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The history of Psychiatric care is one which is distinguished by stories of both heroism and cruelty. Attitudes to mental illness and treatment have been as much subject to the whims of politics, science, religion and fashion as any other aspects of human behaviour.

We now live in a time where attitudes to severe psychological disorders are much more tolerant than they have been in times gone by. In the past, such people might have been deemed to be 'posessed' by evil spirits or even just 'bad' people. Nowadays, certainly in the Western world we tend to use a sickness/health model to provide a framework from which to view what is happening.

The Medical Model seeks to classify, collate, study and treat mental disorders as if they were the same as pathological physical conditions. People are treated in hospitals, clinics and health centres and encouraged to lead as normal a life as possible, preferably in the community rather than in large institutions.

Despite this, the old attitudes can tend to linger somewhat. Although many of the erstwhile Asylums - the big psychiatric hospitals of the last couple of centuries - have closed down or changed their roles, the stigma and the stories still live on.

I hope you will enjoy these stories. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with so many interesting people over the years. A large number of them have left me deeply moved and will never be forgotten. Certain details have been changed out of respect and to protect confidentiality.

APM