open letter to the Director General of the BBC about its coverage of issues on mental health (see previous post). Essentially the complaint is that there is insufficient focus on a sociopsychobiological rather than a biomedical understanding of mental illness. As the signatories to the letter note, this is not primarily a matter of disciplinary conflict. Psychiatrists, such as myself, promote a sociopsychobiological approach. However, the majority of the signatories to the letter are from clinical psychology. I think their anger must express frustration about the dominance of the biomedical model in modern practice. Psychiatry, rather than clinical psychology, may well be the more powerful discipline in this ideological dispute.
Where does this disciplinary power come from? Part of it may be related to the respective roles of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists under the Mental Health Act. Detention under the Mental Health Act requires two medical recommendations. Although clinical psychologists can be Responsible Clinicians, in practice this is not common (see previous post). As I understand it, the British Psychological Society is not prepared to intervene on the issue of whether clinical psychologists who undertake the role of Responsible Clinicians should be paid more like psychiatrists. Perhaps it should to help even out any power disparity.