Thursday, 8 March 2012


Newsnight special on new advances in treating mental illness
Much flagged up and much heralded. There was lots of jazzy content about scanning techniques improving how patients are ‘treated’ and using brain imaging and getting into the realms of ‘deep biology’. More from the molecular lot at Cardiff too, gamely bashing away to find gene susceptibility. Epigenetics is a fascinating and worthy field to explore, and diverts from the search for the elusive gene for mental distress (which I’m pretty sure will not be found).   But all pretty medical  and compared psychiatry to cardiology, reduced the whole concept of distress to imaging and bloodtests. I feel sad that the person themselves has disappeared in all this – what is basically neuroscience. And there’s not much room here for talk of recovery. Where is the holistic, the person’s narrative, the effect of experience on mood and behaviour? And finished with a great puff for….Ketamine, a much abused very dangerous street drug. K is seen now by US psychs (where else?) as the answer to severe clinical depression. Hmm. Jury firmly out on this one.

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