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Submitted Literature

All In The Mind

By Alastair Campbell

Review

Alastair Campbell is best known for his political career, however he is also a public speaker, bigrapher and now novelist. Furthermore, Campbell has made a documentary about his own mental health problems and alcoholism, called Cracking Up.

All In The Mind is set over one weekend and focuses on the life of psychiatrist Professor Martin Sturrock. His patients include David Temple, who suffers from depression; Arta, a refugee from Kosovo, who escaped her war-torn home only to find a different battle in the UK where she is raped and subsequently suffers from PTSD; Emily who suffered severe facial burns and PTSD; Hafsatu, a prostitute who describes her experiences as “being raped for a living” (106); and Ralph Temple MP, who suffers from alcoholism which is eventually revealed to the press and the Cabinet.

Sturrock himself dips into a deep depression which impacts on his patients, their own therapies and the therapeutic relationship. In this respect, Campbell looks at the under-acknowledged and tricky notion of the percieved immunity to mental illness that mental health workers attain (which is, naturally, a myth) and the stigma that occurs when clinician becomes service user, leading to shocking and tragic consequences.

One small problem with the text comes from my own experience of working within a busy London psychiatric team. The book is perhaps unrealistic in that I have never come across a psychiatrist who has an hour per week for each patient! Furthermore, Sturrock’s treatments are psychotheraputic, which again is perhaps unrealistic for a busy consultant psychiatrist in the NHS (though it is not clear if Sturrick is and NHS or private Dr).

Key Themes:

  • Alcoholism
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Rape

Significant Quotes / Pages

10 – “Sturrock marked his depressive patients on a scale of one to ten. Most of the people he treated were between five and eight. He had never had a ten. He put David at a seven, which was bad. He put himself at a six, but didn’t let anyone know, which ran counter to the guidelines for psychiatrists who feel they may have their own psychological issues. He knew the guidelines better than most, having updated them personally four years ago, but he could see no point, for himself or the department, in drawing attention to his own shifting moods. Instead, he tried to manage them himself. And seeing David helped.”

Reference: Alastair, Campbell. 2008. All In The Mind. Arrow, 2009

Reviewer

- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Monday 21st September 2009