Title: Authors of our own misfortune
Author: Angela Kennedy
Publisher: The Village Digital Press
Reviewer: Jane Brown, patient safety advisor Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust
What was it like?
There is a philosophy within medicine that some illnesses can be due to psychogenic diseases (physical illnesses that stem from emotional or mental stresses). Within healthcare some patient illnesses are labelled as mental disorders, such as ME, MS and Parkinson’s to name a few. This book sets out to examine that psychogenic reasons for physical illness can be marred by society in general and the assumptions we make about patients sometimes before the illness is investigated. We label a variety of illness as “stress” again before looking into the physical illness.
What were the highlights?
This book exposes the many flaws in the deep routed psychogenic belief systems by people like Simon Wessely, Peter White and Michael Sharp and then we were met to adopt these thinkings.
An example of this was the 1980s (an age for some of huge bonuses in the city) - yuppie flu, described as self-inflicted on those high flyers. Maybe this was a form of “stress” but these people were working and playing hard.
It is an eye opening analysis of our medical system, and clinicians who labelled certain illness as “all being in the mind” and the author describes the patient harm from this.
The author arguments are extremely plausible in and the reader may have never really given this subject a great deal of thought, relying on clinicians and diagnosis. The area of psychogenics is a mine field and extremely complicated. Her arguments are substantiated with vast referencing.
The author is a social sciences lecturer and researcher within universities in London. Part of her research interests includes social exclusion of disadvantaged groups and the effects of this.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The author has referenced this book with a vast amount of references, these are easy to find through pages of referencing at the back of the book.
The book is academic, but the chapters are well set out and they take the reader through her well set out argument. There is whole chapter relating to the fallacies, which makes the reader/nurse/clinician sit up and think about how we label patients.
It is book to read in sections at a time, as the reader may want to reflect and take notes as they go through the book.
Who should read it?
This needs to be on every student doctor/ nurse prior to caring for patients. This book should be essential reading for academics, health professionals, and those directly or indirectly affected by psychogenic explanations for illness.