Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Listen to the wounded healers

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 24 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:960
  1. Philip Thomas, professor, Institute for Philosophy, Diversity and Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire
  1. pfthomas{at}

A drama documentary examines the story of a mentally ill junior doctor who rejects conventional treatment but is determined to stay in medicine. Philip Thomas reviews

“I can’t be a doctor and hear voices,” says Ruth, the central figure in Leo Regan’s powerful dramatised documentary about the work of the clinical psychologist Rufus May, known for his unconventional approach to treatment of mental disorder. The film tells the true story of Ruth, a junior doctor, who has begun to hear a male voice telling her to kill herself. Suspended from her job, she turns to May, who believes that there is no such thing as schizophrenia and that drug treatment can be harmful. He tries to help her understand the meaning of her voice.

Even if you set aside any views you might have about the merits or otherwise of May’s work, the film raises important questions. How should we understand and respond to madness? To whom are practitioners accountable—their patients, employers, the public, the state? What should we do with sick doctors: sack them or help them to maintain …

View Full Text