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Alternatives to psychiatric diagnosis

Alternatives to psychiatric diagnosis

Peter Kinderman, current president elect of the British Psychological Society has been interviewed by Eric Maisel as part of a series of 100 interviews on rethinking mental health. Each of the interviews can be found here

Like Eric and Peter, I am keen to deconstruct the "mental disorder" paradigm that is the foundation of current mental health practices. Peter calls for a fundamental shift in healthcare from a medical to a psychosocial focus and to recognise the need to redouble our efforts to address the underlying issues of abuse, discrimination and social inequity. Eric presents a revolutionary alternative, a “human experience" paradigm. In his most recent book he sheds a bright light on the differences between so-called “psychiatric medication" and mere chemicals with powerful effects and explains why the DSM-5 is silent on causes, silent on treatment, and wedded to illegitimate “symptom pictures".

It is with these themes in mind that I am eager to welcome Dr Lucy Johnstone to our British Psychological Society evening event on Thursday 17th March 2016 at the Treasury, Plymouth.

Lucy is a UK clinical psychologist, trainer, speaker and writer and long term critic of the biomedical model of psychiatry. She has recently contributed to the British Psychological Society’s response to the DSM-5 revisions and argues that the single most damaging effect of psychiatric diagnosis is loss of meaning. She states that "by ruthlessly divesting experiences of their personal, social and cultural significance, diagnosis turns ‘people with problems’ into ‘patients with illnesses'. Horrifying stories of trauma, abuse, discrimination and deprivation are sealed off behind a pseudo-medical label as the individual is launched on what is often a lifelong journey of disability, exclusion and despair."

Advocating too against the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which, despite two governments promising an end to its use, and a severe lack of evidence to support any true efficacy, is still used today in our local hospitals. Lucy campaigns for more understanding of an individual's life experiences, their strategies for coping and capacity for survival and promotes a narrative or formulation-based alternative to psychiatric diagnosis. Lucy will be outlining her thoughts on how our understanding of severe mental distress is changing and suggest more compassionate ways in which healthcare should move forward.

For more information about this event please visit

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