Just over a year ago, The UK Advocacy Network, (UKAN), sponsored a competition for poets who had had experience of a variety of mental health problems. A selection of the chosen poems has been published as an anthology under the title:
It will make you much better, he said,
No, it won’t make a hole in your head.
The current’s quite small,
Hardly any at all,
And of course you won’t wake up quite dead.
The nurses, all gentle and kind,
Never told me that bits of my mind,
Would soon disappear,
That I’d feel very queer,
And not know before from behind.
Memories once precious to me,
Have vanished, no trace, all agree.
The voice of my child,
That amused and beguiled,
Was erased by the ‘cure’, E.C.T.
At Work was I then in disgrace
From this hole in my mind – this great space?
For I found, to my shame,
This face - What’s his name?
Or this name – Who’s got the right face?
Who began this outrageous farce?
Who decides to switch on and to pass
A current designed
To ‘repair’ this bent mind?
Do they really know elbow from arse?
“There is no theoretical basis to justify it. There is considerable criticism of its extensive use because it may produce permanent brain damage, especially losses of memory and intelligence.”
So writes the Oxford Companion to the Mind. For most people, the implication of ‘therapy’ is of some process that will aid recovery from whatever ails them, physically or mentally, and achieve it benevolently, without harming them. By what stretch of the meaning of words can a process be so described that actually harms the very thing, the human mind, that it is claimed to be saving?
“My mind to me a kingdom is,
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind.”
The poet, Dyer*, could not have guessed
What would be done to minds distressed.
This precious place with knowledge filled,
Shocked, drugged, benumbed - then killed.
(*Sir Edward Dyer 1540)
Read: “..listening to the silences..” Available free on
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