We seem to find it extraordinarily difficult as a society to hold a mid-point between “You have a physical illness, so your distress is real and no one is to blame for it” and “Your difficulties are imaginary or your or someone else’s fault, and you ought to pull yourself together”. Recent debates about mental distress have illustrated this (Letters, 14 March). Let us be clear that claims about established genetic or biochemical causation for mental distress are, as things stand, entirely fictional. Let us also be clear that we don’t need to raise the spectre of parental blame, as Deborah Orr does (12 March), in order to understand madness in an increasingly unequal, individualistic, competitive and often traumatising and abusive world.
Dr Lucy Johnstone
Consultant clinical psychologist, Bristol
Mental illness and familial influences
Monday 14 March 2016 15.28 EDT