Suffering can lead to unforeseen social consequences. Image courtesy Rene Asmussen

In my time as a psychiatry doctor, I have met hundreds of patients. All of them have stories, lives, and experiences. One crucial part of understanding the cause of someone's suffering is to reconsider what it means to see its impact outside of any diagnostic ideology. In short, to consider suffering in a social domain.

The social understanding of suffering

We all have friends, family, and roles in the world. Developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson postulated a series of psychosocial developmental stages that define our path through life in terms of conflicts that we must resolve to grow. …

Often rage can be about one's self or someone else. Image courtesy of geralt

Many of us use a social media account, and some of us have been unfortunate enough to be on the end of a ‘pile on.’ To those who have, this can be an excruciatingly painful, and fearful experience. Here are 5 ways I have learned to deal with them. (Warning, there will be some psychology!)

Before we start I want to remind you of something, your safety comes first. These tips are there to help understand why people act as they do, and how you can prepare yourself. This can happen to any of us.

  1. Accept that you aren’t usually…

With Trump now banned from Twitter for violating terms of service and allegedly advocating what some have called an insurrection, many cite that the site has gone too far. I disagree. Here is why.

Pundits stating that the ‘trump ban’ is the start of some censorship on freedom of speech are quite wrong. He broke the terms of service from day one, incited hate and violence. He was given the privilege of 4 years of grace due to his political position. A true libertarian would recognise this, not whine or draw false equivalencies.

It is fair to consider a different…

John* was a young man and suicidal. He had recently split from his partner and had spent three days drinking. His sleep was erratic, and his mind playing over the same thoughts of guilt and anger. He had begun to feel anxious, his heart beating hard in his chest. The only solution seemed to be under a train, and he had been pulled from the tracks by police officers. How did he get here?

A crisis can occur when our reflection is shattered

Often in psychiatry, we see those who have reached the end of their coping mechanisms, and as such only see one escape. But to understand them…

COVID 19 has become a disease of the mind, and that is where it can win. We must fight back—thoughts from a psychiatrist.

COVID 19 has not only infected our bodies but our brains. Image courtesy of pixabay.

Denial is natural but a barrier to survival.

Denial is a natural defense mechanism against trauma. In most cases, this is not a deep denial, and the person is somewhat aware of the irreconcilable nature of their beliefs with reality. It becomes psychotic in some cases, where the reality is repressed so deeply that a secondary alternative and delusional reality reigns.

When it came to COVID-19 many could not accept the true and horrifying nature of the situation and preferred to succumb to obscure conspiracy theories that presented a more tolerable alternative to real. …

Lessons from my failures and the successes of others.

Our armor is one of ideology

Over the last few weeks, I have taken a break from social media. I had many reasons, including working as a frontline ward psychiatry trainee in a covid + ward, revising for exams (which to my surprise are still happening in midst of a horrible pandemic,) personal stress, and, most congruently, a revised perception of my relationship with such media.

During this time I have read some of the works of Christopher Hitchens. …

It is only this year that Professor John Read published his latest work meta-anlysis on ECT in the in joural ‘Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry’ and catalysed a huge debate about the nature and justification of psychiatric treatments.

Although widely disputed in terms of its methodology and contradicting studies finding signficant efficacy of the treatment in Schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and depression (previous study,) it did raise questions about how consider successful outcomes, patient experience and the role of science in Psychiatry.

The war of ideas may be one that harms

This article is not designed to be a reply to this particular study, or indeed specific critiques of…

As a psychiatrist, I often work with those for whom the subjective nature of reality is vastly different from what is objectively true. This can provide intense suffering, or release from it. From a metaphysical standpoint, many simply see what is not there, and by hold with this sight a conviction equal in strength of its existence to my own of its delusionality.

The crucial difference is the departure from an objective and replicable universal working model, by which we all set our clocks. …

I t was only just recently that Barrister Jolyon Maugham was the center of the news. Alongside other legal minds, he had spearheaded campaigns around complicated legal issues concerning ‘Brexit’, the British plan to leave the European Union. Although attempting to uphold legal mandates and ensure oversight to political actions, he became the target of a huge public backlash.

This backlash was so quick and extreme, that he was advised to take out personal security after his home address was signposted by political opponents (who faced no action themselves for doing so.)

So we must ask ourselves, how have come…

Imagine, for a moment, and some of you will not need to imagine, that you are unwell. For you, the world has turned grey and you are beginning to consider that there is nothing left to make you smile. Or, perhaps, that you are feeling that ‘something is wrong’, that people are working against you, and have nowhere to turn.

You open the newspaper or log on to Twitter, and you see politicians blaming mass shootings on the ‘mentally unwell,’ whilst TV show hosts throw insults and accusations at others. Commentators address the apogee of illness with disdain, mocking the…

Dr Benjamin Janaway 🧠

Psychiatrist with lived experience. Navigating the world and trying to explain and educate. Nominated ‘best couple’ in medical school awards.

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