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Press release 17 April 2003

Critical Psychiatry Network Annual Conference, London, 13 June 2003

This year's Critical Psychiatry Network ( conference is entitled "The Limits of Psychiatry". There are echoes in this title of the classical critique of medicine by Ivan Illich entitled Limits to Medicine. Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health. Illich's book begins with the statement 'The medical establishment has become a major threat to health'. Although the Critical Psychiatry Network wishes to move beyond the polarisation created by Illich's view that "do it yourself" care is best, it does acknowledge that current psychiatric practice may be part of the problem rather than necessarily the solution to mental illness. The reason for this is that psychiatry tends to adopt a biomedical rather than psychosocial understanding of mental illness, with the consequent tendency, at its extreme, that people are treated as bodies that need their biology cured.

The day's conference includes a debate entitled "Antidepressants are no better than placebos". Although antidepressants are in widespread, accepted clinical use, the Critical Psychiatry Network is prepared to take a sceptical stance on the issue of the effectiveness of physical treatment in psychiatry. The debate is serious about looking at the extent of bias in the available evidence (further details at It is designed to engender public interest in an academic issue that will affect the outcome of the NICE ( guidelines on the management of depression currently under preparation (see

The full programme of the conference at contains a printable booking form. The cost of the day is 130 for statutory sector, 110 for voluntary sector and 85 for unwaged. Entry for the debate only costs 25. For further details contact or Dr D B Double, 01603 421589.