Welcome to Mad in the UK!

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Many of you will be familiar with Mad in America, founded by science journalist and author Robert Whitaker with the aim of providing a forum for ‘rethinking psychiatry’. Mad in the UK is one of a growing number of subsidiary sites, including Mad in America Hispano-Hablante, Mad in Asia, Mad in Brasil and Mad in Finland.

Acting in concert with MIA, it will carry UK specific content and provide a voice for UK professionals, service users/survivors, peer activists, carers, researchers, teachers, trainers, lawyers, journalists, volunteers and others who are working for change in the field of what is usually referred to as ‘mental health’.

Peter Kinderman launches Mad in the UK, September 6, 2018

MITUK believes that the current diagnostically-based paradigm of care has comprehensively failed, as indicated by lack of evidence for its core tenets, rising numbers of those diagnosed ‘mentally ill’, and increasing concern about the failure of much ‘treatment’ to help people recover. MITUK, along with many others, believes that the future lies in non-medical alternatives which explicitly acknowledge the causal role of social and relational conflicts, abuses, adversities and injustices. We campaign for a change in the professional and public discourse about emotional distress and unusual experiences; for support, both within and beyond services, which meets people’s real needs; and for social policy which addresses the causes of distress at its roots. MITUK will offer a hub for critical discussion, campaigning and action. In addition, MITUK will provide links to the many other resources, projects and organisations which are also developing positive ways forward.

The MITUK Collective

MITUK is published by a collective, with James Moore as technical link to MIA. The collective is at present composed of 10 people with varying and overlapping backgrounds and interests. 7 of us have survivor experience and 5 of us have MH professional backgrounds (and some have both.) However, we hope that our discussions will move beyond a number of unhelpful binaries that rarely reflect complex reality, such as survivor vs professional, taking vs not taking psychiatric drugs, working within vs working outside services, psychologists vs psychiatrists, and so on. The membership is likely to vary according to time, energy, and other commitments.

Our basic position on biomedical model and diagnostically-based practice is clear, and will guide our content and blogs. The great majority of information sources support the existing paradigm and it is common for people to have entire psychiatric careers, as both service users and staff, without being offered critiques or alternatives. If informed choice is to mean anything, this needs to change. Since we hope to facilitate constructive discussion in all areas, we will occasionally publish more mainstream perspectives for debate. We are aware that these are very emotive issues and the resulting discussions can be upsetting for all parties. We will strive to promote respectful debate, free from discrimination, abuse or personal attack by moderating blog comments and other discussion spaces proactively. (See our commenting guidelines). We will also promote the creative arts including theatre, poetry, cartoons and artwork.

Long experience has taught many of us that the mere act of questioning current orthodoxies, offering alternatives or disagreeing with senior figures can result in backlash. We anticipate that this site will be subject to the same reactions – indeed, some of them were apparent even before the launch. We believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion on these controversial issues. We believe equally strongly that very few people are given enough information for a full assessment of the arguments. Furthermore, we deplore the worrying tendency to imply, or sometimes openly say, that views challenging the status quo should not be expressed at all. This silencing can take various forms, from distorting the arguments or relentless trolling or attributing them to personal/professional ambition and malice, to alleging that these views are intrinsically damaging, shaming, attacking or abusive. This can result in some curious paradoxes. For example, if you spend too long on social media you could end up with the impression that people across the country are being stripped of their diagnoses regardless of their preferences and need for access to services. The truth is that virtually no one is offered an alternative to diagnostic practice, and anyone who protests at the imposition of these categories is at risk of punishment for their ‘lack of insight.’ Meanwhile, the damage often caused by routine psychiatric practice continues and even escalates. The much-quoted figure of ‘1 and 4’ experiencing ‘mental illness’ is heading towards 4 in 4, and in a similar trend, prescriptions are soaring with no decrease in the ‘epidemics’ of various forms of distress. Something is badly wrong.

In this topsy-turvy turmoil, as one paradigm collapses and new ones emerge, MITUK is committed to telling the truth as we see it, regardless of controversy. We are at a historic moment in the history of psychiatry, with a unique opportunity to help shape a better future. We welcome your interest, comments and contributions.

If you are interested in writing a blog for Mad in the UK, read our submission guidelines here.

You can read our Mission Statement here.

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MITUK’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for fundamentally re-thinking theory and practice in the field of mental health in the UK, and promoting positive change. We believe that the current diagnostically-based paradigm of care has comprehensively failed, and that the future lies in non-medical alternatives which explicitly acknowledge the causal role of social and relational conflicts, abuses, adversities and injustices.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Batesy66 thanks for your post, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m sure lots of people are here to try and “change the system” to something less harmful. At the end of the day psychiatry is in place because people want to make a living, and psychology too. Maybe enough energy will be generated to get them to make a living without giving people “mental disorders” and just offering them a nice person to talk to and come up with their own narratives instead. I don’t suppose that’s harmful. Though how far it will get in an echo chamber is beyond me. But I like a good echo chamber and I enjoyed reading your posts. I’d frankly rather a forum filled with people such as yourself, survivours who just want to talk amongst themselves and form their own thoughts and impressions of life and experience. It’s a bit ironic that groups who want to promote meaning making and self-empowerment have set us out in this classroom format of listening and responding to yet more academics, musers and experts. I suppose “peer support” has become unfashionable. I wonder how much these professionals might like a forum set out for others to pontificate about their lives and experiences, while their own contribution, or any form of conversation and shared reflection on similar experiences is transformed into a classroom-format comment session. Sadly the only other places I’ve found where people can talk about their experiences are on “mental illness” websites, where people can break if paradigm questioning goes on because they are trapped in a fog of needing help. Or other places where survivors mingle with therapists to “change the system” – such a shame. I need musings from my fellow humans. And I just can’t find them in these third-party papers. And it seems people who just want to ramble and discuss and muse and read each others thoughts are just not out there on this. It almost makes me miss the good old days of “chat rooms”. Well I suppose I should feel chuffed to be such a hot commodity. I wonder what is the price of unusual people on today’s market?

  2. The Cyber-Cerebral Echo Chamber of Like-Minded Souls?

    “Say What!”

    It’s interesting (a word I tend to use whenever I experience the living breathing phenomena expressed in the words “I don’t Know”) that there so few comments on this introductory blog post for MadintheUK. While across the pond on the parent webzine Mad in America we can see the numbers 1457 eye views and 41 comments.

    While my question about the cyber-cerebral echo-chamber of like-minded souls comes from reading Barak Obama’s legacy speech and making a mental note of his warning about the dangers of withdrawing into gated communities and the twitter-verse echo chambers of public opinion, as news.

    While here in the calendar year 2018, as the occupational vocation known as psychiatry is trying to come to terms with the truth that psychiatric diagnosis is no more than opinion. Should survivors and medical practitioners look to the past and recognize the true value of lived-experience?

    A question I ask, from the certainty that no psychiatrist or well-educated PhD’s under the Sun, can think, say or write a single word about HOW they perform the two quintessential human behaviors of walking and talking.

    Furthermore, as a survivor, I ask an existential question of well educated psychiatric opinion, as a form of subconscious orchestrated expectation; Is a recognition of words, a whole-self perception of reality?

    “What do you see when you look in a mirror?” I survivor asked, Robert Whitaker. And although Robert reported this existential question in one his blog posts he did not type any words about what he perceives when he does look in a mirror, at the reflection of his own face.

    And of course, it’s considered bad form to point out inconvenient truths or ask the wordy-wise educated elites to give a first-person account of their own experience. They much prefer the third-person dichotomy of a mind that perceives itself from the outside looking in.

    So, in the endless polemic of re-thinking psychiatry, I wonder if it’s at all possible to re-phrase psychiatric perceptions as opinions and contemplate Socrates life lesson question of youth; is opinion knowledge?

    Does the debate about medications ever mention the words; self-regulation?

    Is it because wordy-wise academics, like everyone else, have no idea HOW they DO being Human?

  3. Born in Manchester in 1951 and diagnosed as schizophrenic within 15 minutes of my first contact with a practicing psychiatrist in 1980. I have practiced a drug-free method of self-regulation since 2007, when I talked my way out of an acute care ward, after convincing the hospital’s head of psychiatry to cease the injections I’d been subjected to.

    Yet, as a survivor of the treatment-oriented medical approach to my episodes of affective psychosis, I have found that well-educated professionals cannot afford to listen to people with lived-experience, in their need to make a living. Nor can well-educated people grasp the real-life implications of R. D. Laing’s intuitive comment: we are all in a posthypnotic trance induced in early infancy.

    Yet, eleven years on from being sectioned within the acute care ward of St George Hospital in Sydney Australia, I forgive the young psychiatrist for being stuck in the ‘trap’ (see the famous documentary in which Laing gives his plaintive plea for love, in an increasingly insane social world) of word recognition and pretending, as I once did, that recognising words is a true recognition of reality.

    I forgive the psychiatrist for being immersed in a paradox of self-awareness, which the existential psychiatrist R. D. Laing tried to convey with the words: We are all in a posthypnotic trance induced in early infancy. An intuitive understanding of the everyday illusion of words, and the brain’s predictive processes, which the eminent psychiatrist Allen Frances gave credence to. When he wrote: Psychiatric diagnosis is seeing something that exists, but with a pattern shaped by what we expect to see. Which we may think of as another way of saying what the prophet Isiah said centuries ago; they seeing see not and in no wise, perceive.

    But is the recognition of words, the recognition of reality? Is language our human nature, or the adaptive survival skill of our need to communicate? And is language, a communication need, which as creatures of habit, we simply take for granted? Furthermore, is this communication medium of language a true sense of knowing our lived-experience, or is awareness of bodily sensations a truer sense of our actual experience?

    As the great sages ask of all humanity: where are you between two thoughts?