Pure Madness: How Fear Drives the Mental Health System

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9780415369800: Pure Madness: How Fear Drives the Mental Health System
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Public alarm for random attacks by mentally ill people is at an all-time high. The brutal killing of Jill Dando, the TV personality, and the assault on George Harrison, the former Beatle, are among the cases which have undermined confidence in the mental health service. Community care is widely seen as a failed policy that has left too many people walking the streets, posing a risk to themselves and a threat to others. The Government has responded with a programme of change billed as the biggest reform in forty years, but will it achieve the 'safe, sound, supportive' service as promised? For Pure Madness, Jeremy Laurance travelled across the country observing the care provided to mentally ill people in Britain today. Based on interviews, visits and case histories, his book reveals a service driven by fear.

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Review:

'This controversial book will shock the mental health world. It will be warmly welcomed by those who think that the mentally ill are scandalously neglected. It will also provoke the antagonism of many actively involved in field, both as providers and users of services. It will leave no-one indifferent. Jeremy Laurance paints a vivid and harsh portrait of how mentally ill people are treated in Britain today. It is quite simply required reading for anyone interested in mental health.' - Professor Graham Thornicroft, Head of Community Psychiatry Section, Institute of Psychiatry

'Comprehensive, easy to understand, accurately reflecting the needs and perspectives of those with mental health difficulties, this book has qualities that the mental health services it describes desperately lack.' - Nurturing Potential

'The blood, sweat and tears that went into producing the book are evident. The author's personal encounters, observing mental health professionals in action, and the stories of staff and service users, allow the reader to empathise with the people involved and the issues they face. In sum, a compelling and intellectually stimulating book, full of passion and insight.' - Erin Whittingham, Healthmatters

From the Author:

This book is the account of an investigation into the state of mental health care in Britain, A large part of it is devoted to reportage in which I have tied to convey what it is like to receive, and to provide, services for people with mental problems. The book is therefore impressionistic and anecdotal – it is not an academic study of the mental health system. There are many who could – and have performed that task better than I.

The subject first caught my attention twenty years ago when I came across a table of charitable giving showing cancer close to the top and mental health near the bottom. I wondered why cared of the mind should rank so much lower tan the cared of the body. The position is the same today. The cancer charities are followed closely by the animal charities. We give more to dogs than to those with mental problems.

During research for the book I visited services in Bradford, Camden, Croydon, Hackney, Norfolk, and North Birmingham. I joined ward rounds, went out with crisis teams, witnessed people being sectioned and watched a consultation in the street. I found many examples of good and innovative practise described in the second half of the book – but, overall, the picture is a lot gloomier than a civilised nation ought to tolerate. It is not just a question of resources. It is a question of culture, too.

I owe a particular debt to those people with mental problems who gave of their time and discussed painful, intimate and distressing issues with me. They deserve a better deal than they are currently getting from the mental health services and I am convinced that the best way to delivery it is to involve them more fully in determining what kind of support they receive. I hope this book helps them achieve that.

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9780415369794: Pure Madness: How Fear Drives the Mental Health System

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ISBN 10:  0415369797 ISBN 13:  9780415369794
Publisher: Routledge, 2002
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