Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thursday 20th September

Hi all,

Hope you enjoyed Thursday's lectures. Apologies for any confusion about the various questionnaires we sent around. Basically we are seeing if a) doing the psychiatry rotation and b) having the "Psychiatry and Society" lectures themselves lead to a change in attitudes among medical students to psychiatry as a career, as well as a change in attitude to mental illness. So we have been doing some questionnaires with the current group of students doing psychiatry as a rotation, which overlaps with what we handed out on Thursday. We are also doing more qualitative work on the Psychiatry and Society lectures. I'll post more about these in due course.

Hope my little bit about the essays was clear enough. As I said, don't be too intimidated about having to do essays on psychiatry and society topics. The essays will be very general. The more you can use material from the lectures to inform your essay, the better.

I hope you enjoyed Liam Delaney's presentation. The Geary Institute maintain their own blog (linked to on the right, but in any case the link is here: There is lots of exciting work going on at the interface between economics and psychiatry. As Liam said, in the recent past economists tended to ignore the less economically tangible (ie less readily expressible in monetary terms!) aspects of human happiness (although in the more distant past economists were very aware of them) - however now this is changing.

Economists are also more aware that a population with a high prevalence of mental illness is a less productive one. We tend to have an image of capitalism as this ruthless, impersonal system which works "best" when taking the least account of the consequences. This might seem a total tangent (and a distraction coming up to the first half of the finals!) but I'd recommend to anyone interested a book called "The Writing On the Wall" by Will Hutton - which is mainly about the rise of China as an economic, military and political power, but also contains much eye-opening (for me anyway) stuff on how modern theorists are realising that, to work well, market economies need strong, independent institutions (some of which may seem to have a raison d'etre contradictory to capitalism) such as a free press, an independent judiciary, mechanisms to regulate banking and financial services etc. (and I might add, an independent medcial profession)

I missed some of the Pavee Point presentation for various logistic reasons. I would be interested to know what people made of it - both Irish and non-Irish. Certainly it helped open my eyes to the viewpoint of a group in our society almost entirely excluded from public discourse except in bad news stories, as some kind of problem to be solved by the rest of society. It was refreshing to hear travelling people speaking for themselves. I think as a presentation it may have seemed little heavy on the structure of services etc. One thing you realise when you begin working is that a lot of those things that seem either trivially obvious or boring (or both) when you are a student about teams being "multidisciplinary", about "consultation", and about the structure of the health system and services, becomes very relevant very quickly. So right now this kind of stuff seems dull (trust me, I know!) but it is important to get a sense of its importance)

Someone once told me that we should all do management courses, because management have so much control of our working lives that we should have some idea of where they are coming from - and their uniquely boring and opaque use of language!