• Learning more: patterns 04 April 2016 | View comments

  • 4th April 2016 | By David Jolley

    Where are we now? 

    How did we get here?

    How will we move on?

    You would think it is easy to know where we are and the journey which brought us to this time and space.

    Reminiscing during the week, a social science colleague reflected on the poverty of thought amongst present day psychiatrist and remembered with affection and awe, conversations with clinical phenomenologists of the past. 

    Manchester was the centre of phenomenological psychiatry during the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Working from the small unit housed in the Manchester home of Elizabeth Gaskell, Professor Anderson and his colleague Dr John Hoenig championed the approach based in the works of Karl Jaspers and others from the University of Heidelberg http://www.britannica.com/biography/Karl-Jaspers

    Anderson had retired and given way to Neil Kessel, and Hoenig had just departed for Canada when I came to Manchester 1970 as a trainee. Their teaching and tradition lingered on and was inspirational in the depth and value we discovered in listening to patients’ experiences as we sought to understand them as a first requirement to providing help.

    The hierarchy of values placed clinical activity and expertise at the pinnacle, to be supported by teaching and research. Somehow, somewhere in the intervening years, despite the massive increase in funding and the number of professionals working in mental health, this order of values has been changed and respect for individual experiences given less weight.

    Understanding the present and future from the past can be helped by mapping and I have enjoyed and recommend the series of historical maps produced by Alan Godfrey of Gateshead: http://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/. Whether it is to review the places where you have lived, or to learn more about a new work territory or holiday destination, these humble gems bring added depth to every street walk.

    I am led somewhere new by a recommendation from our first ‘Conversations’ at Bowdon Vale: ‘Words for a journey’ from Takashi Iba and Makoto Okada. Takashi Iba is a management guru who writes and researches patterns in words and other systems http://web.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~iba/.

    How he has come to apply his philosophy to living with dementia and related disorders is a new area of exploration for me.

    Heidelberg, Manchester, Gateshead, Keio – Listening and learning


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    Greg. Created on 06/04/2016 13:45

    Hello !
    I've been following these articles and particularly liked this one.I agree that the Art of describing people's experiences is being lost and/or trivialised.How many trainees neglect phenomenological enquiry and how many Psychiatrists collude in this neglect so long as "ICD 10 Diagnosis,"Risk assessment" and "Care Cluster" in all their banality are attended to ?
    Best Wishes.

    David Jolley Created on 10/04/2016 06:39

    Thanks Greg - You may not be surprised to know that I was thinking of you as I wrote the bit about phenomenology - remembering the warm appreciation of your approach by GPs in Bilston. They appreciated someone who took real and educated interest in their patients. A more rewarding life for us too!
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