home bio pharma topics news archive, past events articles, films, documents etc family blogs, websites Chrys Muirhead Writes blog


Working with the marginalised: Formulating beyond the mainstream 5July16 #BPS London

The Minorities in Clinical Psychology Training group's Third Annual Conference; Working with the marginalised: Formulating beyond the mainstream

Tuesday 5th July 2016 at BPS Offices, Tabernacle Street, London

"We are extremely pleased to be hosting our third annual conference! For this event we are focusing our attention onto alternative ways to formulate clinically which may better serve needs which clinical psychology may have been complicit in silencing. Indeed, mainstream psychotherapy models are often criticised because they take little account of social and cultural forces and of their effect upon psychological functioning and relational processes. This is a significant limitation in terms of working in ways that are more 'culturally competent' and socio-politically informed. Many marginalised groups continue to see mainstream therapy and mental health services as irrelevant and there is an on-going need to deliver interventions and formulations that take better account of the lived experience of 'minorities', of the political and of the social realities of those who are disadvantaged. For our third annual conference, the 'Minorities Group' aims to encourage a dialogue on some of the above issues by concentrating on formulation. The day will aim to make more visible the power of social and historical contexts, their related traumas and, propose ways these may become integrated within formulations."

new blog page: 'Staying Well After Psychosis'

This is a new blog page devoted to the study of 'Staying Well After Psychosis: A Cognitive Interpersonal Approach to Recovery and Relapse Prevention' by Andrew Gumley and Matthias Schwannauer, 2006, John Wiley & Sons.

[thanks to Matthias for lending me a copy]

#StayingWellAfterPsychosis secure base, safe haven, roots, wings, striking a balance [blog post 28 April 2016]


"lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" Bowlby 1969 #StayingWellAfterPsychosis p79/80 #securebase pic.twitter.com/We8kI1ssb7

— Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) April 25, 2016

#StayingWellAfterPsychosis therapy sessions 1-30; p79-84; "collaborative development of coherent client narrative" pic.twitter.com/22LFO6IwrR

— Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) April 27, 2016

read blog post

Head of Psychology Service @nhsfife response to my request for update on Psychological Therapies in Fife

"Today (1 February 2016) I received this letter by Email at 14.50 from the Head of Psychology Service, NHS Fife, in response to my request for an update on Psychological Therapies in Fife:

Dear Chrys

Thank you for your enquiry regarding our provision of Psychological Therapies in Fife. In common with other health boards we have welcomed the HEAT target because it focuses attention on these services. The target remains a challenge but we continue to make progress. We are committed to developing sustainable services which meet the needs of children, young people and their families, as well as adults. We are also committed to developing services appropriate for individuals with a wide range of needs and preferences about how services are delivered, from individuals with relatively mild difficulties to those with significant, long term needs.

In response to your questions, I can provide the following information:

As stated in NHS Fife Board's Integrated Performance Report for November 2015, our further progress with the psychological therapies HEAT target will require some increase in capacity. The plan to appoint 8 new therapists is based on the demand and capacity analysis we have completed. This is the amount of additional staffing we require to meet the waiting time target in a sustainable manner. All Boards were aware that Scottish Government funding to support the delivery of psychological therapies was planned for release in 2014/2015. We were delighted to receive confirmation on 12th January 2016 that the Government is going to provide £54m over the next 4 years to increase capacity across Scotland to meet this HEAT target. We await details of the amount of funding that Fife will receive and guidance on how we will be able to allocate the funds. Once this information is available we will be able to make decisions about recruitment. ..."

read letter and my response in blog post

The Scottish public want sunshine: Dr Peter Gordon on Hole Ousia website

"Over two years ago I raised a petition with the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce a Sunshine Act for Scotland. A Sunshine Act would make it mandatory for healthcare workers (and hopefully academics and all allied health professionals) to declare fully any payments including payments in kind. The argument I presented was that a single, searchable, independent register underpinned by statute would ensure transparency, promote scientific integrity, reduce the potential for harm and save money.

Current Guidance in Scotland (HDL62 issued by the Scottish Government) has failed for more than 13 years. Other governance bodies, such as the Royal Colleges, have separate systems which also appear to have failed to ensure transparency of financial payments. These overlapping, but ineffective, systems of governance duplicate costs and bureaucracy to nobody's gain.

My petition was closed earlier this month by the Scottish Parliament as the Scottish Government had committed to 'update guidance'.

One of the actions of the Government in response to my petition was to commission a public consultation.

Gathering public views on Sunshine Act

Last week the public voice of Scotland was revealed:

The Scottish public want sunshine. The majority of participants felt that the publication of financial payments to healthcare professionals should be made mandatory.

read blog post


The official Scottish Parliament page for Dr Gordon's petition can be accessed here.

A Sunshine Act for Scotland page on Hole Ousia website includes the "petition history" of PE1493 and all the "written submissions" made on behalf of this petition.

Open and transparent from omphalos on Vimeo.

resilience: nature or nurture?

Yesterday someone asked me in an Email exchange:

"Do you think that you were born with such resilience or have you nurtured it and developed it through life?"

and I answered:

"Born resilient just as all of us were ..... (person's name). And cultivated it over the years by resisting institutionalised thinking and treatment!"

It was an automatic response. I didn't think about it. And there's truth in it from where I'm standing. For my parents and grandparents encouraged me to be strong, independent and resistant. My father taught me to box to defend myself before I was 5. My arm and leg breaks at ages 6 and 7 made me more careful when playing but didn't stop me taking risks. I learnt what medical care could be like in hospitals and in the community. The good bits and the bad bits. I was always a quick learner. Eventually anyway ...

My mother taught me the most in terms of resisting the psychiatric system, its stigma and discrimination. Her dignity in the face of coercive drug treatment and forced ECT was amazing and humbling. I couldn't have done it. She was a loyal mother, a homemaker and gentlewoman. Even in dying she was gracious and it was a privilege to be with her in the final days of March 1998.

So I believe that resilience is natural and requires nurture to keep it alive and strong. We owe it to ourselves to give it oxygen.

the isolation and cost of caring and campaigning; it ain't over till it's over ...

"I wanted to write something about the cost of being an unwaged carer and at the same time having to campaign against psychiatric abuse. The isolation of taking a stand, exposing the truth and parts of yourself for the sake of justice. Alienating friends and family in the cause. Being blamed in notes and bullied by "professionals". Particularly poignant at this time of the year when consumerism reigns and we are exhorted to be jolly and spend, spend, spend.

My thoughts are with other carers, psychiatric survivors and activists who are continuing the fight for justice in mental health matters. It can be a lonely road even if in solidarity with others. Any victories are slight in comparison to the wounds inflicted. The grudging one-line apology I received from NHS Fife in 2014 after "winning" an Ombudsman complaint against the health board was like an insult, considering their failure to protect vulnerable patients in Stratheden Hospital. Over decades.

I ran out of steam last summer. Came to a dead end. Had to pick myself up and take charge of my own physical and mental health. Self management so as to survive. Dealing with the anger felt at the injustice of a system which rewards the abusers and punishes the whistleblowers. Or so it seemed.

I went on a therapeutic journey, supported by a few, friends and family, by way of swimming pools and renewed craft activities, which are still ongoing. Engaging with people and feeling human again. Taking risks. Crying and laughing. Exploring places and options. Not acting my age. Realising that life wasn't over even though a pensioner. Revisiting youth and middle age, in stories and in mind. Getting fit. Planning for the future."

avoiding ECT when hospitalised in 1978 after first postpartum psychosis; then Krypton Factor 1980

"Remembering my first psychiatric hospitalisation, 13 weeks after the birth of my second son. A painful experience, induced with chemicals to bring about the birth when the day staff were on duty. Little pain relief, it was a cottage hospital, and like 'bite on a bullet' time. I was living with in-laws and this brought its own pressures. And ended up going voluntarily into Hartwoodhill Hospital, Lanarkshire, with my first puerperal (postpartum) psychosis. It was September 1978, I was 25 with a birthday at the end of the month.

The psychiatric acute ward environment wasn't what I'd expected and the regime required taking psychiatric drugs which I didn't want to do. But I had no choice and these were forcibly given until taken orally with no resistance. I'd been breastfeeding and had to be bound, to stop the milk coming. This was very painful, more so mentally than physically, for I enjoyed feeding my son and didn't want to stop doing it. But I had no choice for my baby was back home and I was hospitalised. Also the drugs meant I couldn't have fed him myself anyway. ..." Read complete Blog Post

memories of peer support in the psychiatric system circa 1984

"Looking back to my psychiatric hospitalisations in 1978, 1984 and 2002 it was peer support that got me through the traumatic experience of forced treatment and disempowerment. And continued on after discharge, helping me on the recovery journey and back to real life. The experiences of fellow travellers, mostly women, who knew what it felt like to be incarcerated and to be limited by the psychiatric drugs or mental illness label.

I remember in particular the 1984 episode, only one day out of the maternity hospital, after the birth of my third son, and being in another place mentally. It wasn't a negative experience for me, on the contrary, but for others it was alarming as I wasn't myself. The fact that I'd had a previous puerperal psychosis would have alerted the doctors and no doubt they were looking out for it. So, in very quick time, I found myself a voluntary mental patient in Hartwoodhill Hospital, Lanarkshire. Separated from my baby who I'd been breastfeeding.

I was in an acute psychiatric ward, female sleeping accommodation and mixed gender dining/living spaces. My clothes locked away in a cupboard and having to wear pyjamas, a few layers of them, for it was late November, winter time, 'Do they know it's Christmas?' by Band Aid on the radio. Strangers wanting to give me drugs, which I refused then being grabbed and jagged with them. Then when they thought me compliant gave me liquid Largactyl, found out later it was Chlorpromazine, and finally pills when I could be trusted. ..." Read complete Blog Post

Chrys Muirhead Writes blog posts

a selection

  • at Public Petitions Committee Meeting @ScotParl 26Jan16 to hear Sunshine Act for Scotland PE1493
  • A Sunshine Act for Scotland Petition @ScotParl: Why no reference to Scottish Health Council Consultation?
  • requesting an update on Psychological Therapies in Fife
  • mental health peer work in Scotland: paying proper wages, professional posts, full team members #SRN #Penumbra
  • EMPOWER: Early signs Monitoring to Prevent relapse and prOmote Wellbeing, Engagement and Recovery: a mixed methods study
  • emotional self-regulation; resilience, the ability to bounce back and to go off on a tangent
  • 'If Only ...' a poem by a mother; "If you don't behave you will end up here" (getting ECT)

    Mad in America January to September 2012

    Mad in America blog January to September 2012 is a series of posts written by Chrys Muirhead from January to September 2012, first seen on the Mad in America web magazine.


  • bio


    - Postgraduate Certificate Teaching Qualification Further Education, (care subjects) Stirling University 2008
    - Postgraduate Diploma Community Education, Northern College 1998
    - BA Administration Management, Fife College Kirkcaldy (best student) 1996


    - Blogger, writer, activist, campaigner in mental health matters and human rights
    - Survivor of mental illness and the psychiatric system
    - Advocacy - with individuals and groups - mental health, learning disabilities, managing volunteers
    - Training and Lecturing - in community, college, WRAP, Peer Support
    - Project Development and Management - events, fundraising, networking, volunteer recruitment, report writing
    - Action Research - community development, mental health, adult learning
    - IT and Internet - design, websites, blogging, social networking
    - Children's and Youth Work - community, school, church
    - Employability - work placements, jobs fairs, workshops, support into work

    Setting up and leading Peer Support Fife

    pharma topics

    Reblog: Robert Whitaker 'Shrinks: A Self-Portrait of a Profession' on Mad in America

    'Shrinks: A Self-Portrait of a Profession' by Robert Whitaker on Mad in America, 19 March 2015: Introduction:

    "After finishing Jeffrey Lieberman's new book, Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry, I was tempted to put it aside and not write anything, even though I had purchased the book with the intention of doing so. The reason was that I found it impossible to take the book seriously, and actually, I don't think it is meant to be a serious book. Lieberman, who is a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, doesn't present any scientific data to support his narrative, nor does it seem that he has relied on primary sources to document it. Much of what is told appears to be taken from secondary sources, and what is left is a kind of pop tale of psychiatry's rise to glory. Even the publisher's promotional copy basically acknowledges this, proclaiming it a "tale" that is populated by "true heroes . . . who dared to challenge the status quo." That sounds like a blurb for an adventure story.

    As for Lieberman having unearthed an untold tale, Shrinks relates a story that the American Psychiatric Association has been telling the American public ever since it published DSM III in 1980. The disorders in the DSM are real diseases of the brain; the drugs prescribed for them are quite safe and highly effective; and psychiatric researchers are making great advances in discovering the biology of mental disorders. Therapeutic and research progress are to be found at every turn.

    But as I mulled over the book, it was the "heroes" reference, in both the publisher's blurb and the text of Shrinks, that finally caught my interest. As part of my research for a new book I have coming out in April, Psychiatry Under the Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury, and Prescriptions for Reform, which I co-wrote with Lisa Cosgrove, I reviewed all of the speeches given by presidents of the American Psychiatric Association at the organization's annual meetings since 1980, and I was struck by how regularly they sounded this theme: Psychiatrists are true heroes. Which may or may not be true, but it is a bit unusual for a professional medical association to regularly remind its members of their own heroic specialness. And so it dawned on me: The revelatory aspect of Shrinks is that it serves as an institutional self-portrait. What you hear in this book is the story that the APA and its leaders have been telling to themselves for some time. ..."

    'The miracle of psychiatry' @DBDouble Critical Psychiatry blog on Lieberman 'shrinks' book & my comment

    'The miracle of psychiatry' by Dr Duncan Double, Critical Psychiatry blog, on Lieberman 'shrinks' book; and my comment:

    Blog post:

    "Like Robert Whitaker (see previous post), I bought Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry by Jeffery Lieberman (see eg. another previous post) because I intended to blog on it, but after reading it I initially thought I wouldn't bother (see Robert's blog post). Lieberman makes claims about brain abnormalities associated with mental illness, which need challenging. However, it's difficult to do so, because there are no references in the book, although there is a list of sources and additional reading at the end. I'm also not sure what has been untold about his story of psychiatry, because there didn't seem to be much new in the book. Perhaps he thinks that what he calls anti-psychiatry has the dominant narrative in the history of psychiatry and he needs to replace it with his own.

    Like Robert, what grated on me was the messianic nature of the book. Lieberman needs to be more circumspect about his claims for psychiatric treatment effectiveness. His tale of psychiatry, as he himself says, is of the "dramatic transformation from profession of shrinks to profession of pill-pushers". Although he is "under no illusion that the specters of psychiatry's past have vanished, or that my profession has freed itself from suspicion and scorn", he believes in the "mind-boggling effectiveness of medication". Steady on! He describes what he calls the "accidental discoveries of miracle medications". The introduction of psychiatric medications may well have been serendipitous but was it miraculous? When chlorpromazine was first introduced in state-funded mental institutions in America, as far as he is concerned, "the results were breathtaking". His enthusiasm for psychiatric medication extends to ECT. This is because he's seen "patients nearly comatose with depression joyfully bound off their cot within minutes of completing their ECT". As Robert Whitaker says, this is "a modern-day story of Jesus, curing the lame, who could now throw away their crutches and walk". ..."

    My comment (see link on blog):

    "I agree.

    In 2002 I was coerced to take Risperidone, detained for 72hrs under the Mental Health Act, in a Fife psychiatric ward, until I agreed to take the drug. I was experiencing a menopausal psychosis or altered mind state. I'd had two other similar experiences 18 years and 24 years previously, after painful, induced childbirths.

    The antipsychotic did take me quickly out of the psychosis, plus the fact I had to get out of the mental hospital quickly. It was a very risky place. Mixed gender ward. Male patients in single rooms down same corridor as female dormitory. I got discharged after a week. But the drug had take away my agency and motivation. I wasn't able to return to my FT job of managing volunteers. I got demotivated and low in mood, was prescribed Venlafaxine which flattened me further. Then given Lithium to "augment" the antidepressant.

    None of it worked, in terms of allowing me to take up the reigns of my life. I had to taper the drugs under my own steam, eventually going against the psychiatrist, coming off the Lithium, last. Making a full recovery in 2004/5.

    Risperidone was not a miracle cure. Neither was Chlorpromazine in 1978 and 1984, which I was forcibly injected with until I would voluntarily take the liquid Largactyl then the pill form. It was only when I got off the drugs that I got my life back. And was a stronger person for resisting and surviving the treatment. That's how I look at it.

    I want to see alternative ways of working with people in psychosis, altered mind states, that doesn't just mean antipsychotics, forced if resistant."

    'Doctors' financial interests should be declared to avoid any impression of impropriety' BMJ Response 11 February 2015

    'Doctors' financial interests should be declared to avoid any impression of impropriety'

    BMJ Response 11 February 2015, Gee Yen Shin, Consultant Virologist, Dr Rohini Manuel, Public Health England

    Editorials: The General Medical Council and doctors' financial interests BMJ 2015;350:h474


    We read with concern the BMJ editorial on the apparently laissez-faire approach taken by the General Medical Council (GMC) to reports of undeclared financial conflicts of interest in the form of financial inducements which may have influenced the referral patterns of UK doctors[1].

    We are glad to see that this BMJ editorial appears to have had the desired effect of a GMC response to these serious allegations[2].

    We agree that doctors should make conflicts of interest declarations where these may affect prescribing and clinical referral behaviour. This information should be made available to employers and patients.

    Although GMC Good Medical Practice (2013) guidance covers honesty and integrity, including "Honesty in financial dealings"[3], many NHS Trusts will not have any formal or systematic mechanisms to record any financial conflicts of interest.

    As Public Health England (PHE) consultants, we know that PHE requires its staff to complete annual declaration of interests returns every year. This may stem from the Nolan principles of public life which require public servants to follow seven principles of public life, the most relevant of which include honesty, integrity and openness[4] ..."

    Read complete post

    Reblog RxISK: 'Dopamine & Addiction: Junkies of the Third Age?'

    'Dopamine & Addiction: Junkies of the Third Age?' on RxISK.org

    "The last set of posts have brought stimulants and dopamine into the frame. In the 1960s and 1970s while stimulants were becoming controlled drugs it was nevertheless denied that they caused dependence.

    It is now clear that the closely related dopamine agonists, increasingly the first line treatment for Parkinson's Disease, cause a host of compulsive behaviors in addiction to marked dependence and a debilitating withdrawal problem - Dopamine Agonist Withdrawal Syndrome (DAWS).

    There were early RxISK posts on the compulsive behaviors linked to dopamine agonists and on DAWS, with the DAWS post attracting a lot of comment. There are also RxISK papers on both Dopamine & Compulsive Behavior and Dopamine & DAWS.

    There was an early RxISK story linking antidepressants like Venlafaxine to compulsive behaviors Gambling on Antidepressants and there will be posts on Abilify covering similar ground in weeks to come ..."

    Read complete post

    'Transparency in drug company payments to doctors' by Dr Peter J Gordon, Hole Ousia blog

    "In a BMJ "briefing" Rebecca Coombes sums up the new UK system for public disclosure of payments from drug companies to doctors

    Published the 2nd January 2015 in The BMJ, here follows the full article: Transparency in drug company payments to doctors"

    "I have met Andrew Powrie-Smith of the ABPI several times. He has made it a personal mission to improve transparency for the Pharmaceutical Industry and I applaud his efforts. My concern is that the medical profession may not yet quite agree with Powrie-Smith that transparency is a "societal expectation". I say this as (1) the voluntary register Who pays this doctor? has not exactly been burdened with declarations, and (2) my research into Registers of interest for all staff employed in NHS Scotland has evidenced very poor compliance with Scottish Government Guidance (HDL 62).

    The new database, set up by the ABPI, is a most positive development. We should however be aware that it only applies to the pharmaceutical industry and not other areas of commerce: such as device makers, nutritional supplements, digital technologies etc. It is my understanding that the ABPI Register also only applies to doctors. Do we not also need to consider academics, managers, commissioners, pharmacists, nurses, AHPs, charities all of whom could be paid to "educate" us about a specific condition and a product or test for this. Or to commission a service for it.

    Surely however, the main issue with this new ABPI code is that it has no legal underpinning. Doctors can opt out of declaring any financial payments and they so they will not be named.

    This is why I have petitioned the Scottish Government for a Sunshine Act (or clause). America has this legislation as do several other countries."

    Read Hole Ousia blog post

    'Young children given hyperactivity drugs 'against NICE guidance'' PULSE

    'Young children given hyperactivity drugs 'against NICE guidance'' , Caroline Price, 22 December 2014, PULSE:

    "Pre-school children are being prescribed drugs such as ritalin for hyperactivity, contrary to NICE guidelines, warn child psychologists who say under-funding of child services is to blame. Researchers found more than a fifth (22%) of educational psychologists were aware of pre-school children taking stimulant medications - despite NICE guidelines saying children under five should not be prescribed them.

    The study based on a survey of 136 educational psychologists working in the UK, was carried out by researchers from the Division of Education and Child Psychology (DECP) at the British Psychological Society, and the Institute of Education at the University of London, The staff surveyed said pressures on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) meant children were not being properly assessed, and there was a rush to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with medications rather than trying psychological interventions first, as NICE advises.

    'Our biggest difficulty is that CAMHS and paediatric teams are so short staffed they go straight to medication and completely ignore NICE guidance,' a DECP briefing said.

    The survey also found educational psychologists felt that 'intolerance of difference' and 'medical models of childhood' were influencing how children's learning and behaviour are viewed. Psychologists were quoted as saying: 'There is an increasingly prevalent view in society that people who do not fit a particular environment must have something wrong with them.'

    The briefing was produced in preparation for the DECP's annual conference being held in early January, when the DECP 'medicalisation working group' will publish a position paper and professional practice guidelines on the diagnosis and management of ADHD. It comes after Pulse found GPs were struggling to refer children with behavioural or emotional problems for proper assessment at CAMHS following cuts to child mental health budgets, amid plans to make even further cutbacks."

    Hole Ousia blog posts, Peter J Gordon: NHS Updates on Registers of Interest

    NHS Ayrshire & Arran - Update on Register of Interest for all staff

    NHS Grampian - Update on Register of Interests for all staff

    NHS Tayside - Update on Registers of Interest for all staff

    Reblog: Dr David Healy 'Persecution: Professional SUI Cide' 8 Dec 14

    Dr David Healy blog post 8 December 2014: 'Persecution: Professional SUI Cide't

    "This is the Fourteenth in the Persecution Series, after The Persecution of Heretics, The Persecution of Vulnerable Adults, Harassment from the BBC to GMC, Harassment from Rolf Harris to James Coyne to Doctor Who, Persecution: Black Riders in the Shire & Persecution: Rumbles from Mordor, and eight in the SUI Cide Series SUI Cide in Betsi, SUI Cide Trick or Treat , The SUI Cide Note & SUI Cide or Homicide, SUI Cide in the OK Corral. SUI Cide & Peace in our Time, The SUI Cide Apparatus. A new subseries, the Pharma series begins next week."

    "For some of us, the magic of boarding an Alaskan Airlines flight from Anchorage to Atlanta with 200 other people and all their baggage, or even bigger planes aiming at crossing 12000 miles of Pacific Ocean, and finding that the thing actually lifts off the ground never fades.

    Any sane thinking person should be reduced to a state of gibbering panic for the duration of the flight, but most of us put our trust in the woman at the controls and in the fact that if we don't get there she won't. If she had significant concerns she wouldn't now be taking off. While aviation safety systems aren't perfect, if the near misses or other glitches she and her colleagues report aren't taken care of, no one gets anywhere until the problem is sorted because she won't fly ...."

    Read Complete Blog post

    "Believe me, that is not the way to get things done" Peter J Gordon, Hole Ousia

    "Believe me, that is not the way to get things done" Peter J Gordon, Hole Ousia "This post is about medical education in NHS healthcare: this is called "Continuing Professional Development" ("CPD").

    In this post I will explore the current relationship between medical education with commerce.

    The title of this post is taken from a quote by the current Director of Medical Education for NHS Forth Valley in a communication to me on this matter.

    As I get older I find that I see more patterns.

    How we "see" such patterns will differ for us all! My previous post was about a pattern that I had noticed regarding ageing and memory: The parabolic pattern

    The pattern in this post is not one of light. It is a dark pattern. A pattern not easily seen.

    Before trying to present light to this pattern, I want you to know that I am a scientist (as well as an artist) who supports innovation, scientific realism and progression. This is why the the Scottish physicist, and poet, James Clerk Maxwell has long been my guide.

    The pattern of images that follow (where I will try to keep my words spare) represent my very real concern that science today (and not just "in the past") has rather too readily become the pocket of industry. ..."

    Read Complete Blog post

    'Why are we failing young patients with ADHD?' Iain McClure, BMJ Response

    Re: Why are we failing young patients with ADHD?

    16 November 2014: Iain McClure, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist,NHS Lothian Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, EH9 1LF, UK

    "Simon Bowers correctly states that few geographical areas offer clinical pathways that include holistic interventions for ADHD (1). He argues for 'a definitive diagnosis' and 'evidence based treatments' from the outset, but the reality is that ADHD is such a confused, over-simplistic and, consequently, over-diagnosed disorder, that it cannot deliver the certainty that health managers understandably expect on behalf of tax payers.

    Instead, the failure of ADHD research to deliver a valid and reliable concept of impairment within the condition, means that, all too often, children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed stimulant medication from the outset, whether their condition is severe, moderate or mild (2,3). In all likelihood, these patients, once prescribed stimulant medication, will continue to take it throughout their primary and early secondary school years, with increasing numbers remaining on it into adulthood. Because of the increasing pressure on doctors in community paediatric and child psychiatric clinics, many of these patients will not receive a 'drug holiday' from this medication throughout these years, despite the advice of guidelines (2). This situation contrasts starkly with mainstream general adult psychiatric practice, regarding antidepressants or antipsychotics, in which doctors expect to at least attempt a withdrawal of such medications, once the patient has remained clinically well for several months. ..."

    Read Complete Response

    "a pharmaceutical revolution borne out of good marketing manipulating poor science" CEP UK letter to Lancet re Nutt

    Full text of CEP members' letter to The Lancet Psychiatry in response to article by Nutt et al

    "David Nutt and colleagues1 represent a brand of psychiatry that wishes to keep its eyes firmly shut when evidence of harms and lack of effectiveness of favoured biological treatments are found. It is therefore unsurprising they take issue with the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry for publicising evidence that rarely gets discussed; evidence that would enable people to make properly informed decisions about whether they will benefit from drug treatments that research shows can cause serious, persistent adverse effects.

    We believe in the importance of psychiatry, but also in the dictum of "first do no harm", and in the role that critical thought has in genuine scientific progress. We are therefore tired of the intellectual malaise, corruption, and indifference some sections of academic psychiatry seem to have developed. We are also deeply concerned about the potentially devastating impact this blindness is having on the lives of millions of people who have been on the receiving end of a pharmaceutical revolution borne out of good marketing manipulating poor science."

    Read Complete Blog Post

    Powerful Embrace

    Powerful Embrace from omphalos

    "Anxious I consulted my doctor.

    This was 1997.

    I was started on Seroxat (Paroxetine). In America this is Paxil.

    Today (2014) I am still on Seroxat/Paxil (Paroxetine)

    17 years: this has indeed been a "powerful embrace".

    After I made this film (in 2011) several of my consultant psychiatrist colleagues expressed concern. I had apparently brokered acceptable boundaries; my thoughts were loose and I was misguided, perhaps even "disordered". Label upon label was how it felt to me."

    DAIS Troubled Minds: psych drugs, shock treatment, brain surgery: half a million, 40% proof

    "This is another blog post about the Dundee Advanced Interventions Service (DAIS) based in Ninewells Hospital, from the perspective of a layperson and psychiatric survivor. Moreover someone whose family through 3 generations have been forcibly treated in psychiatric settings with drugs and ECT. Fortunately none of us got the brain surgery, as far as I am aware.

    I've never liked horror movies and much prefer happy endings, stories and whodunnits. The Dr Victor Frankenstein (or the Modern Prometheus) films and story seemed like a fairy tale and nothing like real life, with monsters and doctors and currents passing through brains. Scary stuff and not for children. "Obsessive behaviors can be seen from the beginning of the book until Victor dies" Wikipedia

    Even just the other day, on bumping into a psychiatrist retired for 20 years, he spoke of ECT "saving lives". Ironically we were chatting in the grounds of a church hall. I retorted by saying that psychiatrists aren't God. They don't hold the power over life and death. Even if they think they do ..."

    "DAIS is funded around half a million pounds a year, paid in 12 monthly instalments, for their work but this doesn't include buildings or infrastructure. Website front page says re funding "'top sliced' from money given to NHS Boards by the Scottish Executive". It also says under Clinical Governance that "The Chief Executive of NHS Tayside will be accountable for the quality of the clinical service provided.". Lesley McLay is now chief exec. ..."

    Read Complete Blog Post

    'The Rights of Children and Parents In Regard to Children Receiving Psychiatric Diagnoses and Drugs' Peter Breggin

    Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Private Practice of Psychiatry, Ithaca, New York, USA
    Children & Society Volume 28, (2014) pp. 231-241

    "Based on the author's extensive clinical, forensic and research experience, this article addresses the scientific and moral question of whether it is ever in the best interests of a child to be given a psychiatric drug. The focus is on the diagnosis Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and stimulant drugs, and on the diagnosis Bipolar Disorder and antipsychotic (neuroleptic) drugs.

    The conclusion is that we should work towards a prohibition against giving psychiatric drugs to children, and instead focus on safe and effective alternative ways of meeting the needs of children within their families, schools and society."
    c2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and National Children's Bureau.
    Keywords: children, mental health, rights.

    Read complete article

    my response on BMJ website to 'Overprescribing antidepressants: where's the evidence?' by Dr Margaret McCartney

    'Re: Overprescribing antidepressants: A lived experience perspective and response ' by Chrys E Muirhead Unpaid Carer. Writer, activist, campaigner in mental health on BMJ website, 1 July 2014.

    "I want to make a response to Dr McCartney's mention of "Is this true?" in relation to antidepressants leading to falls and fractures and her last sentence with phrases "overshoot the evidence" and "cause harm through the under-recognition and undertreatment of mental illness". I am responding as a person who was prescribed venlafaxine in maximum doses in 2002/3 and who has made a complete recovery from a "severe and enduring mental illness" diagnosis, a label of schizoaffective disorder given in 2002.

    I experienced a menopausal psychosis in 2002 aged 50 and the treatment in Fife was hospitalisation, detention and being made to swallow the antipsychotic risperidone which brought me out of the psychosis quickly and also depressed me. The psychiatrist then gave me venlafaxine which did not lift my mood, still flat I had suicidal impulse and took an overdose of the antidepressant, a bottle of pills, and ended up in Ninewells Hospital getting my stomach pumped. After this episode I was put on a maximum dose of venlafaxine. Still flatness of mood so I was prescribed lithium to "augment" the antidepressant. Still no change. ..."

    Read complete response

    'The medicalisation of "ups and downs": The marketing of the new bipolar disorder' by Joanna Moncrieff

    In Transcultural Psychiatry April 2014, The medicalisation of "ups and downs": The marketing of the new bipolar disorder by Joanna Moncrieff


    The concept of bipolar disorder has undergone a transformation over the last two decades. Once considered a rare and serious mental disorder, bipolar disorder is being diagnosed with increasing frequency in Europe and North America, and is suggested to replace many other diagnoses. The current article shows how the modern concept of bipolar disorder has been created in the course of efforts to market new antipsychotics and other drugs for bipolar disorder, to enable these drugs to migrate out of the arena of serious mental disorder and into the more profitable realm of everyday emotional problems. A new and flexible notion of the condition has been created that bears little resemblance to the classical condition, and that can easily be applied to ordinary variations in temperament.

    The assertion that bipolar disorder is a brain disease arising from a biochemical imbalance helps justify this expansion by portraying drug treatment as targeted and specific, and by diverting attention from the adverse effects and mind-altering properties of the drugs themselves. Childhood behavioural problems have also been metamorphosed into "paediatric bipolar disorder" under the leadership of academic psychiatry, with the assistance of drug company financing. The expansion of bipolar disorder, like depression before it, medicalises personal and social difficulties, and profoundly affects the way people in Western nations conceive of what it means to be human."

    Read complete article

    Prof Peter C Gotzsche BMJ response re antidepressants and young people

    "BMJ response by Prof Peter C Gotzsche, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen:

    'Re: Changes in antidepressant use by young people and suicidal behavior after FDA warnings and media coverage: quasi-experimental study'

    "The study is not reliable

    Lu et al. reported that suicide attempts in young people increased after the FDA warned in 2003 and 2004 that SSRIs can increase just that: the risk of suicidal behaviour in young people (1). They found substantial reductions in antidepressant use after the warnings and believe that this caused the increase in suicide attempts.

    This is contrary to what would be expected. The FDA's large meta-analysis of 100,000 patients who had participated in placebo-controlled randomised trials found that antidepressants increase suicidal behaviour up till about the age of 40 (2), and in young people, the risk was doubled, as Lu et al. also report (1). This result was found despite the fact that many suicides and suicide attempts on active drugs were missing in the FDA analysis (3).

    It is therefore a highly convincing finding that antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in young people, and randomised trials are far more reliable than the before-after analysis that Lu et al. presented, which seemed to find the opposite result. There must therefore be major problems with their research ..."

    Read complete response

    Why the GMC should set up a central registry of doctorsí competing interests

    Hole Ousia Blog Post 16 January 2014

    Open Letter to the General Medical Council:

    "Dear sir Trust between patients and doctors is critical to good medical practice, and doctors are still highly trusted by the public.[1] But we should ensure that we deserve it. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has estimated that the drug industry pays £40m (€48m; $65m) a year to doctors for speaking fees, flights, hotels, and other travel expenses.

    Yet who is being paid what is opaque. It is clear that exposure to pharmaceutical advertising adversely affects future prescribing. There is also evidence that if doctors accept gifts from the drug industry, patients trust doctors less. Citizens can access MPs' central register of their financial conflicts of interest, yet patients cannot find out whether their doctor has a financial conflict of interest.

    The vast majority of doctors will be receiving no payments from any organisation other than their employer or the NHS. Some will receive fees for their expertise from NHS or non-NHS organisations. Others will be receiving some pharmaceutically sponsored education. A few will be receiving large amounts for assisting pharmaceutical or other companies with their profile and sales of their products ..."
    Read complete letter

    FOI Request Response from NHS Lothian re Register of Payments

    I made an FOI request to NHS Lothian on 30 April 2014, asking if there was now a Register of Interest for all employees, in particular to find out if any psychiatrists in this health board area, where our Scottish Parliament sits, receive payments from drug companies.

    Here is the FOI Request Response from NHS Lothian.

    The gist of which is that NHS Lothian "do not maintain a standing register of interests for all employees".

    'Who's Paying Your Doctor?' Panorama, Monday 14 April 2014

    Panorama on Monday 14 April 2014 at 8.30pm asked the questions 'Who's Paying Your Doctor?':

    "With the NHS drug bill topping £10 billion in 2013, this investigation examines the tactics employed by drug companies to tap into that lucrative market and influence which medicines your doctor prescribes. Strict rules govern drug company spending in the UK, but still they pay out millions to doctors to attend and speak at conferences. Panorama goes undercover to see this subtle persuasion at work and asks whether you should have the right to know who is paying your doctor.

    And as Britain's most profitable drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, waits to hear whether it will face criminal charges following allegations of bribery in China, the programme reveals new evidence that GSK was recently paying doctors to boost prescriptions much closer to home, in Europe."

    I've set up two new blogs on Big Pharma topics

    'Do we underestimate the benefits of antidepressants?' Lancet April 2014

    Authors: Mazda Adli, Ulrich Hegerl

    "In the past 5 years, doubts have been raised about the therapeutic eff ectiveness of antidepressants in patients with depressive disorders, because of the small diff erences in symptom improvement between antidepressants and placebo recorded in randomised controlled trials (RCTs). With the recent debates about lowering of disease thresholds in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fi fth edition, and the medicalisation of normal bereavement, this scepticism has increased."
    Read complete article

    'Challenges in rolling out interventions for schizophrenia' Lancet April 2014

    Authors: Derrick Silove, Philip B Ward

    "The Global Mental Health (GMH) movement has played a pivotal part in bringing to attention the unmet needs of patients with mental disorders, particularly in lowincome and middle-income countries.1,2 Sch izophrenia is of primary concern in view of the high level of associated disability and stigma, and the risk that, without treatment, patients will experience prolonged institutionalisation, neglect, and abuse.

    Sudipto Chatterjee and colleagues' multicentre, randomised controlled COmmunity care for People with Schizophrenia in India (COPSI) trial,6 in The Lancet, represents a milestone by showing the benefi ts of a collaborative community-based care plus facilitybased care model compared with conventional facility-based care alone for treatment of moderate to severe schizophrenia. However, implementation of collaborative community-based care in low-income and middle-income countries has several issues that need further consideration, such as ensuring continuity in supervision of community workers, safeguarding the physical health of patients, and embedding services within the local context and culture."
    Read complete article

    'US doctors earn speaking and consulting fees from drug companies that sponsor their research' BMJ 27 March 2014

    by Michael McCarthy, Seattle

    "Medical researchers in the United States often accept thousands of dollars in speaking and consulting payments from drug companies that also sponsor their research, the investigative journalism nonprofit organization ProPublica reported on 25 March.

    In their investigation Charles Ornstein and Ryann Grochowski Jones, reporters for ProPublica, used a searchable database called Dollars for Docs, which tracks payments made to doctors by 15 drug companies."
    Read complete article

    BMJ polls 2014 selection

  • Is GSK's move to employ doctors as medical educators more transparent than paying external speakers?
    Yes 225 (53%)
    No 198 (47%)
    Total votes cast: 423

  • Should medical journals publish sponsored content?
    Yes 244 (32%)
    No 521 (68%)
    Total votes cast: 765

  • Would you be comfortable declaring your competing interests on a central database?
    Yes: 417 (81%)
    No:98 (19%)
    Total votes cast: 515

  • Should medical journals stop publishing research funded by the drug industry?
    Yes: 786 (55%)
    No: 631 (45%)
    Total votes cast: 1417

    I believe that taking money from Big Pharma is ethically wrong

    [a statement written for ALLIANCE event 'A Question of Ethics: Members discussion on the ALLIANCE's relationship with the pharmaceutical industry' on 7 February 2014]

  • Psychiatric drugs are used in psychiatric settings to coerce and control psychiatric patients. The drugs alter brain chemicals and cause debilitating side effects which result in more psych drugs being taken to control the effects. In my case the anti-psychotics agitated and depressed me. I was given the anti-depressant venlafaxine which depressed me more, gave me suicidal impulses, I took an overdose. Then I was given the "mood stabiliser" lithium, a toxic drug that requires monthly blood tests. None of these drugs worked to lift my mood. I had to take charge of my own mental health, go against the advice of psychiatrists, to recover and survive.

  • At least 50% of people are unhappy that they were forced to take psych drugs against their will. All of my close family members have engaged with psychiatry. Half of us stayed in the system, the other half went our own way. Of the half who stayed in the system and on the drugs they all lived with physical disabilities. My mother walked with a stick from her 40's onwards, she was on a 3wkly depot injection until she died aged 68. If you go into a mental health day facility you will see many older women walking with sticks. My youngest sister, now in her 40's walks with a stick, her balance is effected, she is on clozapine ....

    Read complete statment

  • News Archive, Past Events

    April 2015

    HealingVoices movie Perth & Glasgow 29Apr16: overcoming psychosis & mental illness

    HealingVoices movie on 29 April 2016 in the Memorial Chapel, Glasgow University, and at the same time in the AK Bell Library, Perth. Link to Storify of tweets.

    "Healing Voices is a full-length documentary which explores the experiences commonly labelled as "psychosis" or "mental illness" through the real-life stories of individuals working to overcome extreme mental states" my storify of tweets re Perth viewing and from Glasgow folks Andrew, Hamish, Stella et al; here are a few:

    Fantastic setting for #HealingVoices @UofGlasgow @UofGMHW @UofGIHW @VoicesMovie pic.twitter.com/z3NIy3ABac

    — Andy Gumley (@andygumley) April 29, 2016

    Hi @andygumley & folks #healingvoicesglasgow fae Perth fowk! @UofGlasgow @UofGMHW @UofGIHW @VoicesMovie pic.twitter.com/luwKOlIZW6

    — Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) April 29, 2016

    Now peer respite #HealingVoices @OryxCohen freedom @VoicesMovie I made it to a safe place @andygumley secure base pic.twitter.com/pyzxRD8Frv

    — Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) April 29, 2016

    Well done @OryxCohen for speaking out about weakness #HealingVoices @VoicesMovie very powerful

    — Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) April 29, 2016

    July 2015

    paradigm shift? @CoyneoftheRealm: Yes to an epiphany' post and response from Mary MacCallum Sullivan

    25 July 2015 blog post link: paradigm shift? @CoyneoftheRealm: Yes to an epiphany

    "A response to the Professor James Coyne seminar in the Division of Psychiatry, Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, on 22 July 2015, with the strapline 'BPS's Understanding psychosis and schizophrenia - a skeptic's perspective'."

    Extracts "You don't know what it's like to have your agency taken away until it happens to you. The disempowerment and the injustice of being held down by at least 3 psychiatric nurses who pull your pants down and stick a needle into your backside [Hartwoodhill Hospital, Lanarkshire]. Forcing you to conform to the regime and to come out of a psychosis on their terms. Because you have felt the pain of induced childbirth and reacted to it by going into an altered mind state, to escape for a while. (thanks to Dr Samei Huda yesterday, and at other times, on twitter for engaging and helping me make sense of my puerperal and menopausal psychoses)."

    "I am fortunate to have had many allies over the years when resisting the force and escaping the system. And these have included psychiatrists, up to this present day, one of whom is a very good friend and shares his life with me on a daily basis, with encouragement, treating me like an equal and demonstrating that very quality which I glimpsed in psychiatry back in 1970 when my mother was in the Kinnoull Ward of Murray Royal Hospital, Perth [Dr Peter J Gordon: Hole Ousia]."

    And 1 September 2015 blog post response from Mary MacCallum Sullivan:

    "Response to 'a newly qualified clinical psychologist working with people who've experienced psychosis and I worry about being part of a system that, for some at least, seems to have been more abusive than therapeutic. I wonder what your thoughts are about what the profession needs to do differently to be part of the change in the system that you envision?'

    I have no intention here to speak on behalf of Chrys, but from my own experience as a psychotherapist and a person.

    Chrys points out that, if you don't know what it's like 'to have your agency taken away'; if you haven't experienced 'an altered mind state', you should be listening to and respecting the person who has. She remarkably reveals: 'I trusted [mental health professionals] to take care of me as if they were my parents'.

    Is it so surprising that she should resent being forced to take medication which radically damaged and curtailed her sense of self? ..." read complete response

    reflecting on #CuparCab Ministers @ScotParl meeting 6 July, asking a question, engaging with MSPs at tea-time

    "Nearly a week has gone by since I attended the Cabinet Ministers' meeting in Bell Baxter High School, Cupar, at 7pm on 6 July 2015, and networked with MSPs at the tea time afterwards.

    I got there first, being early on the scene, apart from a guy with a camera on a large tripod who was taking shots outside. Others gathered behind me in the queue, most were SNP supporters wearing badges, some of whom were known to me from when I was in the party for a year, 2013. We chatted and I spoke of my intentions to stand next year as an independent candidate at the Scottish parliamentary elections. Not sure if this news went down well. ...."

    [my question asked at 28.10mins in, responded to at 35.34mins]

    "I was given an opportunity to ask a question and it was answered by the First Minister who said that the new IPCU will be like "night and day compared to what's there just now ... average length of stay 6wks". Maureen Watt MSP and Minister for Public Health mentioned my activism and campaigning, saying "I'd just like to recognise the tireless work you do" and "well done to you". She spoke of my presence at the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill debate in parliament on 24 June, and the Emails that she had received from me, copied in to other MSPs.

    Maureen Watt also mentioned Jamie Hepburn MSP who is the first Minister for Mental Health in Scotland, along with Sport and Health Improvement, and his work on the Carers Bill. Ms Watt said that she met with a Carers group at Rufflets Hotel and topics of carers respite. At the tea time afterwards Ms Watt said she was an MSP in Hunter Watson's constituency.

    At the tea-time I spoke to my own MSP Rod Campbell on a few occasions, one of which was when engaging with Maureen Watt MSP. I mentioned my intention to stand for parliament, which I'd informed Mr Campbell about previously. Saying I was compelled to do so because he hadn't spoken out for me in the parliament chamber or invited me in to speak on my own behalf. Mr Campbell said he had written many letters about my case, indicating with his hand movements a file that was very large.

    Later on Michael Matheson MSP said that Rod Campbell would win in any battle with me in the parliamentary elections next May 2016. It was said jokingly, in banter, and I laughed in response, saying something about the might of SNP meant I would be up against it. For I don't expect to even get my deposit back. It will cost me, financially and energy wise, being an unwaged carer, a pensioner who lives in a council house. Yet I have lived in the Cupar area for over 25yrs, a community worker for 35yrs. I think this has to mean something in terms of representing people in communities and speaking out. From the grassroots.

    I waited in the queue to speak to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, nearly the last to do so, having let a man go before me because his wife asked. I spoke to the FM about a number of things, and I reminded Ms Sturgeon of speaking with her at the Cabinet Ministers' meeting in Kirkcaldy, 30 August 2011, when she was CabSec for Health, about the lack of Independent Advocacy in Fife. And then how in February 2012 my son was subject to human rights abuses in Stratheden Hospital's IPCU, the locked seclusion room, no toilet or water to drink, light switch outside.

    All in all I found the Cupar Cabinet Ministers' meeting to be a positive experience and an opportunity to speak out and, hopefully, to be heard. It was good practice as I prepare to mount my own political campaign in the lead up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, putting together a manifesto on mental health matters with an added focus on unwaged carers and the human rights of the mentally ill."

    see complete Blog Post

    May 2015

    tweeting about the reality of psychiatric abuse to Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Mental Health @ScotParl

    "On 12 May 2015 the Health and Sport Committee at Scottish Parliament will consider a petition by Andrew Muir, PE1550, on behalf of Psychiatric Rights Scotland, calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to set up a public inquiry into historical cases of abuse of people detained under the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984 and the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.

    See Papers for 12 May 2015 meeting of the Health and Sport Committee.

    Here are my tweets from earlier, addressed to Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Mental Health, who gave a written response to this Petition which claimed that Mental Health Act safeguards were a protection in respect of the rights of psychiatric patients and that it was easy to make a complaint about psychiatric abuse. No it isn't. I can testify to that. Bullying is a reality. Notes by "professionals" which read like fiction."

    historical cases of psychiatric abuse @jamiehepburn? I can testify to that @SP_HealthSport @duncanmcneilmsp @RSimpsonMSP @AndrewJMuir

    — Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) May 12, 2015

    psychiatric abuse very difficult to prove @jamiehepburn @ShonaRobison: declarations of "incapacity" @GlasgowMSP notes that read like fiction

    — Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) May 12, 2015

    I won @SPSO_Ombudsman case Sep14 "unreasonable treatment" that was psychiatric abuse @jamiehepburn @RhodaGrant very hard to do, was bullied

    — Chrys Muirhead (@ChrysMuirhead) May 12, 2015

    See other tweets in Blog Post

    February 2015

    Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) page on my blog now in operation

    "2 February 2015: have started up a page on my blog about Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS). From a critical viewpoint.

    Listing blog posts already written which mention HIS and writing new pieces. The main impetus for highlighting their work is because of increasing concerns that senior management in HIS think themselves to be above scrutiny and not accountable to the public whom they (are meant to) serve. "

    On 5 December 2014 I raised a complaint about the unprofessional behaviour of an HIS National Clinical Lead worker on social media, towards a Doctor friend and colleague. It looked like a character assassination attempt. My complaint was upheld in a letter from Robbie Pearson, Deputy Chief Executive, Director of Scrutiny & Assurance, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, sent 30 January 2015. I received an apology regarding the "incident".

    [HIS Code of Conduct and Social Media Guidance for Staff]

    See blog post: 'My Complaint to Healthcare Improvement Scotland about the Targeting of a Doctor by their National Clinical Lead'

    Here is a link to the HIS Complaint in a News Bulletin pdf (front page capture above this post)

    And to Dr Peter Gordon's Hole Ousia blog post: 'Why I have decided to leave Social Media', 7 February 2015

    "Freedom to speak up" and a "Stronger voice" - Dr Peter J Gordon, Hole Ousia blog

    Link to "Freedom to speak up" and a "Stronger voice" by Dr Gordon

    "Last week Sir Robert Francis, QC, published this review:

    "I was interested in this review given my recent experiences. In putting patients first I have always supported an open and honest culture. Recently I was fortunate to meet Richard Norris, Director of The Scottish Health Council:

    "I fully support a stronger voice for all. A strong voice may also be a critical voice. These two separate reviews remind me of a rewarding partnership I have with Chrys Muirhead. I am a doctor and so the first review applies most to me. Chrys Muirhead is a carer and activist, and the second review applies most to her.

    Our shared experience has been of the considerable difficulties we have each had in raising critical questions. In sharing our knowledge and experience we have, together, found greater empowerment. This has been an enlightening experience for me."

    January 2015

    'In personal consideration of the 3 R's: Resilience. Resistance. Recovery.' in DCP-Scotland Review

    Thanks to Simon Stuart, Editor of the Division of Clinical Psychology, Scotland, Review, for inviting me to submit this piece to the Winter 2014/2015 edition, Issue 11. I had written it in the first place for Scottish Recovery Network but they don't accept "non-commissioned work". Simon noticed me tweeting about the piece being rejected (didn't mention by whom) and expressed an interest. I appreciated the communications with Simon and that my piece as written was published. No editing. A welcome relief. I don't like being edited.

    Link to: In personal consideration of the 3 R's: Resilience. Resistance. Recovery. and to DCP-Scotland Review Winter 2014/2015

    Capacity and Consent - Scottish Parliament has to act - Scottish Government has to serve and be accountable

    An Email response I wrote to a mental health human rights campaigner who had sent his paper on Capacity and Consent which was "relevant to the two petitions" that he "submitted to the Public Petitions Committee". I was copied in to his Email along with a number of fellow campaigners, journalists, law experts, MSPs and others.

    "I agree with you that "a conference that incorporated campaigners, mental health professionals, human rights experts and legal experts" makes perfect sense and would enable frank and honest discussions, all voices to be heard, more level playing fields and meaningful involvement.

    I was excluded from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme for Mental Health (SPSP-MH) events from its inception until the present day. Why? Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) chair Denise Coia gave no full explanation and neither did Ruth Glassborow who used to work with Scottish Government and now works with HIS. The only reason given was that if I attended then "others" wouldn't attend. No good reason whatsoever. And then I received an Email from Dr Coia, apparently mistakenly sent to me, which talked about me. I also questioned the allocation of places for the IIMHL in Manchester, but as usual got no response.

    I believe that I was excluded from patient safety events because of the dehumanising treatment perpetrated on my son in Stratheden Hospital in February 2012. At the time this happened I was a member of the Scottish Crisis and Acute Care Network Steering Group, whose co-leader was Dr David Hall, also lead on the SPSP-MH, The crisis steering group therefore was a party to all that happened with my son in the seclusion room of the Stratheden IPCU. There could have been no dubiety because I wrote blog posts about it at time, in detail ..."

    Read complete Email

    Dr David Christmas MD Thesis 'Functional neurosurgery for intractable mental disorder' and my blog post page of responses

    "This page is devoted to a consideration of Dr David Christmas's MD Thesis 'Functional neurosurgery for intractable mental disorder: long term effects on mental health, neuropsychological performance, social function, and quality of life', December 2006."

    [with a critical eye]

    Part 3: going back to the abstract @dchristmas (the first cut is the deepest) (21 January 2015)

    [A favourite song of mine from the Sixties:

    Part 2: "unnecessary and groundless interventions" @dchristmas (30 December 2014)

    Part 1: Christmas thesis strapline: "Functional neurosurgery for intractable mental disorder" (18 December 2014)

    Email to fellow campaigner requesting a female psychiatric survivor be at his meeting with Minister Jamie Hepburn

    "Here is a copy of an Email sent this morning (5 January 2015) to a fellow male human rights campaigner, and others. An exhortation to consider my request that a psychiatric survivor, a woman and a mother, be at the meeting with him and the Minister for Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn:

    "Dear ..... I believe that there should be a psychiatric survivor at the meeting with the Minister on 5 February 2015. Preferably a woman and a mother. To give balance and also to speak from personal experience. I have to speak out about this to you, and the others, and can't keep quiet. I wouldn't have survived traumatic psychiatric treatment and the stigmatising labels if I'd allowed myself to be silenced.

    The main issue about the psychiatric system and mental health law is that our voices are not being heard. The women, the mothers and the mental patients. It has been written, by feminist academics, that psychiatry treats everyone like women. That ECT is a gentleman's way of battering a woman. (see 2006 paper by Bonnie Burstow, 'Electroshock as a form of violence against women')

    It is the voices of the survivors which have the power and should be heard, in my opinion. Those of us who did not believe in the lifelong mental illness labels or that we had to swallow the disabling psychiatric drugs, and then were forced to do so. Those of us who tapered the drugs and got out of the system, under our own steam, resisting the patriarchy and what was written about us "in the notes" ..."

    Read complete post

    My submissions to the Health and Sport Committee at Scottish Parliament as evidence in respect of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill

    First Submission: 'A Plea to Scottish Parliament: Fair and Just Treatment for All People in Psychiatric Settings'

    Introduction: "The overarching objective of the Bill is stated in the policy memorandum as: "to help people with a mental disorder to access effective treatment quickly and easily."

    I am looking for more than this. As a mother and carer of two sons with mental disorder labels I want to see:

  • The Mental Health Act implemented properly and monitored effectively in every Scottish Health Board area, including Fife where I live
  • Mental Health Act safeguards that are safe: in my family's experience we have found that advance statements were overruled, named persons (myself) were uninformed, Mental Health Tribunals were weighted in favour of "professionals", Mental Health Officers behaved unprofessionally and the Mental Welfare Commission were wise after the event and had no power to influence health boards to improve buildings that they had declared "unfit for purpose"
  • Carers, and mothers, respected by all mental health professionals, including Scottish Government civil servants and Healthcare Improvement Scotland
  • Patients not subject to dehumanising treatment and a denial of their basic human rights when locked up and locked in Scottish psychiatric units."

    On 29 September 2014 I received a decision letter from SPSO informing me that my complaint against NHS Fife Health Board (submitted to the Ombudsman on 17 September 2013) had been upheld. I had originally wanted the judgement to be about "human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment" but I was told by the SPSO adviser in September that the most I could hope for was "unreasonable treatment". Human rights abuses would have to go before a criminal court."

    Read complete first submission

    Second 6 page Submission: "it was my family's experience in February 2012 that the safeguards contained in the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 weren't safe"

    "Sometimes, when people are unwell, they may have to be detained in hospital or have treatment against their will. But they still have rights. We all have human rights, and mental health law contains special rights and safeguards to protect people." Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland

    Unfortunately it was my family's experience in February 2012 that the safeguards contained in the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 weren't safe.

    A family member who became an inpatient of an hospital's IPCU on 1 February 2012 knew the Act well as they were studying it for a BSc honours sociology 4th year dissertation at University, and therefore knew their rights (they graduated this summer 2014). As primary carer and named person I also knew what their rights and mine were. However our knowledge and experience carried little weight when they were detained under the Act in a locked seclusion room with no toilet or water to drink, for hours at a time, medicated with Midazolam ... "The Mental Health Act is based on a set of 10 Principles and at number 7:

    "Respect for carers - Those who provide care to service users on an informal basis should receive respect for their role and experience, receive appropriate information and advice, and have their views and needs taken into account"

    I contend that I was not accorded the respect as prescribed in the Act and was not given timely or appropriate information."

    Read complete second submission

    December 2014

    my comments on SRN article 'Stigma, recovery and Scottish attitudes to mental health' 15 December 2014

    Scottish Recovery Network article

    "As an unpaid carer and mother of two sons with mental health difficulties who are in receipt of DLA I can testify that stigma and discrimination is very much alive and kicking in Scotland, particularly in psychiatric settings and mental health services.

    Here is an example of a recent incident that happened to one of my sons who was given a work placement by a council employability project worker, within a social work office. On the second week of the placement my son was spotted by a Mental Health Officer who had worked with my son 18 months previously, hadn't seen him in the meantime.

    Outcome? The MHO spoke with the senior social worker overseeing the placement, and didn't include my son in the discussion. His workplace activities got curtailed, in case he overheard the MHO on the phone and breached confidentiality. Which is what the MHO did by her very actions, demonstrating perfectly by her actions stigma and discrimination. Our response? My son ended the placement and I raised a complaint."

    "To add. I have a schizoaffective disorder label/diagnosis in my "notes" after experiencing a menopausal psychosis in 2002, however I made a full recovery by 2005, putting my story on the SRN website.

    However in 2012 when one of my sons was a psychiatric inpatient it was written in his notes "family history of schizoaffective disorder" (me). I contend my label was used to stigmatise and discriminate against my son, in respect of his unreasonable treatment, my complaint recently upheld by the Ombudsman."

    HIS: "engaging in social media requires resource - a commonly held view that it is simple and easy to do is misleading"

    "Recently I had to take the step of making a complaint about a senior manager in Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) who I noticed was using Twitter inappropriately. To harass another healthcare professional who had different opinions and a questioning voice.

    I am very sensitive to this type of coercive behaviour, having been subjected to it myself on occasion by people in high positions who think that they are entitled to patronise, bully and exclude me because I speak out from an opposite viewpoint or with a critical voice.

    When making my complaint to the HIS Chief Executive I asked for a copy of their Social Media Policy. However I was informed that they "do not hold a formal policy on employee use of social media". Rather the HIS staff are guided by" their "code of conduct policy" and a "Social Media Guidance" document ...."

    Read complete blog post

    October 2014

    HOSPITAL HORRORS: my son speaks out in Scottish Sunday Express 5 October 2014: 'Patient locked in cell with no toilet, food or water'

    Page 5 strapline 'Psychiatric patient's treatment slammed': HOSPITAL HORRORS: Patient locked in cell with no toilet, food or water, Sunday Express, 5 October 2014, by Greg Christison

    "Stratheden Hospital, a mental health unit, has been heavily criticised by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) following a string of failures.

    The watchdog also reported that staff at the NHS facility dragged terrified Daniel Muirhead between wards in just his underwear and failed to appropriately monitor his wellbeing after he was dumped in a seclusion room.

    The Sunday Express understands the findings, which follow a year-long probe, will be handed to police for further investigation.

    Last night furious patient campaigners expressed their shock and disgust at the 11-page SPSO dossier, describing the treatment as "cruel".

    Mr Muirhead, who is now in better health, insisted psychiatric wards are "doing more harm than good"."

    "Dr Jean Turner, of the Scotland Patients Association, expressed "shock" and said she backed the family's plans to report the alleged human rights abuses to police.

    "This is no way to treat anyone, mental illness or not," she said.

    "I don't know what they were thinking; transferring someone with just their underpants on, and it is cruel to lock someone up for that amount of time without food or water.
    "It is inhumane."

    "Mr Muirhead, who admits he was suffering "mental distress" at the time, weaned himself off anti-psychosis drugs. He has since graduated in sociology from the University of Abertay.

    Despite his recovery, he is angry at the "dehumanising" way he was treated.

    He added: "The system is purporting to take care of patients and provide therapy but, in reality, they are treating patients in an undignified manner, as sub-humans."

    Read complete Sunday Express article

    Email from Geoff Huggins (Scottish Government) on 24 June 2014 that caused me pain, wounding me with its underlying blaming and shaming

    October 2014 Blog post introduction:

    "I received an Email from Geoff Huggins on 24 June 2014 at 17.07 which caused me pain with its underlying blaming and shaming of the person I am and the work that I do. It was a personal attack on my character, behaviour and intentions. Copied in to others.

    I contend that it was slanderous and defamatory. However I am an unpaid carer, on £61/week Carers Allowance, live in a council house, separated from my husband, supporting my son 24/7 after his dehumanising treatment in Stratheden Hospital, Fife, in February 2012. I can't afford to take my case against Geoff Huggins to a solicitor. I'm not on benefits and wouldn't be entitled to legal aid.

    You might describe me as "poor" in comparison to Scottish Government civil servants.

    This Email wounded me to the extent that I had to cancel my presentation on the Mental Health Act Safeguards at the INTAR Liverpool Conference the next day, 25 June, and then on 27 June my son had to call out the paramedics because I was feeling very unwell, linked to the high blood pressure condition I have, as a result of taking lithium.

    I was targeted with this Email because I had complained about being excluded from the Scottish Patient Safety Programme exchange with the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership. And was then left out of celebrations at Edinburgh Castle with leading Scottish politicians. It felt very unfair and unjust.... [unacceptable actions]"

    Read complete blog post and copy of Email

    Yvonne Strachan, Head of Equality, Human Rights and Third Sector at Scottish Government, investigated my complaint against Geoff Huggins, and here is Ms Strachan's final report.

    'NHS apology is 'just the start'' Fife Herald article, Friday 10 October 2014

    Online link to: NHS apology is 'just the start' Fife Herald article, Friday 10 October 2014

    Chrys Muirhead Interview Stratheden Hospital, Fife, STV News 6 October 2014

    I'm speaking out about my son's dehumanising treatment in Stratheden Hospital, near Cupar, in respect of my complaint against NHS Fife health board being upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

    I also mention being contacted by another mother two weeks previously whose son was in the Stratheden IPCU getting put in the seclusion room, having to sleep on a couch through the day when tired and not having ongoing access to water to drink. The mother asked me to put her Email in a blog post, which I did:
    Email from mother, subject "Ward 4" (Stratheden Hospital IPCU) - 21 September 2014

    Giving a short interview Health & Social Care Alliance conference 19 May 2014 #ourfuture14

    "Published on May 19, 2014: Chrys Muirhead, carer and activist talks about the importance of listening to people who use adult mental health services and storytelling."

    Prof David Healy's response to Mental Health (Scotland) Bill

    Here is a link to Professor David Healy's response to the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill on the Scottish Parliament website.

    "I was approached by Autism Rights to submit written evidence for the committee stage of the Mental Health (Scotland) Bill because of my professional profile. I agreed because of my concern at the reports and information I have received about the treatment of people who are on the autistic spectrum within the Scottish mental health system, including patients who have consulted me from Scotland. This information tallies with reports in the rest of the UK and indeed generally within Western mental health systems." p1

    "My main concern with mental health legislation is that it ignores the reality that, for many, the treatments do not work as intended and when this is the case the results can be destructive to the person's physical and mental wellbeing. This reality makes any provisions about the `medical necessity` of treatment in a system that can enforce treatment questionable unless there is a properly independent system that can advocate for the patient and their carer. At present there is no such system." p2

    "It is not generally known that 80% of the problems that are identified with drugs are identified by patients and their carers and sometimes their doctors, not by clinical trials. Randomised Clinical Trials (RCTs) are in fact not designed to pick up on adverse events and are the Gold Standard way to hide adverse events."p3

    "As legislators, MSPs have a duty to take a balanced selection of evidence. I would be very happy to elaborate on the points above both as they apply to the psychotropic drugs given to people within mental health systems and as they might also apply to any drugs given to MSPs at present. There is a pressing need for some healthcare system to find a way to ensure that the rights all patients are acknowledged to have in principle are realized in practice. No legislation anywhere to date has found an answer to this issue - because no legislators have in fact addressed it." p4

    Read complete Response

    Herald Editor supports Dr Peter Gordon's Sunshine Act Petition

    "Here is the editorial from Sunday Herald, 18 May 2014, supporting Dr Peter Gordon's Sunshine Act Petition:

    The Utmost Discretion: How Presumed Prudence Leaves Children Susceptible to Electroshock

    Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, Simon Adam, Peter Breggin, Brenda A. LeFrancois
    Children & Society Volume 28, (2014) pp. 205-217

    "This article examines the controversial and largely publicly undocumented practice ofadministering electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or electroshock) to children who are undergoing psychiatric treatment. Conventional psychiatric beliefs and practices are challenged, along with a presentation of the history of scientific research which questions electroshock's 'effectiveness' and outlines its brain-damaging and incapacitating effects.

    As such, we provide counterarguments regarding the legitimacy of ECT as a treatment option, deconstructing the principle ofpresumed prudence in its use. Our analysis leads us to conclude that the 'principle of presumed prudence' should be eschewed in favour of the 'precautionary principle', in order to underscore and uphold the medical ethos 'to do no harm' and to ensure the application of children's rights within the psychiatric system."
    c2014 John Wiley a Sons Ltd and National Childrell's Bureau
    Keywords: children, electroshock, consent, psychiatry, rights, precautionary principle.

    Read complete article

    November 2013

    UCC Conference Meanings of Madness: Critical and Creative Perspectives 13 & 14 November 2013

    A Two-Day Conference, Meanings of Madness: Critical and Creative Perspectives, was held on 13 & 14 November 2013 in University College Cork, organised by the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery & the School of Applied Social Studies UCC, in association with the Critical Voices Network Ireland. Conference organisers are Lydia Sapouna and Harry Gijbels (see photo).

    "The conference speakers include people with experiences of madness or distress as well as academics, researchers and practitioners. This conference focuses on madness as a meaningful human experience.

    Madness is a word that continues to invite controversy, with some perceiving it to be a derogatory term, others perceiving it as a celebration of human creativity and diversity, whilst others position themselves somewhere in the middle. The dominant biomedical view of madness has led to responses that are primarily, and often exclusively, of a biochemical nature, in which the significance of meaning and life contexts are generally ignored."

    "Keynote Speakers include Liz Brosnan, PhD, Survivor Researcher, Galway, Ireland; Gail A. Hornstein, Professor of Psychology, Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts, USA); John Read, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, England; Doug Ross, artist, founding member of Renew. Teresa Tuohy, Health Research Board funded PHD Candidate, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

    Conference Programme

    October 2013

    Scottish Crisis & Acute Care Network'Improving Pathways' conference

    On 29 October 2013 in the Golden Lion Hotel, Stirling, the Scottish Crisis & Acute Care Network held its annual conference 'Improving Pathways'. Here is a link to the Conference Programme.

    Carers Parliament Edinburgh

    I attended the second Carers Parliament on 1 October 2013 in the Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh, along with a hundred or more carers, about 80% of us women, and some from other countries in Europe. The Programme theme was 'Your Rights' and First Minister Alex Salmond was the surprise keynote speaker, intimating the launch that day of the Statement of Intent for Carers and Young Carers.

    August 2013

    Reframing Psychosis

    I was invited to write an article for the Mental Health Nursing Journal and it was published in the August/September 2013 edition, Vol 33, Number 4: 'I would like to see a reframing of psychosis'.

    (original copy).

    "I have a particular interest in the experience of psychosis or what used to be called having a nervous breakdown, and this is because I and all my close family members have experienced a psychotic episode, on one or more occasions. You might describe it as normal for us. However the challenge has always been the psychiatric inpatient treatment with its reliance on diagnoses, medication and compliance. Or labelling and disabling as I like to call it.

    It's fair to say that I have never believed psychiatry, since 1970 and aged 17, when I visited my mother in the Kinnoull locked ward at Murray Royal Hospital, Perth. I knew then that something wasn't right with the treatment of mad people and that locking everyone in together couldn't be the best way of doing things. The psychiatrists said I had an old head on young shoulders when I used to meet with them to discuss my mother."

    July 2013

    It began with Peer Support and now I'm a Writer, Activist and Campaigner

    I was recently invited by the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust's Peer Led Recovery Project to be keynote speaker - expert from out of town - at their Peer-Led Recovery Project event 'Peer Support: How do we make it part and parcel of all our mental health services?'. It was held on 18 July in the new Maudsley Ortus Learning Centre, an impressive building and useful resource. The debate and discussion included a peer support learning network proposal.

    'It began with Peer Support and now I'm a Writer, Activist and Campaigner' was the presentation title, although I diverted from the script at points and went over time (apologies Penelope). There were over 100 peers at the lunch and discussions. It was good to catch up with various folks, including some who had attended our Peer Support Fife Sharp Edge event. I'd flown down and back on the day, catching the train to Denmark Hill and walking through the Maudsley Hospital grounds, in a heatwave. Managed to grab a tea break in the morning at St Paul's, walking in the shade from Farringdon station via Smithfield Market, getting lost on the way.

    Other speakers were Simon Rayner, head of Pathway at SLaM who'd organised the trip of 11 SLaM folk to Fife in 2011, and Gabrielle Richards, head of OT and lead for social inclusion, who spoke about the SLaM Recovery College.

    November 2012

    29 November 2012 London - Save the Babies: Occupy the Royal College of Psychiatrists

    I joined the protest by Speak Out Against Psychiatry on 29 November 2012 at the Hallam Conference Centre, 44 Hallam Street, London, W1W 6JJ. Arriving at about 3.15pm to see Cheryl and other brave women standing up for the rights of pregnant women and their unborn children, to be given alternatives to psychiatric drugs and ECT/shock treatment. See blog post bringing in the heavies at the perinatal psychiatry conference

    Having a baby is an emotional time and it's the same after childbirth. I can testify to this, having had postatal episodes of mental ill health, in 1978 and 1984, resulting in psychiatric hospitalisation, forced treatment and numbing anti-psychotics. Which meant not being able to breastfeed or to experience the full joys of motherhood and a new baby. Childbirth for me was all about chemical induction, bringing my baby into the world on the day shift, when more nurses were on duty. Staff centred care, just like in the psychiatric system, in my opinion.

    RCPsych Conference on Perinatal Psychiatry Programme

    Video - Kidnapped By Psychiatry

    An account of what is was like ending up in a psychiatric hospital and after trying to get away the nurses broke Cheryl's arm and threatened to give her ECT. Cheryl's eight day nightmare that still haunts her over three years later.
    See Video

    October 2012

    Pat Bracken Video on the Crisis in Psychiatry

    at the Forum for Existential Psychology and Therapy

    "Psychiatrist Pat Bracken speaks on the current "crisis of legitimacy in psychiatry" and the growth of the international service user movement at the Forum for Existential Psychology and Therapy in June. The root cause of the crisis is not attributable to psychopharmacology or "a few mistakes in the DSM" that more research would get right, Dr Bracken argues; the root cause lies deep in the dominant paradigm; a "modernist" agenda to frame all human problems in scientific and technological terms. Dr. Bracken supports a post-modernist view; an understanding of the limitations and dangers of such an approach, and accepting that some human problems will not be solved by science and technology, and that mental health is such a problem."

    "psychiatry came into the world on the back of an act of social exclusion ... original sin already built in"

    See video link from Mad in America website.

    July 2012

    Stratheden Hospital Blog

    I've started up a new blog on Stratheden Hospital, Cupar, Fife, to report on environmental improvements to the grounds. This psychiatric hospital is in a rural situation with views across the countryside. There is a mix of buildings, some very old and still in use, others empty and boarded up.

    The photo shows new build wards Elmview and Muirview, for elderly patients.

    March 2012

    Giving Psychosis a Voice Conference

    A one-day conference 'Giving Psychosis a Voice 2' was held on Thursday 8 March 2012 at Dunston Hall, Norwich - understanding the experiences that have come to be called psychosis can allow people the opportunity to talk about them in relation to their lives. This event followed on from the 2010 international conference, where they explored how finding meaning in psychosis could be a fundamental way of challenging stigma. Themes for the 2012 event included: managing distress, trauma, recovery, formulation, latest research regarding psychosis and working with people's creativity.


  • Dirk Corstens - Social Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist, LavOri, Maastricht
  • Rachel Waddingham - London Hearing Voices Project Manager
  • Eleanor Longden - Intervoice Scientic Board Co-ordinator
  • Jacqui Dillon - Chair of the UK Voice Hearers' Network
  • Phil Barker - Visiting Professor, Trinity College Dublin and Honorary Professor, University of Dundee
  • Lucy Johnstone - Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Cwm Ta Health Board
  • Rufus May - Clinical Psychologist - Bradford Assertive Outreach Team
  • Robin Murray - Professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry

    See Conference Presentations

    February 2012

    The Manifesto of a Noncompliant Mental Patient - Aubrey Ellen Shomo

    Diagnosed with a psychotic disorder at eight years old, transgendered essayist Aubrey Ellen Shomo (born Justin Michael Shomo) would spend most of the next decade on neuroleptic medication - over her vocal objections - and would be hospitalized repeatedly. Upon reaching adulthood, furious with the treatment she received for so long and her own powerlessness in the face of it, she became a psychiatric survivor activist.

    "I see it everywhere: People with mental illness need medication. It sounds reasonable.
    Today, there are even political organizations that seek to make it easy to force a person to take it.
    It's easy to look at another and assume things like that. It's human. After all, it's compassionate to help someone who isn't able to ask for help, right? They'll thank you in the long run, won't they?
    No one asks why their child, or sibling or friend refuses to take their meds. Why bother? It's an illness. It's meaningless. The doctors say so. They know these things.
    Have you ever questioned the logic of the phrase "She wouldn't be refusing medication if she wasn't ill"?
    I am a noncompliant mental patient. I have been for years. I beg you. Ask why.
    Look into my eyes and see me. Try to understand where I'm coming from. Even a crazy person has a human will.
    I am someone's sibling, someone's child, and someone's friend. I could be yours ....

    This essay was first published in Open Minds Quarterly, Spring 2007 Issue.
    Read Complete Essay

    The management of violence in general psychiatry

    'The management of violence in general psychiatry' by Sophie E. Davison, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2005), vol 11, 362-370:

    "Abstract - There is increasing concern about the level of violence within mental healthcare settings. In this article I review what is known on this subject, discuss the relationship between mental disorder and violence and summarise the different ways to prevent and manage violence. When planning strategies to prevent violence in such settings it is important to consider not only patient risk factors but also risk factors in the environment. Staff need to have all the possible techniques for managing violent behaviour available to them in order to weigh up the risks and benefits for any specific patient in any particular situation."

    Read Article

    November 2011

    Robert Whitaker Lecture Cupar Fife November 2011

    Robert Whitaker, USA author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, gave a public lecture in Elmwood College, Cupar, Fife, on 19 November 2011 - see Video of event.

    "According to conventional histories of psychiatry, the arrival of Thorazine in asylum medicine in 1955 kicked off a 'psychopharmacological revolution' Yet, since 1955, the disability rate due to mental illness in the United States has risen more than six-fold. Moreover, this epidemic of disabling mental illness has accelerated since 1987, when Prozac - the first of the "second-generation" drugs - arrived on the market. This increase in disability is also being seen in other countries that have embraced the use of psychiatric drugs: Canada, UK, Ireland, Iceland, Australia and New Zealand, among others. A review of the long-term outcomes literature for psychiatric medications reveals why this is so. The 'medical model' paradigm of care, which emphasises continual use of psychiatric medications, is a failed paradigm, and needs to be dramatically re-thought." Robert Whitaker

    Prof Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker, who live in Fife and were born and raised here, opened and closed our event. Their Tidal Model "helps people reclaim the personal story of mental distress, by recovering their voice. By using their own language, metaphors and personal stories people begin to express something of the meaning of their lives. This is the first step towards helping recover control over their lives".

    September 2011

    At the Sharp Edge - Peer Led Crisis Alternatives Event

    Photo, right to left, Shery Mead, Chris Hansen, Karen Taylor, Ron Coleman, Jacquie Nicholson.

    We organised a dialogue event on peer led crisis alternatives - At the Sharp Edge - on Tuesday 20 September 2011 in the Carnegie Conference Centre, Dunfermline. Peer Support Fife and SAMH (scottish association for mental health) hosted the occasion and over 70 delegates joined us on the day. We welcomed guest speakers Shery Mead and Chris Hansen, USA; Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor, Scotland, and Working to Recovery Ltd; Fiona Venner, manager of the Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service; Jacquie Nicholson, Manager of the Edinburgh Crisis Centre; Jan Cameron, Manager of Redhall Walled Garden.

    June 2011

    Billy Wallace is now at Lands End!

    Our friend and colleague Billy Wallace from Tynron in Dumfries & Galloway started his marathon bike ride from John O'Groats to Lands End on 4 June to promote mental health awareness and well being, challenging stigma and raising money for the charity Support in Mind Scotland. Billy has supported many of our events by coming to Fife and taking part in workshops and training around peer support, recovery and service user involvement. He is a passionate believer in the benefits of peer support and demonstrates this by sharing his 'lived experience' with others on a voluntary basis in his home area and through the Kaleidoscope project in Dumfries.

    May 2011

    Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service Visit

    Ross Hatten and Chrys Muirhead visited Dial House, home of the Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service. The main work is done out of hours with a phone helpline on evenings and a drop-in service at weekends until 2.00am. Families in crisis are welcome and many visitors are helped to cope with crisis, suicidal thoughts and self harm. More information about this project from their website - www.lslcs.org.uk

    Soteria Network members Jen Kilyon and Theresa Smith are carers and activists who have worked tirelessly with many others to "promote progressive approaches to people experiencing extreme states, distress, 'breakdown' or 'psychosis'"and to fundraise for a Soteria House in the UK. See more info on website - www.soterianetwork.org.uk

    March 2011

    Mary O'Hagan Workshop

    Mary O'Hagan delivered a superb masterclass for managers and workshop for stakeholders in St Andrews, Fife, on 28 March 2011. Friends and colleagues joined us from Fife and many areas of Scotland. Roseanne Fearon, Head of Adult Services, Social Work Service, Fife Council, gave the opening address, and John Sawkins read from his book and poetry collection. There were many opportunities for learning and networking - a day to remember.

    See Feedback Report and Mary's Powerpoint Presentation.

    Mary O'Hagan's experience includes being an initiator of the service user movement in New Zealand, the first chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, an advisor to the United Nations and World Health Organization, and a Mental Health Commissioner for New Zealand. Mary is presently an international speaker, consultant and writer, and a thought leader on service user perspectives.

    More information on Mary's websites:

    London and Ireland Visits

    Chrys Muirhead, PS Fife Convener, has recently travelled to London and Ireland to hear and meet innovative international speakers on mental health topics:

  • Goldsmiths College, University of London, was the venue for the UK film premiere of Mere Folle, crazy mother movie, based on the book History Beyond Trauma by Francoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudillierre. The Parisian authors are psychoanalysts who have worked with people in crisis for over 30 years and hold advanced degrees in the classics - French, Latin and Greek literature - and doctorates in sociology.

  • Robert Whitaker, American investigative reporter and author, was speaking at Athlone Institute, Ireland - a presentation on the findings reported in his new book Anatomy of an Epidemic. Bob laid before us the evidence about psychiatric drugs and their propensity to create chronicity in the long term. There was an opportunity to ask questions and to meet up with Irish colleagues who are establishing a Network of Critical Voices in Mental Health.

    More information about these books on the Recommended Reading page.

    Solution Focused Approaches Workshop

    Steve Smith, Lecturer at Robert Gordon University, facilitated a workshop on Solution Focused Approaches at Cupar, Fife, on 28 February and 1 March 2011. People who use and have used services, and their carers, participated in this event and found it to be a very useful tool in both their own recovery and in helping others to keep well.

  • Read about solution focused interactions on the RGU website
  • information about the Module Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SCQF Level 9)
  • and the follow-on Module Application of Solution Focused Brief Therapy to Practice.

    Workshop at SCVO's The Gathering

    Chrys Muirhead facilitated a workshop Having a Voice and Making a Difference at The Gathering, Scottish Council for Voluntary Sector's national event in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Wednesday 23 February 2011. It was good to share stories of mental health involvement and the challenges faced in participating in service design and delivery.

    February 2011

    Tidal Newsletter Cupar Workshop

    The February edition of the Tidal Newsletter from Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker contained a write up, on pages 5 and 6, of the Cupar Tidal workshop held in January 2011:
    "All the stories featured in this issue of the Newsletter address reclamation, in one form or another. Each story reminds us of the personal nature of reclamation: taking back something which has a particular meaning for the person."

    Prof Phil Barker book - Mental Health Ethics - is described with reviews from the Amazon website

    January 2011

    Tidal Model Workshop Appreciation

    On 20 & 21 January 2011 Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker skilfully captained a workshop over 2 days in Cupar, Fife - a journey through the Tidal Model with ports of call on the way. The recruits set sail on a voyage of discovery, having made their way from the north and the south, becoming more than participants as they considered solutions. The realisation dawned on us that, although we were travellers together, it was up to each of us to carry our own load, to be strengthened for the journey and to encourage others to do the same.

    Our photo shows some of the crew and the good fun we all had!

    Thanks to Phil and Poppy for an informative and thought-provoking experience, and to everyone who took part and expecially to those who were there to the finish. A flavour of the comments:
    "I had a ball listening and speaking with everyone"
    "Phil and Poppy were great to listen to ... very inspiring!"
    "I had a great time and the group there was excellent


    November 2010

    Acute Inpatient Care Workshop

    Thirteen participants braved the wintry weather, coming from Dumfries, Dundee, Perth and other parts of Fife to share information and experiences at the 3rd PS Fife user carer involvment workshop in Cupar which had a focus on acute inpatient care. The guest speaker was Carolyn Little, Project Co-ordinator, User Carer Involvement Dumfries & Galloway.

    October 2010

    29 October User Carer Involvement Workshop

    Thanks to everyone who came along and participated in our user carer involvement workshop on Friday 29 October 2010 in Cupar Old Parish Centre. There were 26 of us taking part, including guest speakers from the Highland Users Group - Graham Morgan and a HUG member who travelled from Skye, and friends from Dumfries, Glasgow, Falkirk, Crieff, Perth and Dundee. Read Graham's Talk and 29 October workshop report.

    This event followed on from our Mary O'Hagan workshop in May, see 14 May feedback report, and we explored the resources, training and networks that enable the involvement of users and carers in mental health service planning and provision.

    September 2010

    The Triangle of Care: Carers Included

    The Triangle of Care - Carers Included: A Best Practice Guide in Acute Mental Health Care was launched at a reception at the House of Commons on July 28th. The publication is the result of collaboration between The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (PRTC) and The National Mental Health Development Unit (NMHDU) and the title refers to the essential 3-way relationship between professionals, service users, their carers and families. The guide emphasises the need for better local strategic involvement of carers and families in the care- planning and treatment of people experiencing mental ill-health and calls for better partnership working between service users, their carers and providers of services in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

    August 2010

    SQA Peer Support PDA Link

    Here is the link on the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) website to the documents relating to the Mental Health Peer Support PDA (professional development award) - www.sqa.org.uk. The Arrangements document gives various information about the rationale for the award's development, aims, delivery, learning materials etc.

    The 2 new unit specifications for the Mental Health Peer Support PDA (professsional development award) - Recovery Context and Developing Practice - are Higher National (HN) units and can be undertaken individually. The learning/teaching materials are being written and the award was launched in August.

    It is encouraging to note the referencing of the strengths model pioneered at the University of Kansas and Shery Mead's website MentalHealthPeers.com

    Buckhaven Peer Support Workshop

    Thanks to everyone who attended our recent PS Workshop in Buckhaven Community Centre funded by the Kirkcaldy & Levenmouth Local Mental Health Partnership. Chrys Muirhead facilitated and was supported by a volunteer who lives in the Levenmouth area. It was encouraging to welcome friends from Fife, Glasgow, Dumbarton and Dumfries, many of them people who are working in a peer support role and promoting the model in their areas. The sharing of experience and information was positive for everyone present.

    May 2010

    Mary O'Hagan Workshop Went Well!

    Over 40 delegates took part in our user/carer involvement workshop with Mary O'Hagan, NZ, faciliating, on 14 May 2010 in the Cupar Old Parish Centre - 'having a voice and making a difference!'. Friends joined us from the Dundee, Perth and Falkirk areas, sharing experiences of involvement from a service user and carer perspective. Mary spoke of her own experiences using services and of being a leader with others in the planning and provision of services, challenging tokenism and setting agendas rather than fitting in with decisions already made. It is hoped to have follow-up meetings, an opportunity to encourage and share experience(s).

    See Mary's website and 14 May Feedback Report.

    Caledonia Clubhouse Falkirk Visit

    The visit arranged to the Caledonia Clubhouse in Falkirk went well, visitors were inspired by the member-led model and asked lots of appropriate questions. Thanks to Alison Ferguson, Manager, and her team for their warm welcome and hosting the visit. There were comments about how they could not differentiate between members and paid workers, the benefits of the open door policy where people can access all areas of the Clubhouse and how everyone takes part in activities, from reception work to preparing meals to learning IT skills and having a work placement or transitional employment. Here is a link to My Clubhouse Journey, an inspiring story of hope and recovery from Annette Callow, a member of the Caledonia Clubhouse, Falkirk.

    March 2010

    Promoting Inclusion Workshop

    Funding from Fife Council and NHS Fife enabled PS Fife to host a Promoting Inclusion Workshop on 10 & 11 March 2010 in the Council Chambers, Town House, Kirkcaldy - see Poster. We invited Peter Bates, Head of Mental Health and Community Inclusion at the National Development Team for Inclusion, to facilitate. Peter wrote With Inclusion in Mind, the local authority's role in promoting wellbeing and social development. In November 2008 Fife Council held an event to introduce this guidance, attended by local representatives from mental health groups, also facilitated by Peter Bates. Chrys Muirhead had presented at this event on her experience of recovery and getting back into the community.

    February 2010

    Peer Support Workshop 24 March

    We held another Workshop on Peer Support in Contact Point, Kirkcaldy, on Wednesday 24 March 2010, from 1.00pm to 4.00pm, see Programme. The previous PS workshop on 17 February went very well, 15 participants from a variety of backgrounds took part in discussions and feedback including the role of PS, definitions of recovery, benefits to those in the PS relationship and boundaries/risks.

    January 2010

    AGM Thanks!

    Thanks to friends and colleagues who supported our AGM and made the evening such an interesting and enjoyable one! We have added to our committee and gained supporters with a wide range of experience, skills and insight. Thanks also go to Wendy McAuslan, VOX Development Co-ordinator, for her interactive presentation on the benefits of Peer Support to mental health and employability. We all learnt more about each other and our own strengths.


    December 2009


    Wellness Recovery Action Plan is a self management tool for staying well and for helping you to feel better when not well. Scottish Government's mental health improvement plan, Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland, promotes self directed approaches to recovery and mentions WRAP.

    WRAP was developed in the USA by Mary Ellen Copeland, in response to her own challenges of living with mental ill health, and in consultation with others. It helps us look at what we are like when well, what we do on a regular basis to keep well, and action plans for coping with triggers, things that happen and are outwith our control. The crisis plan is a document that can be included in the Advance Statement and shared with supporters who may be friends, colleagues or family.

    What is WRAP?

    November 2009

    Peer Support Fife Bulletin - First Issue!

    'Read all about it' in our first News Bulletin, including a write-up of the United We Stand event with photographs. There are also articles on peer support, WRAP and recovery, news about funding and quotes courtesy of the Pathways to Recovery workbook from the the University of Kansas.

    October 2009

    United We Stand 14 October 2009

    More than 80 people joined us at Elmwood College, Cupar, on 14 October at our mental health networking event United We Stand, demonstrating that there is strength in unity and the importance of having a voice and making a difference. Graham Morgan MBE, keynote speaker, inspired delegates as he described the work of the Highland Users Group, mentioning the importance of 'fair and just lives' and the 'solidarity of a shared bond'. Wendy McAuslan from the national service user organisation Voices of Experience was the final speaker, helping to gather feedback on potential development areas around networking and user/carer involvement.

    Workshops numbered 14, including NHS Fife projects - Playfield Institute, Moodcafe, Gemini Team & Tidal Model developments; Angus Mental Health Association; Barony Contact Points; Fife Council Social Work Service; Going Forth SAMH; LINK Adolescent Befriending East Fife; Mental Health Network Greater Glasgow; Scotia Clubhouse & friends; User Carer Involvement Dumfries & Galloway.
    Here is the Programme and Event Summary.
    And a link to Graham's talk: Graham's keynote address

    August 2009

    Workshops on Peer Support

    We are planning some awareness-raising workshops in Fife, on the Peer Support model in the mental health setting. Topics will include 'what is PS?', the benefits of PS, skills & experience required for effective PS, boundaries and risks. The first Workshop will be on 2 September at Going Forth, SAMH, Dunfermline.

    March 2009

    IIMHL Brisbane Conference & Auckland Exchange

    After 24hrs flying Chrys Muirhead has returned from her trip of a lifetime to Australia and New Zealand for the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership conference and exchange. The main highlights - meeting mental health activists, sharing experiences and seeing some sights. There was an opportunity to attend a Peer Support workshop led by Gene Johnson of Recovery Innovations which was also attended by Cupar, Fife, colleague Christina Cooper of the TODAY Group, which provide collective advocacy in Fife for people with mental health difficulties.

    January 2009

    More Peer Support Training

    Chrys Muirhead facilitated another PS workshop at Turning Point Scotland, Glasgow which included discussions around user involvement in service design and delivery.

    November 2008

    Peer Support Workshops in Glasgow

    Chrys Muirhead delivered Peer Support one day and two day follow up workshops to service users and staff at Turning Point Scotland in Glasgow, using the 'Pathways to Recovery' workbook from the University of Kansas for activities.

    August 2008

    First WRAP Training

    On Monday 11 August 2008 the first 'Introduction to WRAP - Wellness Recovery Action Planning' workshop was held in the Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, Fife, facilitated by Chrys Muirhead and Eric Nicol, Recovery Impact Worker with Turning Point Scotland.

    June 2008

    WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) Facilitator Training

    Chrys Muirhead completed the WRAP facilitator training in Edinburgh, delivered by Stephen Pocklington, Copeland Center, and Rona McBrierty. It was an opportunity to share with others, develop relationships and hear about this user led self management tool. Further information about WRAP is on the Recovery page.

    April 2008

    Celebrating Recovery! conference does what it says!

    Celebrating Recovery at Elmwood College on 10 April 2008 was attended by over 120 people, from Scotland and England. Taking part were Chrys Muirhead, conference organiser and Convener PS Fife, opening speakers Prof Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker on their Tidal Model of recovery and reclamation; workshops from Ron Coleman, Moira Gillespie and Tommy Black, Greater Glasgow Mental Health Network, Edinburgh Crisis Centre, Horsecross Community drama group, Falkirk District Association for Mental Health with final address by Susan Archibald, disability rights activist and vote of thanks from Simon Bradstreet, Scottish Recovery Network Director.

  • miscellaneous articles, blog posts, films, documents ....

    Shared treatment decision-making and empowerment-related outcomes in psychosis: systematic review and meta-analysis

    Shared treatment decision-making and empowerment-related outcomes in psychosis: systematic review and meta-analysis Paper in BJPsych by Diana Stovell, Anthony P. Morrison, Margarita Panayiotou and Paul Hutton

    Cognitive-behavioural therapy for the symptoms of schizophrenia: systematic review and meta-analysis with examination of potential bias

    'Cognitive-behavioural therapy for the symptoms of schizophrenia: systematic review and meta-analysis with examination of potential bias':
    S. Jauhar, P. J. McKenna, J. Radua, E. Fung, R. Salvador and K. R. Laws; The British Journal of Psychiatry (2014) 204, 20-29; doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.116285

    Service users' experiences of the treatment decision-making process in psychosis: A phenomenological analysis

    'Service users' experiences of the treatment decision-making process in psychosis: A phenomenological analysis':
    Diana Stovell, Alison Wearden, Anthony P. Morrison & Paul Hutton; Psychosis, Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches; 21 March 2016; DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2016.1145730

    Recovery in Psychosis: A Delphi Study With Experts by Experience

    'Recovery in Psychosis: A Delphi Study With Experts by Experience':
    Heather Law and Anthony P. Morrison; Schizophrenia Bulletin; 12 April 2014; doi:10.1093/schbul/sbu047

    Mental Health Strategy Paper March 2016

    Here is a link to the Mental Health Strategy Paper March 2016 for discussion at the engagement events held by the Scottish Mental Health Partnership and the Scottish Government, including 21 March, Apex Hotel, Edinburgh.

    Peer Support 2 day course TPS Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre Nov08 & Jan09

    Workshops on Peer Support delivered to Turning Point Scotland clients at the Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre in November 2008 and January 2009.

    Programme and report for 28Nov08 workshop

    Programme and report for 13Jan09 workshop

    Fife Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Care & Crisis Services Research Project 2011

    In 2011 I worked in partnership with Dorothy Woolley, Choose Life Co-ordinator, NHS Fife, on an action research project, inviting mental health service users and carers to tell us about their experiences of acute inpatient care in Fife and crisis services. We held focus groups, conducted one-to-one interviews, used an online survey and questionnaires.

    Unfortunately my youngest son had a crisis at the Christmas time 2011 and couldn't access support, eventually becoming an inpatient at Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, 1 February 2012. Therefore I did not write a report on the research findings, being too busy raising complaints and trying to protect my son. The rest is history.

    Here are the survey forms, information sheets and feedback results from online survey and focus groups:

    Service User survey form

    Carer Questionnaire

    Crisis Research Info Sheet

    Crisis Informed Consent

    Focus group feedback 9Aug11

    Focus group feedback 26Sep11

    Online Survey service user feedback stats

    Online Survey carer feedback stats

    Muirton Fairfield Research Project 2008, Perth

    From March to July 2008 I worked as a PT researcher with Perth & Kinross Council. The aim was to research the adult learning needs of the Fairfield and Muirton regeneration areas of Perth, identifying barriers to learning and if possible engaging with people who do not usually access learning opportunities.

    Link to Muirton Fairfield Research Project Report

    Muirton Fairfield Blog 2008

    Antipsychotic Guidelines for Dementia Patients (2): W Hunter Watson, July 2015

    Here is a link to Hunter Watson's 12 page paper 'Antipsychotic Guidelines for Dementia Patients' July 2015

    "The use of these drugs in those with dementia has substantial clinical risk attached, including a conservative estimate of 1,800 extra deaths and 820 extra serious adverse events such as stroke per year."
    Sube Banerjee, Professor of Mental Health and Ageing, King's College London

    NHS Fife and Fife Council Psychiatric Emergency Plan (PEP) 2010

    Here is a link to the NHS Fife and Fife Council PEP

    remembering knitting BMX jumpers for the boys and being a cross-stitcher

    One of the reasons I like visiting the Great Tapestry of Scotland is because I've been a keen stitcher over the years, especially when my bairns were young, knitting for them and their cousins. I was also a dressmaker when a teenager and through the years, like my mother before me, then a cross-stitcher in my 40's doing large projects for friends and family, keeping smaller items for myself.

    My two oldest sons had got BMX bikes for Christmas one year so I knitted them jumpers with their own bike colours woven in. Photos from a day out in Perth c1986, snow on the ground, my youngest son aged about 2 in a hooded, basket-weave knitted jacket, wrapped up warm, a shawl he had from a baby.

    my latest #BMJ response: 'Stigmatising language in psychiatric settings which may be discriminatory and long-lasting'

    A psychiatrist friend sent me a link to this BMJ article by Glasgow GP Dr Margaret McCartney on 'Bad Language', thinking that I might like to do a response:

    "Whether it's related to remnants of paternalism or to the universal rise of the public relations industry, healthcare is littered with terminology that inadvertently or otherwise misleads, by concealing or distorting crucial information. From lazy language to deliberate doublespeak .... Don't we need a clear-out of this bad language?"

    And I did do a Rapid Response which was published yesterday:

    Stigmatising language in psychiatric settings which may be discriminatory and long-lasting

    "I wanted to add my voice to the mix, from the perspective of a person who has recovered from "mental illness" and supports family members recovering from the same. I would like to identify language used in psychiatric settings as a negative which in the real world would be seen as a positive and highlight other words which are stigmatising and discriminatory (1) (2). They can sit in our medical notes in perpetuity regardless of their accuracy or relevance to the here and now (3).

    "non-compliant" if resistant to taking medication or psychiatric drugs - in the outside world this may be described as non-conformity, signalling an independent spirit and someone who knows their own mind

    "anosognosia" or lack of insight if unwilling to accept the prescribed drugs or diagnosis. It may be that a person has the insight to refuse but this is contrary to what the doctor/psychiatrist ordered

    "without capacity" if acting in a way that appears unusual or if not wanting to take the medication or if unwilling to accept the diagnosis or course of treatment ...

    Read complete Post

    Reference (3) The other side of the fence: Iatrogenic stigma; Dr Peter J Gordon, Hole Ousia, March 2013

    FOI request responses in relation to Scottish Government senior civil servant Geoff Huggins' role as dementia ambassador

    Blog post, 30 March 2015, setting the scene: FOI request to Paul Gray CEO of NHS Scotland about Geoff Huggins' role as a dementia ambassador

    First FOI response from Colin Brown, Deputy Director, Office of the Director-General Health & Social Care and Chief Executive NHSScotland, on 28 April 2015.

    Second FOI response from Richard Dimelow, Policy Manager, Healthcare Quality & Strategy Directorate, Scottish Government, on 29 May 2015.

    'Distress Brief Intervention - description and proposed specification': Scottish Government

    Paper for discussion at Focus Group Event, Perth, Scotland on Friday 8 May 2015. Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013 - 2016: Theme A: Responding to people in distress; Distress Brief Intervention - description and proposed specification; 10.4.15

    Link to Paper

    Hunter Watson: Legal Matters

    "W. Hunter Watson, April 2015
    Scotland Act 1998
    Section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998 states "(1) An Act of the Scottish Parliament is not law so far as any provision of the Act is outside the legislative competence of the Parliament.
    (2) A provision is outside that competence so far as any of the following paragraphs apply ..
    (d) it is incompatible with any of the Convention rights or with Community law."
    In this connection, the Minister should seek legal advice regarding a number of matters including the following:
  • Would an amended mental health Act be law if any of its provisions is outside the legislative competence of the Parliament?
  • Might an amended Act be incompatible with Convention rights if it is not compatible with a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights?
  • What constitutes Community law? ..."

    Read complete article

    Don't be afraid of critical (patient) voices #SVscot14 Dundee 9 October 2014 (a madmother speaks out)

    "Activist and carer Chrys Muirhead shares her frustrations at the challenges of meaningfully including patient voices and her suggestions for improving the system."

    [thanks to @RosieHopes for making this a pleasant experience and for rescuing me from the table discussions where I was beginning to rebel at the restraints/straitjackets coming into play]

    Robert Whitaker & Peter Gotzsche, Copenhagen May 2014, PsychoVision Conference: Anatomy of an Epidemic

    "Published on May 23, 2014 The Psychiatric Epidemic - does long-term use of medication decrease the chance of recovery?

    PsykoVision in Denmark has recently translated and published Robert Whitaker's book, "Anatomy of an Epidemic". In honor of this, PsykoVison has invited Whitaker to speak at a small conference in Copenhagen.

    This is Part 1: The Roots of the Epidemic, where Robert Whitaker guides us through the history of psychiatric medication and presents the scientific evidence that proves that the common wisdom about theses drugs is mostly based on falsehoods."

    Part 2 The Scope of the Epidemic - Robert Whitaker

    Part 3: On The Wrong Track - Peter Gotzsche

    Part 4: Children & ADHD - Robert Whitaker

    Part 5: Q & A - Gotzsche & Whitaker - Psychiatric Epidemic

    my response to Dr Denise Coia post on Ayrshire Health blog

    Bridging the gap between inequality and reality for those with mental illness by Dr Denise Coia (Healthcare Improvement Scotland, HIS, Chair) on Ayrshire Health blog

    My response:
    "I am a writer, activist and campaigner in mental health matters, also an unpaid carer of two sons who have mental disorder labels/diagnoses so I wanted to declare my "conflict of interest" before making this comment which will be a critical voice.

    Firstly I have been excluded from Scottish Patient Safety Programmes in Mental Health by Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Why? The reason given: if I attend then others won't. Please check this information with the HIS chair and other to verify.

    Secondly I recently had a complaint against NHS Fife upheld regarding unreasonable treatment of my son in the IPCU at Stratheden Hospital, in respect of their locked seclusion room use. A room which had no toilet or drinking water, light switch outside. Here is the Sunday Express article which tells our story.

    Thirdly, in response to Dr Coia's comments about people with mental illness dying sooner due to not getting their physical health issues treated, I would like to challenge this perspective. There are other articles written which lay the blame for reduced life expectancy in the severe and enduringly mentally ill at the door of psychiatric drug treatment.

    The drugs or medication debilitate and disable people because of the side effects in the short term and the more serious permanent side effects in the longer term.. Which include a higher rate of diabetes, walking problems, increased social anxiety due to medicine agitation and tardive dyskinesia, a permanent disabling nerve condition due to continued long term use of neuroleptics on the brain and nerve endings.

    See article on Psychology Today by Paula Caplan

    And book 'Anatomy of an Epidemic' by Robert Whitaker, "best investigative journalism book of 2010"

    There are always two sides to a story and in mental health settings there is the professional's "take" on things and then there is the other, the person with "lived experience", often called the real "experts". I am a person who has made a full recovery from "mental illness" and did this by taking charge of my own mental health, tapering and getting off the psychiatric drugs, in 2004, and getting back on with my life.

    Mental illness does not need to be a disabling lifelong condition. It could be an episodic condition with the "right" treatment, is how I look at it, and so do others. We who have other ways of looking at mental distress and emotional crises would like to see alternative ways of working with people in psychoses that don't have to mean drug treatment, on occasion forcibly given. There has to be a better way to "forge a ring of confidence" I contend."

    See blog post

    'The outlook for schizophrenia is better than we think - but is being sabotaged by Assembly-line Psychiatry' Dr Robin Murray

    'The outlook for schizophrenia is better than we think - but is being sabotaged by Assembly-line Psychiatry' Dr Robin Murray presentation (26 slides) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty of General Adult Psychiatry Annual Conference'Reshaping Medicine'16-17 October 2014, Brighton. In Parallel 3 session: New Developments in Psychiatry. Slides One and Two:

    Dr Peter Breggin: 'How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life'

    Dr Peter Breggin article in Huffington Post, January 2013: 'How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life'

    "Forgiveness, as I understand it after all these decades on Earth, is about an attitude toward both ourselves and others. Forgiveness is an attitude of letting go of enmity and resentment and encouraging ourselves to feel genuine love and empathy. It begins with kindness and understanding toward ourselves.

    Forgiving ourselves allows us to recognize our own faults and then to correct them as much as we can without languishing in unforgiving guilt and shame. Guilt and shame actually make us less able to examine ourselves. We try to relieve these self-punishing attitudes by denying responsibility for any wrong actions. In a state of denial that protects us from guilt and shame, we cannot identify what we need change about ourselves.

    Further in regard to ourselves, to forgive others is to make peace within ourselves. We give up anger and resentment and thereby become freer of spiritually-corrupting malice. We no longer give those who have hurt us the power to continue to do so by preoccupying us with their deeds."

    Read complete article 'How Forgiveness Can Change Your Life'

    Community-based psychodynamic group psychotherapy for treatment-resistant schizophrenia

    'Community-based psychodynamic group psychotherapy for treatment-resistant schizophrenia '
    by Giuliano Aiello & Sheraz Ahmad
    Advances in Psychiatric Treatment Journal, 2014, 20:323-329.

    We describe the work of a psychodynamic psychotherapy group for individuals affected by chronic schizophrenia in our community-basedrehabilitation and recovery service. Despite presenting with negative symptoms, over time patients made good use of the psychodynamic setting: they attended, expressed emotions, made connections and reflected within the group on their personal experience of mental ill health.

    We discuss the rationale and indications for psychodynamic psychotherapy for individuals with severe and enduring mental illnesses. We also reflect on the challenges we faced working psychodynamically with psychosis and on the necessary adaptation of the approach to work with chronic psychosis. We present vignettes from group sessions to illustrate themes that we identified in the therapy, making links with the literature.

    We conclude that the unstructured setting of the psychodynamic group approach can help individuals affected by most severe forms of psychosis to make sense of their experiences and use the space."

    Read complete article

    Ageing is Truth from #Omphalos: Time passes. Listen. Time passes.

    Ageing is truth from omphalos

    "Time passes. Listen. Time passes

    Sculpture: "The Ageing stone" by Dr Peter J. Gordon

    Track: "Truth" by Hue & Cry

    The Latin inscription (copied and translated below) was carved on Mavisbank house in 1724:

    Concedatque Deus, Nunquam Vel Sero Senescas Seroque Terrenas Experiare Vices Integra Reddantur. Que Plurima Saecula Rodant Delui Et Ut Serio Pulchrior Eniteas.

    And may God concede that you grow old either never or late, and that you experience earthly changes late. And may what the numerous ages erode be restored intact, and may it be granted that the older you are, the more beautiful you may shine."

    Cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis prevention: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    P Hutton and PJ Taylor
    Psychological Medicine, March 2013, pp 1-20

    Clinical equipoise regarding preventative treatments for psychosis has encouraged the development and evaluation of psychosocial treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

    A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted, examining the evidence for the effectiveness of CBT-informed treatment for preventing psychosis in people who are not taking antipsychotic medication, when compared to usual or non-specific control treatment. Included studies had to meet basic quality criteria, such as concealed and random allocation to treatment groups.

    Our search produced 1940 titles, out of which we found seven completed trials (six published). The relative risk (RR) of developing psychosis was reduced by more than 50% for those receiving CBT at every time point [RR at 6 months 0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.27-0.82, p=0.008 (fixed-effects only: six randomized controlled trials (RCTs), n=800); RR at 12 months 0.45, 95% CI 0.28-0.73, p=0.001 (six RCTs, n=800); RR at 18-24 months 0.41, 95% CI 0.23-0.72, p=0.002 (four RCTs, n=452)]. Heterogeneity was low in every analysis and the results were largely robust to the risk of an unpublished 12-month study having unfavourable results. CBT was also associated with reduced subthreshold symptoms at 12 months, but not at 6 or 18-24 months. No effects on functioning, symptom-related distress or quality oflife were observed. CBT was not associated with increased rates of clinical depression or social anxiety (two studies).

    CBT-informed treatment is associated with a reduced risk of transition to psychosis at 6, 12 and 18-24 months, and reduced symptoms at 12 months. Methodological limitations and recommendations for trial reporting are discussed."

    Read complete article

    'Testimony of Experience: Docta Ignorantia and the Philadelphia Association Communities' by Bruce Scott

    Testimony of Experience: Docta Ignorantia and the Philadelphia Association Communities by Bruce Scott, PCCS Books.

    "Bruce Scott presents one of the very few pieces of research carried out with people who have been residents of the Philadelphia Association, set up in the 1960's by R.D.Laing and colleagues.

    Today, there are few places left for people to escape our modern plight; the cognitive and neuroscientific imperialistic discourse of mental distress. Testimony of Experience is an attempt to transcend this oppressive discourse. It does so by presenting over 40-years-worth of the experiences of ex-residents of Philadelphia Association (PA) communities. These were set up by R.D. Laing and others in the 1960s as a response to reductive medical and scientific theories of mental suffering.

    The tyranny of scientific certainty and striving for 'knowing' so prevalent within our state-sanctioned 'mental health' institutions deprives us of other ways of accommodating our curtailed subjectivities, of what it is to suffer, to live, to be human.

    This book re-examines an ancient dictum which is dying out today - the Docta Ignorantia - the doctrine of wise unknowing. Through a philosophically informed critique of positivistic research methodology and an analysis and deconstruction of interviews with ex-residents of the PA communities, this book asks the question that must be uttered to regain our subjectivity; is there room for wise unknowing in mental suffering in a world of certainty?"

    Mad in America blog posts by Tina Minkowitz & Faith Rhyne

    "We Name It as Torture" by Tina Minkowitz

    "Spending a lot of time in UN meetings I have come to feel like I am operating an avatar of myself, letting something come through me that uses logic and legal reasoning to add up to the inevitable conclusion, based on the definition in the Convention against Torture, forced psychiatry is an act of torture. But it has begun to feel curiously cold, as if it is more a trick than the truth. UN advocacy is all about getting the right words on paper, and it can breed cynicism on all sides.

    What I've done when I allow something to come through me in those meetings, is at best to allow the truth to speak itself. It is always hard to call up that state of being in myself that can remember and critically shape advocacy at the same time; it is justified when the creative force shapes ideas in a new way so that I am bringing something into the world. But when it feels like I am just dressing up the same ideas in new clothing, trying to sell my orphans to the highest bidder, I get tired.

    We need more than the right words on paper. We need allies who are in it with us for the long haul. We need to build our own bases of power, and to share power and resources with each other so that no one has to feel rejected; there are too few of us for rivalry to make any sense. We need to not exploit each other."
    Read Blog Post

    "Trigger Warning: Why Is It So Hard to Think About Torture?" by Faith Rhyne

    "June 26th is the United Nations International Day In Support of Victims of Torture. Last month, the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP) and the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) put out a broad call to activists in various sectors of the consumers/survivors/ex-patients movement asking that people involved in the psychiatric human rights and c/s/x movements consider dialogue about the United Nations determination that many routine psychiatric interventions meet the criteria for torture. We were asked to discuss the implications of the fact that, under the myths of medical necessity, people regularly and routinely have their human rights violated in psychiatric treatment, often in ways that constitute torture.

    People do die as a result of psychiatric interventions, but in formal definitions of torture it is made clear that torture involves far more than physical injury. Torture is about isolation and it is about powerlessness. It is about fear and abject vulnerability. It is torture to believe that you are utterly alone. When people are tortured, they are stripped of their personhood and the human right to defend oneself or to make choices or to be free in the most basic human ways of movement and communication."
    Read Blog Post

    Chrys: "remembering my mother whose birthday was 26 June, a woman who was a psychiatric inpatient after nervous breakdowns in the 1950's and 1960's, when she was given courses of ECT against her will, was latterly on a depot injection for more than 20 years yet lived a life of purpose and meaning. Despite having to live with the effects of this psychiatric drug in her system, limiting her movements and affecting her sleep patterns, causing her anxiety and indecision."

    Photo of my mum with me circa 1953:

    'Madness Contested: Power and Practice' edited by Steven Coles, Sarah Keenan, Bob Diamond

    Review by Jonathan Gadsby

    "Across the contributions are a number of repeated themes. As we turn away from reductive biological explanations, the horizons of what may be considered important in viewing madness suddenly expand to include almost everything. In particular, social and political themes become of paramount importance in understanding not only madness but also the shape of the institution to combat it: contemporary psychiatry. Madness ceases to be primarily a property of persons but rather of 'a complex web of agents and interests'."

    From David Pilgrim and Floris Tomasini, 'Mental Disorder and the Socioethical Challenge of Reasonableness':
    " ..[A] good case could be made for a curfew on all under 30s to be off the streets between dusk on Fridays and dawn on Mondays. This would save many lives from the reduction of road traffic accidents, rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies would drop, as would the rate of sexual offences and violence, perpetrated by sane citizens [and] replayed every weekend in town centres and urban homes. But legislation that enforced such a curfew would, understandably, be met with derision and scorn by most of us. However, for those deemed mentally disordered the law warrants intrusions of this sort on their freedom, and is simply accepted as being justifiable and even claimed to be a form of social progress."

    'Tomorrow I Was Always a Lion' by Arnhild Lauveng

    "I used to spend my days as a sheep.
    Every day the shepherds gathered everyone in the ward to herd them out in a flock
    And the sheep dogs yapped furiously if anyone was reluctant to go outdoors.
    I may have bleated a little, softly,
    as they hurried me through the corridors,
    but no-one ever asked why
    - once you are mad, you can bleat all you like.

    I used to spend my days as a sheep.
    They herded us along the paths around the hospital in a flock,
    A dawdling herd of motley individuals no-one could be bothered to see.
    Because we had become a flock
    And the whole flock had to go out for a walk,
    And the whole flock had to be locked up again.

    I used to spend my days as a sheep.
    The shepherds cut my mane and clipped my claws
    So that I could merge into the flock more easily.
    I padded along with well groomed donkeys, bears, squirrels and crocodiles
    Wondering why no-one wanted to see.

    I used to spend my days as a sheep
    while everything in me longed to run across the savannahs.
    And I let myself be driven from pen to enclosure to barn
    if they said that was best for a sheep.
    And I knew it was wrong.
    And I knew it wouldn't be forever.

    I used to spend my days as a sheep.
    But tomorrow I was always a lion.

    Tomorrow I Was Always a Lion by Arnhild Lauveng, one of the speakers at this year's ISPS conference in Warsaw, Poland, 22-25 August 2013.

    'The U.N. Asks the U.S. to Defend its Use of Forced Psychiatric Drugging' by Tina Minkowitz

    Mad in America blog post from Tina Minkowitz: The U.N. Asks the U.S. to Defend its Use of Forced Psychiatric Drugging

    "The United Nations Human Rights Committee has asked the U.S. government to clarify how the possibilities for nonconsensual medication in psychiatric institutions comply with their obligations under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - i.e. the obligation to ensure that no one is subjected to torture and ill-treatment. This is the question they asked:

    15. Please clarify how, in the State party's view, the possibilities for non-consensual use of medication in psychiatric institutions and for research and experimentation, as outlined in paragraph 31 of the Committee's previous concluding observations, are in conformity with the obligations upon a State party under 7 of the Covenant.

    This is the fruit of successful advocacy by Maxima Kalitventsev and myself; we went to Geneva last month to meet with members of the Human Rights Committee and urge them to ask questions related to forced psychiatry and psychiatric profiling as violations of our human rights."

    'More Than Surviving: Speaking up About Life in the American Mental Health Gulags' by Maxima Kalitventsev

    Mad in America blog post from Maxima Kalitventsev: More Than Surviving: Speaking up About Life in the American Mental Health Gulags

    "February 26, I left behind locked, steel doors, inmates, languishing, wandering through cinder block rooms and long hallways. The core of their humanity being drug drenched, blunted into the vapor of ghosts. This last visit I was not heavily drugged. They were no longer ghosts. I saw their humanity. Some became my friends.

    I had walked out of those doors six times before. This time I would treasure, not trash everything that reminded me of this experience: the sponge rubber crafts I made and the clothes I wore over and over. For once, for this two-month stay, I had not been really drugged. I wanted to know who these people were, why they were here."

    Maxima's website Healing 'Mental Illness'

    If Only ... Poem by Scottish Friend

    "If only you knew how it feels...
    To go in as a voluntary admission
    Because you knew all you needed was sleep
    And then, as if in your worst nightmare,
    Find out that you can't get out.
    To be imprisoned, confined and incarcerated.
    To be pinned to the bed by medication.
    To ingest so much quetiapine, haloperidol,
    Risperadol, lorazepam, diazepam, seroquel
    That you begin to lose yourself.
    If only you knew how that felt.

    If only you knew how it feels...
    To be labelled "presenting as dishevelled"
    When your hair is the maddest thing about you.
    To be threatened by other patients
    When you won't drink their stolen vodka.
    To take the hairdryer cord from your friend's
    Neck and be sent to your room for interfering.
    To be given all the drugs the pharmaceuticals
    Can offer (provided you queue like a good girl)
    But be deprived of the one thing you need -
    Someone to listen.
    If only you knew how that felt.
    ... Read complete poem"

    'Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm' by Pat Bracken et al

    Article in British Journal of Psychiatry, 3 December 2012, by Pat Bracken, Philip Thomas, Sami Timimi, Eia Asen, Graham Behr, Carl Beuster, Seth Bhunnoo, Ivor Browne, Navjyoat Chhina, Duncan Double, Simon Downer, Chris Evans, Suman Fernando, Malcolm R. Garland, William Hopkins, Rhodri Huws, Bob Johnson, Brian Martindale, Hugh Middleton, Daniel Moldavsky, Joanna Moncrieff, Simon Mullins, Julia Nelki, Matteo Pizzo, James Rodger, Marcellino Smyth, Derek Summerfield, Jeremy Wallace and David Yeomans.

    A series of editorials in this Journal have argued that psychiatry is in the midst of a crisis. The various solutions proposed would all involve a strengthening of psychiatry's identity as essentially 'applied neuroscience'. Although not discounting the importance of the brain sciences and psychopharmacology, we argue that psychiatry needs to move beyond the dominance of the current, technological paradigm. This would be more in keeping with the evidence about how positive outcomes are achieved and could also serve to foster more meaningful collaboration with the growing service user movement."

    Read Article

    'Inquiry into the Schizophrenia Label - Preliminary Results Out Now!' by Phil Thomas

    "'Schizophrenia' ': Time to Discard the Diagnosis?

    Preliminary findings from the independent Inquiry into the 'Schizophrenia' Label (ISL) finds that over 80% of those who gave evidence believe the diagnosis is damaging and dangerous. "The label has destroyed my life, friendships, relationships and employment prospects." [Survey respondent]

    "The doctor at the hospital kept asking me if I heard voices. I didn't know what she meant by this. Was she checking my hearing, my awareness? Was she using a metaphor? I didn't know. I said yes as I could hear the voices of nurses and patients on the ward down the corridor. That sealed my fate." [Testimony submission]

    "When [my son] found that some people recovered he was adamant that he would be one of these and this has helped him to fight for services he needs and to maintain good self-awareness. Therefore largely the label has not been unhelpful - but very very scary." [Survey respondent]"

    Read complete blog post on MIA from Dr Phil Thomas - Inquiry into the Schizophrenia Label - Preliminary Results Out Now!

    And on the ISL website: Update:Inquiry into Schizophrenia Label

    The effectiveness of electroconvulsive therapy

    A literature review by John Read and Richard Bentall

    "Abstract AIM: To review the literature on the efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy [ECT], with a particular focus on depression, its primary target group.

    METHODS: PsycINFO, Medline, previous reviews and meta-analyses were searched in an attempt to identify all studies comparing ECT with simulated-ECT [SECT].

    RESULTS: These placebo controlled studies show minimal support for effectiveness with either depression or 'schizophrenia' during the course of treatment (i.e., only for some patients, on some measures, sometimes perceived only by psychiatrists but not by other raters), and no evidence, for either diagnostic group, of any benefits beyond the treatment period. There are no placebo-controlled studies evaluating the hypothesis that ECT prevents suicide, and no robust evidence from other kinds of studies to support the hypothesis.

    CONCLUSIONS: Given the strong evidence (summarised here) of persistent and, for some, permanent brain dysfunction, primarily evidenced in the form of retrograde and anterograde amnesia, and the evidence of a slight but significant increased risk of death, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT is so poor that its use cannot be scientifically justified."
    Read Paper

    Are our mental health services driving people to suicide?

    Blog post by Vivek Datta MD

    "When trying to establish whether more mentally ill people are committing suicide now than in the past, we immediately hit upon a stumbling block: the definition of mental illness has vastly expanded to cover a range of maladies and miseries that were not defined as such a century ago. How then, can we evaluate the claim that more mentally ill people die by suicide? There seem two possible ways to go about this. One is to consider only those cases of mental illness that would have been regarded as mental illness in the past - the type of 'lunacy' or 'melancholia' that mostly led to hospitalization. The second possibility is to reclassify cases that today would be regarded as having a mental disorder present. The problem with the latter is it does not allow us to discern whether suicide is more common in the mentally ill today than in the past, or whether it just looks like that. We return to the arguments surrounding the social construction and social reality of mental illness....."
    Read complete Blog post

    Pharmageddon, Book by Dr David Healy

    "This searing indictment, David Healy's most comprehensive and forceful argument against the pharmaceuticalization of medicine, tackles problems in health care that are leading to a growing number of deaths and disabilities. Healy, who was the first to draw attention to the now well-publicized suicide-inducing side effects of many anti-depressants, attributes our current state of affairs to three key factors: product rather than process patents on drugs, the classification of certain drugs as prescription-only, and industry-controlled drug trials. These developments have tied the survival of pharmaceutical companies to the development of blockbuster drugs, so that they must overhype benefits and deny real hazards. Healy further explains why these trends have basically ended the possibility of universal health care in the United States and elsewhere around the world. He concludes with suggestions for reform of our currently corrupted evidence-based medical system." Amazon.com

    Scotland the Brave Article - Andrew Roberts

    "Scotland pioneered the user movement in the United Kingdom, according to recent research by the Survivor History Group. At least twice in as many decades it was Scottish patients who put their full force on the lever of history. Academic historians have given the credit, for both occasions, to London. But new evidence suggests Scotland led the way."

    Survivors History archive of "Scotland the Brave" by Andrew Roberts - Secretary of the Survivors History Group. Originally published in Mental Health Today July/August 2009 (Pavilion Journals (Brighton) Ltd).
    Link to article on Survivors History website: studymore.org.uk

    Joanna Moncrieff Interview - The Myth of the Chemical Cure

    Dr Joanna Moncrieff, course organiser for the Royal College of Psychiatrists examinations, is the author of 'The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment'. Here is a link to a 2009 interview with Michael F Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist at EducationNews.org, Eastern New Mexico University where Dr Moncrieff responds to questions about this so-called 'chemical imbalance' and the treatment of depression: Interview

    "We are pretending to treat or cure people with mental illness because that makes us feel alright about controlling them. Sometimes we need to control them but we should at least be honest about what we are doing. Pharmaceutical companies are cashing in on our dishonesty."

    Crazy Like Us: The Globalisation of the Western Mind

    Book by Ethan Watters

    "It is well known that US culture is a dominant force and its exportation of everything from movies to junk food is a world-wide phenomenon. But it is possible that its most troubling export has yet to be accounted for? In Crazy Like Us , Ethan Watters reveals that the most devastating consequence of the spread of US culture has been the bulldozing of the human psyche itself: it is in the process of homogenizing the way the world goes mad." Amazon

    Myth of Mental Health Nursing and the Challenge of Recovery

    The latest paper by Prof Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker 'Myth of mental health nursing and the challenge of recovery' is published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

    "Abstract: Although the concept of 'mental health nursing' has grown in popularity over the past 35 years, it remains a myth. People believe that they know what it is and value it highly, but cannot describe or define it other than in vague terms. This paper briefly charts the rise of 'mental health nursing', emphasizing its political implications, and in particular, the drive towards an embrace of a person-centred, recovery-focused approach to care. If nurses are to realize such ambitions, they must resolve their historical association with psychiatric nursing. The concept of the 'mental health nurse' might signal the emergence of a new vision for human services, but might also signal the need for 'mental health nurses' to negotiate a formal separation from the traditional 'psychiatric' family."
    Read Paper

    Robert Whitaker (Anatomy of an Epidemic) Video

    Bob Whitaker, author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, speaks in Victoria, Canada on May 17, 2011. He overviews the past 30 years of scientific research into psychiatric medications, showing how the drugs seem to be creating the very chemical imbalances they're supposed to cure, and why they develop chronicity in the long term: "a societal delusion driving us - we're fixing this 'known biological problem'"
    See Video

    Book for Carers

    A Straight Talking Introduction to Caring for Someone with Mental Health Problems
    Edited by Jen Kilyon and Theresa Smith

    This book tells how family and friends of people with complex mental health needs frequently have to battle for, and often with, mental health services, whilst they themselves can be stigmatised. Jen Kilyon and Theresa Smith help carers tell their stories. Although some of these stories end with a positive outcome and others tell of continuing battles, all demonstrate that it is frequently the carers alone who keep hope for recovery alive.

    The book includes things they found most helpful in their struggles. Rather than accept that solutions to mental health problems are owned by the medical professions, these books look at alternatives and provide information so that the users of psychiatric services, their families and carers can make more decisions about their own lives.

    Doctoring the Mind

    Doctoring the Mind - Is our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? - by Richard P Bentall

    Bentall is one of psychiatry's most eloquent enemies . . . the drugs don't work (Sunday Times )

    "Bentall's thesis is that, for all the apparent advances in understanding psychiatric disorders, psychiatric treatment has done little to improve human welfare, because the scientific research which has led to the favouring of mind-altering drugs is, as he puts it, "fatally flawed". He cites some startling evidence from the World Health Organisation that suggests patients suffering psychotic episodes in developing countries recover "better" than those from the industrialised world and the aim of the book is broadly to suggest why this might be so."
    Salley Vickers, The Observer, Sunday 21 June 2009

    Unshrinking Psychosis

    Unshrinking Psychosis - Understanding and Healing the Wounded Soul - by John Watkins

    "This book takes a bold quantum leap beyond restrictive bio medical terms of discrete illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to view these conditions from a holistic perspective that reveals a method of madness of psychosis. Some episodes may function as a desperate coping strategy while others reflect a profound developmental crisis or spontaneous self-helping process. As they originate in deepseated spiritual imperatives some tumultuous episodes are appropriately viewed as spiritual emergencies or potentially transformative psychospiritual crises."
    Amazon UK - Kindle edition - for a paper book copy contact Working to Recovery

    Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service

    "LSCS is, at heart, a crisis sanctuary operating from 6pm-2am Fridays to Sundays, the hours when most mental health services are closed and isolation can, in particular, hurt. Support workers are on hand at Dial House which prides itself on offering non-judgemental empathy, safety and refuge space. The service offers itself as an alternative to hospital admission. Strong feelings of suicide are common. Visitors usually have a history of trauma. Those with 'challenging' behaviour are welcomed."
    Read full article about the Leeds service in psychminded.co.uk.

    History Beyond Trauma

    By Francoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudilliere, professors at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, who both hold advanced degrees in classics - French, Latin and Greek literature - and doctorates in sociology.

    History Beyond Trauma "In the course of nearly thirty years of work with patients in psychiatric hospitals and private practice, Francoise Davoine and Jean-Max Gaudilliere have uncovered the ways in which transference and countertransference are affected by the experience of social catastrophe. Handed down from one generation to the next, the unspoken horrors of war, betrayal, dissociation, and disaster in the families of patient and analyst alike are not only revived in the therapeutic relationship but, when understood, actually provide the keys to the healing process.

    The authors present vivid examples of clinical work with severely traumatised patients, reaching inward to their own intimate family histories as shaped by the Second World War and outward toward an exceptionally broad range of cultural references to literature, philosophy, political theory, and anthropology. Using examples from medieval carnivals and Japanese No theater, to Wittgenstein and Hannah Arendt, to Sioux rituals in North Dakota, they reveal the ways in which psychological damage is done - and undone."

    Postpsychiatry - a new direction for mental health

    A British Medical Journal article by Patrick Bracken and Philip Thomas, consultant psychiatrists - Postpsychiatry - a new direction for mental health 2001 - talks about the diminishing belief in the ability of science and technology to resolve human and social problems.

    From the conclusion:
    " ... Postpsychiatry tries to move beyond the conflict between psychiatry and antipsychiatry. Antipsychiatry argued that psychiatry was repressive and based on a mistaken medical ideology, and its proponents wanted to liberate mental patients from its clutches. In turn, psychiatry condemned its opponents as being driven by ideology. Both groups were united by the assumption that there could be a correct way to understand madness; that the truth could, and should, be spoken about madness and distress. Postpsychiatry frames these issues in a different way. It does not propose new theories about madness, but it opens up spaces in which other perspectives can assume a validity previously denied them. Crucially, it argues that the voices of service users and survivors should now be centre stage." read Article

    The Trail is the Thing - new book from KU

    Introducing a new book, hot off the press, from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Office of Mental Health Research & Training - The Trail is the Thing - a year of daily reflections based on their successful Pathways to Recovery strengths self help workbook.

    "The thing to remember when travelling is that the trail is the thing, not the end of the trail." ~ Louis L'Amour

    This book "is the result of almost 2 years of work from 4 authors and more than 20 individuals who provided their ideas, edits and support to bring readers of Pathways to Recovery a new tool ... it is about finding the things in life that give passion, purpose and meaning." The authors of this book do not receive profit from sales of this workbook. All profits are designated for reprinting of the book and to provide scholarships for Kansas residents with the lived experience of mental illness or trauma to return to post-secondary education.

    Pathways to Recovery, Supported Education Group, Office of Mental Health Research and Training @ School of Social Welfare, The University of Kansas

    The Caring Focus of RD Laing

    Phil Barker and Poppy Buchanan-Barker 2001

    "... Laing's influence extended far beyond psychiatry, psychotherapy and medicine. However, the practical application of Laing's thought - by the man himself and some of his most famous allies and former pupils - was largely non-medical. Indeed, we might interpret the application of his philosophy - especially through his frequently revised views on psychotherapy - as a nursing approach, focused on nurturing the conditions - social and interpersonal - under which people might finally seize their own power and use this, constructively, to define themselves, rather then be subjugated, if not actually driven to madness, by others ..." read Article

    Open Dialogue Approach Finland

    Five-year experience of first-episode nonaffective psychosis in open-dialogue approach: Treatment principles, follow-up outcomes, and two case studies
    Psychotherapy Research, March 2006; 16(2): 214-228

    Abstract: The open dialogue (OD) family and network approach aims at treating psychotic patients in their homes. The treatment involves the patient's social network and starts within 24 hrs after contact. Responsibility for the entire treatment process rests with the same team in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The general aim is to generate dialogue with the family to construct words for the experiences that occur when psychotic symptoms exist. In the Finnish Western Lapland a historical comparison of 5-year follow-ups of two groups of first-episode nonaffective psychotic patients were compared ... read Article

    Anatomy of an Epidemic

    Anatomy of an Epidemic, a book by Robert Whitaker, author of 'Mad in America' and investigative journalist.

    "Anatomy of an Epidemic investigates a profoundly troubling question: do psychiatric medications increase the likelihood that people taking them, far from being helped, are more likely to become chronically ill? In making a compelling case that our current psychotropic drugs are causing as much - if not more - harm than good, Robert Whitaker reviews the scientific literature thoroughly, demonstrating how much of the evidence is on his side. There is nothing unorthodox here - this case is solid and evidence-backed. If psychiatry wants to retain its credibility with the public, it will now have to engage with the scientific argument at the core of this cogently and elegantly written book."
    David Healy, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Cardiff University and author of The Antidepressant Era and Let Them Eat Prozac

    Still Crazy after all these Years

    San Diego Weekly Reader, Vol. 32, No. 2, Jan. 9, 2003

    "Dr Loren Mosher, a San Diego psychiatrist, was the principal architect of the Soteria experiment. What unfolded during the years it operated (1971 through 1983) shaped his ideas about schizophrenia, a condition estimated to afflict 1 to 2 out of every 100 Americans. Unlike the majority of his professional colleagues, Mosher was never persuaded that psychotic behavior is caused by brain abnormalities. He moreover came to believe that if schizophrenia is not an organic disease, then it's wrong to force schizophrenics to take drugs that change their brains. He acknowledges that the powerful antipsychotic medications prescribed for schizophrenia nowadays often do suppress the symptoms of lunacy and make disturbed individuals easier to control. But Mosher argues that there are better ways to help most schizophrenics recover their sanity - cheaper, more humane and libertarian, less devastating to the human body and soul." read Article

    Crisis and Connection

    "Psychiatric interventions for crisis care lie at the center of the conflict between forced treatment and recovery/wellness systems in mental health services. Though crisis can mean completely different things to people who have the experience, the general public has been taught a unilateral fear response based on media representation. More and more this has led to social control but is erroneously still called treatment This does nothing to help the person and in fact further confuses people already trying to make meaning of their experience.

    This paper offers a fundamental change in understanding and working with psychiatric crises. Rather than objectifying and naming the crisis experience in relation to the construct of illness, people can begin to explore the subjective experience of the person in crisis while offering their own subjective reality to the relationship."

    Shery Mead & David Hilton read Paper

    Leadership for Empowerment and Equality:
    By Mary O'Hagan

    Published in the International Journal of Leadership in Public Services Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2009:

    "The leadership of people with lived experience of mental health problems is underdeveloped, when it comes to leadership in one's own recovery, at the service level, and at the systemic level. Unlike the mental health system, the user/survivor movement has a values base of empowerment and equality. But the movement has not yet created an explicit model of leadership based on these values. " read more

    Realising Potential

    An action plan for allied health professionals in mental health

    "I just want to get back to an ordinary life that I can function in .."
    Service User

    Realising Potential is a document that brings together the work of the allied health professions (AHPs) in mental health, in partnership with service users and carers, professional organisations and NHS boards.
    "...it brings benefits to service users through the promotion of realistic hope of meaningful recovery and positive engagement with social, educational and work opportunities." from the Foreword by Shona Robison MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport.

    What is Narrative Therapy?

    An easy-to-read introduction on Narrative Therapy by author Alice Morgan. It includes simple and concise explanations of the thinking behind narrative practices as well as many practical examples of therapeutic conversations.

    "Narrative therapists are interested in working with people to bring forth and thicken stories that do not support or sustain problems. As people begin to inhabit and live out the alternative stories, the results are beyond solving problems. Within the new stories, people live out new self images, new possibilities for relationships and new futures."

    more info

    Mental Health Ethics: The Human Context

    Phil Barker is the editor of a new book - Mental Health Ethics: The human context. Offering a comprehensive and interdisciplinary perspective, it includes six parts, each with their own introduction, summary and set of ethical challenges, covering:

  • fundamental ethical principles
  • legal issues
  • specific challenges for different professional groups
  • working with different service user groups
  • models of care and treatment
  • recovery and human rights perspectives.

    Full details from www.amazon.co.uk.

    The Dundee Advanced Interventions Service is a specialist service providing assessment and treatment for severe and chronic treatment-refractory depression (TRD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This includes NMD, neurosurgery for mental disorder or brain surgery for mental illness.
    Link to 2007 presentation by DAIS team.

  • my other blogs, ongoing and archived

    Chrys Muirhead wordpress blog
    mental health matters and reblogging posts of interest The Pharma Chronicles blog
    writings, articles, blog posts, video links and other information about pharmaceutical topics in mental health from the critical perspective

    Stratheden Hospital blog
    a critical blog about Stratheden Hospital, by Cupar, Fife, from the carer viewpoint

    Chrys Muirhead blog up to January 2013
    started in March 2012 as I got more and more into mental health activism and campaigning

    Chrys Muirhead on Mad In America Jan-Sep 2012
    Robert Whitaker invited me to be a "foreign correspondent" on his new website Mad in America and my first post was published on 29 January 2012

    Muirton Fairfield Blog 2008
    One of the first blogs I wrote when in an action research project post with Perth & Kinross Council, March to July 2008. Tasked with identifying the community learning needs in two regeneration areas of Perth and barriers to learning.

    Circles Network and advocacy in Fife blog
    blogging about my engagement, from May 2009 until now, with the Warwickshire-based organisation Circles Network that manages the Fife advocacy project

    Chrys Muirhead Storify
    Stories made up of tweets from events, conferences, workshops or #topics

    Peer Support Fife website
    started in January 2008, promoting peer support and peer led alternatives in mental health. In response to need we progressed to promoting and supporting survivor, user and carer participation and leadership in service design and delivery. Lack of funding support led to the organisation ceasing active participation in November 2012. The website continues as a news resource and archive.

    family websites

    Virtual Cupar

    My youngest son Daniel Muirhead's website VirtualCupar.co.uk

    And his Virtual Cupar youtube channel, video example:

    Cupar town centre - reproduced as a virtual environment on Continuence Techne channel:

    This video shows the player driving around some streets within Cupar.

    Road layout data, including data pertaining to the roads' elevation profiles (the ascents and descents), was taken from the 1894 Ordnance Survey Town Plan of Cupar, viewed online at the website for the National Library of Scotland. The rough draft of the road layout which is presented in this video serves as a 'proof of concept' regarding the pertinence of the data which is embedded in the old OS Town Plans.

    3D models were authored in Blender (version 2.71). 2D images were edited and authored in GIMP (version 2.8.10). The game engine is the Unreal Engine 4 (version 4.4.3).

    Ed Muirhead - singer, songwriter, piano champ

    My oldest son's website with info about music, live shows, lyrics, videos

    In Dundee
    independent listings website of events, music, gigs, eating places etc, going on in Dundee. Ed Muirhead since 2006.

    Tattie Records
    established in December 2010 by Ed Muirhead, Tattie Records is a small record label based in Dundee, on the east coast of Scotland.

    Writer, Activist, MH Campaigner; Knitter; Community Educator; Independent Thinker
    Chrys Muirhead Writes

    Copyright © 2008 Chrys Muirhead