now featuring on the news and in the newspapers. The build-up began nearly two years ago when Rob met Helen. Whether the scriptwriters intentions were set for them then, now at least they find themselves caught in a domestic abuse script – that everyone figures is done pretty well. It’s subtle and it’s creepy. Last week things came to a head when Helen stabbed Rob – several days after starting an antidepressant (the reason for this digression from Study 329).
We invite readers old or new to offer thoughts. Did the antidepressant cause her to do it. Can she use an antidepressant as a defense? Was Rob on an antidepressant? Or is the earth round and this is just a story about domestic abuse?
There are huge overlaps here with Jane Green’s Saving Grace.
The pair meet in 2013 – Rob is married to Jess; Helen has a son, Henry.
They end up having an affair and Rob eventually leaves Jess in early 2014.
He’s very charming to Helen’s friends and family and becomes a local hero for his help during an episode of flooding.
But there are subtle signs that things might not be as they seem – Rob refuses a meal she’s spent a long time preparing; he starts to dictate what she wears and how she does her hair.
They marry in 2015 and Rob gains parental responsibility of Henry. Rob has a more strict idea of discipline which isn’t quite in line with Helen.
There is a suggestion of abuse/rape following a ‘date night’ between the couple. After which Helen falls pregnant. There is another incident further into her pregnancy.
He preys on her history of an eating disorder as her pregnancy develops – ‘you look blooming’ ‘you’re filling out’; he forces her to eat puddings she doesn’t want and buys her clothes that don’t fit.
He consistently tells her she’s not coping and puts doubts in other people minds regarding her mental health. People start to notice she’s acting strangely at times – snappy, tired, memory problems, ‘touchy’.
Kirsty is the only friend who seems suspicious of Rob. Helen confides in her that she thinks she’s going mad and that she keeps upsetting everyone. Eventually she admits that Rob hit her during an argument (‘but it was my own fault’). Rob discourages Helen from having anything to do with Kirsty. She hides the fact that she’s in touch with her friend.
Rob undermines her memory of events, either not telling her things or lying about what might have happened, causing Helen to feel confused. Helen runs Henry a bath which Rob tops up with boiling water while Helen is out of the room, resulting in Henry getting scolded. Rob allows Helen to think it was her mistake.
After a minor car accident, Rob takes away Helen’s car keys, contributing to her feelings of isolation.
Helen has an episode of sleepwalking one night, after which Rob tells her that she was verbally aggressive and abusive towards Henry and terrified him. He suggests that something needs to be done as it seems like she’s having a breakdown. She agrees she’s not feeling herself and Rob takes her to a psychiatrist, who prescribes antidepressants. Helen refuses to take them due to her pregnancy but accepts the prescription anyway. (14th March).
Rob makes firm plans to send Henry to boarding school behind Helen’s back. When Helen finds out she loses it in front of her mother and friend, saying ‘He’s gone too far’. ‘If this is true I’m going to kill him’. To others she seems irrational. When she confronts Rob he tells her he doesn’t think she will be able to cope with two children and was looking into boarding school just as an option. Helen apologizes.
Helen’s mother doubts she’s coping. Rob drops hints that things aren’t right with Helen’s mental health, that she’s been prescribed antidepressants and referred for CBT. Helen’s mother thanks him for being such an understanding husband.
Rob encourages Helen to have a home birth against medical advice and her own feelings. She tries to hide having spoken to the midwife about a hospital birth.
After a row over Henry, where Rob throws away a favorite toy because Henry ate chocolate without permission, Rob tells Helen it’s high time she starts taking her medication (31st March), as she isn’t coping and failing as a mother. ‘It’s not about what you want, it’s about what you need’. It is later confirmed that it is around this time that she does start taking the antidepressants.
Helen contacts Jess who admits he was cruel and abusive in their relationship. Helen decides to leave Rob and tries to tell him over dinner. She admits to talking to Jess and Rob is furious and becomes verbally abusive. They argue and he hands her a knife telling her to kill herself – ‘no-one will even be surprised’. When Henry appears, Rob starts toward him and Helen stabs Rob in a short but frantic attack (3rd April).
Rob suffers severe wounds but with treatment in intensive care, he survives. Helen is arrested and is now charged with attempted murder.
Back to Study 329 our long-running scientific abuse saga (that began about two years ago curiously) next week.Share this:
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Helen has a history of mental health problems, so it would be important to know more about that when thinking about the factors that were involved in her impulsive stabbing of Rob. If she has no history of violent behaviour and has in fact just started an SSRI (which seems possible), then the medication could have played a role. A wise defence counsel should send for David Healy (hopefully played by himself).
I can relate to this story,naps it’s like my relationship with my late husband!
When I married my husband he knew I wanted to go back to the city I was born in and where my family lived. He kept giving me false hope that we would move back there. It never happened! He began talking down to me, making me feel inferior , my mother in law always came first. I had five children with him, to outsiders he was a loving husband and father, yet in doors he picked on the children, he stopped me driving back to the city to leave him, he pushed me indoors and took my car keys off me! He told me I had to be home at 8-30 pm when I’d gone out on a works do. He was waiting at the gate at 8-30pm he began hitting me, always blaming me , and saying I was depressed, yet really I was frustrated that no one listened to me! I began cutting myself and taking overdoses to try and block out the torment I was in! But I never neglected my children, I made sure they were well fed and clean. Repossessions on the house started coming in, as my husband didn’t keep up with the payments! Over 27 yrs I’d been given a cocktail if antidepresents, which fogged my mind, I was admitted to hospital quite a lot of times for depression and suicidal thoughts? But they weren’t suicidal thoughts, they were thoughts of escape! How could I make my life better? Antidepresents weren’t working, they made my situation worse! I constantly wanted to run away to the city I’d grown up in! Hroughout the 27 yrs of antidepresents people believed I had a mental illness, I was labelled with a personality disorder. Two antidepresents I was given made me feel so ill, that on those occasions , yes I did feel like ending it all. Nobody listened to me when I told them that I felt I’d been poisoned! Seroxat and duloxitine were the worse ones.
I was put away, sectioned, and made to feel it was all my fault! Yet all I wanted was to go back to the city I was born in! I eventually divorced my husband after 23 yrs, we actually became good friends afterwards. He’s dead now, I’m disabled, my sons are thriving, but I’m left with nothing but unhappiness! I’m lonely. Ive been off medication for four years now, yet my brain still thinks it’s a thirty year old, suspended in animation for 27yrs because of antidepresents and anti psychotic drugs I was given because I had a personality disorder?
I now know about my different feelings, they’ve come back after 27yrs! 27 long years! But what have I got?? Unhappiness, my life destroyed , a disability, only two friends, and no future! Antidepresents , people who thought they knew what was best for me, yet didn’t really listen ! I’m washed up now! Alone with no future? I really wanted to make something of myself when I left my husband, yet still under the mental health team I’m lost! Thanks to people who took control of my life, would not let me do what I wanted! And now I’m scared! I’m 61 yrs old. My life in tatters! I don’t even think Prof Healy can sort this one out? But he’s welcome to try!
The writer of The Archers was formerly the writer of Eastenders..
The story line in Eastenders covers bi-polar and has done for decades. Stacy’s mother, Jean, was seriously a manic depressive and was off and on her medication for decades.
Latterly, after decades, Stacy stopped her medication, whilst pregnant.
She completely lost the plot and thought her new baby was the son of god.
She spent weeks in a psychiatric facility with people who acting in her best interests wanted her to go home to her family.
At the time, of the introduction to Stacy’s medication, there was product placement on her dining table. If I remember correctly it was Seroquel…I may be wrong, here, but the packet was in clear site of the viewer..
I took my lead with Seroxat outcomes from my own daughter.
Mum “it’s like you can’t take things in”
Mum “you’re like that dippy Jean in Eastenders”
She was right.
Seroxat had produced in me a bi-polar like state of mind.
As this had been pointed out by one observant child, I could then take steps to realise what I was up against with cold turkey from Seroxat.
Rob has goaded Helen for two years.
We have all been routing for Helen.
Why couldn’t you see it Helen?
Your son Henry, aged 5, saw it and is now traumatised with nightmares and won’t go to school…..been there done, that..
The Archers and Eastenders are normal stories of everyday life in the country and in the east end of London.
My only suggestion at this point is for the Scriptwriter to continue to write about medication as he clearly has issues with it and is maybe doing us all a public service..
PETER HITCHENS: I’ve discovered who’s secretly controlling us…
“Isn’t it time we took it as seriously as it deserves to be taken?
Daaaaavid, says Ruth, for the thousandth time, now that really is irritating…:)
Dr Healey – PLEASE jump in there and offer your professional expertise on SSRI horror stories ……….. it would be such a wasted opportunity if you didn’t, PLEASE contact Sean O’Connoe, Editor, and Keri Davies, Scriptwriter on this.
My thoughts, when listening to the storyline about the anti-depressant prescription for Helen, were wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were going to explore the anti depressant causing/contributing to Helen’s violent reaction ……. but I strongly doubted that this would be the case and that the scriptwriters would be well enough informed on SSRI horror stories to play this out. I didn’t then think about messaging them through The Archers website to suggest/ask if they planned this, but I will now.
This isn’t a bad idea at all. When I was in graduate school I worked with people who collaborated with popular television shows to get health messages circulated.
David, you seem extremely well-versed on the goings-on here for someone who switches off once the music starts – maybe you’re a secret fan of the Archers?! I think it is excellent news when soaps decide to illustrate any topic that can be controversial but I do wish they would thoroughly research the matter first.
“Rob takes her to a psychiatrist” sounds as simple as going for a pint of milk – I’ve no doubt that the episode made it sound that simple. We can’t expect a radio soap to wait weeks before she finally has her appointment but to make it sound as if it’s a ‘walk-in service’ is very misleading. At least they got it right with the referral for CBT. I’ve also noticed that in the soaps, talking therapies are magical – couple of sessions and the character is back to their old self and hardly any mention of relapses either!
Now to the questions you pose :-
Can her antidepressant use be used in her defence? Yes as long as they have a “Dr. Healy” lined up, otherwise, forget it!
Did the antidepressant cause her action? I’d have done far worse to him long before and without a hint of an antidepressant!
Seriously though, it will be interesting to see how things develop with this storyline – I may become a listener to find out! If this were reality, it would be very difficult to separate the ‘antidepressant rage’ from the ’emotional build-up’ of domestic abuse in my opinion.
I find it very sad to think that in so many homes this type of behaviour, by male or female dominance, is the norm for so many children. Is it any wonder that the mental health needs of children is increasing year on year?
I’m not sure that it was the antidepressant but the circumstances themselves make the attack seem fairly understandable (if not justified).
Creepy Article as similar came to light on the same date, 3rd April 2016, Creepy World or Perhaps The Truman Show & Groundhog Day or perhaps One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest are more true…In Ireland we have the Soap “Fair City” where it is at times believed by some viewers – especially when in the last year Fair City did the Mental Health Act on a Mother trying to convince her son that he has “A Chemical Imbalance” like she has and he needs to take medication so that he will feel normal again……Now a mother is in a Psychiatric Unit for going obsessive over her “love” for her doctor, who was already in a committed relationship.
The hurting goes on whilst Pharma controls Soaps – noted also on Coronation Street – Pharma controls everything – this was echoed in Mrs Sabina Higgins’ Speech (Wife of President Higgins) who took advantage on that one speech she could make – What a Powerful Graceful Woman who rose to that one opportunity …
The Pharma Giants know their ways of Control – As a Pharma Prisoner I walked a small laneway today – leading to the Car Park of NHS Mater Hospital Belfast – On the right of me coming from the car park were the cold walls of Crumlin Road Prison – Now Closed – a Touring Site – on the left of me were the walls – high buildings of Mater Hospital Belfast – As I got nearer to the door, my body almost stopped – I had been told it was a Private Hospital but even if it was the stench of Pharma was as real from that building on my left as it was from the building on my right – Pharma Prisoners have no rights, no say, no Safe House…we gave no home…Pharma takes all – we cannot even ring a “Friend”…
If the storyline develops along the line of domestic violence only – then why mention that Helen was on antidepressants? Surely there must have been a reason for the inclusion of a prescription? True, for sure, is the fact that Big Pharma may have their fingers in the pie, seeing this as a way of clearing their products of any blame. If that is the truth of the matter and Helen is found guilty without the AD used being a successful part in her defence, then shouldn’t we be ready to bombard the BBC with our protests? Whatever the programmers’ plan and the outcome, wouldn’t it be a missed opportunity if we do nothing?
Just to keep you up to speed, Mary, it was ‘Rob’s’ idea for Helen to see her doctor and they had an argument about it.
“I don’t want anti-depressants” cried Helen during their final row..
I don’t know about you thinking through a scenario, but, could it be that Rob sitting around in the waiting room waiting for Helen to come out with her Antidepressants picked up a copy of the BMJ and happened across Study329 blazing in its pages and thought hmmmmm maybe this Paroxetine is a sure fire way of seeing off My Helen….:)
Enter Leading Criminal Barrister, shortly, to represent Helen…nice find, Archer Family…
Trial by media..
thanks for the update Annie sounds as if things are hotting up there! – anything said at all about possibility of adverse reaction to AD?Reckon they could do with your help in moving the plot along if not!
More Rob than Helen’s on MIA..extra, extra, read all about it….with ‘dittos’…+1 -2
Let’s not go there; Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth
Superb Comment from Johanna on IBOM
Rob and Helen?
Michael and Manipulation?
GSK Pushes Sir Michael Interview to Top of the Tweets..Today
Who’s Doing It To Who?
GSK @GSK 17h17 hours ago
Sir Michael Rawlins gives his view on whether pharma and healthcare professionals need to change how they interact
“know about the disease”
• archer – definition of archer in English from the…
Example sentences If an archer shoots their arrow into the wrong target face, that arrow will not score any points. Massed ranks of archers would aim their arrows …
#AllTrials bye, bye.
Ben Goldacre has set out a series of practical suggestions
[PRESS RELEASE] European Parliament’s vote turns health into a trade secret
REGULATION (EU) No 536/2014 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
of 16 April 2014
on clinical trials on medicinal products for human use, and repealing Directive 2001/20/EC
Who’s Who in Hoo
WHO calls for all clinical trial results to be published
Dr Ben Goldacre, author and co-founder of the AllTrials campaign:
This is a very positive, clear statement from WHO, and it is very welcome. But withheld trials are already in breach of multiple existing codes, declarations, and even laws: delivering change will require more than good intentions. We need individual accountability, from robust public audit. Only this can show us exactly which researchers, companies, institutions, funders and treatments are the best – and the worst – for withheld data. With this individually accountable data we can finally reward good practice, learn from the best performers, and ensure that those withholding information are held fully to account
Rodrigo Henriquez Retweeted
Juan Gérvas @JuanGrvas
#AllTrials bye, bye. European Parliament’s vote turns health into a trade secret. < transparency of trials data. http://www.epha.org/a/6504
Hello Phil Cowen (first entry in these comments) – are you the Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Oxford? If so, am I correct in believing that you have stated that SSRIs can produce states of hostility? If so, you could act as a defence witness at Helen’s trial…might I suggest you contact the scriptwriters? Thank you.
Like..this one..Anatomy of a Murder
and a groundbreaking reanalysis of the infamous Study 329
“On recovery, all recognized their actions to be out of character, and their beliefs and behaviours horrified them.”
February 20, 2013 | 11 Comments
LISTEN TO THE SEROXAT SONG..AGAIN..AND THE ‘ARR.AY’……UP NEXT..
Relational communication – within and AS consciousness, reflects or embodies itself as relationships. Breakdown of communication is part of the core foundational experience for a human personality construct – at least this has been so for millennia in various degrees and patterns of social and political organisation or mores that reinforce tacit agreements and definitions that operate as psychological defences – principally the avoidance of intimacy – which is become associated with trauma to avoid, escape or deny to awareness.
This personality level operates as a fragmentation or splitting off of various shifting fragments that are triggered by events that re-enact core conditionings. And just as with the electrical nature of chemical bondings, resonances and correspondences – we have all kinds of split or broken communication representing in polarities that no longer appear to have a core or unifying identity.
There are underlying attractions of a deeper ‘chemistry’ in all our relations and communications. These may be called transactional – but are mostly running subconscious routines from survival choices made at a pre-verbal period of development – and which are generated similar to a mask that is predicated to be looked ‘out-from’ – lived as – and not expose the masking act or the conflicting fragmented feelings that gave rise to the extroversion of presentation or the introversion of hiding behind it. Even blind rage has an inner hurt beneath it – and the fear of such rage, a profound sense of self-distrust or self-guilt.
What I sketched out in rough is not new – but the believed and perceived need to mask or avoid and escape intimate communication or relationship – generates coded overlays of scripted story in which our guilt masks in apologising for our existence and suppressing, invalidating or suppressing our own felt communication, while fear hides within blame stories that assign it to external or un-present causes that serve as scapegoat against which we justify a power relationship of more or less – and so generate hierarchy as if identity grows or diminishes with victory and loss.
The whole thing is a mess – yet it is the mess that has ‘evolved’ or perhaps devolved to ever more complex fragmentations of obfuscation and disguise – that is defended and maintained as if one’s life depended on it – for in some sense it does until there is an awakening responsibility of and AS consciousness – rather than the entanglement of misidentification under falsely accepted self definition as a result of the particular patterning of separation trauma.
Consciousness as present responsibility or creative freedom of choice is a quality of presence and awareness that is naturally present unless exchanged for diversionary experience. While blame feelings are genuine feedback to accept and integrate – blaming scripts are blind and loveless.
The desire for unconsciousness in evasion needs and uses blame to prevent communication or re-integrative healing from rising. But any individual waking to the desire for healing or freedom from such conflicted self-sense – can begin the process of taking responsibility for their consciousness rather than hiding from fear or hiding in fear.
This is messy involvement in a real relationship – within – and many agencies of denial and control are generated from the desire to avoid feeling what we hate, and want to get rid of or suppress so as to ‘get our life back’. But our life is not the masking persona – though it serves a necessary function that changes with the awakening of a responsibility as willingness or capacity to love.
The core condition that I see is willingness for communication – and its denial operates as the control of the narrative by which all meanings are conformed and derived in terms of blame and invalidation – in which moments of relative ‘innocence’ and ‘justified’ attack on transgressions set struggle within a blame game that is as rigged from the outset as is our fiat currency system.
When Helen was interviewed by police and asked if she was taking any medication, she replied something like ” I started taking antidepressants a few days ago”.
If Andrew Herxheimer (may he rest in peace) were here, he would have defended Helen in court as he had done for many. I know personally of a young woman who ‘accidentally’ stabbed her former partner. He lunged at her while she was holding a knife she had been using. The was so distraught and thinking it was all her fault, she drove to the police station to ‘confess’. When the court case was taking place, Andrew wrote to the judge, who asked the court for silence while he read the letter. The judge looked at the woman who had desperately tried to find support while coming off Seroxat, he said to her ” You are the victim”.
It was only after this serious incident the woman was helped by doctors to reduce her medication.