Blog Tour – Psychiatrist In The Chair

Welcome to another blog tour! I almost feel like a Monty Python sketch because I really do need to say: And now for something completely different.

I’ve focused a lot on fiction, both large names and smaller ones, but this non-fiction title is one to really take note of. Psychiatrist In The Chair: The Official Biography of Anthony Clare is a book that the world is lucky to see, and as a increasingly well self educated person using mental health services, the input that Anthony Clare has committed to psychiatry isn’t something that can be underestimated.

Due to my own health currently, I was unable to read the whole book at this time, but I’m able to share a spotlight post with you today. A big thank you to Midas PR for this opportunity.

A New Voice
Following his graduation in 1966, as he trained in New York, Dublin and London, Clare became increasingly aware that an updated defence of psychiatry was now an urgent necessity. Such a defence needed to not only address psychiatry’s critics but also articulate all that was positive about psychiatry, acknowledge the weaknesses of the discipline (although not at the expense of its strengths) and note both the imperfections and the promise of what was still a relatively new branch of medicine. In this way, the idea underpinning Clare’s single greatest contribution to psychiatry was born and, in 1976, a mere ten years after he graduated, Clare’s defining book was published, Psychiatry in Dissent: Controversial Issues in Thought and Practice. The book arrived with a foreword by Professor Michael Shepherd, professor of epidemiological psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry in the University of London, with whom Clare worked.”

(l-r) Stephen Fry and Professor Anthony Clare. Stephen Fry is the first guest in the new series to submit to Anthony Clare’s gentle probing. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

“Originally conceived as part of a textbook, Clare’s lucid, incisive and endlessly compassionate text became an immediate classic.12 In it, Clare explored the concept of psychiatric diagnosis in considerable depth and pointed out, among other things, the importance of diagnostic classification systems in protecting people from being labelled as mentally ill for purposes of societal or political convenience. He provided clear-headed, pragmatic discussions on schizophrenia, ECT and psychosurgery, as well as a fascinating chapter on responsibility and involuntary psychiatric admission. These were all controversial topics, carefully and systematically examined in nuanced, measured tones by Clare.
Clare argued that it was unhelpful to conceptualise normality and madness as dichotomous, and better to see them as points on a continuum. He cautioned against too crisp a divison between ‘organic’ (biological) and ‘functional’ (mental) disorders, a warning that remains as relevant in the twenty-first century as it was in 1976. Most of all, Psychiatry in Dissent provided psychiatry with a clear, logical and persuasive response to its critics from the 1960s and 1970s. Over four decades later, it still merits and rewards close reading.”

I chose to share these particular extracts as I think they give you a fair look at both the book, and also at Clare himself, if he wasn’t someone you were already familiar with. I really hope some of you reading this find yourselves a book that would be a read appealing to you in it!

My thanks again to Midas, and to the authors for their diligent work.

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