Thursday 10 September 2015

Models of Madness

In today's post John Read (in the picture above) presents the recent book he co-authored with Jacqui Dillon, titled Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis.

My name is John Read. After 20 years working as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the USA, mostly with people experiencing psychosis, I joined the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1994. There I published over 100 papers in research journals, primarily on the relationship between adverse life events (e.g., child abuse/neglect, poverty etc.) and psychosis. I also research the negative effects of bio-genetic causal explanations on prejudice, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in mental health.

In February I moved to Melbourne and I now work at Swinburne University of Technology. I am on the on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis and am the Editor of the ISPS’s scientific journal Psychosis.

My other books are:

READ, J., SANDERS P. (2010). A Straight Talking Introduction to the Causes of Mental Health Problems. PCCS Books.

GEEKIE, J., RANDAL, P., LAMPSHIRE, D., READ, J, (eds.). (2012). Experiencing Psychosis: Personal and Professional Perspectives. Routledge.

GEEKIE, J., READ, J. (2010). Making Sense of Madness: Contesting the Meaning of Schizophrenia. Routledge.

In 2004 I edited, with Richard Bentall and the now deceased and sorely missed Loren Mosher, a book called Models of Madness. To our surprise it sold over 11,000 copies and was translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. This second, updated, edition of Models of Madness (2013) was edited with my wonderful friend and colleague Jacqui Dillon (in the picture below).

Our book brings together thirty-seven contributors from ten countries and a wide range of scientific disciplines. It provides an evidence-based, optimistic antidote to the pessimism of biological psychiatry. It is intended for all involved in mental health, including service users, family members, service managers, policy makers, nurses, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counsellors, psychoanalysts, social workers, occupational therapists and art therapists.

The book challenges the simplistic, and often damaging theories and treatments of the ‘medical model’ of madness. Psychiatric diagnoses and medications are based on the false premise that human misery and distress are caused by chemical imbalances and genetic predispositions, and ignore the social causes of psychosis and what psychiatrists call schizophrenia. This edition updates the now extensive body of research showing that hallucinations, delusions etc. are best understood as reactions to adverse life events and that psychological and social approaches to helping are more effective and far safer than psychiatric drugs and electroshock treatment. A new final chapter discusses why such a damaging ideology has come to dominate mental health and, most importantly, how to change that.

Section One provides a history of madness, including examples of violence against the mentally ill, before critiquing the theories and treatments of contemporary biological psychiatry and documenting the corrupting influence of drug companies.

Section Two summarises the research showing that hallucinations, delusions etc. are primarily caused by adverse life events (eg. parental loss, bullying, abuse and neglect in childhood, poverty, etc) and can be understood using psychological models ranging from cognitive to psychodynamic.

Section Three presents the evidence for a range of effective psychological and social approaches to treatment, from cognitive and family therapy to primary prevention.

Dr Dirk Corstens, a Dutch psychiatrist, kindly wrote, in a book review:

Models of Madness is an evidence-based book that helps us to understand the multiple layers of the personal stories behind diagnoses like 'schizophrenia' or 'psychosis'. It is an essential companion for psychiatric professionals working with people who exhibit so-called psychotic symptoms. This book is a must-read for experienced psychiatrists like me, for the younger generation that we train to become psychiatrists, and for the psychologists who think psychosis is not their domain of expertise. This book is a challenge to simple and lazy thinking about psychosis; its origins, consequences, and its treatment.

I hope you like it too.

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