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Smallscreen

Can Adam Phillips transfer the ideas about madness that work for him as a psychoanalyst and essayist into an original television format? Surprisingly, he can

By David Herman   March 2005

Perhaps the strangest gap in British television is programmes about mental health. There is no end of so-called reality shows, but the reality we avoid is the one inside. Despite the figures on depression, schizophrenia and suicide rates, we do not really want to know what causes mental illnesses, how to treat them and whether there are interesting new ideas in the field. It is so much easier to cling to a few predictable genres: the earnest Horizon documentary about scientific breakthroughs in understanding the physical causes of mental illness (labs, white coats and graphics), documentaries about psychopathic killers (mood…

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