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Tuesday 3 June 2008
The programme that examines how we think and why we behave as we do returns for an eight-week series with psychologist, Claudia Hammond.
PARANOIA Paranoia, the feeling that people are out to get you is often thought of as a symptom of serious mental health problems like schizophrenia, but new research conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry has found that paranoia might be far more common than previously thought. In new research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Dr Daniel Freeman measured people’s paranoia by putting them on a virtual reality underground train journey. Claudia went to the Institute of Psychiatry in London to test the virtual tube ride and to talk to Dr Daniel Freeman.
The psychologist Philip Zimbardo is famous for the classic Stanford Prison Experiment when back in 1971he turned the university basement into a fake prison where the young men playing the guards soon started abusing the people they were told were their prisoners. He showed how much circumstances can distort individual personalities and how given complete control over others, anyone can act as a monster. Now he’s turned his attention to promoting positive, even heroic behavior. Through research and education he’s wants young people to believe they are all “ heroes in waiting”. Claudia went to meet Professor Zimbardo in San Francisco and hears from a real, home-grown hero, Andrew Antonio, whose act of heroism helped to save a woman’s life.
MENTAL HEALTH ACT COMMISSION
Every year fifteen thousand people are detained in locked unit under the Mental Health Act. Once there they have very few powers and someone has to make sure that these psychiatric units are run properly. At the moment inspectors from the Mental Health Act Commission visit each unit every 18 months and talk to at least four patients there to check on what’s really going on. But there are fears that this level of scrutiny won’t survive the new Health and Social Care Bill. In the future a new body covering the whole of health care The Care Quality Commission will be responsible for checking on standards in psychiatric units. There are concerns that under the new regime the sorts of abuses that have been uncovered in the past in psychiatric units might not get picked up. Professor Chris Heginbotham who ran the Mental Health Act Commission for England and Wales for 8 years talks to Claudia about his fears.