Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Case for Psychiatry; Views of the North

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Case for Psychiatry; Views of the North

Article excerpt

BRIAN Daniels attacked psychiatrists and the reality of mental disorders in his lengthy letter in Saturday's Journal.

His claims are distressing to thousands of your readers who, like myself, have experienced mental illness: fortunately, they are untrue.

I comment with insight from two sources. Firstly, as a basic scientist with a long career in brain research - including 25 years as Director of the Medical Research Council Neurochemical Pathology Unit at Newcastle General Hospital - and secondly, as someone with recurrent depression which has always responded well to anti-depressant medication.

Daniels writes 'Psychiatrists have not presented any evidence to prove any mental diseases medically exist'.

It was the late Sir Martin Roth, Professor of Psychiatry at Newcastle University who, working with Professor Sir Bernard Tomlinson, first showed that the profound loss of memory and personality changes seen in older people with late onset Alzheimer's disease are accompanied by extensive microscopic damage to the brain.

Other colleagues here reported depletion of the chemical messenger acetylcholine in the brain which led to the first symptomatic treatment for this disorder.

We now have evidence for a wide range of genetic and other biological and lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, which offer hope in the long term for treatment and prevention. …

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