In case you are wondering – “where have the wonderful plasticine pictures gone?” - then let me explain. Jackie has temporally handed the "blog reins" over to me for this week’s blog, and artistic I am not.
So instead you get a picture of my hero, Thomas Szasz, who sadly died last year on September 8th 2012, My hero because his ideas changed the way I think about a lot of things in life, and his picture because of a debate that seems to be becoming more prevalent.
In my earlier blog this year I talked about the mobile phone restriction at our local psychiatric hospital, no comments yet I can only tell (fool) myself that you are reading in silence. Today I just want to start to explore the question: Are the mainstream ideas underpinning mental illness diagnosis as sound as we presume?
This week was a very interesting one for me, there seems to have been something in the air (certainly not summer), I have been involved in many stimulating conversations with colleagues from across Powys discussing the validity of mental illness diagnosis.
Well Jackie got us going! In her last blog, she mentioned an interview with Dr Lucy Johnstone on the Today Programme in which she discussed new research suggesting that there is no scientific evidence that psychiatric diagnoses are valid.
Eleanor Longden talked at a conference we organised in Powys (more information here) last year and one underpinning idea that I took away was that we need for more debate on the validity of mental illness diagnosis.
The American Psychiatric Association's publication of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM5) has sparked controversy. It has led to the creation of the International DSM5 Response Committee and their world-wide online petition arguing that DSM5 should not be adopted and used.
So what would all this mean? What if the mainstream ideas underpinning mental illness diagnosis are just not correct? Within our lifetime will we see a paradigm shift in the conventional wisdom surrounding mental distress?
What would this shift look like? Would it start with us changing the question that underpins the mainstream mental health services from "what is wrong with you" to "what has happened to you"?
What would that mean to those of us that perhaps take benefit from finally being given a reason, a medical diagnosis, from the experts for why things have been so difficult? How would people access services, support, welfare benefits if there were no diagnosis for mental distress? In schools how would children access the extra support they need, again if there were no mental illness diagnosis? Would this change the justification supporting the Mental Health Act and some of the ideas underpinning it around personal responsibility?
Just some of the many questions that spring to mind! I’d love to hear what you think and whether this is a debate that you are having with people close to you?
I'll sign off now with a hope for some sun this weekend and with a quote that feels very relevant to this debate:
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting" Buddha