Even psychiatrists don’t know how the drugs they prescribe work

What is it like to go mad? Not so much developing depression or having a panic attack — which is wearyingly familiar to many of us — but to go properly mad, the sort of madness that involves delusions and police officers and locked psychiatric wards? Horatio Clare didn’t have to imagine what that was like for his book Heavy Light. It’s a memoir, subtitled ‘A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing’, and is an unsparing tale not just of what it was like for him to succumb to a psychotic episode but also of what it did to his family. The book starts with a skiing holiday in Italy

The problem with pills: The Octopus Man, by Jasper Gibson, reviewed

Having a breakdown? Try this pill, or that — or these? Built on the 1950s myth of a chemical imbalance in the brain, long since debunked, modern psychiatry still pours pills on trauma. While their general mechanisms are hypothesised, the specific consequences of different psychotropic drugs for individual brains remain haphazard. ‘We prescribe by side-effect, by trial and error,’ one consultant psychiatrist told me. ‘But I’ve seen all these drugs working,’.The problem is that pills alleviate symptoms of mental illness while doing nothing for causes. Psychiatry’s dilemma mirrors that of Tom Tuplow, the hero of Jasper Gibson’s magnificent novel, a delightfully intelligent man from a broken home who took too