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Doctors taking over the asylum

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 15 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1360
  1. Raj Persaud, consultant psychiatrist
  1. Maudsley Hospital, London

Psychos, Channel 4, Thursdays at 10 pm from 6 May to 10 June

The last time British television made a major drama series about psychiatry was back in 1991, when Shrinks, produced by Thames TV, was broadcast on the ITV network. It attracted widespread criticism from professionals, who claimed that it trivialised patients' problems and gave the impression that a few magic waves of the analysis wand meant that the seriously mentally ill could throw away their therapeutic crutches and, psychologically, “walk again.”

In view of the professional opprobrium, the Independent Television Commission commissioned a survey to discover the reactions of viewers. It came up with the paradoxical result that, although only 38% of the sample considered real psychiatrists resembled their counterparts in Shrinks, more than half …

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