JCPCP book review

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:23
Making and Breaking Children's Lives Edited by Craig Newnes and Nick Radcliffe This book represents a critical look at current issues in the field of child psychology. It examines current debates around mental health's reaction to societal shortcomings in bringing up children. Among many other issues, the book investigates the concept of individualism, exploring how this allows society to see mental health problems as residing in the child. Psychiatrists are seen as agents to manage guilt and anxiety and not to explore the roots of problems. The effects of psychiatric labelling and drugging are discussed and there are four whole chapters on the issue of ADHD. These chapters question the dominance of the biomedical model and the subsequent validity and utility of ADHD as a diagnosis. The book is split into three parts; constructing childhood, problematising children and appreciating children. Some chapters make an easier and more enjoyable read than others, my personal favourite being that of Dorothy Rowe's which explores 'ADHD: Adults fear of frightened children'. Also interesting is a chapter on empowering children and their families, whilst chapter eight makes use of a clinical vignette which really draws the reader in. This book is both informative and thought…

Jacques, Melancholia and the Just World

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:22
Royal Shakespeare CompanyProgramme Notes for As You Like ItSeptember 2005 Dorothy Rowe Jaques, Melancholia, and the Just World   Melancholy has always been in fashion, and not just in Elizabethan times. It might not be called melancholy, but the way it manifests itself remains much the same. The melancholic person presents himself to others as someone who is alone and weighed down by the sorrows of the world. He has seen and suffered much, and, although he professes a preference for being alone, he requires an audience to hear and to be moved by his stark vision of the world, and to sense his hidden depths and profound suffering. This way of presenting oneself is currently much favoured by advertisers of men’s apparel who produce a stream of photographs of young men looking profound and melancholic, all trying to pretend that they are unaware of their own beauty and that they are the cynosure of admiring eyes. Men who are uncertain of their acceptance by others try to imitate this melancholic stance. Young women who know that they can never be the ‘bubbly personality’ much favoured by the media try to engage the interest of others by using a melancholic…

A Kind of Fear

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:21
ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE  Autumn 2006 Pericles and The Winter’s Tale  Programme Notes  A Kind of Fear  In his book A Grief Observed C.S.Lewis wrote, ‘No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.’ Grief is indeed a kind of fear. We have lost, not just someone dear to us, but part of the structure of meaning which gives us our sense of being a person, that which we call I, me, myself. Events have shown us that where once there was a presence there is now an absence, and so a significant part of the meanings we have about ourselves and our life no longer fit what is happening. Whenever we make such a discovery we feel very afraid because what we experience is a feeling that our very self is crumbling and disappearing. Time goes by and the process of grieving allows us to construct other ideas about ourselves and our life, but, just as the healing processes of our body leave a scar, so the healing processes of our meaning structure…

Siblings (April 2007)

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:20
Psychologies April issue 2007 THE SIBLING BOND My sister and I have never really got on. I was born on her sixth birthday, which, I can say with great feeling, was not a good career move for me. She has never forgiven me, and there is nothing I have ever possessed about which she cannot be jealous. A few years ago she was staying with me and discovered that my post arrived at 7.30 in the morning. ‘I have to wait till the afternoon for mine!’ she cried in that familiar tone of “It's not fair!” and I had the equally familiar feeling of anxiety and helplessness. As ever she expected me to make amends. What could I do? Tell the postman not to call? Having to share whatever is on offer, siblings learn to compete. Many say this competition made them stronger. But we tend to overlook just how far it can shape our character. We probably spend more time with our sibling in the first years of life than with almost anyone else. And while our parents may have nurtured and looked after us, it was our sibling who we played with, joked with and argued with –…

Happiness (February 2007)

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:20
Psychologies Magazine February 2007 Happiness Feeling happy is wonderful. We can be busy doing something, often something quite mundane, and suddenly we feel happy. If we ask ourselves, ‘Why do I feel happy right now?’ the answer is that what we’re doing gives us a sense of being part of everything that exists, and that our existence has significance. Ask a gardener or a bird watcher why they do what they do and they are likely to say that these activities give them a sense of general well being and brings them into harmony with nature. It is pointless making happiness our goal in life. It’s not a thing which we can achieve but an emotion which may or may not arise in a particular situation. All our emotions are our interpretations of our situation in terms of whether we see ourselves as a person as being safe (the positive emotions such as feeling happy, contented, satisfied) or whether we see ourselves as being in danger (the negative emotions such as feeling angry, anxious, afraid, guilty, envious). We feel safe when we see our situation as being much as we predicted it would be and one which confirms us as…

When Someone Close to You Has Depression

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:15
February 2006 When Someone Close to You Has Depression ‘I can’t get through to you!’   This is the desperate cry of someone who’s trying to care for a person who’s depressed - a lover, a child, a parent, a friend. The one who’s caring reaches out to hold and comfort the person who’s suffering the torments of depression, and what she finds is the wall, invisible but unyielding and impenetrable, that surrounds the person she loves. Psychiatrists say that depression is an illness, but why should an ill person resist all help and exclude all love?  When we’re physically ill we try to get better. Some people might want to stay ill to get compensation for an injury or to avoid doing something they don’t want to do, but usually we seek help and act on the advice we are given. But try to help a depressed person and you walk straight into a wall. You suggest they see a doctor, and they refuse. You suggest a walk in the sunshine, a nice meal, something to cheer them up, and the person is mute or else proceeds to show you what an idiot you are for suggesting such a…

How Do You Build Self-Confidence?

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:15
May 2006 How Do You Build Self-Confidence? 1. What is self-confidence? What do we mean by it, and why are some people more confident than others? When we say that we have confidence in someone we mean that we trust that person. Self-confidence means being able to trust yourself. Being able to trust yourself means that you can rely upon yourself because you know yourself. Self-confidence is based on self-knowledge. If we know ourselves we have a realistic idea of who we are and what we can achieve. Self-confidence isn’t vanity, because when we are vain we over-value our talents and ignore our weaknesses. When we are self-confident we recognize without false modesty what our strengths are, and we recognize our weaknesses without feeling ashamed and guilty. We accept our limitations without feeling that we have to apologize to others about them. Many women have great difficulty in doing this because they have been told that to be acceptable to others they must always be very modest about their achievements and must apologize for whatever they do. Thus many women prefer to lack self-confidence rather than risk being rejected.    2. Is self-confidence the same as self-esteem? Self-esteem is a…

Don't Be Afraid to Embrace Change

Saturday, 02 April 2011 01:14
October 2006 Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Change With all the self help advice we get now, how is it that we still get stuck in bad relationships, or dreary jobs, live where we don’t want to live, do things we know are bad for us, or just feel generally miserable? I meet a great many people who tell me that they’ve had counselling and they understand much more about themselves but they’re still depressed. Why do we get stuck and why can’t we change?   There are two reasons we stay stuck. The first is that we’re not prepared to give up a reward, and the second is that we’re afraid of change.  Not Wanting to Give Up a Reward.  Whenever we do something that causes us nothing but pain we try never to do that thing again. For instance, when we were a small child we put our hand on something that was extremely hot. We felt total pain, and ever since then we’ve tried to avoid anything that might burn us. At the same time, we might have hated to take the medicine our mother gave us because it was bitter and horrible, but we found that,…

Looking on the bright side (Mar/Apr 10)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:05
Dorothy Rowe on the bad science of positive thinking Barbara Ehrenreich is a renowned American writer who is relentless in her pursuit of those who prefer fantasy to the truth. Her latest book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America[1], followed her encounter with the fantasies that prevail in the treatment of breast cancer. Ehrenreich developed breast cancer in 2000. She had been taking hormone replacement therapy for eight years, ‘prescribed by doctors who avowed that it would prevent heart disease, dementia, and bone loss. In 2002 HRT was shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, and, as the number of women taking it then dropped, so did the incidence of breast cancer. Ehrenreich had not only discovered the bad science of HRT but she had also encountered the bad science of positive thinking. Ehrenreich holds a PhD in cell biology and thus looks at research, whether in biology, medicine or psychology, with a scientist’s stern eye. Since the 1970s it had been known that severe stress ‘could debilitate certain aspects of the immune system’. It’s now clear that severe anxiety or deep depression can lead to cancer or heart disease. However, the reverse of…

Changing our minds (Jan/Feb 10)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:05
Don't get depressed in Alaska My son Edward spent September in Alaska, exploring the glaciers and reading the local papers. He texted me to say that in the Anchorage Daily he’d read about Sarah Palin’s autobiography which she had written (with the help of a professional writer) in just four months. A spokesman from her publishers, HarperCollins, said that Sarah had worked very hard. She was, he said, ‘very hands on.’ Edward then expressed the hope that I had been very hands on with my new book, Why We Lie that I had just delivered to HarperCollins. Edward also sent me a bundle of Alaskan newspapers, choosing ones that had articles on mental health. On September 20, the Fairbanks Daily News published a magazine called Parade in which ‘Top Doctors Solve Your Medical Problems’. One of these doctors,  Ranit Mishori, told readers how to ‘Cope with Depression’. Often, she said, people are depressed without realising that they are. However, 'The good news is that there are many effective treatments. More than 27 million Americans take some form of antidepressant. Most of these work by affecting the brain’s levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – chemicals that influence mood. The most popular are…

Supper with friends (Nov/Dec 09)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:04
Dorothy Rowe on the Stuart Low Trust In August I gave a talk at one of the suppers at the Stuart Low Trust in Islington. This was the second time I had been there, and both occasions I enjoyed my visit enormously. Apart from the fact that everyone there was warm and friendly, my pleasure comes from seeing there how much ideas and practices have changed since I first arrived in Englandin 1968. I had been working in Sydney as a liaison psychologist between the children’s unit at the new psychiatric hospital at North Ryde and the schools. In Australia at that time many of the psychiatrists were interested in psychotherapy, and were concerned about understanding their individual patients rather than finding a diagnosis for each of them. Alas, now biological psychiatry is all the rage there, and ECT is regarded by many psychiatrists as the treatment of choice. Always remember, progress has to be guarded carefully because it can easily disappear. However, expecting that British psychiatrists would be like the psychiatrists I had been working with, I arrived in London and applied for a job as a clinical psychologist at Whiteley Woods Clinic in Sheffield. I got the job,…

Two books (Jul/Aug 09)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:04
I have been reading Jean Davison’s The Dark Threads (Accent Press) about the time she spent as a patient at High Royds Psychiatric Hospital in Yorkshire when she was just eighteen. Jean waited forty years to complete writing this book, which was very wise because she was able to give an account of her experiences that showed a wealth of understanding rarely found in memoirs written when emotion is still very much alive. I found it a painful book to read, because I was a psychologist then at Whiteley Woods Clinic and Middlewood Psychiatric Hospital in Sheffield. I witnessed the kind of scenes in which Jean was a participant, and so her book took me back to those times when I saw the cruelties that passed themselves off as psychiatric care. I tried to deal with the awful helplessness of witnessing cruelty and being unable to prevent it by spending time talking with the patients. In so doing, I came to see the gap between the way psychiatrists and nurses thought and worked and the reality of the patients’ lives. In recounting her interactions with the people who were supposed to be looking after her, Jean shows just how great this gap was. She…

A day at the zoo (Mar/Apr 09)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:04
Everything in our world is connected, says Dorothy Rowe One of the hardest jobs you can ever undertake is to persuade people to abandon comforting old ideas and accept challenging new ones. People resist new ideas, even when these new ideas might benefit them. Members of MIND have had some success in persuading some people that madness isn’t a mysterious malady that overcomes certain individuals and turns them into objects of no importance but is simply a desperate way of trying to survive when, overwhelmed by events past and present, we lose all confidence in ourselves. However, we haven’t persuaded everybody of this. Many psychiatrists and psychologists still use the language of illness, and many people in the throes of severe mental distress are led to see themselves as being degraded and valueless. Though individuals have told me that what I have written has helped them, I feel that I have made little difference to society generally. However, while visiting Taronga Zoo in Sydney, I realised that there are people who must feel the same about their work. Everyone who works at the zoo tries to educate their visitors about the importance of looking after the planet and all the…

See what you've made me do (Jan/Feb 09)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:04
Dorothy Rowe on the comforts of being a victim BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yoursis aimed at helping people with the practical problems that can arise in their lives. Not surprisingly, at present the programme is examining the financial problems besetting many people. Amongst those being interviewed the other day was a man in danger of being made bankrupt by his council for non-payment of council tax. This is a terrible situation to be in and the presenter was very sympathetic, but she had to ask the question that everybody listening was asking, ‘Did you talk to the council about the financial difficulties you were in?’ He said that he hadn’t because he had other matters to attend to. But surely he knew that, when you can’t meet your payments, the first thing you should do is talk to your creditors to see if your payments can be adjusted so that you pay whatever you can manage to pay. Some creditors can be ruthless and hard-hearted, but councils have a policy of trying to help people well before the council resorts to bankruptcy, but they can’t do anything if people don’t get in touch with them as soon as…

What Should I Believe? (Nov/Dec 08)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:04
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Suffer Little Children (Sept/Oct 08)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:03
Alex, aged two, and Rebecca, aged four, had three things in common. They had each been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, each had spent most of her life taking the antipsychotic drugs that had been created for adults, and each suddenly dropped dead.[i] David Healy has told their stories in his latest book Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder.[ii] This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what is happening now in the marketing of mental illnesses and the drugs that supposedly treat them. Bipolar disorder has become fashionable, with 5 per cent of Americans having some form of the disorder. Now, according to Healy, there is ‘a mania for diagnosing bipolar disorder in children.’ Some children have been considered to show the first signs of the disorder when they kicked excessively in the womb and screamed when born. (For many mothers, being kicked in the womb might be very uncomfortable but it is evidence that your baby is alive and well.) For adults to be diagnosed as being bipolar they have to be depressed and manic for several weeks in each state, whereas children can earn such a diagnosis by having several changes of mood with…

Dog-heads from Mars (Jul/Aug 08)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:03
BBC4 recently broadcast a series of four programmes called ‘Inside the Medieval Mind’. The series, presented by the historian Robert Bartlett, concerned ‘how medieval man understood the world’. What was implied by the series was that medieval men (and presumably women) saw the world very differently from us. But is this really true? During the Middle Ages, from the 9th to the 15th century, the Bible and the teachings of the Church were the only sources of knowledge. The world was seen to be ordered according to God’s plan. Everything that was discovered about the world had to be fitted into that plan. According to the Church, all living creatures belonged to one of four categories: animals, fishes, humans, and spirit beings, which could be angels or demons. Little was known about the lands that lay beyond the British Isles and its nearest neighbours, but that didn’t prevent the Church from teaching that in distant lands there were many strange creatures, some of whom are depicted on the 13th century Mappa Mundi, the map of the world which hangs in Hereford Cathedral. This shows the Dogs Heads, creatures with a human body and a dog’s head, which were frequently depicted in…

Saying Sorry (May/Jun 08)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:03
I was in Sydney last February when the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made his ‘sorry’ speech where he apologised on the behalf of all non-indigenous Australians to the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal people for what they had suffered at the hands of previous Australian governments. He had spent much time in meeting members of the Stolen Generation, and he drew on what they had told him in writing his speech. Listeners were left in no doubt what he was apologising for. There was no hint of that patronising tone much loved by many politicians but a sensitive awareness of the kind and degree of suffering the Stolen Generation and their families had endured, and an honest regret for the actions by politicians before him. He set out a carefully thought through plan for righting the wrongs of the past. In the letters and diaries of the first English settlers at Sydney Cove in 1788, the tribes whose land the settlers were taking without recompense were described as being remarkably healthy. However, Aboriginal people soon began to succumb to the diseases the settlers brought with them. Within a few short years the representatives of the British government were reporting that…
Every Australian schoolchild learns Dorothy Mackellar’s poem My Country. We can all recite, I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel sea, Her beauty and her terror, The wide brown land for me. Australia is a land which can defeat and destroy those who try to force it to be fruitful. Last December a drought which has lasted for ten years was interrupted, not just by rain, but by torrents of rain which produced wild floods, destroying livestock, fences, roads, bridges and buildings. Farmers who in the drought were barely surviving saw what little they owned swept away by the floods. Land in Australia is little suited to the English farming methods which have been imposed on it for the last two hundred years. As a result, much of the farming land is no longer fertile. Even without the drought, many farmers were struggling to make a livelihood. The suicide rate amongst Australian farmers is four times the national average. Despite government funded initiatives to support farmers financially through a difficult time, and to offer support from the mental health services,…

Scoundrel time (Jan/Feb 08)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:02
Being appointed by Gordon Brown as the first Muslim minister and invited to the USA by the Department of Homeland Security did not prevent Shahid Malik from being detained and searched at Washington DC airport. In the USA now, simply being a Muslim is enough to be regarded as a possible terrorist. Such paranoia in America is not new. What Muslims are experiencing there now is similar but worse than what anyone considered to be a communist experienced in the USA in the 1950s. The USA is a huge country containing many diverse people but they are held together by two ideas, that of God and the American people. Consequently, the great majority of Americans say that they believe in God. Moreover, it’s not enough to be American in citizenship or residence. You must be American in your thoughts. A lack of right thinking shows that you are un-American. (It’s impossible to be un-British because the British can’t agree on what being British is.) In 1938 Congress set up the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and in 1947 this committee was given extraordinary powers to examine witnesses who were suspected of un-American activities and to deny work to anyone whose answers to the…
When Pepper wrote about how, when she had asked a member of her church for help, he had told her, ‘You can’t be a proper Christian because Christians don’t get depressed,’ (September/October 2007) I was not surprised. I knew how a great many people, who describe themselves as having a faith, behave with little kindness, generosity or concern for those who aren’t seen as being suitable members of their community. When I was a child my mother insisted that I attended Presbyterian Church and Sunday school, even though she never attended and my teenage sister, who did attend, refused to acknowledge my existence. Every Sunday I learnt my catechism and listened to the sermon, and no one in the church recognised my loneliness and offered me companionship, not even the minister whose favourite theme in his sermons was faith, hope and charity. ‘Charity’, he explained, meant ‘love’. Years later, when different groups, interested in mental health, invited me to give talks and workshops, I found a similar lack of concern amongst most of the different religious groups who contacted me. Local associations of MIND and various mental health charities, all managing on a shoestring, would take it as a matter…

Mindfulness (Sept/Oct 2007)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:02
Openmind Sept/Oct 2007 Just Looking When I was a child my mother made it clear to me that she regarded me as a peculiar child with odd habits. One of these habits was that I’d stand at the back door of our house, gaze across to the distant blue hills, and watch the sun set. Or I’d cross the road and disappear into the bush, re-appearing some time later with spray of gum nuts or a bunch of wildflowers. When I went to the beach I’d spend as much time peering into rock pools and watching the waves break as I’d spend swimming. Despite my mother’s disapproval, I persisted because I enjoyed just looking, and it gave me a respite from the boredom and misery of home and school. I was very pleased when I discovered that the poet William Henry Davies agreed with me. He had written, A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. Many years later I realised that I was using an ability with which we’re born but which can so easily be taken from us by our upbringing. It’s the ability to look at the world around…

A Miracle (July/Aug 2007)

Friday, 01 April 2011 08:02
Openmind July/August 2007 A Miracle in Northern Ireland I still can’t believe that I’ve seen Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting down together and agreeing to share power in Northern Ireland. Some years ago Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and their colleagues in Sinn Fein saw that that they had to exchange the gun for the ballot box, but Ian Paisley wouldn’t budge an inch until Sinn Fein IRA, as he always called them, admitted defeat and publicly repented of their sins. I was very familiar with this degree of intransigence. I’d been brought up in the Presbyterian Church and, though members of my family were not great church-goers, most of them, particularly on my mother’s side, had that Presbyterian ability to believe that they were absolutely right, and that compromise and reconciliation were signs of weakness, not strength. They also shared Paisley’s views about the utter wickedness of the Catholic Church. The Australia I grew up in before and during World War Two, was, like Northern Ireland, divided into Catholics and Protestants. Catholic children went to Catholic schools: Protestant children went to state schools. Outside of school, each group hurled abuse at one another and never met to play together.…
Openmind May/June 2007 Conversations between Ordinary People They happened to be sitting side by side at the workshop I was running in Australia, he, Barry, a consultant psychiatrist and she, Miriam, a visitor to a long-stay psychiatric hospital, and, so she told us, no stranger to depression herself. Barry said, ‘At my hospital a colleague and I will spend up to two hours on an intake interview. There’ll be other discussions with other professionals. I don’t think patients realise how much time we spend talking about them.’ Miriam said, ‘I have specific tasks I need to do, but whenever I can I’ll just sit with a patient. We don’t talk about anything special – it might be that we just talk about what fruit’s in season – and when I get up to go the person thanks me for talking to them. I think that’s so sad, that they thank me for talking to them.’ If you’re a professional in the psychiatric system, whether in a hospital or in the community, you have to spend time talking with your colleagues about the patients. Information needs to be passed on and programmes of care drawn up. Pooling knowledge is essential to…
A Most Important Attachment Openmind March/April 2007 Twenty years ago, when I was working in Lincolnshire, one of my clients was a young married woman who was deeply depressed. There was certainly much in her life to trouble her. Her husband worked long hours and she was at home with their three small children. Her account of her childhood showed her parents to be authoritarian and punitive, and, living nearby, they still demanded much of her attention. I felt that there was something more in her background that played a major part in her distress. In fact I was searching for some secret when the problem was right there, staring me in the face had I the wit to see it. At least it was the kind of problem that vast numbers of psychologists had overlooked. We all knew a great deal about Attachment Theory, how babies form an attachment to their mother and how the response of the mother to the baby determines the nature of that attachment. What we ignored was that most children have siblings, and that these relationships can be very important, if not the most important, in a person’s life. My client was the eldest…
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