Bob Johnson (psychiatrist)

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Dr Bob Johnson is a British psychiatrist and an outspoken opponent of electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery in general.

He did act as Consultant to the James Nayler Foundation, a charity set up to further research, education, training and treatment for all types of personality disorders, especially those involving violence to others or to self. This charity closed in December 2011. A charismatic character, he is seen as a leading figure in the Foundation, which in turn is sometimes identified with him.


Johnson trained at the University of Cambridge, the London Hospital, and at the renowned Claybury Hospital, Essex, where he obtained a grounding in group work and therapeutic community techniques. In 1964 he was appointed as a Senior Psychiatrist in Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital, New York, working in the Drug Addiction Unit and the acute wards.

His renown largely stems from his time as consultant psychiatrist in the Special Unit in HMP Parkhurst[1] for dangerous prisoners. While there he devised his talking cure techniques around which the James Nayler Foundation and his personal crusade against psychosurgery and psychiatric medication are centred. His work formed the basis of a documentary investigation by the BBC's flagship programme Panorama.

In 1997, he was consultant psychiatrist to The Retreat, and in 1998 he was invited to become Head of Therapy at Ashworth Special Hospital.

He has since set up an Emotional Support Centre on the Isle of Wight to assist and cure those with personality disorders, though this had to close after a few years because of funding problems.

He holds the currently controversial view that mental ill-health is a software, not a hardware problem. He therefore takes great exception to all recent editions of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) starting with DSM-III published in 1980, which explicitly rules out stress as a causative factor. With the WHO reporting that suicide now kills more of us globally than heart disease and cancer combined, he advocates a wider perspective – including modernising the Laws of Physics. All non-living systems decay, their disorganisation (entropy) inexorably increases. He argues that since living skin heals itself, where dead skin doesn't – the chemicals are the same, the physics isn’t – thus if skin can heal, so can minds.

He redefines “Personality Disorders” as “Perception Disorders”, and proposes that “the Healing Hand of Kindness detoxifies trauma”.

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  1. ^ Cairns, Kate (1999). Surviving Paedophilia: Traumatic Stress After Organised and Network Child Sexual Abuse. Trentham Books. pp. 62–. ISBN 9781858561363. Retrieved 9 August 2012. 

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