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Posted: 29 March 2016 by Anne Ashford and Robert Bugler F.R.C.Psych., M.R.C.G.P.

Cracked It: rewriting the text books?

I have been privileged to work with psychiatrist Robert Bugler F.R.C.Psych., M.R.C.G.P. and play a small part in the publication of his latest work, Cracked It. He has become convinced that the behavioural sciences have failed to progress and, after unsuccessfully challenging colleagues, he wants to talk to lay readers.

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He sets out a new evidence-based system primarily through his identification of seven 'elemental' behaviours and describes their relationship to health and disorder as ‘extraordinary’.
I urge anyone with even a passing interest in mental health to spare a few hours to see what he has to say. I have been drawn to his argument and discovered a new understanding of some of the health problems which blight so many lives.

Download the book – FREE!  But first, to whet your appetite, this is how Robert introduces his work:

Compared to other medical fields, there has been little significant progress in psychiatry for half a century. The lack of progress and persistence of multiple schools of thought are characteristic of a failing scientific field. Although the failure is evident to inside and outside observers, the leaders of the profession cannot acknowledge the position.

Thomas Kuhn (1922 – 1996) set out in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) that re-conceptualization was essential before a failing science could regain progress. In that process long accepted precepts and assumptions had to be discarded, a new vocabulary becomes necessary and phenomena not previously seen to be relevant, contribute to the different concept. Professor Kuhn noted that the established authorities in a field were never able to achieve the necessary re-conception.

Mental illness is a disorder of behaviour, of ‘response to change’. It follows that a re-conceptualization of psychiatric disorder cannot be achieved without re-examining the genesis of behaviour, the labels of behavioural phenomena and the evolutionary steps to human characteristics.

Two flaws and a current circumstance hinder progress. The first flaw is the presumption that behaviour has followed the same evolutionary, ‘competitive survival’ path that furthered physical attributes. Second, the labels we attach to emotions and responses are human artefacts, they are unreliable representations of the sensations we sustain.

Neither misapprehension can be corrected without returning to the primary task of every science: identifying elemental particles of the field of study, which in this context can be taken as meaning irreducible responses to change, or the absence of change. Paradoxically and through the lack of any coherent model of behaviour, the current flood of new information on cerebral function obscures, rather than elucidates the field.

Behavioural scientists define behavioural phenomena with characteristics and labels that become as deeply entrenched in their lives as faith is for those with religious convictions. It is, as Thomas Kuhn recognized, virtually impossible for them to re-consider the phenomena.

In the hope that others will have less intractable preconceptions this work is addressed to ‘lay’ readers. Begun in 1983, the un-ravelling has been a solitary exercise.

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