Under-valued ideas

Almost a year ago the Chair of the Scottish Division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor John Crichton, phoned me in connection with a wider debate around the media and psychiatry. This was the only time we have ever conversed. Whilst I had the attention of the Chair of the Scottish Division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists I asked if he would share College views on the following matters:

1. Sunshine legislation for Scotland (that would make it mandatory for competing financial interests to be declared)
2. Over-medicalisation and the potential for prescribed harm (I gave the example of nearly 1 in 5 Scots taking prescribed antidepressants and asked if the College was of the view that this represented ‘Realistic Psychiatry’)
3. The College approach to respectful and constructive behaviour in terms of ‘College Core values’

A few days after this conversation, the Chair of the Scottish Division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists made a telephone call to the Associate Medical Director of the NHS Board that I work for and expressed concerns about my mental health.  I attended my GP and underwent an Occupational Health assessment which concluded that I was not suffering any mental health disorder.

It is now my understanding that the Chair of the Scottish Division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists expressed his concerns using the term “over-valued ideas”.

A widely accepted medical definition of an ‘over-valued idea’ is “an unreasonable and sustained belief that is maintained with less than delusional intensity (i.e. the person is able is to acknowledge the possibility that the belief may or may not be true). The belief is not one that is ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or sub-culture.”

I left the College earlier this year. I am in no doubt that I made the right decision: I have no wish to belong to a “culture” or “sub-culture” which regards the issues which I raised as “unreasonable”. I hope that in the future the College will do its best to ensure that it does not under-value the ideas of its members and others.

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