Doctors across Europe are warning that the soaring use of antidepressants is down to growing pressure to "medicalise" unhappiness, complaining that a lack of time and meagre availability of other therapies meant that physicians reach for the prescription pad far too often. In response to a questionnaire devised by the Guardian and five leading European newspapers, the vast majority of almost 100 European doctors and psychiatrists who replied said there was a "prescribing culture" in their country because other help for people with depression was inadequate. Many of the doctors – from the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands – said they believed antidepressants were an effective treatment for cases of severe depression. But dozens expressed frustration that limited time and even more limited resources mean that they often feel pressured to prescribe pills in less-urgent cases. "We are medicalising common situations: conflict, separation … [Read more...] about Medicalisation of misery to blame for soaring use of antidepressants, say GPs
I am sitting in a circle in a grey, corporate room with 10 housing association employees – administrators, security guards, cleaners – eyes darting about nervously. We are asked to eat a sandwich in silence. To think about every taste and texture, every chewing motion and bite. Far from being relaxed, I feel excruciatingly uncomfortable and begin to wonder if my jaw is malfunctioning. I’m here to write about a new mindfulness initiative, and since I’ve never to my knowledge had any mental health issues and usually thrive under stress, I anticipate a straightforward, if awkward, experience. Then comes the meditation. We’re told to close our eyes and think about our bodies in relation to the chair, the floor, the room: how each limb touches the arms, the back, the legs of the seat, while breathing slowly. But there’s one small catch: I can’t breathe. No matter how fast, slow, deep or shallow my breaths are, it feels as though my lungs are sealed. … [Read more...] about Is mindfulness making us ill?
"I really used the mirror as a device for an interior on a small scale," he explained. "Always the same mirror, which I like and know." For Lucian Freud the knowing and liking were mutually vital and this five-foot Georgian overmantel mirror stayed with him. It had come down in the world by the time he first set eyes on it in 1943 in the hallway at 20 Delamere Terrace, in what was then slum Paddington. It became one of his few possessions in the upstairs flat there overlooking the canal, along with a stuffed zebra head. Though not in fact always the one Freud used, it was until the mid-70s his main mirror for giving him odd angles, distancing and that slight sense of behind-the-glass isolation. For as their titles often indicate – Reflection (self-portrait), Painter working, reflection, his self-portraits were, of course, mirror images of a face that to him needed no introduction, the face that frowned commandingly or squinted with the effort of examining itself in profile. As he … [Read more...] about Lucian Freud: reflections of the artist
I've been sitting for Lucian for around 10 years now; I visit him every morning, so it's part of my life. It's a different sense of timing to anything else I do. The stillness is very therapeutic although you can't shut off completely. You have to be alive to the position you're in and to Lucian's connection with you. You do sit very still. He might want you to move an inch or two, or slightly adjust your fingers. You have to be in tune with Lucian. He's good company to be with. It's a very gradual progress - over the months the painting grows. Lucian was friends with many of the sitters in our exhibition. He has always taken trouble to put his sitters at ease. From the start, he would find people who could be sympathetic to him - and he to them. He has always enjoyed the company of painters and poets. They share a stillness, I suppose. Lucian has a great knowledge of poetry. His memory of words is remarkable; he can recite out loud great verses. In a way, poetry is the closest you can … [Read more...] about Still life: sitting for Lucian Freud
David Sylvester, who has died aged 76, was one of the finest writers on art in the second half of the 20th century. His clarity of expression and his adherence to the discipline of looking, as a route to understanding the power of a work of art, set him in a class apart. He wrote predominantly - whether in his journalism, in catalogue essays or books - about modern art, from Cézanne and Matisse up to mature artists of today. He was also a skilled maker of exhibitions. He curated his first Henry Moore show in 1951, and contributed many major shows to British and foreign museums and galleries. His exhibition schedule was particularly frantic during the 1990s, after he finished the catalogue raisonné of René Magritte, which had taken, "with interruptions", 25 years. Though his writing was marked by its simplicity of style (he cautioned editors that he used shorter words than most critics, so if his pieces did not make the required column length, that did not mean he had not … [Read more...] about David Sylvester