Saturday, 14 October 2017

"your behaviour is deemed unacceptable" DClinPsy Programme Director @UofGMHW

Here is a letter I received by Email on Wednesday 11 October 2017 from Dr Hamish McLeod, Programme Director, DClinPsy, University of Glasgow.  At first I decided not to read it because I thought it would be undermining, based on past experiences of engaging with Dr McLeod since January, over the phone and by Email.  Then yesterday I changed my mind and looked at the letter.  It was even worse than I imagined:

I have made a response to this letter by Email, yesterday, and will be making a formal complaint about Dr McLeod.  I think this letter demonstrates that he is not fit to be the DClinPsy Programme Director.  Attacking an unwaged Carer and psychiatric survivor for no good reason is unacceptable.  I was not interviewed about these allegations.  

Dr McLeod has never sat down and spoken to me in person in the 6 years that I have "known" him, either in the MH Wellbeing unit or for a cuppa.  I don't know him personally, know nothing about him because he's never spoken to me personally.  Whereas I know Professor Andrew Gumley personally because he has shared personal experiences with me, mostly by Email and a few times in person.

Because of this personal attack by Dr McLeod I will have to raise a complaint with the University of Glasgow, and with NHS Education for Scotland, highlighting why I think he is unfit for the post of Programme Director.  I will also be raising concerns about the Programme's teaching and practice supervision, based on the 4 July meeting and the behaviour of a trainee.

Clinical Psychology Doctorate trainees deserve the best of teaching and training, to prepare them for the task of supporting people/patients in mental distress.  Above all, in my experience, they have to be good listeners, non-judgemental, fair, transparent, clear thinking, seeing the person as they are, not based on the opinions of others or what's written in the Notes or in tweets or blog posts or any other social media. 


Surviving Psychosis/Psychiatry teaching 8May17 Mental Health & Wellbeing Unit Glasgow


Prof Gumley's reference for my PhD 5Dec16: "I believe that Chrys has what it takes"

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Clinical Psychology in Scotland: the impossibility of level playing fields

Thinking back over 8 years of trying to be meaningfully involved in Clinical Psychology training at both Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities, and how impossible it has been to be treated as an equal, a professional, someone who had a life before and after "mental illness".  The label has gotten in the way.  The clinical gaze.

There was, and is, in my experience, containment and division.  Lack of trust.  Silencing of voices.  Hierarchy.  Favouring some over others.  Conferring status on some over others.  Saying one thing, doing another.  Lack of congruence, openness, transparency.  

What do they have to hide?

I don't know.

But it's detrimental to the wellbeing of mental health services in Scotland and undermines the Expert by Experience who has endured iatrogenic drug treatment and survived mental illness.  In my opinion.

And I'm entitled to have an opinion and to express it.  Regardless of some clinical psychologists who may find my words offensive.  I say to them: Walk in my shoes, try them on for size and see if they fit.

Psychiatric survivors deserve respect and to be heard in Clinical Psychology settings, both academic and practice.  We have a lot to offer and it's way beyond time that the corridors were widened and the playing fields levelled.


My presentation teaching on Psychosis module DClinPsy programme Glasgow 8 May 2017:
Surviving Psychosis/Psychiatry: Resilience, Resistance, Recovery; Rescue, Respite, Risk, Renewal


Published on Sep 22, 2017

Five short talks to camera outside the University of Glasgow MH & Wellbeing Unit, Gartnavel Hospital grounds, about my experience of trying to be meaningfully involved in the Clinical Psychology Doctorate training course, from the lived experience, psychiatric survivor perspective.


PhD Clinical Psychology University of Edinburgh - Withdrawal of Offer 9May17

24Jan16: clinical psychology in academia: the lack of learning, level playing fields and therapeutic relationships

from 2002: "Are you tearful?""No. I'm flat" [correct answer]; anhedonia

This was the usual script at psychiatrist appointments in 2002 after I had been put on, coercively drugged with, Risperidone in Lomond Ward, Stratheden psychiatric Hospital, springtime, which took away my agency and gradually made me clinically depressed.

1977 oldest son
I had experienced a menopausal psychosis, altered mind states at the change of life, in my 50th year.  It wasn't unpleasant, rather at times it was spiritually uplifting (I'm a Christian) however not getting sleep was a major problem as my mind became overactive and my body got tired.  So my two older sons took me into Lomond acute ward and I went in voluntarily, to be detained for 72hrs until I agreed to swallow the antipsychotic. 

I knew the score, having been a mental patient twice before, in 1978 and 1984, with pueperal psychosis, forcibly injected with Chlorpromazine, separated from my babies, had to stop breastfeeding, I still very much resent that, at 65yrs of age.  They stopped me feeding my child.  I'd breastfed my first son for 10 months until he got teeth.  It's a special bond between mother and baby.  Psychiatry invaded the space between my younger two sons and me, by interfering.  

my 3 sons c1986 taken in Perth on day out
My 3 sons were all forced out of me at childbirth, by nurses and doctors using oxytocin by drip to hasten the births, to deliver on the day shift.  Traumatic experiences, extreme pain during the labour of my younger two sons due to insufficient pain relief.  My reactive psychoses were forms of post-traumatic stress.  I got punished for externally expressing my distress by more drugs forced in when I resisted.  I determined to get off the drugs/meds within the year, making a full recovery, and so I did, getting back on with my life, without interference.

1998 with my 3 sons
In 2002 after the antipsychotic depressed me, unlike in earlier episodes where I just was left to get on with it, the psychiatrist put me on Venlafaxine antidepressant, which caused suicidal impulse and I swallowed a bottle of them, being rushed by ambulance to Ninewells Hospital, on oxygen.  

me aged about 11
Psychiatrist upped the dose to maximum despite my request to be put on a different antidepressant.  The "Are you tearful?""No. I'm flat" [correct answer] routine went on for a while and so he prescribed Lithium to "augment" the antidepressant.  Whatever that means.  Well it didn't do anything.  I was still flat as a pancake, couldn't sing, had very little sense of humour, was most unlike myself, and so I had to do something about it.  I had to take charge of my own mental health.

I didn't like being flattened.

1999 with my 3 sons at my middle sister's wedding in Fife; I was Maid of Honour
this summer on ferry to Rothesay with bike; day trip from Springfield, Fife

Published on Jul 27, 2017
"On the island, walking around Arinagour, from Tigh-na-Mara guest house, seeing Border Leicester sheep, at Church of Scotland, on way to An Cridhe for Barbara Dickson fundraising concert."

Monday, 2 October 2017

my latest submission to @EMPOWER_EWS app survey on "hearing voices" messages

Had already completed the survey, doing it in a oner.  Thought I'd have another go, taking it slower, reflecting more during the process, thinking back to my own experiences of psychosis and coming through.  This may be useful to other folk.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Prof Gumley's reference for my PhD 5Dec16: "I believe that Chrys has what it takes"

Was reflecting again on my PhD aspirations which came to nothing, at the University of Edinburgh, Clinical Psychology department.  And in particular the very good reference which Professor Andrew Gumley gave about my suitability for the PhD, researching safe haven crisis houses in the UK and abroad.

In which he said:

"Chrys brings considerable and important strengths from her experiences in community development, as a survivor of mental health services and as a carer of family members who themselves have experienced mental health services. Through her work as a blogger and writer, Chrys has been an active campaigner for culture change in mental health services. This experience and energy places Chrys in an exceptionally strong position to pursue her interests in developing Crisis Houses / Safe Havens as an alternative to psychiatric admission, which is the topic of her PhD application."

Here it is:

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Surviving Psychosis/Psychiatry teaching 8May17 Mental Health & Wellbeing Unit Glasgow

I was invited by Professor Andrew Gumley to teach on the Psychosis module, 2nd year Clinical Psychology Doctorate (DClinPsy) at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Unit, University of Glasgow, 8 May 2017, for which I received an honorarium and travel expenses.

Here is a link to my presentation, delivered from 10am to 4pm with an hour for lunch:

Surviving Psychosis/Psychiatry: Resilience, Resistance, Recovery; Rescue, Respite, Risk, Renewal



I had expected to be involved in module planning and in co-writing papers but this never happened.  It's disappointing but I'm not surprised.  I first attended a Service User Research Group meeting with Dr Ross White and Prof Andrew Gumley in the MH & Wellbeing unit, 9 September 2009, over 8 years ago, and this came to nothing.  Wasn't invited back or included in any research.  In a sense I've got used to being excluded although it doesn't stop me speaking out and expecting at some point that my voice will be heard, respected and included.  I'm not worth less.

"Walking from Haugh Park, Cupar, to the Garden Centre, by River Eden, reflecting on my preparation for Psychosis module teaching, 8 May 2017, to trainees on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate programme, Mental Health & Wellbeing Unit, University of Glasgow, Gartnavel Hospital: 

Topics of Resilience, Resistance, Recovery, Rescue, Respite, Risk, Renewal. I was invited to teach, facilitate learning, from the lived experience or survivor perspective. My qualifications include postgraduate reflective practitioner awards in Community Education and Teaching in Further Education, Care subjects."


"Speaking out about my attempts to be meaningfully involved since September 2009 on the DClinPsy (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology) programme, University of Glasgow, based in the Mental Health & Wellbeing Unit, Gartnavel Hospital. About feeling marginalised."

"Two short talks to camera after speaking out in front of the Mental Health and Wellbeing unit, University of Glasgow, Gartnavel Hospital. Talking about expectation and hopes, resilience and worth. 

"I think everyone should be treated the same. I'm not worth less because I'm stronger or more resilient. It just means I'm still here."

Thursday, 28 September 2017

groupthink; reaching a consensus; dysfunctional decision-making outcomes

Yesterday I received an Email from an academic which seemed to be, yet again, promoting "groupthink", a misrepresentation of groupwork, with the aim of silencing independent, survivor voices.

"Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences." Wikipedia

Here is what the senior academic said:

"I don’t want the group to feel rushed, but that we can take the time we need. If the group collectively feel that we can briefer then we will do what the group needs." (bolding is mine)

The "group" mentioned consists of academics, mental health survivors and carers.  I've been a member of this group, since 2011, having left for a spell due to feeling marginalised and fodder for research.

In my experience of this group it's the academics who dominate the discourse and silence voices at will.  It happened at a meeting this week.  The survivor voices were shut down.  They can't seem to help but close conversations and redirect.  It's the culture and learned behaviour.  I think they also teach this, practise it, in their relationships with others, which is concerning and one of the reasons as to why I've come back into this group and will persist with speaking out independently.

In my response to this academic I said:

"it's about the person in the group. About keeping everyone onboard.

Think about ways of involving each of us as an individual. We each have different strengths and abilities. .."


"The gist of my argument was about being accommodating to the person before the group."

To which the academic responded:

"I see my approach to this as attempting to bring along every individual who is a member ..., giving them the opportunity to engage with the curriculum."


I am still concerned that Clinical Psychologists (CPs) in Scotland may be more concerned about the group than about the person.  That was my experience in Fife, from 2003 until 2012, engaging with NHS Fife CPs, as a patient, a carer, a colleague.  They didn't appear to see me as an equal.  Rather it felt that in their eyes I was "less than".

That's a problem which requires attention, in my opinion.  


Groupthink by Irving L Janis, 1971

"The main principle of groupthink, which I offer in the spirit of Parkinson's Law, is this: The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making ingroup, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against outgroups."