Professor Sir Robin Murray recently noted that ‘sadly, a few psychologists appear to have been stranded in a Jurassic world where they spend their energies railing against a type of psychiatry which became extinct years ago.’ If true, this would obviously pose a problem for those critics of psychiatry.
There will, of course, be those with pre-existing experiences of severe mental distress, and those who develop severe distress during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it is essential that they are able to access the professional care they need. But the narrative in much of the media that huge numbers of us will need access to these same services only serves to increase the anxiety in all of us, and cast doubt on our ability to cope.
Why do we keep treating 'mental health problems' like diagnosable medical conditions instead of the complex existential phenomena they obviously are? Why do we submit to the false authority and doctrinal absurdities of hubristic 'mind doctors', when a holistic, humane, preventative perspective is clearly required?
Like everyone else, I am trying to understand my response to a virus that threatens my life and the lives of the people I love. But it also happens that for nearly 30 years I have worked as a clinical psychologist with people facing cancer, and I am noticing some parallels between what my patients have told me and what people seem to be talking about now.