#017 Gary Sidley Author of Tales From the Madhouse


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By Kate Ashley Norman and Kate Ashley-Norman. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In this episode, Kate interviews Clinical Psychologist and author of Tales from the Madhouse, Gary Sidley.

They discuss the alternatives to biomedical psychiatry as ways of responding to human suffering. This fascinating podcast shares the experience and journey that Gary has undertaken and explores the reasons why urgent change is required.


  • The Concept of the Book

I worked for many years in mental health services in the UK but became increasingly disillusioned over the years.

I began as a psychiatric nurse in the early years then qualified as a clinical psychologist. During this period, I sought to change things from the inside but from 2000 onwards I came to realise I couldn’t change it from inside.

After that passage through the system, I came to the conclusion that we did need a revolution

Writing the book was both cathartic, expressing my frustration at the system and how it works and aimed at making some contribution to the movement for change.

  • Why is it an Uphill Struggle to get Changes to the System?

There are a number of powerful vested interests that are resisting change and want the system to remain the same.

It’s convenient for Politian’s as they don’t have to address the underlying causes when its viewed as an internal defect.

It’s the biological psychiatric paradigm I am at odds with. It’s a huge challenge and those with vested interests have become very skilled at opposition and neutralisation.

  • Have you seen many Changes Over the Years?

From 1980 onwards we saw the move away from large institutions to more community care and a better understanding that people can live more fulfilling lives has developed.

There have been no changes in the ideology at the top and the default point is always the biomedical.

The reality of the practice is very different from the mission statements because it’s based on the culture of an internal health deficit.

  • Prevention

If you teach a child to be resilient and to have an understanding of their emotions then they will be able to continue to thrive all the way through their lives

Sadly, when finances are stretched it is the preventative measures and activities that cease. It would make better sense to look at the contributors towards human distress rather than waiting for people to break down.

  • The Mental Health Act

It’s astonishing that as a developed nation we have an Act that is so discriminatory.

It acts in a negative way reinforcing all the biomedical assumptions about mental distress with an implicit assumption that anyone with mental health issues has an internal deficit that means they can’t make their own decisions

The language of the act also perpetuates the idea that it is an internal deficit that should be treated with biomedical resources

Ultimately it will come down to money and it is only at this point that Politian’s will take an interest in change.


‘There are so many different voices screaming for change’

‘The cry for something different is increasing all the time’

‘The nuts and bolts of the provision is medication’

‘How many people has that research actually helped?

‘People are now encouraged to talk more about mental health, but the system remains the same’





Kate Ashley-Norman is creator of Positive Mind Management, the host of The Mental Health Revolution podcast, and a passionate speaker and trainer about our emotional wellbeing. She is seeking to change the nature and tone of the conversation around mental health for business owners, their workplaces and ultimately in their personal lives.

Kate has spent the last 25+ years running her own businesses, initially working running a six figure PR consultancy agency, then building a multi-million pound international property portfolio. Latterly she has dedicated her time to studying emotional mastery and positive psychology, while bringing up four children, and has used her experience and knowledge to create the Positive Mind Management programme specifically for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The knowledge Kate has collated will help you to not only better understand your emotions, it will help you both improve it, and supercharge it during those more challenging times when emotional wellbeing can be compromised. Fear, procrastination, overwhelm, powerlessness, self worth – empire building is a hugely challenging process in its own right. The more power you hold within your own emotions, the more you can harness the power of those emotions, good and bad, to the benefit of your business and life in general.

Hugely practical and applicable, this revolutionary approach to mental health is putting the power back into the hands of each and every individual.


You can support The Mental Health Revolution, and contribute to the conversation in the following closed Facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/238516643507943/

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You can also support the movement through our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=12852819

Kate can be contacted anytime via her email: kateashleynorman@gmail.com


Gary Sidley worked in NHS mental health services for 33 years both as clinician and manager. In the 1980s he was employed as a psychiatric nurse in a large asylum in Manchester, commencing his clinical psychology training in 1989. Subsequently, he worked as a clinical psychologist in community mental health services, inpatient units and GP practices. Gary opted for early retirement in 2013 and is currently a freelance writer and trainer with an interest in promoting alternatives to biomedical psychiatry as ways of responding to human suffering.

Tales From the Madhouse by Gary Sidley is published by PCCS Books and is available on Amazon.




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