Mental Hospitals Care Homes and Other Stories

A mental hospitalI was asked to review this book and as I currently work within the NHS in London the first thing that crossed my mind was that Frank McCutcheon wrote the entire book under a nom de plume as the content is frankly so deeply shocking. I have found myself considering writing the review anonymously as keeping a civil tongue whilst reading story after story of the lives ruined or lost via the medical model of psychiatry feels so challenging.

However, I will reign my opinions in and urge you to read this book as it cannot not affect your perspective on the ‘care’ offered in some hospitals and care homes by some staff.

It is a book written in plain English for all, either health professional, family member client or interested party. It is not complicated to read, nor is it full of terminology. It therefore reads as not complex whatsoever, yet it is deeply complex due to the readers inevitable emotional response.

For a Mental Health Practitioner, it may well endorse the vicarious trauma that we all navigate to work within the system. It forces practitioners to revisit and reconnect with their own moral and ethical codes of conduct. For a lay person they may well read the title and not realise that these are not fictional stories, they are painful facts. Yet brilliantly weaved together in writing that feels deceptively easy to read, even humorous at times. However, don’t be fooled by the language or the comfort of jumping from story to story in and out of the book as you choose. The emotional backlash when absorbing the content is far from easy to acknowledge. And one wishes this book were exaggerating as it takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster by exposing the good the bad and the hideous masquerading as care.

This is a book of disease that creates dis ease and its contents must not be considered purely historic. Many of the stories are historic, but much of the practices outlined in the book raise significant concerns in our current biomedical approach that is still harming people today. This is not sadly an opinion as the facts remain that many working within the field are still too afraid to raise the truth above the parapet for fear of reprisal or ones registered authority bodies taking practitioners to task.

The final chapters discuss some of the other potential movements that are growing due to the harm caused to people by what Frank names ‘the AFAQL (anything for a quiet life) syndrome. The book lays bare many stories of polypharmacy and its debilitating results. It also touches on aspects of the corruption involved within the stories. He discusses not more spending as the media frequently focuses on, rather redirected spending. Politics and mental health go hand in glove and the book notes this and refers to it via a variety of observations including the Covid pandemic.

Mental Hospitals Care Homes and Other Stories is exposing of these institutions and is profound. It will outline to many the truth behind the walls of the Mental Health system. To others it may make sense of their nagging doubts that all may not be as it seems. For readers connected to the stories it may reignite any latent passion to make a difference. Regardless of who you are, be prepared for this book to change you.