Psychedelics – the new psychiatric craze!

Psychedelics are an increasingly fashionable medical treatment, but are they anything other than a powerful form of snake oil, or a recreational experience? Do they have any objective health benefits? Can we be confident they are safe? These questions need answering urgently as the number of people being enticed or persuaded to have these drugs is increasing. Here I draw attention to some of the issues raised by the current popularity of these drugs.

What can we learn from the asylum? Historical study of the Essex County Asylum reflects the perennial functions of the mental health system

Summary My historical study of the Essex asylum, just outside London, which was recently published in Psychological Medicine, finds that those who were admitted showed significant disturbances of behaviour or evidence of organic disease. Almost two thirds of those who had psychological, as opposed to organic, disorders were discharged recovered or improved (mostly recovered). The…

What does ‘relapse’ mean? Definitions used in long-term antipsychotic treatment trials are inconsistent and unclear.

We are told that long-term antipsychotic treatment reduces the risk of someone having a ‘relapse’ of schizophrenia or psychosis. What ‘relapse’ actually refers to in the studies that are supposed to establish this has not been examined though. Our recent study of relapse definitions, published in Schizophrenia Research, shows that there is no consistent or…

The uniqueness of life: a review of Peter Hacker’s “Human Nature: the Categorial Framework” and its implications for the mind-body problem and our understanding of mental disorder

Peter Hacker is an eminent philosopher and one of the world’s leading authorities on Wittgenstein. He has published a four volume analytical commentary on the Philosophical Investigations and a brilliant little book on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mind, now sadly out of print (1). He is also well known for his debunking of neuroscientific reductionism in…

Persistent withdrawal and lasting damage from prescribed drugs

  The recent furore caused by publication of evidence about the serious nature of antidepressant withdrawal made me reflect on the lasting damage that can sometime be done by prescription drugs, and how it has often taken concerted efforts by users of these drugs to bring these effects to public attention. Historically, the medical community…

Commentary on the Finnish analysis of first episode schizophrenia outcomes

A recent study by a Finnish group declares that discontinuing antipsychotics following a first episode of schizophrenia causes higher risk of death or rehospitalisation. The study is based on an observational analysis of routinely collected data, and these analyses can be seriously misleading. It also prioritises short-term outcomes. The study highlights the need for randomised…