Tracy Lee Stark
Photographer and Multimedia Producer
3 minute read
7 Jun 2022
1:44 pm

WATCH: Professor Christopher Szabo talks about mental illnesses not often discussed openly

Tracy Lee Stark

Professor Christopher Szabo has started new episodes for his podcast series that offers valuable insights into mental health.

Picture: Supplied

I met with Professor Szabo at Arbour Cafe in Birdhaven, not your usual spot to meet with a psychiatrist, but from our meeting, I can tell that the professor is not your usual psychiatrist. His demeanour is calm and reassuring even when discussing the topics not often openly discussed. 

From eating disorders to PTSD, his new podcast is bringing these topics into the open and giving people an opportunity to learn more about them. By talking openly and freely about these issues, hopefully, those suffering will be able to recognise they are not alone and are able to seek help.

After a short break, 14 new podcast episodes of Beyond Madness hosted by Professor Christopher Szabo have begun airing on CliffCentral.

Mental health issues and psychiatry have, until relatively recently, been subjects which were not discussed openly. Thanks to the advent of forums focused on lifting the ‘shroud’ around understanding mental health issues – such as the Beyond Madness podcasts – vital information has become accessible, empowering not only mental health professionals but also the community at large. Knowledge is after all power but without true understanding, it can be meaningless.

Why name a podcast Beyond Madness? Professor Szabo sheds light on the rationale behind this: “These episodes are not about ‘madness’ per se, however one understands and defines ‘madness’. Certainly, psychiatry would refer to mental illness whereas madness might be seen as somewhat pejorative in describing someone who is indeed ill, and the term might be better suited to someone whose behaviour, whilst disturbed, is not the product of mental illness.

“And yet, there is madness in mental illness and maybe one should be less sensitive to the use of the term. It captures a quality that the term ‘mental illness’ does not. In a sense, the title is not explicit in what it means, maybe a little provocative, but whatever it might mean it is likely associated with some degree of discomfort or suffering so it is not a term used frivolously.

“This is a serious podcast, one that takes you ‘beyond madness’ by delving into issues that are beyond the immediate clinical reality of psychiatry but integral to its practice. In a sense, it will take you behind the scenes through the voices of selected individuals, and whilst their work may appear to have specific relevance to psychiatry, each issue raised will ultimately be understood to have broader societal implications.”

Beyond Madness began as a natural extension of South African Psychiatry, a publication founded in November 2014 by Professor Szabo, with the goal of reaching beyond patient care and converting the written word of the publication into the spoken word of the podcast.

The interactive and easily accessible format of the podcasts highlights the intention to provide content not only for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals but the families, friends and colleagues of those who are impacted by emotional difficulties and mental illness.

Psychiatry is complex. As a bio-psycho-social discipline, it is the only medical discipline that has such an ethos embedded in its practice. These podcasts are intended to humanise psychiatrists and psychiatry, and what they do beyond diagnosing or treating in a one-dimensional way.

The initial Beyond Madness podcasts were so well-received, that it made sense to continue making them and in these new episodes some topics which were covered previously will be explored once again, with the intention of creating greater awareness and understanding of the discipline of psychiatry.

New episodes are available every Tuesday at 10am from the 3rd of May on cliffcentral.com and are also available on Spotify as well as the Apple and Google podcast platforms.

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