This blog is written by Dr Stephen Ginn MRCPsych, who is a London based psychiatric trainee.

This blog is a critique of psychiatric practice, as well as the psychologisation of society; there are also to be found here less ascerbic posts on interesting psychiatric disorders/symptoms and the occasional discussion of civil liberties.

‘Psychiatry is the arena where many of the big questions of the time – philosophical, political and social – have to be hammered out on the crucible of real human relations and suffering’ – Psychiatry a very short introduction Tom Burns pg xi

If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, then let me know contact me

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  1. I’d be curious about your views on welfare reforms and people with mental illness. Is it ever reasonable for people to just settle for a life on benefits or should everyone be expected to get back into work? Is recovery valid if it doesn’t lead to employment?

    My interest – I have bipolar disorder and have been out of work for a decade. I am on benefits. Because I volunteer as an adviser, I know a lot about welfare reforms. They frighten the wotsit out of me. I had thought that I could potter along on benefits justifying my place in society with voluntary work in between crises. The government wants people like me to rejoin the job market (if anyone will employ me). Contrast this with my grandmother who lived in an asylum doing the odd bit of basket weaving.

    Living in an asylum doing the odd bit of basket weaving isn’t an option any more.

    So what, from a psychiatrist’s perspective should be the options for people like me? What should welfare reforms aim to achieve for people like me?

    I shall draw no inferences as to what my own psychiatrist might think – thanks to cutbacks, I no longer have one.

  2. This is an interesting point and not something I’ve thought much about. To state that the benefits system is unjust is so obvious as to be hardly worth saying. My anecdotal experience is that some people with seemingly weak grounds for a benefits claim nevertheless are successful in achieving a large benefits payout, whilst others – for whom the benefits systems would appear to have been designed – struggle to get that to which they are entitled.

    Our (capitalist) society puts great emphasis on the ability to earn a wage to pay ones own way, whilst simultaneously making it difficult for a great many people to earn enough money whist off benefits to maintain a decent standard of living. Then there’s the problem with the skills mismatch which has become particularly prominent since the deindustrialisation of the 1980s.

    The irony of your situation is that your skills would seem to be particularly well suited to the ‘big society’ envisioned by the current crop of leading politicians.