In October 2016 Jo Watson hosted the very first ‘A Disorder for Everyone!’ event in Birmingham, with psychologist Dr Lucy Johnstone, to explore (and explode) the culture of psychiatric diagnosis in mental health. To provide a space to continue the debate after the event, Jo also set up the now hugely popular and active Facebook group ‘Drop the Disorder!’.
Since then, they have delivered events in towns and cities across the UK, bringing together activists, survivors and professionals to debate psychiatric diagnosis. How and why does psychiatric diagnosis hold such power? What harm it can do? What are the alternatives to diagnosis, and how it can be positively challenged?
This book takes the themes, energy and passions of the AD4E events – bringing together many of the event speakers with others who have stories to tell and messages to share in the struggle to challenge diagnosis.
This is an essential book for everyone of us who looks beyond the labels.
Foreword - Paula J Caplan
Introduction - Jo Watson
Do you still need your psychiatric diagnosis? Critiques and alternatives
Counselling, psychotherapy, diagnosis and the medicalisation of distress
Psychiatry: a dangerous raft in a sea of despair
The revolution will not be pathologised
Problems in living: an existential perspective
Emmy van Deurzen
Deceived: how Big Pharma persuades us to keep taking its medicines
The language of values; the value of language
‘Schizophrenia’ – the least scientific and most damaging of psychiatric labels
John Read and Lorenza Magliano
Resistance, rebellion, resilience and recovery
Why words can harm your mental health
Offensive pathways: the ‘personality disorder’ construct and the over-responsibilisation of incarcerated women
Working therapeutically with clients with a psychiatric diagnosis
Towards a trauma-informed approach with people who have experienced sexual violence
Lisa Thompson and Becky Willetts
Disability, depression and the language of disorder
Finding my tribe: a survivor’s story
From chemical imbalance to power imbalance: a manifesto for mental health
A tale of two tutors: challenging the narrative of diagnosis and disorder in counselling training
Jenny Taper and Jamie-Lee Tipping
Violence under the guise of care: whiteness, colonialism and psychiatric diagnoses
Names matter, language matters, truth matters
There’s an intruder in our house! Counselling, psychotherapy and the biomedical model of emotional distress
'Anyone who wants to deal with the epidemic of distress and despair in our society should engage deeply with Jo Watson’s work and this massively important book.'
Johann Hari, journalist and writer; author of Lost Connections: why you’re depressed and how to find hope
‘Drop the Disorder! is a clarion call for change.’
Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and founder of madinamerica.com
‘Challenging, insightful and often controversial… a truly innovative and valuable book that functions both as a learning resource and an ardent call to arms.’
Dr Eleanor Longden, Psychosis Research Unit, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
'This book is packed with rich narratives, incisive analysis and powerful critiques of a world where everyday emotions are increasingly seen as disease. If ‘mental illness’ has touched your life in any way, drop what you’re doing and read Drop the Disorder!'
Indigo Daya, survivor advocate, blogger, speaker, consumer academic, University of Melbourne and human rights advisor, Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, Australia
Drop the Disorder! is a revelation in so many ways. It heralds a clarion call for reform of treatment, understanding and approach to mental distress – aimed not just at those working in services or reliant on them for ‘care’, but of interest to a lay audience wishing to explore and comprehend the damage that is done by psychiatric diagnoses and the vested interests in perpetuating them. It gathers the perspectives of a diverse range of contributors with many different stakes in the debate – but all with one intention: to rid the lexicon of toxic unsubstantiated labels which pathologise our pain and justify suppressing our dissent (conscious or otherwise) to poverty, discrimination and abuse. As such it marks a refreshing and pivotal departure from the dominant ‘illness’ narrative we have come as a society to accept unquestioningly, and to impose on other cultures. None of the chapters in the book use jargon. All are justifiably impassioned and subversive; yet reasoned, full of wisdom, common sense and rigorous analysis, informed by the latest evidence on trauma and attachment. Drop the Disorder! is set to become a key text in the literature of critical responses to psychiatry – accessible, informative, engaging and unapologetically political. Everyone who is interested in social justice should read this book, and in so doing, will take it to their hearts and utilise its insights for the common good.