Hello and welcome!
This blog will document my journey towards becoming a clinical psychologist, as well as be a space for me to write about my related interests, plus any other thoughts on the mental health sector more broadly.
I’ll keep it anonymous so that I can write more openly about my experiences at work (to protect service-users’ confidentiality), but to give you a little background information about me – I’m a psychology (BSc) and literature (MPhil) graduate, currently working as a Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in a London IAPT service, and before that I was a Mental Health Support Worker at a Recovery House and an Honorary Assistant Psychologist. As well as researching mental health issues and reading psychology books, I love reading fiction, poetry, philosophy; going to art exhibitions; trying to play the cello; dancing; walking; and running not very long distances.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for an aspiring clinical psychologist, I pay most of my research and reading attention to the psychological/social factors that contribute towards mental distress, and I am somewhat sceptical – though I am careful to have no ideas set in stone – of the medicalisation of mental illness. While I appreciate and admire research trying to understand the biological markers and factors contributing to mental illness, I believe that alone, it is far too narrow a focus. It’s important work that needs to be done, but, I personally would be unable to study the brain without trying also to look at the broader picture…
The research I’ll be reading and discussing on here, then, will zoom out and try to look at all the psychological, sociological, cultural factors influencing mental health. I want to think about how we are not simply our brains, our brain chemistry, or even our DNA. We are our whole bodies, and our bodies are inextricably bound up with other bodies and the environment we find ourselves in. We are also the language we use, the history of that language, the society and cultures we are part of, the weather, everything that even slightly impinges on us. This might feel dauntingly, impossibly broad. But I think we are left with no choice – the bigger, richer picture we have of what makes human beings psychologically ‘healthy’, the better equipped we will be to help people. For these reasons, I align my approach with the ‘phenomenological approach to psychopathology’ recently articulated by various philosophers and clinicians including Thomas Fuchs, Giovanni Stanghellini, and Giovanna Colombetti amongst others.
I will also write book reviews of books that I have found interesting and relevant for my thinking about clinical psychology (both fiction and nonfiction), my own thought-pieces, and research article digests/summaries.
And if you’re wondering what the name of the blog refers to, I’m referencing Freud’s case study of Dora. I read the case a while ago, and I have never been so viscerally angered and frustrated by a psychological case study. (See this blog post for more detail…). While there was a lot which was of interest in the text, in my opinion Freud got so much wrong, and I desperately hope that psychologists in the 21st century aren’t failing their patients as badly as Freud did with Dora. This blog is dedicated to Dora, in hope that we continue to learn from Freud’s mistakes and always work towards improving the profession of psychotherapy (not only psychoanalysis)…
I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment, tweet me (@fordorablog) or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.