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Welcome to this website. I am wondering why you might have arrived here: perhaps by chance or maybe you or a loved one are troubled by mental and emotional concerns.

I think you will agree that life is not always easy and that the personal problems we face, as well as the pace and pressures of modern-day living, can at times prove just too much. It is therefore understandable that we can sometimes feel saddened, overwhelmed, distressed or disheartened – and for some people, even suicidal.

As our lives are largely shaped (and miss-shaped) by our experiences of life [more about this here], it makes good sense to begin to understand our mental and emotional troubles within the context of our lives and relationships, and not simply as medical disorders that should be treated.

Therefore, in this website we aim to step back, as it were, and view our lives from a wider perspective; indeed, any clues to understanding the problems we encounter (and any possible answers) often lie within this bigger and contextual interactive- picture. Maybe the following analogy helps clarify something of what I mean.

    Mick Bramham
Mick Bramham

Finding the natural balance

With the eradication of wolves from Yellowstone National Park around 70 years ago, the whole eco balance was disrupted. The willow trees were all eaten to the ground by the elks, which in turn seriously depleted the beaver population who needed the willows.  Without the beavers making their dams, areas of the park suffered from deforestation with changes to the water table. 

More recently (gradually from 1995) wolves have been reintroduced to the park.  As the wolves eat the elk, the willow trees in Yellowstone's river valleys now flourish and are the perfect habitat for the beavers who are busily building their dams again – and so the eco-balance has been restored.

Similarly, our lives are affected by other people, the circumstances in which we live and the experiences we have been through.

Yellowstone Park
FINDING THE NATURAL BALANCE. At the Yellowstone National Park there is a natural balance between the beavers, elk, willow trees and the wolves. This eco-balance was completely disrupted when the wolves were eradicated around 70 years ago. Gradually reintroducing the wolves from 1995 restored this balance.

You will know only too well how one thing leads to another. This website therefore aims to take a practical and intuitive look at some of the many actions, interactions and reactions that can affect our emotional and mental stability. It is a look at the broader picture: our lives in context. It this sense it is an ecological perspective.

As we have become so reliant on mental health drugs, it's not realistic to look at the bigger picture without considering how these drugs can actually put our lives further out of balance. So you will find many references to these drugs in this website.

This website is also an invitation to question

This website is also an invitation to question – to question ourselves and what others have led us to believe. In a sense, this is the essence of a scientific enquiry – the willingness to question assumptions – no matter how strongly held or dearly cherished. I have had enough of dogmatism. Dogmatism stifles creativity and hinders open debate.

So often I think the questions we ask are more important than the answers. It’s a bit like that with small children, isn’t it? Barely have they heard the answer to a question and they are on to the next question. Sometimes I think we hold on to the ideas we have and are afraid to let go, even though the ideas and beliefs that we hold on to can hold us back. 

It can be scary daring to doubt long-cherished beliefs; somehow, they become an aspect of our sense of security, don’t they? It can take a personal crisis to cast doubt on the foundations on which we build our lives; that’s been my experience. It can be painful - perhaps devastating at the time - but in the long run, liberating.

There's no shortage of ‘experts’ ready to advise us on life and health matters; offering appealing, but overly simplistic ‘answers’ and neat sounding diagnoses and treatments to follow. But life is rich, varied, and far more complex. In fact, any answers we might find are surely more likely to come from stepping back and gaining a wider perspective – one more in tune with our lives in their entirety. Thus, central to the ethos of this website is thinking for ourselves, learning to trust ourselves, and being open to a wider perspective on our lives.

Out of the answers grew
new questions…

Friedrich Nietzsche
(Genealogy of Morals)

If you do not expect
the unexpected,
you will not find it

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Tales to account for the mysteries of life
For millennia peoples and cultures have evolved tales to account for the mysteries of life – stories often being
passed on from generation to generation.  These tales have sought to explain how the world was created, what
happens when we die, and try to make some sense of aspects of life that seem beyond our control - such as
suffering and natural disasters.  In modern times we invariably look to science rather than the culturally devised
myths of old, without realising that we have simply exchanged our myths: modern day myths are often
deceptively couched in scientific language, but myths they remain. It is, I believe, important that we recognise
that popular diagnostic explanations for the emotional and behavioural problems we face are just one way of
trying to account for them. The fact that many doctors, for example, find them convenient does not mean that
they are based on scientific fact [more here]. But in favouring a medical and clinical perspective there is
always a danger that a person’s individual sense and meaning are seen as less valid.

Thinking aloud where thinking is allowed

This website is not intended as an in-depth critique of mental health problems and treatments; it is rather a call to question, and where relevant, dare to doubt myths masquerading as fact. It is my hope that this website helps further open the way in understanding emotional and mental distress and suffering within the context of our everyday lives - and not simply as mental illnesses or biochemical imbalances. I see this as a pathway towards hope.

The woodland clearing, HeideggerThe thoughts I share are more akin to sketches than to a finished picture. They are shared to provoke thought rather than as dogmatic statements of truth. In working with people as a psychotherapist I see the benefits for people as they share their thoughts, concerns and pains too; therapy is, in a sense, an opportunity for thinking aloud. It is a healing process and without doubt I too am changed by this creative and vulnerable interaction. This is possible because free and open thinking is welcome - it is allowed.

I hope this website can be something of an open place, rather like the clearing in the forest where there is space for light to shine in and growth to follow. For me it is a place for thinking aloud and where thinking is allowed. I will take comments, including constructive criticism, seriously too.

I am not medically trained and make no claims to always be factually correct - so please let me know if you know I have mis-stated something. I am interested in your thoughts and opinions too.

Do feel free to browse around this site. Join me. You are very welcome to comment via my news and views blog.

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