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David Bell Blog

How to Buy Welcome to the Loony Bin

Welcome to the Loony Bin in hard cover, jacketed, printed by Griffin Press, available now. To learn of purchase options, please send an email to The ebook will remain available for free on this site until it appears on Kindle. Until then you can look before you buy. I explore how we think to help avoid Read more…

Mad, Sad or Bad

The simplest view of mental disorder divides it in three: “mad, sad or bad”. The mad have psychoses that disable. Fortunately, only a few go mad. Many more suffer. Here belong the depressed, the anxious and the obsessive, in most cases enduring the sad interludes that net everybody in a lifetime. The bad make others Read more…


Restoring Psyche to Psychiatry 2

Decades ago nations embarked on campaigns in schools to prevent their young taking to drugs. Drug education requires minimal effort along established pedagogical lines. Rarely has an intuitively appealing, but misguided, approach proved so wrong so soon (see “Managing Addiction” in Chap.4 of “Welcome to the Loony Bin“). Whenever has telling the child to stay out Read more…


The Loony Bin

“Welcome to the Loony Bin“ appears here for a limited period longer before it goes to Amazon. The print book, hardback and jacketed, was printed in May 2015 and can be ordered by email ( I learned psychiatry in a mental hospital, which had its spectacular moments, but the loony bin of my text is this Read more…


Elephantanopia 6

Every now and then a new view, but still selectively blind, gives some hint of the elephant in the room. Without a mention of the misleading nature that descriptive diagnosis has, Jones (Brit.J.Psychiat. 202. suppl.54:s5-210, 2013) reviews the literature on the age at which mental disorders begin. He accepts the results of the latest population Read more…


Elephantanopia Squared

A mountain of anomalies and a canyon of pitfalls have not dissuaded psychiatrists from taking the descriptive approach to diagnosis.  They simply ignore them. Overwhelming evidence of the elephant in the room (see Elephantanopia 5) has not cured their paradigmatic blindness. Some see promise of advance in dimensional measures (see Elephantanopia 2) as the solution. They Read more…


Elephantanopia 5

In July 2013 DSM-V appeared amidst much gnashing of teeth and anguishing. In the lead up that took more than a decade, a mountain of papers lamented the glaring failures of the previous versions. Few critics targeted the fundamental fault, descriptive diagnosis. Perhaps the most prominent, Allen Frances, only transiently recognised its disastrous influence, which Read more…


Restoring psyche to psychiatry 1

As dubious benefits, undesirable effects and high costs dampen the enthusiasm for psychotropic drugs, psychiatrists return to psychotherapy, discovering anew the power of the mind to deal with its own disorders. Altered attitudes can redirect seemingly intractable thought. In the new millennium psychiatrists and psychologists  repack old methods in new packages. Rather like meditation, mindfulness Read more…


Expect and ye shall find

In 1954 the first antipsychotic drug, chlorpromazine, appeared. It calmed the acutely disturbed psychotic patient remarkably well. In the decade that followed chemists produced variations, which did much the same, but all had side-effects. They induce a dullness of mind and sleepiness that some dislike so much they prefer to remain mentally ill. All dislike Read more…


Fostering victim mentality

The natural concern of doctors for those who suffer has its downside. When they cannot distinguish fake from fact or self-defeating from resolvable conduct, empathy governs their reason. Objective criteria should guide diagnosis. Doctors (and judges for that matter) distinguish exaggerated, imagined and false complaint from the genuine at no better than chance level. We Read more…


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