Friday, September 01, 2023

Taking relational psychiatry forward

I completed two years in semi-retirement of a five year part-time PhD on ‘The foundations of critical psychiatry’ at the University Department of Psychology in Cambridge in 2017/9. My supervisor left after 4 terms and I couldn’t find a replacement! Still, I managed to write three articles in Royal College of Psychiatrists’ journals: (1) Twenty years of the Critical Psychiatry Network; (2) Critical psychiatry: An embarrassing hangover from the 1970s?; and (3) Toward a more relational psychiatry: A critical reflection. An interview with Awais Aftab expressing my views about critical/relational psychiatry is to be published in a forthcoming book. 

As I said in the interview, part of the reason I changed the name of my blog from critical psychiatry to relational psychiatry was to try to move on from debates about so-called anti-psychiatry and incorporate more recent perspectives from anti-cognitivist phenomenology and enactivism and the tradition from cultural psychiatry. Key contributions here would be: two books by Thomas Fuchs: Ecology of the brain: The phenomenology and biology of the embodied mind (2018) (see eg. previous post); and In defence of the human being: Foundational questions of an embodied anthropology (2021) (see eg. previous post); the book Enactive psychiatry by Sanneke de Haan (2020) (see eg. previous post); and the contributions over many years by Laurence Kirmayer (see eg. previous post) including the book Re-visioning psychiatry: Cultural phenomenology, critical neuroscience, and global mental health (2015), of which he was the first editor. 

Other initiatives include the Relational Practice Movement, which has developed out of the therapeutic community movement (see eg. previous post). It has produced a Relational Practice Manifesto. Russell Razzaque has also produced a Relational Psychiatry vlog. He is now the Presidential lead for compassionate and relational care at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It would be nice to think that the College could help to bring all these strands together to make psychiatry more relational. 

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