How Nuts Is Your Shrink? Charles Saatchi Offers Advice on Madness, Psychotherapy, Sleeping Pills and Imaginary Friends in the First of What Will Be a Regular Series

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

How Nuts Is Your Shrink? Charles Saatchi Offers Advice on Madness, Psychotherapy, Sleeping Pills and Imaginary Friends in the First of What Will Be a Regular Series


Byline: Charles Saatchi

[bar] IF, LIKE me, you have many reasons to be less than secure and self-assured, and like me, you are far from stable even on your best days, don't for a moment imagine a psychotherapist will be of more help than a physiotherapist.

I have never fully recovered from reading the dissertation below, delivered in 1992 by Richard P Bentall, professor of clinical psychology, who is the recipient of awards from the British Psychological Society.

"It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type.

"In review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system.

"One possible objection of this proposal remains -- that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant."

I defy anyone to be stable, secure and self-assured after a few years of this kind of shrink think.

An ex-wife insisted I visited a psychiatrist in an effort to improve me as a hubby. I walked into his house, he looking rather like Leo Sayer, and I could see his eyes light up. Glancing around at his art collection of Hirsts, Emins and other popular favourites, I realised that perhaps he was looking forward to this session rather more than I was.

Anyway, not wanting to disappoint, I made up a twisted tale of increasing weirdness about my need to wear my mother's clothes at night, being too frightened to go inside a chemist shop, nightmares about squirrels, etc.

Eyes glistening, he lapped up every detail of my little problems and booked me in for multiple appointments. But I had bored myself at the end of session one, couldn't face another, and gave up the chase to make more of a fist of my life.

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a child? Mine's still around. He hasn't aged. He is still hyper-critical of everything I do, as paranoid as ever, still controlling and dismissive and with the same selfrighteous, overbearing attitude. His voice is in my head at all times, scolding my every error, ungracious and belittling about any minor success I may occasionally have.

Anyway that's another tidbit I told my psychiatrist, at our only meeting, in order to make our session more interesting and memorable for him.

He has since written a much-admired paper for The Lancet medical journal, describing my problem, where I am referred to as Patient 27. …

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