The summer of love officially begins with The Royal College of Psychiatrists annual congress, starting on June 29th at the ICC. If you’re going to Birmingham, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
We know we will be picketed and probably ridiculed by groups opposed to psychiatry. A warning has gone out to wear proper ID and beware bogus journalists.
But, just maybe, this time around, instead of fighting off the pickets with laser pointers, pretending they are light sabres, we should just let our critics put us in the stocks, if they still have them in Birmingham – I know they still have the bull ring – and wait to get pelted with fruit. Waitrose organic blueberries would be acceptable.
I’m talking about Truth and Reconciliation again. We have to accept that Psychiatry as we know it is a twentieth century phenomenon, running on empty these last few years. It’s time to face our critics and recognise what we did.
We are accused as follows:
- Started using bullet points, against the advice of the English teachers
- Colluded with the drug companies to hype SSRIs and Atypicals so that huge amounts of money were wasted paying for drugs that were no better than older drugs that were dirt cheap.
- Conspired to medicalise swathes of human behaviour like normal sadness and over-activity in children, yet failed to offer any useful treatments for these problems.
- Colluded with management and politicians to shut down all our asylums and most of our inpatient units, knowing full well that they would not be adequately replaced with community services.
- In the name of public safety diverted most of what resources remained to locking people up in secure units and hanging on to them as long as possible.
- Colluded with managers to implement electronic records, knowing that these would destroy anyone’s ability to write or find a narrative summary.
- For the nicest of reasons, presided over a decline in the status of medical staff, ending up with no secretarial support, no office, nowhere to park, no say in how things are run, quitting or retiring early, no-one wanting to take our places and decaffeinated coffee.
If you’re going to Birmingham, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Like Belladonna. A crown of thorns is taking it too far.
As Scott McKenzie would put it: ‘There’s a whole generation, with a new explanation’.
I’m looking forward to hearing it, the explanation I mean. See you in the Bull Ring.