Tag: deinstitutionalization

Reading of the Week: Depression & Lived Experience – the new World Psych Paper; Also, the Life of Dr. John Talbott and Chairs & Patient Satisfaction

From the Editor

“For me, it feels like gravity just starts working on my body harder than it works everywhere else in the world.”

So comments a person with depression about his experience. Typically, we describe depression with a list of symptoms from the DSM-5. But how do patients understand their illness? In a new World Psychiatry paper, Dr. Paolo Fusar-Poli (of King’s College London) and his co-authors attempt to answer that question with a “bottom-up” approach. “To our best knowledge, no [depression] studies have adopted a bottom-up approach (from the lived experience to theory), whereby a global network of experts by experience and academics are mutually engaged in co-writing a joint narrative.” We look at the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, from The New York Times, reporter Trip Gabriel writes an obituary for Dr. John A. Talbott, an American psychiatrist who had championed deinstitutionalization, only to later regret the move away from hospital care. Dr. Talbott once wrote: “The disaster occurred because our mental health delivery system is not a system but a non-system.”

At this time of year, The BMJ runs its light-hearted Christmas issue, featuring much British humour. In the third selection, Ruchita Iyer (of the University of Texas Southwestern) and her co-authors describe a deception trial that increased patient satisfaction without increasing physician time. The “nudge” intervention involved: “Chair placement, defined as positioning the chair within 3 feet (0.9 m) of the bedside and facing the bed.” 

There will be no Readings for the next two weeks. We will return with force (though no British humour) on 11 January 2024.

All the best in the holiday season.


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Reading of the Week: Dreams of My Uncle – Husock on His “Unmentionable” Uncle & His Mental Illness

From the Editor

“To say that I didn’t know my great-uncle, Wolfe Levine, would understate things. I didn’t even know of such an uncle, brother of my mother’s father (a grandfather with whom I was close). In retrospect, it’s clear that my great-uncle was simply unmentionable.”

So begins Howard Husock, Vice President of the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy, in a long essay that traces the illness and institutionalization of his great uncle.

The author’s great uncle

The piece asks a simple question: “Are we treating the mentally ill better today than we did a century ago?”

It’s a beautiful essay, that touches on history, psychiatry, and a family member who was “unmentionable.”

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