How psychiatry became a damage limitation exercise

Darian Leader writes an important piece in the Guardian, arguing that the contemporary, standard model for the treatment of the mentally unwell – therapies that promise a swift return to productivity – risk losing sight of a patient’s humanity, and are therefore dehumanising, possibly exacerbating. A taster:

Mental health services become like a garage where people are fixed and put back on the road, rather than subjects to be listened to.

But once we start listening we might well question our beliefs and prejudices about normality. As old psychiatry recognised, many of the phenomena that are seen to define mental illness are in fact efforts to battle against it. A delusion, for instance, may provide a meaning to one’s world, and to try to remove it may deprive the person of a crucial resource.