Unfinished

This is strange.  Dalrymple began writing for The Spectator in the ’80s and returned to the United Kingdom in the ’90s to take up a post as consultant psychiatrist in a Birmingham hospital.  He immediately started writing his medical column.  The portraits he paints of his patients are not exactly flattering.  Indeed, if he is to be believed, he doesn’t encounter a single one with a genuine psychiatric illness.  Most of them, according to him, have absolutely nothing wrong with them.  One wonders why he didn’t switch to something more useful such as brain surgery.  It does not appear that he came to view his patients with such contempt as a result of observing them over a long period but rather that he viewed them with contempt even before he embarked on his career as an NHS consultant psychiatrist.  He claims that the specialism appealed to him because it would give him the opportunity to ‘plumb the depths of human folly..’. As well as giving him lots of little titbits to toss at the readership of The Spectator.  He had made up his mind about them before he started treating them.  He despised them and had no interest in helping them.  They served only to confirm Dalrymple’s own moral superiority and, by extension, the moral superiority of the readership of The Spectator.  As I said you do the math.  On his psychiatric ward no one is depressed, no one is manic depressive/bipolar, no one is personality disordered, no one is schizophrenic.  Indeed, at no time does the good doctor make any kind of psychiatric diagnosis or prescribe any psychiatric medication.  His average day seems to consist of him telling the patients there is nothing wrong with them and refusing them medication.  He is on record as saying that anti depressants do not work.  Could someone please inform the pharmaceutical company of this.  And the psychiatrists they wine and dine in order to persuade them to prescribe their particular brand of psychoactive medication.  He is however something of a cheerleader for neuroleptics.  His objection to benzodiazepines is that they ’empty the mind of all thought’.  This is not true, by the way.  And neuroleptics also have this effect but he does not appear to object to that.  Anything to ensure the patient’s compliance, eh Doctor.  And nothing does that better than a good old solid, dependable, first generation anti psychotic.  Where would you be without them?  You may have to actually talk to your patients.  He claims that he works in a slum hospital, in a slum and his patients are, without exception, slum dwellers.  Now anyone who knows anything about the NHS should know that this is not how the organisation operates.  

NHS psychiatrists have as little to do with their patients as possible.  They leave all that ‘grunt’ work to the staff nurses who, in turn, delegate it to the health care assistants.

My mother has encountered several cases in which psychiatrists have suddenly and unaccountably stopped prescribing medication to patients who have been on it for years.  She is convinced that some of it is down to the psychiatrist’s need to go on a power trip.  Of course, the people who see the consequences of this are not the psychiatrists but the nurses.  The psychiatrist just tosses the hand grenade and waltzes off.

Another objection he raises is that his patients never tell him they’re unhappy but instead tell him they’re depressed.  Well, Doctor, maybe this is because you’re a psychiatrist and why would someone who is merely unhappy consult a psychiatrist in the first place.  Of course, it is possible that at least some of his patients have mistaken unhappiness for depression but there is a referral process in the NHS.  You don’t just turn up one day and get to see a consultant psychiatrist.  Someone referred these ‘unhappy’ patients to Dr Daniels and that someone was probably their Gp.  If his patients are mistaken about their  own state of mind, it is perfectly understandable.  If my GP were to refer me to an oncologist it would be reasonable for me to at least suspect that I might be suffering from some form of cancer. 

Would a practitioner of any other medical specialism get away with being so whimsical? 

If treachery had a face, it would be his.

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38 Responses to “Unfinished”

  1. D.C. Says:

    You seem to be fixated on this man? Was he YOUR doctor?

    Like

  2. Waggle Says:

    Dr Anthony daniels is a shit. “Fixated on this man”? Given his lousy attitudes why didn’t they get rid of him years ago? There is a big problem with our psychiatric service when someone as callous and judgemental as Daniels can get away with an attitude like his over the course of his entire career.

    Like

    • deedeeramona Says:

      Hear hear!

      Even reading about this man is difficult for me because of the urge to self-harm it causes me. I’m middle class with all sorts of resources financial, educational and the like to throw at a problem with a doctor but most of his patients didn’t have those advantages and got to suffer without treatment. I wonder how many died?
      The only reason I’m not out there every day trying to stop people like this is that I can’t cope with the self-destructiveness this causes.

      Like

    • warriet Says:

      says it all!

      Like

  3. Tao Says:

    Since psychiatry is an institution that :
    1. Forcefully deprives individuals of their liberty, (often with no wrong doing on the part of the individual)
    2. Forcefully drugs individuals to the point of double incontinence or even much worse.
    3. Withholds correct information about medicines. e.g.risk of diabetes, weight gain, metabolic disturbance, dyskinesias and dystonias etc.
    4. Labels individuals with a life long condition, (which may not be the case, but acting in the belief that it is, in conjunction with the damaging widespread stigma towards such conditions, certainly has a definite effect.)
    5. Does little else but serious damage to a significant number of its clients/victims.
    It would seem hard to single out any particular practitioner, as being especially unkind, given the nature of the institution.

    Like

    • Desdemona, Destitute and Desperate Says:

      They’re not all like that and you know it.  There must be at least on that you ave connected with, one that has reached out to you.  Focus on the good in people and you will live a much happier and even productive life.

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      • Tao Says:

        Thanks for your interest, but which specific point are you taking issue with? I don’t think that my description of the institution of psychiatry is inappropriate. Some practitioners may be personable, may even seem kind, but the damage that has been done through psychiatric methods should not be ignored, and indeed for some, cannot be. In bringing the seriousness of the matter in focus, (at least to me) stimulates the desire for pursuing a fuller knowledge, that could prove to very worthwhile. I don’t wish to go into details, since ideally I would not want to stray too far from the subject of the original blog post.

        Like

  4. Jilly Says:

    I hope news of this guy’s ill thought out experiments on his captive patients spreads far and wide and that someone, somewhere sees the need for retribution. He’s living in rural France now. Just a Chunnel ride away. Master the art of sleeping with one eye open, Doctor Daniels. It will be most beneficial.

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    • inspectorgadget Says:

      There you go, proving his point exactly.

      Well done.

      Like

      • Stabilised Mentalist Says:

        Which particular point would that be? He’s made many. I think he’s even made a few about the police. Do the comments on your blog from serving police officers also ‘prove the points’ he has made about the police?

        Like

      • inspectorgadget Says:

        These comments from serving police officers……

        The internet is an open an unregulated forum, the comments could be from anyone.

        If the day comes when as the actual Blogger I write something like

        ” He’s living in rural France now. Just a Chunnel ride away. Master the art of sleeping with one eye open, Doctor Daniels” then hopefully someone will come for me too.

        Like

      • Louise Says:

        Stat counters really are very useful things.

        Like

      • Mao Tse-tung Says:

        Are you saying that some of the police officers who post on your blog aren’t real police officers? Which ones? The law hasn’t caught up with the idea of impersonating a police officer online. Pity.

        Like

      • Hamlet Says:

        There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
        Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

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      • Howard Roark Says:

        You can only push the devoted disciples of Ayn Rand so far.

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      • Dmitri Says:

        “shrugs”

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      • Alpha Boy Says:

        Devotees of the late, great Virginia Wolf on’t think much of him either.

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  5. David Duff Says:

    I read The Spectator, including Dr. Dalrymple, whom I enjoy, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt ‘morally superior.

    What I do suspect is that today psychiatry, in the widest sense of the word, is roughly at the same level of advancement as medieval leech-providers were in the 13th century!

    Like

  6. Kathy Says:

    Given the post before this, perhaps you have more in common with Doc D than you care to admit.

    Like

  7. Tao Says:

    Living in France must be great. The English are so backwards with respect to almost everything of importance.

    Like

  8. David Duff Says:

    Tao, you would need to define “everything of importance”, I think.

    Like

    • Tao Says:

      Don’t be stupid, stupid.

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      • David Duff Says:

        I might be stupid but I am definitely not a mind-reader. Perhaps you are having difficulty defining “everything of importance”. I certainly would.

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      • Louise Says:

        David is as far from being ‘stupid’ as it’s possible to get.

        Like

      • David Duff Says:

        Thank you, Louise, but alas on some subjects I am as dumb as a box of rocks. As far as psychiatry and the study of the human mind is concerned, I just gain the overwhelming impression that we are all fumbling in the dark. The profession, I fear, spend too much time covering their ignorance by the invention of more and yet more fancy names to cover yet more types of symptoms, and they do so as a means of providing themselves with a spurious air of expertise. A little more humility and honesty would not go amiss and, in fact, might make them more convincing.

        Like

  9. This Week In Mentalists, New Home Edition « This Week in Mentalists Says:

    […] is perplexed by Theodore Dalrymple’s frankly bizarre account of his time as a consultant psychiatrist: […]

    Like

  10. mentalhealthcop Says:

    Hello. I’m a new reader; got the link from Inspector Gadget’s blog and I really enjoy your articles, not least because I’ve got a lot of experience in working in policing in the arena of mental illness, both from an operational and policy point of view.

    It’s not just Anthony DANIELS who is an outspoken critic of the medical model of mental illness and in fairness to him, there is a considerable amount of research which backs up claims about the ineffectiveness of psychiatric medication as well as the fundamental flaw of psychiatric taxonomy.

    As far as referalls by GPs go: the area of mental illness was one area of healthcare where GPs did not want responsibility for commissioning servces, under the currently proposed healthcare reforms. They argued that they simply knew nothing about it. A lot of GPs are poor, in relation to mental illness.

    I’m simply qualified to referee this stuff – I’m a policeman(!) – but it is clear from lots of sources, not all of them vested interests, that the psychiatric industry has many, many problems and that our current way of dealing with it may not be the best for patients and society alike.

    Like

    • Belinda Says:

      If it could be proven that much of what he says is fabrication, would that in any way diminish your admiration of him?

      Like

  11. mentalhealthcop Says:

    Sorry to post this next comment on this thread, it relates to the last, but as I’m new to your blog, I’m reading backwards to some stuff with closed comments …

    Get Out of Gaol Free really touched my nerve: I TOTALLY agree with you, that NHS professionals, police and the criminal justice system have got too quickly into this ‘mad or bad’ dichotomy and I agree that it’s false. I think the sooner we realise that some mentally ill people may need to be imprisoned and ensure parts of our prisons can deal with their needs; as well as consider the Mental Health system more often as a perfectly legitimate ‘disposal’ for offenders who are ill, the better.

    If you want to read an interesting (Australian) book on this, read Mad or Bad by Deidre GRIEG about the case of a criminal called Garry DAVID. The Australian state of Victoria legislated specifically to deal with the problems he threw up for public safety in a case that will probably be without equal.

    Like

  12. Louise Says:

    It’s interesting that Dr Dalrymple thinks the nurses have gone soft.
    The nurses say it’s the psychs who have gone soft. It’s a kind of undeclared civil war. Great posts, by the way. Lots to digest. I will get back to you later.

    Like

  13. Ronaldo Says:

    Peculiar chap.

    Like

  14. Eileen Says:

    I asked my G.P. if he’d read any Dalrymple.
    He replied, ‘A little. The problem is that I don’t speak ‘Quack’.’

    Like

    • Tao Says:

      “Mallards, Ladies and Gentlemen. This illustrates eggsactly the real disparity in health care provision which is consistently ducked by those health care providers, who guarantee consultancy bills are paid regardless of patient satisfaction.”

      Like

  15. Alison Tenby Says:

    You are not alone.

    Nobody is.

    Like

  16. Waggle Says:

    ‘Ere, I know that this is a bit off topic but I have heard from my sister who is a psychiatric social worker somewhere in the north east-ish that Mental Nurse was was not attacked by shoggoths but Z is up before the NMC for allowing the site to slag off certain therapists, in particular David “Pinky” Poo and Andrew Samuels. They especially disliked his take on race relations when he satirised their knowledge of this area as respectively “once ordered a chicken biryani” and “has watched three episodes of Rastamouse”.

    Thus he has had to take the site down. Noticed that Madosphere can’t be accessed either and I need my weekly TWIM as medication.

    Call me paranoid but are there forces of darkness at work here?

    Like

  17. misa Says:

    FZ

    Like

  18. Dana Says Says:

    This guy is as brutish as the underclass folks he denounces. http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/paleopsych/2005-October/004376.html

    Most docs stopped calling their patients lunatics when it was discovered that mental illness had nothing to do with the phases of the moon.

    Like

  19. Call Me Dave Says:

    Q. What’s the difference between God and a psychiatrist?

    A. God doesn’t think he’s a psychiatrist.

    Like

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