‘Show me a normal man and I will cure him’

I was reminded of this aphorism, which has been attributed to Freud, by an article on ‘Personality Disorder’ in The British Medical Journal of 16 September 2023. If such an entity exists, this means there must be a standard for personality that is not disordered – a normal personality, as one might say. And what, pray, is that? [...]

2023-11-24T01:15:19+00:007 October 2023|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , , |

Do Mental Illnesses Exist?

To talk of mental illness implies there is a corresponding state of mental health, but what is mental health? A common definition is ‘emotional, psychological, and social well-being’ but this is a tautology because ‘well-being’ is the same as ‘health’. It’s like saying mental health is mental health. The World Health Organization defines mental health as: ‘A state [...]

2023-09-18T08:17:44+00:0013 August 2023|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , |

Hoist with his own petard

Readers may be aware that the title is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and means, literally, to be blown up (hoisted) by one’s own bomb (petard), and thus indicates an ironic reversal or poetic justice. I was recently reminded of this situation when I came across a curious YouTube video: Bible of Psychiatry At first, I honestly thought it [...]

2023-08-28T04:54:18+00:0027 June 2023|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , |

Are Mental Illnesses Brain Diseases?

Why is it that medical men and women practising the honorable profession of psychiatry are sometimes disrespectfully referred to as ‘headshrinkers’, or ‘shrinks’, or even, by a deliberate mispronunciation of the word, as ‘trick cyclists’? Perhaps the answer is to be found in a production of the American Psychiatric Association – where else? – called Diagnostic and Statistical [...]

2023-10-29T05:23:38+00:0015 May 2023|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , |

How to Classify Misery

Medicine is an inexact science, which is rather a contradiction in terms, but in dealing with patients’ problems doctors can seldom be absolutely certain of anything. That is why medical students are taught to be wary of using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’. Indeed, general practice has been called the art of managing uncertainty because one often sees [...]

2023-12-27T05:45:57+00:002 November 2022|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , , , |

Visions, Consciousness, and Brain Diseases

There was a news item on the BBC recently about a trial of cannabis in patients with Parkinson’s disease who also have visual hallucinations. Parkinson’s disease is undoubtedly a brain disorder but are visual hallucinations also abnormal? One such patient was presented, an elderly man who had hallucinations – they might better be called visions – of his [...]

2023-08-28T04:51:57+00:0014 November 2021|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , , , , |

Altered State of Consciousness

What has Professor David Nutt been up to lately? He’s been appointed Chief Research Officer, no less, to an organisation with the unpronounceable name of Awakn [sic] Life Sciences. And what will his role be? It’s as muddled as the name and repetitively set out thus: Prof. Nutt Will Drive Progression of a Pipeline of New Psychedelic Medicines, [...]

2023-08-28T05:02:51+00:0026 June 2021|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , , |

Opaque Medical Research

Many medical research papers are difficult to understand: they're written in an opaque style replete with jargon, commonly use non-standard abbreviations, and contain many unnecessary words. Often the sentences are so long that it’s difficult to hold in one’s mind the ideas being presented at the beginning until the end, so there's a tendency uncritically to accept what [...]

2023-08-28T05:09:55+00:0023 March 2021|Categories: Psychiatry|Tags: , |
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