John Read is not fit to remain as the BPS’s representative on PHE’s Prescribed Drug Dependence/Withdrawal Review
Warning: offensive language quoted
(Draft letter to the British Psychological Society’s (BPS’s) President, and the Chair of its Clinical Psychology Division. [Added 10th December: I received so many discouraging comments about the low likelihood of a meaningful response that I did not send it.])
The review, which will soon call for evidence to be submitted, has just lost a psychiatrist with substantial links to the pharmaceutical industry. Psychologist John Read, the BPS’s representative, who made a formal complaint about Dr Baldwin earlier this year, and more recently signed an open letter calling for his removal, has stated that ‘personal abuse’ directed at Dr Baldwin was ‘nothing to do with us‘.
However, there are reasons to believe that John Read’s close professional and non-professional associates were involved in encouraging the excessive language such as ‘Pharma-whore’, that he agrees was ‘personal abuse’.
Both he and fellow psychologist Lucy Johnstone are in the ‘core project team’ of the Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF…link to interview with James Moore, who is mentioned below) which for many mainstream BPS clinical psychologists is more concerned to promote extreme anti-diagnosis views rather than address difficult issues around mental health interventions (including psychotherapy and drugs). Four ‘core’ PTMF authors (Read plus Mary Boyle, Peter Kinderman and David Pilgrim) signed the letter requesting Dr Baldwin’s removal.
On 19th September (six days before Dr Baldwin resigned) after a Blogger who has regularly written about ‘Pharma-whores’ described a presentation about ECT as ‘shit’, Lucy Johnstone replied ‘you are fab…Keep up the plain speaking’.
This ‘keep it up’ Tweet was ‘liked’ by James Moore (whose Twitter icon is immediately to the right of ‘6 Likes’), a non-professional who signed the letter requesting Dr Baldwin’s removal. Mr Moore still suffers from antidepressant withdrawal, and is the lead editor of the new ‘Mad in the UK’ (MITUK) website, which promotes John Read’s activities. The lead professional on MITUK is Peter Kinderman, who has not revealed the names of other professionals in the MITUK ‘collective’: I have asked Mr Kinderman and Mr Read if the latter is part of the ‘collective’, but both declined to comment.
So this ‘Pharma-whore’ Blogger (who had also allowed another anonymous poster to comment on September 12th that Dr Baldwin was a ‘pharmaceutical rapist…worse than Hitler) was encouraged in his ‘abusive’ language by both psychologist Lucy Johnstone and non-professional James Moore, who are both John Read’s close associates.
This appears to directly contradict Mr Read’s ‘nothing to do with us’ statement.
There is further evidence that Mr Read fails to discourage, or even encourages, ‘abusive’ language more generally, against professionals and non-professionals who disagree with this group’s views.
Ms Jacqui Dillon co-edited Mr Read’s latest book, and he names her on his Twitter profile:
Ms Dillon is a mental health campaigner who has worked in association with John Read for many years. She has many publications, and she praised Mr Read when she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London last year.
Her Twitter banner encourages the use of four-letter words in opposing critics:
Ms Dillon has used dozens of four-letter words in her Tweets, many of which are hostile and attacking: she appears to believe she is doing so in justified retaliation:
Many Bloggers who follow John Read’s work on psychiatric drugs will have seen Ms Dillon’s Tweets. Clearly, they encourage ‘abusive’ language, and ‘personal abuse’, against opponents and critics.
As non-professionals, neither Ms Dillon nor Mr Moore can be held responsible for the general culture of how John Read and his close associates promote their views and oppose critics.
A year ago Mr Moore posted an interview with a US-based non-professional, Bob Fiddaman, a widely read Blogger and book author. For five months I have repeatedly brought a racist and misogynist Tweet by Mr Fiddaman to Mr Moore’s attention. More recently, after Mr Fiddaman again made it clear that he would not withdraw and apologise, I have asked Mr Read and Peter Kinderman to intervene. As yet they have not commented.
John Read usually adopts a benign manner on social media, but on occasion he can be unfairly sarcastic and extreme. A month ago he responded to an anonymous non-professional’s mildly critical question about ECT by comparing it to ‘lobotomy and the rotating chair’, in a manner reminiscent of extreme critics of psychiatrists, who at times allege that psychiatric treatment is deliberate torture:
As well as the PTMF group, John Read’s close associates include Dr Sami Timimi MRCPsych, fellow council member of the ‘Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry‘. I have recently raised a concern with both Peter Kinderman and John Read about Dr Timimi’s disparagement of first-person accounts by people who find benefit from their medications, as mere ‘anecdote’. All (I believe) of John Read’s close associates tend to ignore such accounts, while selectively valuing first-person accounts of people who only experience harm from psychiatric diagnosis and/or medication.
The prominent journalist who wrote an account of this disparagement made it clear that he felt Dr Timimi was unprofessional. Neither Mr Read nor Mr Kinderman have commented on this issue.
Many critics of John Read and his close associates believe that their main concern is not primarily with drug dependence and withdrawal, or even with psychotherapy, but with promoting extreme anti-diagnosis views. There is evidence that they condone or even promote deceptions which undermine mental health team working in order to achieve that. This slide from from a presentation in which Lucy Johnstone was involved has been widely commented on but has not been satisfactorily explained by John Read or his group:
In summary, there is good evidence that John Read’s claiming the ‘personal abuse’ of Dr David Baldwin FCPsych as ‘nothing to do with us’ was false. I ask the BPS to replace him with a psychologist who has no such record, is committed to multi-disciplinary working, and has a genuine interest in seeking evidence for interventions, and their unwanted effects, both at the ordinary mental health team level and at higher policy levels.
If the BPS is unable to find a replacement at short notice, then other current PDD Review members James Davies, author of Cracked, which is highly critical of Psychiatry and its relations with the Pharmaceutical Industry, and Dr Ben Goldacre MRCPsych, author of Bad Pharma, have ample knowledge of the evidence in relation to psychiatric drug efficacy and harms.