Subscribe X
Back to Top

Learn

March 28, 2020 by Dr Lucy Johnstone | The Guardian

Why it’s healthy to be afraid in a crisis

Dr Lucy Johnstone, a clinical psychologist, says it is wrong to view our natural fears as mental health disorders

‘We are all facing entirely normal fear, anxiety, despair and confusion about a genuinely terrifying situation,’ says Dr Lucy Johnstone. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

 

As a mental health professional, I disagree with the message in Paul Daley’s article (We face a pandemic of mental health disorders, 24 March). We’re not facing “a pandemic of severe mental health disorders”. We’re all facing entirely normal fear, anxiety, despair and confusion about a truly terrifying situation that challenges our whole way of life. Never has it been clearer that so-called “mental disorders” make sense in context. In fact, many professionals would argue that this applies to the whole range of experiences that are labelled as clinical depression, personality disorder, psychosis, and so on.

The more we label our understandable human reactions as disorders, the greater the temptation to disconnect them from their source and focus on new individual “treatments” instead. The drug companies must be rubbing their hands at the prospect of all these new customers. We can come out of this crisis in a better state than before by staying connected with our feelings and the urgent threats that have led to them, and taking collective action to deal with the root causes. These include climate change, environmental degradation, wildlife trafficking, insecure employment, the structure and funding of public services, and the neoliberal values that have driven us for far too long.

Dr Lucy Johnstone
Consultant clinical psychologist, Bristol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Related Blogs

  • Dr. David Healy

    Dr. David Healy

    Dr. Healy is a professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University in Wales and an author on the history of pharmaceuticals and government regulation.
    READ BLOG
  • Mad In America: Robert Whitaker

    Mad In America: Robert Whitaker

    Journalist and author Bob Whitaker distills the latest in pharmaceutical and mental health research.
    READ BLOG
  • Selling Sickness

    Selling Sickness

    Creating a new partnership movement to challenge the selling of sickness.
    READ BLOG
  • Kathy Brous

    Kathy Brous

    A serial of Kathy's recovery journey as an adult with attachment disorder.
    READ BLOG
  • Nev Jones

    Nev Jones

    Exploring the intersections of psychiatry, philosophy, neuroscience, cultural theory, critical community psychology and the mad/user/survivor movement.
    READ BLOG
  • 1boringoldman

    1boringoldman

    Retired psychiatrist and raconteur offers insightful analysis of the day's events from the woods of Georgia.
    READ BLOG