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Psychiatry and the media: from pitfalls to possibilities

  • Mark Salter (a1)
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In war, truth is said to be the first casualty. Something similar may be said for psychiatry. The ability of the media to distort public understanding of mental illness is well described (Wahl, 1995; Philo et al, 1994). Psychiatric disorders, their treatments and those who provide them are all subject to overwhelmingly negative portrayals in the print and broadcast media (Hyler et al, 1991). Dehumanisation, inaccuracy and sensationalism seem to be the media's stock-in-trade. Media professionals make no apology for this, citing the provision of impartial, emotionally-neutral accounts as one of their least pressing concerns (Salter & Byrne, 2000). They also reject the notion that they are responsible for the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes, claiming instead that they merely mirror the values and beliefs of our society (Bolton, 2000). This distorting mirror is of great relevance to psychiatry. It is probably no exaggeration to state that the celebrated cases of Christopher Clunis and Ben Silcock have done more to change the practice of community psychiatry than any College President or Secretary of State over the past 5 decades.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
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Psychiatry and the media: from pitfalls to possibilities

  • Mark Salter (a1)
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