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The psychiatrists who don’t believe in mental illness – Audio Long Reads

As rates of diagnosis rise, a fierce debate rages in psychiatry. Are we experiencing a parallel pandemic or responding rationally to a traumatic world?

By Sophie McBain

In the wake of the pandemic, mental health referrals for adults and children have doubled. Has Covid sparked a parallel wave of mental illness? Or is grief and sadness a natural response to those months of isolation, uncertainty and daily death tolls? 

In this richly reported long read, New Statesman associate editor and feature writer Sophie McBain talks to the patients and medical professionals who believe we over-diagnose mental illness, ascribing labels and medication that do not help. A movement within psychiatry – known as critical psychiatry – rejects the idea of mental illness altogether. Such arguments are now at the heart of what has become a bitter culture war in the UK and US, between those who would abandon psychiatry’s “disease” model and those who insist it saves lives. 

The article was first published on on 9 February 2022 and in the magazine on 11 February 2022. You can read the text version here.

Written and read by Sophie McBain

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