Wednesday 12 November 2008

Bill Cash, MP (23 Sep 08) on regulation

This letter written by Bill Cash is worth holding onto, so here it is for reference:

Letter to the Times (23 Sep 08) on the different ways to regulate.

"Sir, There is one matter that is being overlooked, namely, the importance of self-regulation within the framework of the law. Ultimately, it is up to the directors and those who run the financial companies to behave in a manner that maintains proper standards based on sound principles and, dare one say it, moral rectitude.

It is not by any means a matter exclusively for the Financial Services Authority. We need to see that the City itself throws out the bad apples and blackballs those that transgress, stopping credit lines as required.

Parliament will not solve the problem and may exacerbate it by generating costly bureaucracy that will not fill the moral void here or abroad. Without a sense of fiduciary duty and self-regulating principles along the lines of the Quakers in the 19th century, no amount of legislation in itself will compensate for the greed and incompetence we have witnessed.

The same principles must apply in all professions whether it is finance, law, medicine, accountancy, or whatever — ultimately those who know best how to run the profession must exercise moral responsibility in weeding out bad practices and bad people.

Bill Cash, MP"

London SW1

Thursday 18 September 2008

Quick fix for the soul

This article by Darian Leader and published in The Guardian newspaper on Tuesday September 9th 2008 makes plain part of the problem that lies behind the current governmental policy of supporting CBT as the the treatment of choice for the State. Follow the link in the title to find the page in the newspaper.

Monday 8 September 2008

Petition: HPC must think again. State reg of psy practice does not protect the public.

Nick Totton, Andrew Samuels, Allison Priestman, Denis Postle, Arthur Musgrave, Guy Gladstone, Kevin Jones have created a petition which now has 1226 signatures. Below is the text from the petition page, click the title of this blog entry to go to the petiton.

[Since launching the petition, we have been in touch with UKCP, BACP and BPC, as well as with the Health Professions Council, pointing out that large numbers of practitioners have signed up including many members of the big organisations, and suggesting that a poll of all therapists and counsellors needs to take place to find out whether state regulation has their support. So far only the HPC has responded, and we are setting up a meeting. If you want your professional organisation to poll its members on state regulation, then let them know! By the way, we are also aware of the double 'and' in the petition, but for obvious reasons we are not allowed to edit the text while the petition is 'live'. - Nick Totton, Andrew Samuels, Allison Priestman, Denis Postle, Arthur Musgrave, Guy Gladstone, Kevin Jones]

To: UK Government and Health Professions Council
We the undersigned psychotherapists and counsellors doubt that the proposed state regulation of psychotherapy and counselling in the UK will be of benefit either to the public or to the profession, and are concerned that it will in fact be harmful; we do not wish to be regulated in this way, and and call upon the Government and the leadership of our professions to halt the proc

Petition against State regulation of psychological therapies

"The Government proposes to regulate psychological therapies through the Health Professions Council. Thousands of psychotherapists and counsellors working successfully in these fields would be barred from using their habitual and long-earned titles if the proposal to make ‘psychotherapist’ a protected title is approved.

Specifically, body-centred approaches, client-centred, humanistic and integrative psychotherapists rely on a model which emphasises self-actualisation and the intersubjective and relational nature of human development and experience.

These are not variants of the Department of Health preferred modalities, and often offer a more fundamental alternative to CBT and related outcome-focussed therapies, whose long-term effectiveness remains unproven.

The DH proposals have failed to make the case for regulation. There is no evidence of widespread client abuse. Current voluntary and professional arrangements already deal with client complaints and maintain professional competence in the field of psychotherapy"

started by Tim Brown – Deadline to sign up by: 25 October 2008 – Signatures: 220

Sunday 7 September 2008

Mark Neocleous

Prof Mark Neocleous teaches politics and government at Brunel University. In this conversation with Natalie Wulfing, he manages to laugh at the preposterous policy of the administrators at Brunel who are 'doing their bit' to defeat terrorism by trimming the foliage of the shrubbery:

MN: "... it doesn’t take much for a State to point to a whole range of insecurities and then to say that we, the State, must act. More interesting, more problematic, is that it doesn’t take much for the State to fabricate insecurities. Once that process takes place, it has a momentum of its own. There’s an interesting document produced by MI5 in 2004 and reissued in 2005 about how universities and large organisations can help in the ‘war on terror’. One piece of advice was to trim the bushes and small trees around entrances. Think about what that does. No terrorist attack has ever happened by a terrorist jumping out from behind a tree near an entrance to a building or planting a bomb there. My university actually did send an email around after this document arrived, and now the bushes at the doorways are all trimmed back! But think: how many times do people go in and out of their work or university building in a day? Now, every time they go through a door they are supposed to feel secure or insecure. So,
something as mundane as going for a sandwich becomes a question of security – or reminds people of their ‘insecurity’."

to read the full conversation, click the heading.
If you want to comment on it - click the comments box below.

Joanna Moncrieff

Joanna Moncrieff is a psychiatrist and a founder member of the critical psychiatry network. In this conversation Roger Litten reminds her of one of her early articles written when higher education was as yet unscathed by the RAE dis-ease.

“Its function was to deal with abnormal and bizarre behaviour which without breaking the law did not comply with the advance of the new social and economic order. Its association with medicine concealed that aspect of social control by endowing it with the objectivity and neutrality of science. The medical model obscured the social process of deviance by locating problems in human biology ...” In three sentences you have condensed a remarkably powerful nucleus.

JM: I wrote that when I was an SHO, a junior doctor. I wrote it for Soundings, which was then a new Open University magazine. It makes me feel sad as I sit here now in UCL! No-one would ever encourage me to write a paper like that today. I’ve got to write papers that get into the Lancet for the Research Assessment Exercise, so it’s difficult to find time and the outlets to write things like that which need to be written, which do actually get to the fundamental core of the issue...

to read more, click the heading of this blog entry

Stephen Frosh

Prof Stephen Frosh used to work in the Science Faculty of Psychology at Birkbeck College in London. He now finds himself in the Arts and Humanities faculty heading up a new discipline called Psycho-social studies. In this conversation Stephen describes some of the process of audit that produces this unintended consequence and argues that what is needed is courageous re-invention, and on no account should academics lose their nerve.

SF: "... I think for instance here at Birkbeck, our audit culture is still laborious and bureaucratic but it’s much better than it used to be partly because the people involved are trying to think how to make it work. We should not be intimidated.

The person I teach most with is just coming out of the probationary period and she had to do the teaching certificate (a lot of people complain about it). She was observed and assessed doing some teaching with me of psychoanalysis to psychology students. What we did was to work in small groups and have an observed conversation: unstructured, unprepared, responsive to students – it was risky. The rather tight-looking observer from the Life Long Learning department gave her a distinction! There was a willingness from the observer, and an unwillingness from us to be completely phased. I’m not denying the power of audit here, but there is something that people can use more. It’s not quite as bad as it has to be, we must take hold of its power. "

To read the full conversation, click the heading.
To make a comment on what you read, click the comment button below:

George Freeman

Prof George Freeman is well known for his work on Continuity of Care in General Practice and for his GP teaching work. In this conversation he talks about some of the unintended and unwelcome consequences that audit culture visits on medical practice, including this rather bizarre example of managerial lunacy.

GF "... Here is a prescription pad...

JL: ... so it is ...

GF: ... if you were to steal that and attempt to forge my signature, you could write prescriptions for this that and the other for patients that might or might not exist, and then you might sell them. Alternatively there’s that [reaches to the paper tray in the
computer printer] it doesn’t even have anything printed on it except for a serial number, and again, apparently it has a market value. Obviously you are supposed to keep these locked – when I’m not here I lock them away. But there are concerns about
the safety, and we have a fifty-one page document now from the PCT about the safety of these things, and it’s really like Securicor! When they are unloading them from the van they’ve got to have a witness, they have to go into a room with grills on the windows, and someone has to witness them being locked up - and it take 51 pages to say that. That’s an example of the bureaucratic effort that’s going into administration these days: it’s disproportionate and it’s happening across the board.

To read the full conversation, click the heading above
To leave a comment, click the button below:

Monday 14 July 2008

Robert Snell in conversation

Robert Snell is a psychotherapist and art historian. His review of the book "L'Anti Livre Noire" (edited by Jacques Alain Miller, and published by Seuil, 2006) mixes his wonderful wit and erudition, and led me to Brighton to meet him during the town's vibrant Festival earlier this year. Here we wonder whether a certain section of the British might have lost their ability to deploy and enjoy some vitriol.

RS: "... the Miller book was a relief for me to read because the writers don’t seem to be worrying about offending anyone. They
are speaking clearly and making an open attack on a declared enemy. So, it is also a rant. Maybe in England at the moment it is not possible to do that. In France it seems ok to have a fight. It is very difficult to remain calm when someone states boldly that ‘CBT is the treatment of choice’. It’s such a meaningless phrase, and begs all kinds of questions - it comes at you like a slab of concrete. ... What was so good about the Anti-Livre noir was the humour and the irony, and the pleasure that came through. They are engaged in a battle, but not without humour.

JL: Yes, humour is going to be useful. At the moment many of us seem a bit paralysed, unable to think when faced with this demand for evidence and the need to know everything in advance.

RS: Humour, yes, and poetry probably... Keats’s ‘negative capability’ which Bion was so fond of invoking is still as a good a place to start as any: “negative capability, that is when a man is capable of being in doubt and uncertainty without idle reaching after fact and reason...”

to read the full conversation, click the heading above.
to comment, click the button below:

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Richard Gombrich: British Higher Education Policy (2000)

The blog heading (above) is linked to the text of a talk given by Richard Gombrich in Tokyo, 2000: British Higher Education in the last 20 years: the murder of a profession. I came across it last year whilst looking for facts and figures on the changing context of British higher education - the enormous increase in numbers of students now attending universities, the simultaneous reduction in library funding, the shift to contract work for staff, and the rise of the RAE and QAA. Such major changes cannot help but have consequences for a country, and I found this talk enormously useful for gathering together the major factors that have altered the structure of higher education. It was also extremely interesting for the anecdotal evidence it provides about on the fictional nature of the RAE. Michael Power (see below) has written consistently on this and has steadily uncovered the structural impossibility within the logic of the audit function. Richard's talk includes some examples of the way that this pressure forces a fabrication into existence whilst also insisting it is treated with the weight of a fact.

Marilyn Strathern: audit cultures

This entry is linked to a conversation between Marilyn Strathern, Pierre-Gilles Gueguen and myself. Marilyn talks about the impact of the audit culture on her work in British universities, and the changes this is making on both the discipline and the topic of anthropology. The administrative function has steadily encroached on the academic role and the impact of this is made clear on the credibility of the subject.

Michael Power: audit explosion

This post is linked to the transcript of a conversation between Michael Power and Roger Litten. This fascinating discussion touches on issues about audit culture and wider questions for society and subjectivity, and poses questions about psychoanalysis and society. The conversation is one of a series that are taking place in preparation for a meeting in London on 20th September, which Michael will also be speaking at. If you would like to leave comments or questions as a consequence of reading it, please make use of this blog to do so.

Monday 16 June 2008


The Independent Practitioner Network has a diligant web wizard: Denis Postle. Denis has developed this site over the years to support his ongoing campaign against state regulation of the psy-practice and to maintain a place for independence. Last October he invited me to be a guest editor and now we have developed a series of pages that support some work I have been doing with colleagues to try to shed light on the questions around audit, regulation, and evidence based medicine. In short, we are asking : what on earth is going on?

If you follow the link in the title of this entry you will end up on some sister pages of this blog, hosted by eIpnosis. There you will find the unfolding story and tales from along the way towards a meeting that will be held in September. To begin, there are two very interesting interviews, one with Anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, and the other with Accountant Michael Power. They were the beginning of a series of meetings that some of us have been having in order to get our bearings in the strange times we are in.