The Maudsley Debate: a cause for hope

Dr James Davies writes:

For the last 30 years those of us critical of the overprescribing and harms of psychiatric medications have been on the losing side, in the face of a powerful industry-backed medical model that has crowded out alternative voices and visions. The real importance of Wednesday’s Maudsley Debate is that it symbolised what the critical community has been sensing for some time now – that the tide is finally turning. The people and institutions who were once isolated, unconnected and struggling against an evidence base favouring the status quo, can now, at a click, possess the evidence revealing that what we were sold as solid and beyond dispute is nothing of the sort.
Last night the Maudsley Debate brought into the heart of establishment psychiatry powerful evidence and arguments that the long-term use of psychiatric medications is causing more harm than good – and that evidence clearly won on the night. This is a cause for hope and optimism. But of course we must remain cautious, a single debate won’t change the world, but what it has done is put the issue squarely on the map – it has finally been legitimised as a valid debate by a leading psychiatric institution, something that has not happened before.

24 Responses to The Maudsley Debate: a cause for hope

  1. Rob Purssey 15/05/2015 at 10:11 am #

    Well done Peter Gotzsche , Sam Timimi, James and all. An important occasion, part of a changing landscape, returning to evidence, science, focus on the best interest of the patient. Old fashioned good medical care, I believe. Thank you!

    • Marie 19/07/2015 at 7:22 pm #

      I don’t mind if I have been oversubscribed medication which added 7 stone weight gain. I am alive and living a ‘normal’ life after 14 of heavy medication including anti psychotics which I will not stop taking as the alternative is not worth living for.

      • Angry Dad 21/07/2015 at 11:10 am #


        If you believe you have had some benefit from taking psychotropic medication, and that benefit has outweighed the disadvantages, and the decision whether to take it has been yours, then in my opinion all is well, and I am genuinely pleased for you.

        If, on the other hand, you had ‘tried’ a succession of different neuroleptics, you had perceived no benefit whatsoever, your initial symptoms had consistently worsened and been joined by a host of new ones, you suffered a cavalcade of appalling and unbearable side effects, two of them life-threatening, and as a consequence you exercised your right to decide to stop taking them, but that right was removed and you had them forced upon you, despite the fact that you had never attempted to harm yourself or anyone else, I suspect you will agree, all would not be well. In any respect.

        • Spamlet 21/07/2015 at 4:48 pm #

          Well said AD. That is more or less, exactly what happened to me.

          And what’s more, this ‘non cooperation’ label stays with you for life: You are never even given the opportunity to defend yourself from blatantly untrue allegations, which would be slander or libel to anyone else.

          I even had my GP tell people I had ‘refused’ beta blockers, despite that she knew that the last time I’d taken them I had blacked out several times and hit my head hard on the floor.

        • Marie Mc Mullan 21/07/2015 at 10:18 pm #

          I have tried and taken 2 antipsychotic medications which caused me to put on stones of weight but I chose this instead of the 24 hour continual nightmare I was living in, no sleep for 3 months, at least I could sleep whilst taking them. 14 years later I fell more or less ‘normal’ but I keep taking the tablets and I can’t loose weight but I count my blessings!

  2. Tom Collins 15/05/2015 at 11:14 am #

    Psychiatry is now a greedy child caught with it’s hand in the cookie jar, still saying “but I’m not stealing cookies”. What was interesting about the debate is that there was a clear element of sabotage to the event. When the vote was taken and the results declared each category had risen by a few votes. 18 new people had suddenly materialised in the lecture theatre than were present from the first vote.

    There was talk of voting sabotage at the Will Self “We’ve Overdosed” Intteligence Squared debate in December 2014.

    This is no surprise and could be coming a pattern as truth, reason & empirical evidence struggle to get this errant, spoiled iatrogenic teen to the table to talk sense.

    The debate result this week was left inconclusive, in a move along, nothing to see here finish to proceedings.

    Far more interesting was Thursday’s “In the Psychiatrist’s Chair” at the ORTUS Centre with Professor Shitij Kapur, new Executive Dean of The Inst of P.P.N. Quite a few butt hurt Psychiatrists meeping about being shafted by KIng’s College. The question was even asked “Are Psychiatrists necessary?” Very fascinating.

    • Angry Dad 15/05/2015 at 1:01 pm #

      Are Psychiatrists necessary ?

      If, in our hour of need, we need unhelpful, stigmatising diagnoses based on the subjective, arbitrary opinions of individuals all reading the same book of checklists, those lists comprising mostly symptoms without identifiable or tangible cause, PTSD and its variants being the obvious exception, (the same book that had homosexuality in there until 1973 don’t forget), and if, armed with these spurious diagnoses we then need someone to administer, or force upon us, a major tranquilliser to blunt, suppress, and cognitively disable us, and render us incapable of rational thought, with a host of adverse effects to boot, thereby compounding the distress and desperation that lead to our hour of need in the first place, then yes, psychiatrists are absolutely necessary.

      If, on the other hand, we need recovery from our distress, help with the mechanisms we employ to protect our psyche, and a route to healing, we probably need honest psychologists, therapists and carers with compassion, understanding, and knowledge derived at least in part from lived experience.

      • John D Pell 15/05/2015 at 2:53 pm #

        Bravo! From another very angry dad. The buggers think they are invulnerable &, of course, on to a very good thing. But why not use your own name. Mine is Johnny Pell!!!!

      • Marie 19/07/2015 at 7:26 pm #

        What is the alternative. As a ‘service user’ it is a black hole bet recovery is possible. I am the evidence. I am sorry that you have had a bad experience, as a Mother of 3 girls I understand that when they suffer parents suffer too.

        • Angry Dad 21/07/2015 at 11:12 am #


          With respect, I think I offered the basis for an alternative in my last paragraph.

          • Marie McMullan 21/07/2015 at 11:42 am #

            Please can you outline specifically what you would put in the place of psychiatry and drugs currently offered by the NHS? I know there are other therapies which can aid Recovery, including talking therapy. I have trained to be a Peer Support Worker and worked with my peers on an acute psychiatric ward including the psychiatrist who I had the privilege of working alongside. There are many ways to support those experiencing mental health challenges and find their way to Recovery. In my personal experience it has been and still is a long road. It has taken every bit of strength I have to work towards my own Recovery.

  3. John D Pell 15/05/2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Bravo! From another very angry dad. The buggers think they are invulnerable &, of course, on to a very good thing. But why not use your own name. Mine is Johnny Pell!!!!

    • Angry Dad 15/05/2015 at 8:11 pm #

      Hi Johnny,

      I’ll tell you – After 18 months at the mercy of NHS psychiatry (why on earth did it take me so long?) I realised I had subjected my troubled offspring to an unhelpful, ineffective, damaging façade. We should simply have sneaked away quietly. Unfortunately I squared up to those running the façade, challenged their ‘treatments’, claims and lies, and held them entirely responsible for a gradual and significant downturn in my loved one’s physical and mental health.

      The consequence, abridged, was 6 visits to Court of one form or another where many things I had said about psychiatry and ‘treatment’ (and plenty I hadn’t) were distorted, falsely elaborated, or cherry picked, and presented as evidence against me in an effort to paint me as an irresponsible, anti-establishment half-wit. (On one occasion in County Court, where the judge was clearly interested in my point of view, the local authority’s barrister even attempted to unsettle me by needling me during the lunch break).

      The efforts did not succeed, however I am cautious not to provide “the buggers” with further ammunition. The bottomless pit of public funds in the hands of those feeling threatened is a formidable hurdle.

  4. Ruth Smith 15/05/2015 at 4:48 pm #

    Great stuff. From an angry yet hopeful mum. I like the thought that the ‘tide is turning’ at last. Let’s hope that it will sweep these unhelpful and harmful people out to sea so that they too can struggle against adversity for a while. Never in my life have I witnessed such harm done as I have through the psychiatric system. We really need a strong campaign now to get this monster on the run and bring in proper care and understanding. I have watched family members and others become victims to this horrific system which seems to have brainwashed people via all sorts of media and marketing devices. It is time to swing the pendulum the other way and we have the knowledge, the evidence and the experiences to make it happen. Let’s get on with it and bring about real change !

  5. Steve Hawkins 15/05/2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Sorry Dr Davies, but I didn’t see any debate last night, and I don’t think the event served any useful purpose at all.

    I had hoped that, after the CEP challenge to the establishment psychiatrists, we would actually get to see a heated argument with analytical dissection of the reference material, at least between authorities such as yourself, against Profs Wessely and Nutt. The brief, mumbled statements, permitted by the compere were next to no information at all, and the audience seemed to be lacking in the members of the profession who most need convincing of the CEP case.

    I see no point in this form of event at all. I would, on the other hand draw your attention to the podcast format, adopted by virologist Vincent Racaniello for his TWiV/TWiP/TWiM, series, where the experts themselves sit together or by Skype, to debate a particular topic, while we, the public listen, and then submit any follow up questions or comments by email. As a podcast, the format is open ended, and finishes when the participants want it to: not by somebody arbitrarily shutting them down.

    There is no reason why CEP shouldn’t set up a ‘This Week in Evidence-based Medicine’, or similar, podcast, where proper debates could be had, and fully referenced on your website afterwards. Do please study the etc. site and its podcasts. They are an excellent model with which to carry your campaign forward, and I would very much like to hear one kick off, with, say, yourself, Allen Frances, Simon Wessely, and Prof Nutt. That would really be a debate to get one’s teeth into!

    • john hoggett 15/05/2015 at 11:56 pm #

      I didn’t see much debate of the science either. For those that do know the science the defence of long term drug use was very weak though and in terms of a social movement often it is not the science which wins these sort of things. The science of climate change has been known for a long time but it is disenvestment campaigns and such like that make things change, especially when there are such big vested interests as oil companies involved.

      It is the fact that the Institute of Psychiatry hosted such a debate and that there were such an array of people in favour of the motion in the audience that is important.

      It is the power of drug companies that are a large part of the dominance of long term drugging in psychiatry and it is a social movement, that is armed with science but which is determined and has a variety of tactics that will have the impact. From how this debate was structured and recieved this social movement is on the ascendancy though there is a long way to go.

  6. Greg White 15/05/2015 at 9:03 pm #

    Rather then getting bogged down in endless debate about cocktails of synthetic drugs -virtually the only treatment our monopoly medical model plies- many folk are turning to much more self-empowering ways forward, which as well as alleviating symptoms, also exploit the teleological factors, providing extraordinary insight into ones inner subjective reality.
    For instance A small matter of breathing out and holding breath, dropping ones shoulders, at the onset of an anxiety attack, will dramatically alleviate distress levels therein, at the same time providing an astonishing awareness that much of what passes as ‘ mental illness’
    is in fact an unconscious feedback energy loop. Making this conscious opens one up to endless possibilities in biofeedback.

  7. David Ward 16/05/2015 at 5:05 am #

    I am a psychiatrist and I have just posted my dissatisfaction on the royal college of psychiatrists site that they have published John Grace’s Guardian article with no counterbalance

  8. L Ron Hubbard 17/05/2015 at 10:23 am #

    I entirely agree – all psychosomatic illnesses can be cured through Dianetics auditing and megavitamin therapy, not by Big Pharma. Psychiatrists are evil beings who collaborated with the evil Lord Xenu to take people from the planet Coltus to the planet Teegeeack and dump the in volcanoes.

    I saw Thomas Szasz the other day, James, and he sends you his best regards.

    • Angry Dad 21/07/2015 at 10:34 am #

      Mr Hubbard,

      Given the content of your post and the level of delusion therein – no, not the content itself, but the belief that in this context it is actually funny – I would conclude that you are taking a healthy dose of psychotropic drugs yourself, and your delusion is its consequence.

      Except you managed to find the motivation to type it.

  9. John Fraser 18/05/2015 at 1:17 am #

    Au contraire , Mr Hawkins .
    Nothing useful ?? Aside from ” putting the issue squarely on the map – it has finally been legitimised as a valid debate by a leading psychiatric institution “.. it showed that Said leading psychiatric institution , were incapable of any1 credible, or of integrity to debate against the motion !! Personally , I think every 1 brave enough to act/speak out against this tyrany , deserves nothing but admiration and approbation ..
    As to ” the audience seemed to be lacking in the members of the profession who most need convincing of the CEP case, ” would i b correct in thinking you have some form of special powers to ascertain said quote ? or maybe mi5 or such, infomation ?? 🙂
    No disrespect intended !! Also if you would be so kind as to say, who exactly you think are the said members , who most need convincing ?? For our edification, it would be greatly appreciated.. Bless !!

    • Tom Collins 13/06/2015 at 10:54 pm #

      It was a symbolic gesture to manage the collapse that is leading to a post-psychiatric world. The ‘Tute does not want anything to change but they want to appear to have changed because it hopes to be part of the post-slychiatric market. They are terrified because GovState is asking them to do more with less, which has forced them to sugar the faeces using the media and the mental health charidees. Nothing more than a shambolic scramble. In the Sevenites UK was known as the sick man of Europe. Now it is becoming the Iatrogenic Man of Europe. It’s just business.
      P.S. As a reminder, don’t forget to look out for the trial of Stephanie Thapar on July 29th 2015. Her husband, Gautam Thapar is one of the largest donors to Kings College (I.P.P.N.). Thapar is the owner of Solaris ChemTech Industries Limited (SCIL), India’s largest manufacturer of bromine and bromine chemicals. Bromine is a popular ingredient in Pharm Produce. She is up on a charge of damaging her neighbour’s car to the tune of several thousand pounds worth of damage. Would Gautam consider his wife being put on a CTO, considering she is such an expensive menace to the vehicles in her community?


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