Whilst medicine and surgery have dramatically advanced in the past fifty years, psychiatry has barely moved forward. The stasis has arisen because behavioural science is unable to go beyond mutation and Darwinian selection.
A New Perception avoids the confusion of language, identifies seven elemental behaviours and shows how three biological ‘laws’ shaped the evolution of behaviour: of animal response to change.
Human intelligence and ability arose from radical adaptation in early hominids. So radical that they are susceptible to instability – to our mental illnesses.
Why did you decide to write A New Perception?
When I changed from being a family GP to working in child psychiatry I believed I would find a coherent body of knowledge that would guide me in my new career, but I was quickly disappointed. There was no established or reliable system of diagnosis and treatment. New ideas and new theories were regularly advanced, only to fade away a year or two later. Colleagues often had conflicting opinions on the causes of disorder and best methods of care.
After ten years in my first appointment, I moved to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where many patients had mental as well as physical healthcare needs. Co-operating with physicians and surgeons to achieve the best result for children on the wards was a fulfilling professional experience. However, as a staff member of a University Hospital I had to teach medical students. This worked well in a clinic on an individual basis, but I found it difficult to give order to the subject in lectures. The experience made me realise that the field was disorganised, while nature’s processes are ultimately logical and comprehensible. I became convinced that a rational system of human behaviour must exist and began to seek to unravel it.
What is your perception of the rise in mental health issues over the past decade, and the psychiatry work that has occurred in response?
There are an almost infinite number of observations of human behaviour, but the first rational step must be to identify the simplest organic ‘response to change’ in the environment. I was fortunate to come across Professor Brian Goodwin’s research on the universality of cellular oscillation. After establishing this as a fundamental phenomenon, there remained an immense number of ‘responses’ to consider and sort out, rather like hundreds of Lego bricks. The significant ones gradually fell into place and as they did so the simple precepts that governed their evolution became evident.
What was your experience of publishing A New Perception?
It has been a solitary journey but I have recently been encouraged by the coincidence between recent studies on the therapeutic value of regular exercise, the importance of avoiding loneliness and the ‘elemental’ behaviours of A New Perception.
What do you hope to achieve through the publication of A New Perception?
As the concept has been completed, psychiatric research papers have also shown some movement away from the long-held beliefs that the primary causes of mental illnesses are faulty biochemical processes. I hope that the change makes it a promising time to publish.
In my past attempts to raise awareness of the slow progress of psychiatry, I published two small books without success. The difference that the professionalism of the whitefox team has brought to my concept by expert editing is remarkable. I can now feel proud of A New Perception and it will help me to face any criticism with confidence. Madeline Meckiffe’s cover design has been commented upon as striking and exceptionally relevant.
Is there one message or piece of information you would like to leave with your readers?
I hope that the work will engender debate leading to credible advances in the field – and that it will help readers to realise that stardom is an insatiable drug; that we are generally quite good enough as we are.