Its been ages since I wrote about the Linden Method, and in many ways I am pleased with what has happened to their advertising pitch. Sure, much of what was wrong about the advertising is still there. The oddest twist of all was the way in which referral to Trading Standards for non-compliance with the ASA ruling has been turned into an endorsement rather than what it really is; according to the ASA “The ASA can and will refer cases to Trading Standards when a marketer is unwilling or unable to follow our rules and our self-regulatory sanctions have not brought them into line.”

Anyway, other things have happened. Most of the Logos which should not have been used have been removed and thats very good, well done. Oddly given the ASA ruling and the involvement of Trading Standards most of the inappropriate claims remain. However, having had some contact with Trading Standards in Worcester and nationally I am afraid to say that I am not too surprised by this.

And now there is what looks like a relaunch! Congratulations to his web design team for a really slick new look. First thing you notice is that the headline contains a startling new claim. Linden has “helped over 22 million people to truly understand their mental health and to use simple, scientific, common sense methods to regain control and stability in every aspect of their lives… to recover: and it’s so simple.”

This is indeed an extraordinary claim, and as I have noted elsewhere, someone very sensible said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. I first applied that to the Linden method about ten years ago. As yet, no such evidence has been provided.

So, does the new look website improve on the problems I have pointed out elsewhere in this blog? Has Martin Jensen, the person who was “independently” (!) evaluating the Linden Method, finally finished his MSc and published his work, or done new work? No, I’m afraid not.

 

What you will find in the website is extraordinary in other ways; its what looks like an attack on Mental Health Services and self help websites. You will find this on the page titled “Bad Advice and the things that will make you worse”. If it was he who wrote this, the self styled “World’s leading Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks and Stress Recovery Expert” may have misunderstood the most basic of basics: high quality research into the effectiveness of treatment.

The website says:  “Psychology talks of ‘evidence based treatments’, of which, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is just one; but what is the evidence for its and other therapies’ curative effectiveness?”

Very strangely, it then asserts that research in this area has “found (or not looked for) no evidence of failure” which he attributes to the field “asking only one question” viz: ‘After receiving treatment X, how many people came back for more?'”

It then goes on to say that all treatments other than their own are “based on this type of statistic”; that is, “if you don’t come to the sessions it means you are cured”.

In the words used in that website: “What utter nonsense.”! Here I am applying that judgement to the claims made by the website itself.

The website says that their approach is so respected because they “don’t provide manipulated statistics”. I have, in a previous blog post pointed out that there may be problems with what was described as an “independently conducted trial“, not least because of, ahem, what looks like manipulation of both measures and statistics. I always found it amusing that we were invited to believe this stuff because they used the computer programme, SPSS.

Please read these  previous posts and draw your own conclusions.

Then, much more importantly, look at the extensive actual evidence base for treatment of anxiety. This is extensive; for example, that for panic  You will see that this is all about treatment effectiveness. You will also see, if you look more closely, that “people not coming back” is described as a problem, not an outcome, and a range of ways have been developed to deal with this. You can find details if you look at the analysis called “intention to treat”, which is the norm in these studies, and was a quality indicator for the NICE guidelines. Helpfully, NICE provides both the full evidence base, which is long and technical, shorter versions for practitioners as guidelines for decision making, and accessible service user/suffer versions to help with shared decision making, which in my view is what is required. We have called this elsewhere “evidence based patient choice”, and I regard that as the gold standard.

The next bit of this Linden website is the strangest; there have however been previous hints of this. It seems to be suggested that Mental Health Services don’t help people to keep the services “in business”; in the words of this website, to keep the mental health businesses “sustainable” by not getting people better. What is said specifically is:

“Sustainable = don’t cure everyone/anyone. This works well for healthcare providers though because incompetence=low results and as long as they can get patients to trust their word… they can, pretty much, perpetuate the business model ad infinitum.”

Now I know what the NHS values are, and am passionately committed to them. The statement above makes you wonder about the values of Linden Method/Tree and Charles Griffiths and his team. I personally find the claims that Mental Health Services operate a business model of not getting people better to be offensive to the many committed mental health professionals who do their utmost to help service users to recovery and cure. That is what we do.

Finally, this website goes on to “quote” what is says is another website which is described as disgusting.

It says: “Today I read something on one ‘official’ website that provides servcies for OCD – I won’t say which one because they don’t respond well to people correcting them…It stated… ‘OCD causes anxiety. Often, OCD causes the patient to feel anxious.'”.

I’d be happy to deal with the critique which follows,  but when you put that quote into Google either as a whole or as two separate sentences, the only website that comes up is Linden Tree “Bad Advice”. It would be odd, wouldn’t it, if they were attacking their own website? Anyway, if anyone can identify the website concerned, I might try to unpack the critique offered, but as it stands I’m left with a conclusion previous conclusion.

My new, up to date conclusion? It seems that, although the web format has changed, the Leopard has not in fact changed its shorts.

 

 

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I just thought I would update anyone who is interested on this. Last summer two things happened; I was threatened by “Charles Linden”‘s lawyers with legal action (see other posts) apparently because of this blog and Charles Linden / Griffiths complained to the police that I was harassing him. To cut a long story short, the policeman who visited decided not to serve the harassment notice. My lawyers responded to Charles Griffiths/Linden/Lamplitt indicating that I was standing by what I had said. Then, from September, nothing. My legal advisors indicated that I should  make no more comments about anything other than the legal position as it was, which is what I have done, although its a bit annoying to be de facto gagged.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to get daily posts for various things Linden on my facebook page (which I use for personal rather than professional purposes; Twitter I use professionally  @psalkovskis )

This just kept coming, so a couple of times, when bored, I protested as a Facebook comment, along the lines of “Don’t know why this is on my facebook page” then putting a link to this blog.

A few days later, I was contacted by the police. A further complaint had been made about harassment from Charles Griffiths/Linden/whatever. I explained what had happened, and pointed the officer concerned to the sergeant who had dealt with the  previous situation. I also updated the police on the situation with respect to the (threatened) civil “defamation” case

A few days later, the officer contacted me to tell me that they were not intending taking any further action.

So, that’s where it is. I’m not harassing anyone, but I continue to assert the truth of what I have said here.

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The British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology have recently released a position statement on classification and diagnosis. Those of you who are prone to suspicion might consider that this forms part of a group in the DCP who are pursuing an anti-psychiatry stance. Personally, I don’t know. Anyway, here it is.

http://www.bps.org.uk/system/files/Public%20files/cat-1325.pdf

I recently responded to this in my capacity as the Director of a Clinical Psychology Training programme, and thought I might share my response, which can be found below.

“I know that we all received the attached document, with the injunction to take it up as part of our training programme:

“We feel training courses are well placed to ensure that up and coming members of the profession understand and can critically engage with the issues connected to functional diagnoses.”

I have no idea what the DCP think we already do in this respect, but find myself worried about how out of touch they seem to be. Alternatively, do they, perhaps, have particular programmes in mind where psychiatric diagnosis leads psychological training? If so, I think these should be named and shamed, because that would be a disgrace.

My understanding is that, without exception, clinical psychology training programmes take a critical view of psychiatric diagnosis and already teach formulation, providing the context of psychiatric classification systems as very badly flawed operational definitions. The fact that the NHS requires diagnoses in record systems is regrettable (and something I have taken up at times with NHS trust management) but a fact. As a clinical psychology trainer I have to prepare trainees to work in the NHS and that carries implications about what we teach (but not how). The DCP might want to take such issues up with the NHS in collaboration with other professional and service user groups, and I look forward to that as something long overdue.

Personally, I am a bit horrified that the DCP is announcing things in this way at this point; it makes it sound as if this is something new which we are itching to introduce into the profession, sweeping away what has gone before as part of a glorious revolution of thinking. This is very much not so and in my view represents a shocking position being taken by the DCP without prior consultation with the membership. An ignorant observer might suspect that the DCP has another agenda.

Although I have no problem with a Kuhnian position, I’m always suspicious of announcements of a “paradigm shift” ahead of the development and demonstrable utility of that new paradigm. And “new” is a key concept here. It is not as if psychological formulation is a new concept; its in the “DNA” of clinical psychology, put there by some very clear thinkers from a psychological perspective, starting but by no means finishing with Monte Shapiro. What I am asserting is that there is no paradigm shift and I believe it is counter-productive to make such a claim. The fact that it is done in my name, as a member of the DCP, seems to me to add insult to injury.

What on earth is the DCP thinking of?”

I note that some of the “core issues” identified apply at least as much (and in some instances more so) to “psychological formulation”. There is also no attempt in the position paper to consider the potential drawbacks and shortcomings of formulation and other alternatives. In my view the hallmarks of a campaign rather than a carefully thoughts out position paper.

Again, what on earth is the DCP thinking of? I think we should be told.

 

As we are about to move into the fourth series I thought it worth revisiting what I was thinking previously. Nothing has changed that I can see other than the addition of a few extra cynical ploys! Paul

psychonoclast's Blog

Betty TV had sought my input for the second series. I have now formally declined their invitation, and give my reasons in the email below.
I am very interested indeed in the fact that Time4Change are working with them. Is it possible that they are missing the point?

Dear Rebecca
Many thanks for your invitation to discuss the programme “Obsessive Compulsive cleaners” with a view, as I understand it, to advising on the second series.

I will definitely not do so. I have thought long and hard about this, and want to make clear why, as someone who works with the media on mental health issues, I think it inappropriate to engage in any way.

Quite simply it is because it is clear on reflection that the second series cannot change the basic flaw in the premise of the programme as neither your company or Channel 4 acknowledge the problem…

View original post 105 more words

As is probably clear, I have sought legal advice in the light of threatened proceedings by Lyndon Charles Griffiths (also known as Charles Linden) regarding what I have written on this blog regarding “The Linden Method”. A very brief update and a short reflections. I continue to wait for things to unfold in the legal sense, having been advised that it is best to simply keep the status quo on the blog with factual updates (such as this rather boring one) until things are further along. As soon as I can I will update in substance on this topic and reflect more on what I have learned.

As I have previously commented, it is extraordinary that discussion can be de facto blocked in this way. One of the really important things in the world of science is that issues such as efficacy are open to full discussion without recourse to threats. This can lead to very lively debate which at times can be acrimonious. However, you can be certain that the protagonists are all keen to get as close to the truth of the matter as possible, but differ in their assumptions about what that means. As a result, a set of conventions have evolved with some shared assumptions regarding things like what constitutes evidence and so on. Sometimes there are disagreements on the assumptions which underpin these conventions, as for example the tension between empiricists and social constructivists, but nevertheless there is scope for identifying common ground.

Here I find myself in entirely different territory. I am very grateful for the various messages of support that I have received in this matter. Quite happy to have more!

I have been told that it is prudent to not say more about The Linden Method for the time being. I think that this is part of what is meant by libel laws having a chilling effect on important discussion. Normal service will resume however as soon as I am advised to continue. And boy, do I have a lot to say! All of what I have said and will say is true.

Apparently there are other options.

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/01/16/how-british-libel-laws-help-rich-villains-escape-the-scrutiny-of-the-press/

 

I have recently become interested in the way libel law works, hence this review which gives reason for thought.

This post is best understood in the context of previous posts in this blog.

On Wednesday 28th May, at 8pm, in a quite unexpected way, the question of harassment was raised in relation to this blog. In the process, I enjoyed a conversation with a pleasant and constructive police sergeant, who was both careful and thoughtful in the long and interesting discussion which we had. This experience (which as I say was a good one) meant that I then carefully considered and reflected on my own motivations in blogging about, so far, Channel 4 and Betty TV, IAPT and the Linden Method. There are a range of immediate triggers and influences involved here, which are for the most part set out in the relevant blogs. However, I found it helpful to consider the values which underpin my motivation to put this stuff out there, and the extent to which these values lead to any kind of harassment. Although this is a simplification, the results of my reflection so far are:

All of us, within the limits of our capabilities, have a duty to bring attention to deception and dishonesty which demonstrably has a negative impact on those who are more vulnerable.

If we allow ourselves to be intimidated into not doing this when we truly can, then the total sum of decency in the world is diminished and we as individuals are seriously devalued.

Publicly identifying such falsehoods is not harassment. Publicly perpetrating falsehoods for personal or commercial gain is fraudulent and should activate our sense of duty to others.

Seeking to supress exposure or criticism of falsehoods perpetrated for personal or commercial gain is also fraudulent.

Now I am fully aware that those who take the moral high ground risk being buried in it, so I would be most grateful for comments from anyone who disagrees with me reasoning around these values, which, I think, are similar to those held by many others who publish blogs. In part this is about “public interest” but, I think, more about personal values.

By the way, the originator of the complaint of harassment made against me was one Lyndon Charles Griffiths alias Charles Linden. Extraordinary!

I was surprised that Kingston University had allowed the use of their logo to promote the Lindon Method “research” study, so I asked them for clarification. Here is what they said (and copied to me):
Dear Kirsten:

I can’t find such a person registered on any course at present, and the name is not familiar from the past. I’ll circulate and see if anyone knows him. We certainly don’t endorse any such programme – can you arrange for a “formal” university request that the logo be removed from the site and that there be no mention of the university whatsoever in this context?

Regards,
Phil.

Then directly to me: Thanks for alerting us to the issue! He appears to be an ex-student who graduated with a BSc back in 2006; we can’t find any other link to the university.

Best Wishes,
Phil.

A reply from the British Psychological Society.

Dear Paul

Thank you for highlighting your concerns. I am currently in discussion with a member of the management team for the Linden Centre, and I have already requested that the Society’s main logo be removed from all of their websites. I will also highlight to them any statements that the Society deems to be factually inaccurate.

As far as I am aware, the Chartered Psychologist logo/title has been used to promote one of their support staff who is entitled to use this; the Chartered Psychologist logo has been displayed to clearly identify the Chartered member.

I hope you find this information useful, I would like to reassure you that this is being dealt with.

Once again, thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Many thanks

Kajal