‘The medical model has presided over four decades of flat-lining outcomes’

“Author, anthropologist and psychotherapist Dr James Davies tells Fauzia Khan about his journey into the field of mental health and his work as co-founder of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry.”

The transcript of this interview (conducted by Fauzia Khan) with Dr. James Davies has been published in The Psychologist. It begins:

What brought you into the field of mental health?

My journey into the field, psychologically speaking, I could probably trace to my ninth year, when there was a lot of upheaval in my family. I would often spend long stretches of time away from them. Outside the safety of their care for the first time, I felt very exposed, afraid and unprotected. Who were these new people now taking care of me? Who could I trust, who could I not? As a result, I awoke rapidly from that warm haze of childhood to become hypervigilant about my new surroundings, mostly due to instinctual self-preservation.

Later on, I learnt that such experiences are very common in children whose primary environment has been disrupted or precipitously removed. Childhood ends early for them. On the upside they may become resourceful, ‘streetwise’ and very perceptive for their age; on the down, they are more exposed to various dangers and harms, psychological, situational, relational etc. There are many literary representations of this childhood predicament – they are the Gavroches, the Dodgers and the Saroo Brierleys.

And that early vigilance developed into a fascination with Psychology?

Only much later. In my early 20s I was experiencing a lot of emotional turmoil, some of it related to those earlier years. I began reading vociferously to work things out. One influential book I encountered was Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac. As everything felt so painfully complicated at the time, I was seduced by its simple message that a pill could remedy my suffering …”

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