About the book:
Countless charities and awareness campaigns work tirelessly to show people that mental health problems are common and serious issues. But when it comes to mental health matters, one question that’s rarely asked is…why?
Why are conditions like depression and anxiety so common?
Why is our mental health so vulnerable to the stresses and events of modern life?
And why is there still so much confusion and stigma about mental health matters?
Drawing from nearly 20 years working in the areas of neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry, international best-selling author Dr Dean Burnett (The Idiot Brain, The Happy Brain) hopes to answer these questions and more in his new audiobook Psycho-Logical (exclusive to Audible). Combining in-depth research with genuine testimonials from those who deal with their own issues on a daily basis, Psycho-Logicalaims to uncover just what we think is going on with our brains when serious mental health problems occur, how and why the available therapies work (when they do), and just how flexible and uncertain much of the scientific understanding of mental health is.
Experience versus expertise when writing about mental health – Psycho-Logical. Dean Burnett.
When I first proposed writing a book about mental health, my agent and other publishing colleagues were sceptical. No disrespect meant to me (I assume), but the currently accepted wisdom is that, while books on mental health are increasingly common and popular, they’re predominately written by people who deal or have dealt with their own issues. They’re memoirs, or retrospectives, or personal journeys, that sort of thing.
I, however, can’t write such a thing. Not if I want to stay within the ‘non-fiction’ category. I’ve never had any problems with my mental health (as far as I know). So what, some seem to ask, gives me the right to lecture people about it?
Well, I’m a neuroscientist who’s worked in the psychology and psychiatry fields for nearly two decades now. I’d argue that what I lack in direct experience, I make up for in awareness and understanding of the workings of our brain, and what happens when it goes wrong. Many with mental health issues can’t say the same. Which is totally understandable of course; learning about the deeper functioning of the brain is a big task at the best of times, let alone while your own is constantly making things harder for you.
Also, while I don’t have any direct experience, I’ve been observing mental health problems, and the effects they have, pretty much all my life. I grew up in a pub in a remote Welsh valley after the coal mines were shut down. You get to see the raw edge of poor mental health a lot, in such a context.
As well as that, I recently realised that out of all my friends, far more have mental health problems of some description, than do not. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean that I’m the one causing the problems somehow, but it does mean I have a rich source of info and detail about mental health matters.
But in practical terms, I’d argue it actually helps for someone to take a more objective, analytical approach to talking about mental health. Why should the onus always be on those who are dealing with their own problems? And it might carry more weight with those who are still cynical or sceptical about the reality of mental health problems, if someone who doesn’t have any still insists they’re a genuine, serious thing.
That’s why I’m glad that Audible felt the same, and allowed me to write, and publish, Psycho-Logical, an audiobook all about the underlying workings of mental health.
In truth, it’s such a big subject matter that there’s ample room for multiple approaches. I’d never deny or doubt someone’s genuine life experiences, but shedding light on the science and mechanisms of it can only help ground mental health matters more effectively.
That’s what I’ve been telling people, anyway.