High Street Psychotherapy, anyone?

Posted: November 6, 2011 in The world as it could have been
Tags: , ,

It’s been a weekend for whitecoats on the BBC’s light entertainment schedule.  Quite Interesting (a comic knowledge-based TV show presented by a legend who happens to be bipolar, Stephen Fry), had as its guests  Jo Brand, and Ben Goldacre.  Both did time in my Local Mental Health Trust’s rounds; Brand used to be a psych nurse (and describes her experience of being heckled as a comedian as being ‘nothing once you’ve heard everything a psych patient can throw at you’), and Goldacre’s professional training was with the LMHT round (and he still does the occasional talk, eg one on Female Sexual Disfunction being a myth).

Quite interestingly/disappointingly, not much actually was discussed on the mentalism front, aside from a rather memorable description by Goldacre of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as being “a load of cock”.  Huzzah!  But Goldacre, for all his aceness on his advocacy of evidence-based practice and *proper* research and medical practice, doesn’t talk a great deal about his psych background, and it’s really interesting that his new role as Debates Editor for the BJPsych is mentioned only in that journal and this blog.

Mental medicine aside, the QI was an insight into medical practice generally (why enemas are popular, placebos work, and some albeit not-well-received stuff by Goldacre on how medical research works, etc).  Worth a watch if you missed it and can get BBC iPlayer.

And just in case you were in any doubt about my Radio 4-ness, the Museum of Curiosity, another version of a comic knowledge-based media programme whereby guests suggest things which should go into the Museum, provided my just-about-emerging-from-migraine distraction.  Alain de Botton (author of relative highbrow pop-psych titles like Status Anxiety and the Architecture of Happiness, both of which I rate enough to recommend you borrow from a library or put on an Amazon wishlist but not actually spend your own cash on) was a guest.  His suggestion was that psychotherapy should be available on the high street, saying that in the same way we get our hair or nails done, we should get our minds done a bit too, basically arguing for greater accessibility and making it mainstream.  He points out the referral process at present is a big fucking hassle, and makes the case for it being on the high street, as accessible as getting some milk.  His case was quite plausible, and included the point that the £50 for an hour of someone having to actually listen to you is a uniquely luxurious indulgence; that when you talk to a friend you might get 5 minutes to talk about your shit and then have to do 5 minutes on theirs, but a psychotherapist has to focus on you.  It is a comedy programme and there were some good counterpoints made, so do listen, if you can; you’ve only got a week, I think.  (the suggestion comes in at around 12 minutes, but the other guests were decent so it’s worth listening to the whole thing really).

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