Letter: Mind medicine

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Jack Straw wants to sweep untreatable psychopaths and perhaps paedophiles under the carpet of psychiatry. He is considering changes in "law and practice".

In this regard he shows ignorance of the practice of psychiatry and an illusion of power. He needs to know that there is a difference between badness and madness. Madness is the domain of psychiatrists and they are reasonably good at managing it. Badness is a matter of law and order, and it is up to his office to deal with it.

Psychiatry is a medical speciality and has no answer to all society's problems. Psychiatrists are neither social reformers nor agents of control. Psychiatrists are leaving the service because they are being asked to look after dangerous people, not patients.

A change in the law such as Jack Straw wants will deprive the NHS further of the expertise of good psychiatrists.