‘We cannot turn back’ from the League of Nations, said Woodrow Wilson – but did just that

It was a vision that President Woodrow Wilson could not resist. The Treaty of Versailles, and the League of Nations founded during the negotiations, were meant not just to end the first world war but all future wars by ensuring that a country taking up arms against one signatory would be treated as a belligerent by all the others. Wilson took his adviser Edward ‘Colonel’ House’s vision of a new world order and careered off with it. Against advice, Wilson attended Versailles in person and let none of his staff in during negotiations Against advice, he attended Versailles in person and let none of his staff in with him during

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

A burnt-out case: the many lives of Dr Anthony Clare

Those who best remember Dr Anthony Clare (1942-2007) for his broadcasting are firmly reminded by this biography that we didn’t know the half of him. Its authors are Brendan Kelly, professor of psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry and Muiris Houston, a columnist for the Medical Independent and the Irish Times. Theirs is a meticulously sourced, clearly arranged, carefully assembled account of Clare’s packed life and multiple achievements. Yet through it thrums a sense that you can only really understand him if (a) you are a psychiatrist and (b) you are Irish. Born in Dublin, Clare was the youngest of three

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