Sunday, 7 January 2018

stop blaming mothers for mental illness

This is a blog post directed towards male academic DClinPsy leaders at both Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities who, for 8 years, have marginalised and silenced my survivor Mother voice, preferring Father voices while setting mother Carers against one another.  It's misogyny.

I'm a good Mother like my Mother before me, both of us experiencing psychosis due to life trauma, in my case very painful, induced with chemicals, childbirths, existentially at the change of life and following years of campaigning for justice after my youngest son was abused in Stratheden Hospital, Fife, February 2012, for which I got blamed in an Adult Protection Investigation report.

I didn't do paid work for many years as my 3 sons were growing up, preferring to be around when they were toddlers, pre-school, then after school and in the holidays, spending time with them, enjoying their company.  We had fun together.  I ensured they got piano lessons and other musical tuition (accordion, woodwind instruments, violin) which I missed out on because we lived in a 4th floor flat in Perth as I was growing up. 

me aged about 10, photo taken by my Father Willie Patterson, Perth
my 3 boys 1987 on a visit to Perth
my Mum, pregnant with me, & Dad captured August 1952 on the High St, Perth, by a photographer; note my Father carrying my Mother's shopping bag, his smart yet casual appearance, my Mother's stylish coat, she also carrying bags, her hair long, wavy, hanging loose
My Father William (Willie) Cunningham Patterson wasn't a misogynist or a bully.  He could be autocratic and over-protective, a man of his time, principled, a gentleman, a writer of science-fiction, who liked to dress and dine well (wood pigeon, fillet steak).  He sometimes had library books out for years and would work into the night on his electric typewriter producing scripts for Jeff Hawke, Daily Express, sending them by courier to London to meet the deadline.

I remember sitting in the front row box at the circus aged about 5 with my Dad and shaking hands with Coco the Clown, and a big birthday party in the September after starting Caledonian Road Primary School, then another one aged 12 when in 1st year at Perth Academy, marking the transition.  Fireworks display organised by my Father in the wasteground outside Pomarium Flats, rockets, Catherine wheels, sparklers, in the dark, the skies lit up.  He wore cravats, smoked cigars, Capstan and a pipe, had nicotined fingers.  My girl friends when I was at the Academy thought my Dad was handsome, I was a bit put out by this, he was just my Dad.

Looking back, I wasn't used to misogny, and was a confident child with a sense of self, trusting in my own judgements, my family home a safe place and refuge from the world.  On choosing a husband I looked for someone who would provide for me and my family, a safe house and secure base.  I met his family in 1971 and liked his Mother who asked me when I'd be marrying her son, before he said anything!  We got on well.  She was a gem.

my Mother-in-law Elizabeth Muirhead, photo taken by me in her front garden 1976


  1. Lovely piece
    Enjoyed reading that
    As you are

  2. Thank you for writing this Chrys.

    It is truly awful, this blaming of my mothers by the profession of which I am part. It is wrong in so many ways.

    In the past Psychiatry created the "Schizophrenogenic mother" and today we find that the majority of those labelled "Borderline" by Psychiatrists are young women before child-bearing age..

    Expert Psychiatric panels are composed largely of male, middle-aged men. The "Edinburgh Consensus" being a current example of what has been called a "Manel" (an all-male panel).

    It is dismaying to hear of your experience of Clinical Psychology and the misogyny, happening today in Scotland. I know that you are a devoted daughter, sister and mother and that you strive like few others to help those in need.


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