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…

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…

Challenging the new hype about antidepressants

The extraordinary media hype over the latest meta-analysis of antidepressants puts the discussion of these drugs back years. Despite the fact that 9% of the UK population are taking antidepressants (1), and rates of prescribing have doubled over the last decade (2), the authors of the analysis are calling for yet more prescribing. John Geddes…