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What We Fear Most: A Psychiatrist’s Journey to the Heart of Madness / BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

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This book was given to me by a family friend on the 8th of July, and by morning of the 10th, I had finished reading. I just couldn’t put it down. Now, I’m planning to give this book to everyone this Christmas - it is just so good!

I laughed, I cried, I learned and I finished it feeling a renewed sense of motivation in my career. What more could you ask for from a book? I've read so many books by therapists, psychologists, sociologists, you name it. But I had never read one by a psychiatrist before. Still, there's plenty of mental illness in my family (they call it 'mental health' these days when they mean illness) so I thought it was about time. Delightfully entertaining, witty, surprising, horrifying, and harrowing - all part of life in forensic mental health services ' - Professor Kamaldeep Bhui, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford For me, psychiatry was a vocation. For others, there is a pragmatism to the decision about which speciality to go into. We need to let people know how incredibly diverse psychiatry services are, from CAMHS to older age services, from psychoanalysis to cutting edge neurosciences. We need to be welcoming, inclusive and caring. We need to look after people in the profession, to stop burnout and focus on retention as much as recruitment.” Thoughtful, revealing, often haunting and always enlightening, if you liked Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd , Do No Harm by Henry Marsh and This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay this book is for you.

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Dr Ben Cave approaches what is often a much misunderstood area of mental illness with sensitivity and pragmatism. His sense of humour and humanity shine through.' - Jo Brand So it was good for me to read this book. There's plenty of mental illness in the author and his friends too. He is beautifully human. I understood some things from a perspective I haven't inhabited before. He made me laugh about some situations that I thought I would never in a million years find funny, and he did that with gentle, intelligent care. The author writes with a hefty dose of dark humour, as do many of the other kinds of books of this genre. The main issue I found was that the style, editing, or both, felt disjointed and didn’t flow particularly well. I noticed that at multiple points, I was reading one account then the author would go off on a tangent and describe an all together different time and event. This made it somewhat difficult to follow, especially as I was just getting engrossed in the story at hand.

Looking at the cover art, I thought this book would have a much more serious tone than it did. Forensic psychiatry is a mysterious area of medicine at the best of times, so I was intrigued to learn about some real patient stories and how the system works to support them.the most mesmerising, haunting and seductive book I have read in years... I have no doubt it will take it's place atop the new wave of literary, medical professionals.' - Amol Rajan, journalist and media editor I have only read a handful of books that were so incredible, inspiring, and impactful that they will be etched into my mind forever. I knew that this was one of them when I started writing my good reads review in my notes app after only having read 10%. a beautifully balanced and compassionately written memoir… This is a fascinating account of a fascinating journey’– Dr Richard Shepherd This book was written so beautifully and skillfully that I actually thought to myself “this might be a ghost writer because how can a psychiatrist be this talented of an author!?” As a mental health practitioner and aspiring clinical psychologist, I have read a substantial amount of mental health literature and What We Fear Most has now topped my list of recommended readings. It is deeply profound, enthralling, vulnerable and touching, whilst also being highly educational, funny, and reflective. Eribo said: "Every so often a proposal lands in your inbox that makes you stop everything else you’re doing as you have to keep reading. That was exactly how I felt when I read the first draft of What We Fear Most . Dr Ben Cave is an astonishing writer with a remarkable story to tell. The result is a narrative that is compelling, often haunting, sometimes darkly comic and always enlightening – and we cannot wait to publish it on Seven Dials later this year."

A beautifully balanced and compassionately written memoir ... This is a fascinating account of a fascinating journey.' - Dr Richard Shepherd, bestselling author of Unnatural Causes That being said, I otherwise enjoyed this book and thought it was a powerful depiction of mental health and how and why it fails to flourish. There are lots of references to drug abuse, childhood trauma and addictions that seem to tie many of the offender stories closely together. A beautifully balanced and compassionately written memoir... This is a fascinating account of a fascinating journey' - Dr Richard Shepherd Priory consultant Dr Humphrey Needham-Bennett’s autobiography about life in forensic psychiatry has been chosen by BBC Radio 4 as its Book of the Week.A beautifully written invitation to glimpse into Cave's often painful, but ultimately uplifting journey.' - Kerry Daynes, bestselling author of The Dark Side of the Mind Most of all, I had to stop (quite often) and think hard. In fact, I'm still thinking about this book, and it's months since I finished it. Dr Ben Cave takes us on a journey to the heart of this highly emotive environment, putting himself under the microscope as well as his patients. In the process, he allows us to share what they have taught each other, and how it has changed them. To share the psychological battle scars that come with a career on the frontline of our health service. To learn about the brilliant mental health nurses for whom physical injury and verbal abuse are a daily hazard. To learn about ourselves, and what we fear most.

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