As human beings, we are attuned to notice the special or different. We also tend to like simple answers to complex questions. Perhaps they make us feel more in control of the complicated environments we find ourselves in. I wondered about this during a recent trawl for ‘depression cures’ on news websites. Suggestions included 9-stone weight loss, magic mushrooms(complete with obligatory 3D brain picture to enhance credibility), laughing gas and ketamine. It seems that we are on the lookout for simple-sounding and miraculous cures for our ailments. After all, the prospect that things can be fixed ever faster and with less effort sounds great. With a bias towards the novel and apparently miraculous, I wonder how we can appraise new, glamorous or cutting edge treatments? Can we judge such shiny new arrivals fairly?
Professor John Read, back in the UK after a long period away, is struck by some important changes in the way we view mental health problems.
Sue Holttum suggests that biological explanations for distress may easily be over-emphasised.
As regular readers of this blog know, we are very interested in the pros and cons of psychiatric diagnosis. We try to discuss this issue in an accessible way and reach as broad an audience as possible. It was a great pleasure, therefore, to be invited by Lewes Skeptics (a Sussex branch of the Skeptics in the Pub network) to give a talk about mental illness, diagnosis, and some of the controversies raised by the new version of the psychiatric classification manual DSM-5. We’ve since been asked to make the talk available more widely, so we’ve posted it below. It’s a video of the slides, accompanied by a soundtrack recorded on the night.