The doctor who hears voices again

 

I wrote a post about this the other day before I’d actually seen it and I’ve watched it now.

For anyone who didn’t see it, ‘The Doctor Who Hears Voices‘ was a film shown during the past few days on Channel 4. It concerns a doctor called ‘Ruth’ – her identity has been changed, but we are told that the documentary is a mix of film of Dr May taken throughout the actual treatment, spliced with reenactments of Dr May’s sessions with ‘Ruth’ with Ruth being played by actress Ruth Wilson.  Ruth has no wish to take psychiatric medications and is currently off work with depression; she has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  She is sure that if she tells her work that she is ‘hearing voices’ then she will be sacked and sectioned.

I thought that I’d start this post by listing the things that I liked about the documentary.  So far I’ve only been able to think of one – that it’s good that mental health issues are being given airtime by a major television channel.

There were lots of things I found objectionable about the film. 

1. The subject’s suitability was questionable:

Was it really suitable to film a documentary over a seven month period of a vulnerable patient having a mental health crisis?  I cannot believe that this helped in her recovery, and I suspect that it simply served to raise Dr May’s profile.  Sure, she must have consented before broadcast, but by then the damage could have been done.

2. The film is misleading

Dr May is described as a doctor – whilst this is strictly true, he has a doctorate, most people would interpret this as meaning that he is a medical doctor.  He is not, he is a psychologist.

The film implies that people who have voices are always sectioned, this is not the case.  The film also gives the impression that were ‘Ruth’ to admit to be suffering auditory hallucinations, then she would be sacked and sectioned on the spot.  In fact her dismissal would have to be sanctioned under employment law, and if she were to be sectioned, this would require two independent doctors and an appropriately qualified social worker. 

No attempt is made in the film to put the treatment of this patient in context.  All that one can legitimately say about this film is that Dr May’s interaction with this patient coincided with partial recovery for this patient during one of her relapses.  Many people will leave this film thinking that because of Dr May’s limited ‘success’ that current mental health treatment is all wrong.  This cannot be concluded on basis of one case. 

3. The film is unrepresentative and unrealistic:

‘Ruth’ is not a particularly representative patient.  She is above average intelligence, and I cannot help but notice, is played by a young and beautiful actress.  I wonder if this film would have been made if its subject matter was a typical London inner city patient.

Whilst Ruth Wilson played the role believably, her depiction was not challenging to the viewer.  The most chaotic thing she does is put her head under a stream and walk out in front of a slow moving lorry.  She remains coherent and well turned-out throughout.  What if she did other things less palatable to the body beautiful: neglected personal care, started to have sex with (unattractive) strangers or lived in a filthy house?  Let’s consider how much publicity a conventional psychiatrist, offering medications to a patient who would go home much better the following week, would muster – not much I expect. 

Early on, we are told that Dr May sees Ruth in an unofficial capacity in addition to his NHS work.  Even if it worked, about which I remain dubious, there is simply not the capacity within the health service to allow all patients with serious mental health problems this sort of intensive input. 

At the end of the film, we are encouraged to think that ‘Ruth’ has managed to return to work successfully, despite continuing to have auditory hallucinations.  It is implied that this is because Dr May and ‘Ruth’ manage to pinpoint the identity of the voice which is troubling her; this is over simplistic.  We are told nothing of the long term outcome of this case.  Remember that both bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia (the two terms are used interchangeably during the film) are chronic disorders of a relapsing and remitting nature. 

4. Dr May is deeply unprofessional:

Dr May shows a total distain for other professionals working in the psychiatric field.  Informed by his own experiences, he says that people who work on psychiatric wards consider their patients to be ‘degenerate’.  Psychiatric wards are not nice places, but they are staffed in the main by caring people who do an extremely difficult job with very difficult patients.  It is insulting to suggest that, to a person, they all consider patients with mental health problems in this way.   

Dr May’s relationship with ‘Ruth’ seriously blurs the boundary between patient and professional.  Ruth is seen to stay with his family and there is no mention of any other important relationships in Ruth’s life, for instance the support which might be available from parents or friends.  Instead, Dr May positions himself as a svengali character and it appears that his professional zeal for alternative psychiatric treatment may be an expression of his own personal distaste for the psychiatric profession with Ruth as a unwitting pawn.

Ruth is an extremely vulnerable patient.  The programme takes place over the course of seven months, during which time who, if anyone if managing the risks she poses to herself and others?  At one stage Dr May admits that she has been told by the voice that she hears that she should kill her parents.  He simply considers this to be ‘useful’.  At another Ruth goes missing and Dr May is concerned that she may have committed suicide.  When asked about why he is reluctant to talk to camera about this he admits that he is reluctant, in our risk adverse age, to implicate himself on camera, perhaps realising how far out on a limb he has gone. He is also described as using a technique which many psychiatrists think ‘irresponsible and dangerous’.  Imagine if your surgeon told you he wanted to try a procedure on you that other surgeons thought ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ – you would not be impressed, and neither should we be. 

In discouraging Ruth from seeking any professional advice but his own, Dr May steers her away from evidence based (but I grant, imperfect) methods of treating mental illness, towards his own paradigm.  In the film she is portrayed as manic for in excess of six months, and would have been unlikely to have been so were she on appropriate medication.  In addition to not seeing a psychiatrist, in isolating her, Ruth would also not be helped by the array of other professionals who work in community mental health.  We see her at the end, apparently recovered, but where on earth is her follow-up?

Dr May has a professional case to answer in his attitude to the panel that is to decide whether Ruth is safe to be practicing as a doctor.  This panel is not there simply to get in Ruth’s way, but to make sure that vulnerable patients are to be treated safely by competent doctors.  Whilst being aware that Ruth has symptoms of serious mental illness, Dr May encourages Ruth to lie to the panel and also coaches her to do so. 

This is in direct contradiction to the GMC good practice guidelines which state:

‘If you know that you have, or think that you might have, a serious condition that you could pass on to patients, or if your judgement or performance could be affected by a condition or its treatment, you must consult a suitably qualified colleague. You must ask for and follow their advice about investigations, treatment and changes to your practice that they consider necessary. You must not rely on your own assessment of the risk you pose to patients.’  (my italics)

I don’t doubt that a lot of patients are not keen on taking antipsychotic medications.  It’s widely known that people with mental health problems have trouble finding and keeping employment.  If Dr May’s work aims to help people with their mental health problems get back into employment and deal more effectively with their illness, they we’re on the same side.  And perhaps there’s a four hour version of this film which would clear up all of the above concerns.  But this film is unbalanced and unhelpful.

Here’s a guardian review of the TV show and some interesting comments.

Kathryn Flett in the Observer didn’t like it much either 

Addendum: Dr May has kindly commented on this piece below.  There’s a BMJ review of TDWHV available on his website, which raises some interesting points. 

15 Responses to “The doctor who hears voices again”

  1. NorthernIrelandExile says:

    I agree with your post

  2. Michelle Tempest says:

    I’m glad I didn’t watch it!

  3. Rufus May says:

    The film has recieved strong reactions in both directions. Mind commend it (see their home page http://www.mind.org.uk/); many commentators have said it was powerful and inspirational. Others more attached to a medical view of madness have spent a lot of time and energy criticising it and seeking to dismiss it.

    Many people like Ruth from all kinds of backgrounds find it empowering to be given a choice about how to see and approach their mental health problems. This film took a story of empowerment and self determination to a national audience. Most psychiatrists tell people lots of facts that actually have very dubious evidence bases. For example the reliability and validity of psychiatric diagnosis is contested in many academic analyses. The biochemical imbalance explanation also lacks an evidence base. Yet many psychiatrists tell the people they see they have lifelong disorders, (do not talk about recovery) and tell them the cause is a biological imbalance. On my view psychiatry is misleading the people they are supposed to be helping. They are offering one way of seeing distress as if it is the only way.

    Ruth did not want to take medication because of the adverse effects. Many clinicians would see this as non-compliance and take actions to change the situation as Trevor Turner outlines in the film. The coercive pressure to take medication is very strong in mental health services. I think a more moral approach is to try to support the person to manage their emotions in the way they want to. And yes that is very difficult when the whole system is set up to administer to suppressing medication. This is what needs to change. Resources need to be spent less on administering medication and more on providing alternatives.

    Their are huge repercussions if you report experiences of distress to Occupational health and or the GMC If you need a practical example of this that is not from your own practice look at the Rapid Responses to the Wounded Healers Review by Professor Phil Thomas in the BMJ (you can also read his review at http://www.rufusmay.com). This is why even Trevor Turner former vice chair of the Royal College of Psychiatry in the film, talked about encouraging people to be very careful what they tell their employers.

    Why are psychiatrists so reluctant to talk about recovery and look at the social and cultural meanings of people’s experiences of distress. Why are they so keen to focus on the form of people’s distress rather than the content? Why are they so keen on a drug based model that temporarily suppresses emotional difficulties (and in the process creates lots of health problems) rather than holistically working through them? Hopefully we will see increasing debate and discussion about this area of our lives.

    You will be able to find out more about such thinking at http://www.rufusmay.com

  4. Frontier Psychiatrist says:

    Thanks for your comment. I actually think that examining the context of someone’s delusion is not a terrible idea, and I can fully appreciate that psychiatric medications are not pleasant to take. However the method of approach in the film in question was very unsafe and, if Ruth is work as a doctor, anyone involved in the case has a duty of care to make sure that patient care is not compromised. I can’t see that this was done.

  5. Rufus May says:

    Thankyou for your reply Can I firstly submit a tidier version of the comment I sent early this morning here it is:The film has received strong reactions in both directions. Mind has commended it saying; “This is an eye-opening documentary that challenges traditional perspectives about the treatment of mental health problems. Rufus’ pioneering approach gets remarkable results and shows that people can recover to lead a full life”; many commentators have said it was powerful and inspirational. Others more attached to a medical view of madness have spent a lot of time and energy criticising it and seeking to dismiss it.
    Many people like Ruth from all kinds of backgrounds find it empowering to be given a choice about how to see and approach their mental health problems. This film took a story of empowerment and self-determination to a national audience. Most psychiatrists tell people lots of facts that actually have very dubious evidence bases. For example the reliability and validity of psychiatric diagnosis is contested in many academic analyses. The biochemical imbalance explanation also lacks an evidence base. Yet many psychiatrists tell the people they see they have lifelong disorders, (do not talk about recovery) and tell them the cause is a biological imbalance. On my view psychiatry is misleading the people they are supposed to be helping. They are offering one way of seeing distress as if it is the only way.
    Ruth did not want to take medication because of the adverse effects. Many clinicians would see this as non-compliance and take actions to change the situation as Trevor Turner outlines in the film. The coercive pressure to take medication is very strong in mental health services. I think a more moral approach is to try to support the person to manage their emotions in the way they want to. And yes that is very difficult when the whole system is set up to administer mind-suppressing medication. This is what needs to change. Resources need to be spent less on administering medication and more on providing alternatives.
    Their are huge repercussions if you report experiences of distress to Occupational health and or the GMC If Frontier Psychiatrist needs a practical example of this that is not from his own practice I would suggest looking at the Rapid Responses to the Wounded Healers Review by Professor Phil Thomas in the BMJ (you can also read his review at http://www.rufusmay.com). This is why even Trevor Turner former vice chair of the Royal College of Psychiatry in the film, talked about encouraging people to be very careful what they tell their employers.
    Why are psychiatrists so reluctant to talk about recovery and look at the social and cultural meanings of people’s experiences of distress? Why are they so keen to focus on the form of people’s distress rather than the content? Why are they so keen on a drug based model that temporarily suppresses emotional difficulties (and in the process creates lots of health problems) rather than holistically working through them? Hopefully we will see increasing debate and discussion about this area of our lives.
    You will be able to find out more about such thinking at http://www.rufusmay.com

  6. Rufus May says:

    I guess my point is that I think psychiatric intervention has high risks and is often carried out in ways that damage the person psychologically. The work carried out with Ruth was while she was not at work she was on 6 months suspension (as is documented in the film). Her fear that she might lose her carreer, which was ‘her life’ was the major cause of her distress, in my view. She only started to hear a voice after the suspension (I think the film could have been clearer on this). The film shows that I clearly trusted her and never thought she would be a risk to others. Because someone hears a voice saying destructive things does not equate to that person being a risk to others. People can easily resist the promptings of a voice like they can an intrusive thought. Ruth was and is one of the most caring people and competent clinicians I know. You have to be able to separate levels of distress from competency.

    Once Ruth had worked through her pain she was ready to go back to work much fitter and stronger than before when she was getting bog-standard psychiatric treatment. I believe psychiatric intervention for Ruth’s voice hearing (and other distressing exsperience) would indirectly have deprived society of an excellent clinician.

  7. deClerambault says:

    Unfortunately I’ve a feeling the film falls foul of the reductionism Psychiatry is often misrepresented as doing.
    Let me be clear, Psychiatry is not defined as one treatment modality, namely locking people up and forcibley drugging them. Those options are available for particular patients, and I might add particularly disturbed patients.
    Yet there are patients for whom discussion and reason are not accessible at particular moments in their condition (illness? – that’s another debate), it’s simply not fair to brand psychiatrists as spotting hallucinations, slapping a big schizophrenia label on you, pumping you full of tranquilising drugs and turning the key. Empathy and communication, and attempting to formulate the problem always come first. It seemed that though Ruth was undoubtably suffering from her symptoms, there did appear to be some level of insight – she was actively seeking help and prepared to engage with the support Rufus offered.
    Not everyone does.
    But why should that matter – if you don’t want help, why force it?
    In my mind there’s two reasons.
    If by the nature of an illness/psychotic experience/thinking style – whatever you want to call it, you are prevented from seeking help (eg. delusion that key people, including hospital staff have been replaced by aliens who are out to experiment on anyone who walks through the door) does that person not deserve a chance to be treated? If the delusion tortures them to such a degree that they later kill themselves rather than be subjected to alien domination, should we pat ourselves on the back and say, well at least we respected their autonomy?

    And what if they didn’t kill themselves, but decided they could identify the aliens for all to see by carrying a knife, because aliens bleed green not red.
    So immediate risks to self and others have to be considered – though, Ruth did seem to have command hallucinations saying destructive things about herself and Rufus, which DOES equate to risk.
    In Schizophrenia (I’m not saying that’s what Ruth had – only a clinician meeting her could properly formulate her distress.) there is some evidence shows voices reduce risk of suicide, and that affective (mood) symptoms are the single biggest risk factor, however with homicide, command hallucinations are a different kettle of fish – risky.

    Then there’s the second point – very briefly glossed over in one of the Trevor Turner moments. What happens long term?
    The advocates of the recovery model like Rufus often make an excellent point about seeing relapses as a moment of adversity in a persons life from which a recovery can be made.
    I understand and sympathise with this strategy, to reduce stigma and empower patients. However I do think it’s quite dishonest i that it misses completely the nature of the condition, focussing only on the th here and now of the experience.
    Schizophrenia – for one example (whilst I realise the term itself sparks a debate about categorical diagnosis – which clearly has limitations) may relapse and remit, but untreated (by psychotropic medication) does lead to a cognitive deficit, and profound negative symptoms. You only have to read about schizophrenia patients prior to 1953 (invention of Chlorpromazine.) to see what is meant.

    So to use a contentious medical model analogy – you can live with diabetes and not take your insulin. You’ll get ill from time to time, go to hospital and get your infections and ketoacidosis managed, but eventually you’ll go blind.
    The thing is diabetes doesn’t change your capacity for decision making – you could chose not to medicate, but what if you didn’t believe you had diabetes and would go blind?
    What if you don’t believe in mental illness?

    Now I’m not saying Ruth should have been detained under the Mental Health Act and forcibley treated (as I’ve mentioned it would take a clinician who met with her to properly formulate her problems and risk.)
    By Rufus’ intervention the NHS may have gained an excellent clinician – I really hope he’s right. Maybe Ruth will recover, and never relapse, but maybe things aren’t as simple as the snapshot of her life the film portrayed, and maybe there won’t be a happy ending.

  8. deClerambault says:

    Can I also mention that doctors of any grade or specialty suffering from any mental health difficulties in London can self refer to the MedNet service, which is staffed by 3 Consultant Psychiatrists in Psychotherapy, and maybe a less maverick way of doctors in mental distress seeking help:

    Mrs Chris Loizou (Administrator)
    MedNet
    Tavistock Centre
    120 Belsize Lane
    London NW3 5BA
    Tel : 020 8938 2411
    Fax: 020 7447 3745

  9. Catherine says:

    I watched this with a pretty open mind, having been through the system as a teen right through till I was 30.

    I see psychiatry and all areas of mental health as the most individual illness anyone can have. There are no exact right or wrong’s – the medical, social and holistic model all have their benefits and negative’s. We can’t even claim to know how each person will react to any of these models and while many do well with each or combined intervention, there are just as many who remain chronically unwell for the rest of their lives despite everything that has been tried.

    Rufus May reminded me of the work of Ron Coleman, Marius Romme, Sandra Escher etc who look at voice hearing and other psychotic phenomena in a different way from the medical model.

    I don’t particularly engage with any as having an advantage over the other. I personally have used everything out there, including medication to help myself. ALL have played a part, but I would never try to influence somebody else specifically with those methods that have helped me. The brain is far too complex for that.

    Re: employment – with discrimination legislation you cannot be prevented from working. I have now been in employment as a mental health support worker for around 4 years now and have not hidden the fact that I have had mental health issues. My declaration always states “I have suffered from……. but this in no way impairs my ability to do this job effectively”

    I disagree with the comment about bipolar and schizophrenia being chronic, remitting etc. There are a minority who are so badly affected that they never live independently, but the majority go on to either recover, or manage their illness very well, working, hobbies etc and have a good quality of life.

    Lastly, as far as psych hospitals go, they are always last to have money ploughed into them, under-staffed, full of temporary posts whereby there is no consistency of care and insanely boring and dilapidated. I visit my local one as a worker (visiting clients) and it sends shivers down my spine and is disheartening when so many have to access advocates to address errors, incompetences and lack of care.

  10. Sarah says:

    Having watched the film, I do appreciate that it is a message of hope to those suffering from serious, particularly psychotic, mental illness. My main concern is what happened to Ruth after that? As others have said, the relapse rate for Bipolar I is high, and although we see Ruth 3 months later apparently “recovered”, there’s no follow-up a year on, or two years on… I wonder how she’s getting on now.

    Also it’s Ruth that’s convinced that she would lose her job, and we’re convinced of it by the narrator, but whether or not it’s actually true remains to be seen. However I do sympathise with the need to hide previous psychiatric conditions, because there simply is so much stigma. I am constantly amazed by how uncomfortable people are when I talk about my experiences and I have learned not to discuss them with people who don’t know me. That’s just how society is. I don’t talk about it. However I do take issue with a lot of the things Rufus says.

    Rufus: “You give someone a tablet, it shuts them up. It makes them dumb and stupid. People then have the… have the ignorance to think that medication is making them better. You’re not making them better, you’re making them stupid.”

    As somebody who takes 300mg of Venlafaxine a day, I take serious issue with that statement. Is Dr.May suggesting that my medication makes me dumb and stupid? I would argue that it medication has literally given me my life back. I had all the insight in the world into my condition, I knew that I became depressed because I literally pushed myself to the limit, suppressing my emotions all the way, through all sorts of traumatic things, and just eventually had a breakdown. But that knowledge didn’t make it any better. Most of the time I was too depressed to engage in therapy anyway. It’s all very well for somebody like Ruth who is manic, but what about people who are catatonic? Does Dr.May suggest that those people should also stop taking their medication and try his methods?

    I would also like to say that my family has been a victim of untreated Bipolar Disorder. My grandfather suffered from Bipolar I and when he was manic he became psychotic and delusional. He too refused to take his medication, like Dr.May thinks is a good idea. He subsequently murdered my grandmother and was arrested and put in a secure hospital. Eventually he killed himself. If anything could have prevented the death of my innocent grandmother, whom I would have loved to meet, I wish it had been done. Even if that meant him being detained. “To the medical authorities, Ruth not taking her medication represents a risk to herself and the public” Well, indeed. One could say that Rufus was purely lucky that she did not end up hurting herself or others. The problem is how do you distinguish between who is a risk to themselves or others and who isn’t?

    I think a sort of middle ground would be best here. I know from experience, having been on both Quetiapine and Aripiprazol, that psychiatric medications can have horrible side-effects. Aripiprazol made me so tired I could barely stand, yet when I lay down, my whole body trembled and twitched and my mind was acutely alert and my pulse raced. I could get no rest and that was all I wanted. That plus cookies. LOTS of cookies. I have every sympathy for anyone who does not want to take anti-psychotics. They can be hell. But these side-effects can be managed, so that they are tolerable. It takes a long time to get the specific medication and dosage right for an individual.

    But the whole psychology vs. psychiatry thing has got to end, what’s the point slagging each other off? Psychologists need to accept that although the science is admittedly patchy, medication can and does help a huge number of people. And Psychiatrists need to accept that medication is not a cure-all, but a stabilising substance. There needs to be hope for people who hear voices, yes, but it’s also important to be realistic. The fact is that statistically the likelihood of somebody like Ruth experiencing a relapse is high.

    And the fact is that I may have to take antidepressants for the rest of my life. I hope not. I hope one day I can come off them, and stop needing therapy, but you never know. And you know what, as long as I don’t have to experience the deepest, darkest depths of depression ever again I’m happy to do so.

  11. Sarah says:

    Also, it’s true that psychiatric hospitals are not nice places. They are under-staffed and under-funded and whatnot. I used to be on an eating disorders unit where therapy was pretty limited. The girls seemed to sit around all day doing nothing, being extremely bored, and not getting any better at all. The sad thing is how expensive it really is to run a place that is actually therapeutically helpful. I was offered a place at a specialist Eating Disorders unit at a private hospital in London, where I would have been in therapy most of the day, most days, doing drama therapy, art therapy, group therapy, one-to-one, CBT… it all sounded great. But to stay there for the 6 months they recommended would have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    I think that the point here is to think about prevention, and stopping people getting to the point where they need to be detained or need inpatient hospital care. It would actually save the NHS a lot of money too, but nobody seems to like the idea.

  12. Marian says:

    I haven’t much to add to Rufus May’s comments here, other than that I was in the – as I’ve come to understand, having a closer look at the system and how it does NOT work – extremely privileged situation to get a kind of help very similar to the kind Rufus offers his clients. I made it through a crisis without any drugs, simply by working out the meaning of what I was experiencing. And, yes, the voices were of essential importance for this process, since they reflected my thinking, while my thinking processes were the main problem.

    I can’t see, why on earth the fact that Rufus May is a psychologist would be a basis to dismiss his views. Does it make someone less qualified to help people in existential crisis, that they have a somewhat more humanistic than medical background, and that their human qualities outweigh by far the good any possible medical qualifications could do for these people? I don’t think so. Soteria employed students without any psychiatric knowledge at all. The recovery rate was 85 per cent. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? The moment we acknowledge, that what people in existential crisis need the most isn’t medical but humane help, psychiatry loses it’s raison d’être.

    Oh and, it’s almost five years since my crisis. I’m not back to where I was before. I moved far beyond that, and am still moving. “Transformation” and “balance” sound a lot more attractive to me than “stability”. And, as far as I know, “Ruth” is doing just fine, too.

  13. Lee Hulbert-Williams says:

    Some interesting points, but can I picky? ‘Doctor’ comes from the Latin verb ‘to teach’ and is a general title used by thousands upon thousands of people the world over, at least half of whom do not practice medicine. Whatever other odious offences have been committed, anyone with a doctorate has a right to use the title ‘Doctor’. The over-reliance on the title within medicine is comparatively recent, as vouched by the continued use of ‘Mr’ and ‘Miss’ within surgical settings in the UK. If ‘the public’ misunderstands this title, we should teach the truth (after all, that’s what being a doctor means), rather than attempting to deny the use of an historical title to many thousands of professionals from all walks of life.

  14. Cinderella says:

    Stop being so small minded and gullible! Stop believing that medication is the answer…neuroleptic medication is horrendous to be on. Tell me how you can manage incontinence? Tell me how you can manage choking on the huge amount of saliva you are producing in the middle of the night? Tell me how you can manage excruciating cramps in your legs? You cant. Its all complete nonsense that schizophrenia is a chemical imbalance in the brain. If it was then there wouldnt be huge organisations that successfully help people without medication. The pharmaceutical companies are raking in the cash as a result of robbing people of their lives!

    Medication does not make you any safer. Just because you are so knocked out that you literally dont have the energy to do anything, doesnt mean you FEEL safe. Isnt that the most important thing…to support people to make them feel safe. You might be less likely to kill yourself because of the medication you have been given but you are still petrified inside. Thats not a cure…thats torture!

    Sarah…yes he is suggesting that someone with ”catatonic schizophrenia” should try his methods. There is a reason why someone suffering such distress is ”catatonic’. Its appalling that one might suggest that Rufus’ methods wouldnt work for someone who is ”too far gone”. How would you have felt if you had been denied the opportunity to talk about your experiences? Im guessing you would still be depressed.

    The truth is that individuals who have come into contact with the methods of the Hearing Voices Network are being treated like human beings. They do recover…there are many voice hearers who have an active role in the community. You wouldnt even know they hear voices. In contrast, so many voice hearers have been on medication for years and are not happy with their quality of life. They may not have killed themselves or anyone else but that is more likely to be because they are so sedated by the fucking medication! Trust me, if they were going to kill someone or themselves, tranquilizers are unlikely to stand in their way.

    Im glad that the venlafaxine is working for you…one thing though…good luck coming off that. Then tell me that medication is the answer…

  15. Anon says:

    You state: let’s remember that bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia are chronic disorders of a relapsing and remitting nature.’ Yes, that’s probably what you have been taught in your medical school and psychiatric training. You probably also think that by far the most likely cause for schizophrenia is a biochemical imbalance or disorder arising in the brain. I thought so too from my medical school psychiatric teaching which was incredibly biased towards thinking along these lines, my student psychiatry textbook giving most prominence to the ‘dopamine hypothesis’ and lacking information about other theories, and delusions and hallucinations described with absolutely no reference of how they could be understood in terms of the social context and life history of the patient. What changed my view? I had psychosis myself. Then I realised that the ‘brain disorder’ was all (excuse my emotional language) b&lls**t. They first thought I had schizophrenia, then bipolar disorder but I fought them all the way and the diagnosis was eventually changed. It wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been a doctor myself and able to use my medical knowledge to argue against my psychiatrists. I have now been working as a medical doctor for over 10 years and have never had a relapse in this time. Rufus May was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia and he has been fine long term off medication also. Don’t you think you should try to be open minded to some of what we are saying? Of course, there is no way I wanted to take the horrendous medication and I haven’t taken any for over 10 years. I think people with psychosis should be offered a choice about medication, just like the rest of society. Don’t you think it is totally unethical that the Soteria research was ignored by the medical profession? Further research should have been carried out in this area, so that patient’s could have access to the right support to minimise or avoid harmful medication. I am sure you would feel differently if you had a psychosis yourself. I am sure you are an intelligent and caring person, but you have been brainwashed. I agree it is best not to ‘lie’ and I think Ruth could have avoided discussing her mental health at interview without ‘lying’. I have never lied, I was advised by occupational health consultant that it was not necessary to discuss my health with any employer and it should only go through occupational health. Of course, most people like me would not write to you as they would wish to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons.

Leave a Reply