‘Flattening of Affect’

The latest art work of Duncan Marquiss is called ‘Flattening of Affect’ and featured in the Scotsman, 28 May 2022, along with this short biography and explanatory note:

I very much admire Duncan Marquiss for his layered approach to his creative work as it seems to me to encourage a deeper reflection of the realities of life. I am also delighted to hear that Duncan was the 2015-16 recipient of the Margaret Tait Award [Margaret’s short films are inspiring].

I am now a gardener and artist having retired after working for 25 years as an NHS psychiatrist. The term “flattening of affect” was created by psychiatry and has no known primary biological basis. As a “sign” of mental illness its presence is based on a psychiatrist’s interpretation of facial expression, tone of voice and content of talk. These are subjective qualities, so just like our appreciation of music [for example, double-sided vinyls] the range of appreciation and interpretation will be wide. Furthermore, in a world where psychiatric drugs are now mass-prescribed, the role of these brain-altering chemicals has to be considered as a potential contributor to “flattening of affect”.

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