Episode 32 - Bill Saunders

#32 Bill Saunders – A Real perspective on Mental Health Care

Bryn enjoys a very open and frank conversation about mental health care with retired clinical psychologist Bill Saunders.

In this episode Bill covers why drugs should be legalised, why drugs aren’t legalised because of a moral argument rather than scientific reasoning, why most drugs aren’t addictive to the majority of users, why funding the police to control drugs use doesn’t work, underlying reasons why addiction does occur and its links to underlying childhood trauma and why this should be the target of proactive rehabilitation, the difference between psychiatry and psychology, why psychiatric meds don’t actually work, why mother-baby bond is so important to future success and resilience, the importance of psychotherapy.

Plus a lot lot more on the state of mental health provision.

Read Full Transcript

 

Bryn 

Hello and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host Bryn Edwards. Why real brings you real and authentic stories from fascinating people here in Western Australia stories to inspire and guide you to take action to be all you can be. Today we’re digging further into mental health and mental health provision in Western Australia with retired clinical psychologist Bill Saunders. Born in England bill came to work at Curtin uni in 1987. Join his distinguished career builders focused on drug and alcohol dependency. He has held a number of notable positions including director and head of psychotherapy at Abbotsford, private hospital, consultant, clinical psychologist at Nola private hospital and clinical director at Grayling’s hospital. His stated goal for the next three to five years is to retire ungracefully. Bill, welcome to the show.

 

Bryn

Thank you very much.

 

Bill Saunders 

So you like myself originally born in England? What was the appeal of coming to Western Australia? Was it purely the job? Or no, no,

 

Bill Saunders 

there really wasn’t one, which was quite interesting because I’d been working in Glasgow, and I suddenly out of blue got an invitation from what was then wait to come out and be a visiting fellow and teach about addictions in what was then wait, and I hope right, you know, this is great. I’ll have I’ll be a visiting fellow. And that’s, you know, come to Australia where I’ve never been so I hopped on a plane. And I actually forgotten the course that June, July and August or actually winter. So I came out of Glasgow where it rained non stop, but it was just becoming summer and I ended up in probably one of the wettest winters ever 1985 and I found Perth extraordinarily boring after Glasgow, it was miserable. What I did enjoy the A was working up what was then wait because it was it was open says me. I mean, wait was trying to go somewhere, there was lots of enthusiasm. And after a more conservative University in Glasgow University, it was suddenly great fun to be in a place which was the Wild West in terms of tertiary education. So I did three months went back to Britain. And I just went back and it was September and it rained for another year. I mean, it was just extraordinary. So after 18 months of rain, wait phone, the app, which was becoming curtain said, Do you want to jump and I thought I do not want to go back to that most boring place in the world. However, it continued to rain. And so I thought, fuck, I’ll do a couple of years out there. So I signed a three year contract and turned up and became head of addiction studies, an associate professor in psychology will just become Curtin University. And it was great fun. Again, it still had that great sense of optimism. We had a great time we created new courses, we introduced addiction studies. And I had some excellent colleagues. And I just loved my three years and then three years became, Oh, I think I did 12 kirtan. In the end, before I suddenly realised that being an academic become not so interesting. And then I went back to Britain and worked in clinical practice. But I had got married here, and I did have kids here. But when we went back to Britain, my relationship, my then wife deteriorated. It was just one of those things you do you think we’re not getting on? Well, so let’s go to a place we don’t know until we can really be together. And then that will make the relationship better. It didn’t, if ever the flaws in the relationship which by drifting apart apart we had managed to cover over became very evident when we lived in Jersey and the Channel Islands, it was a very small place. Yeah. And we knew no one. So we were suddenly pushed back together again. And it didn’t work. Right. So in the end, my wife graciously returned to Australia. And then a year later, I returned back here and went into private practice. So in some ways my sojourn in to Western Australia was bit accidental. And it was really to avoid the reign of Glasgow then it was cool to come to what I must say now I find is a delightful place to live. But I think it’s very different when you’re in your late 60s than when you’re in your mid 30s. And I think the sort of things that will replace you’d like to live I mean, I’m very fortunate as I live right by the beach. And every day I go for a walk along the beach. So look. So for me now Western Australia is home and it’s a delightful place to live. And with the fringe and the festival, there’s lots to do. So it really has transformed itself in the last 30 years. And I’m very pleased that the rain and the winter of Glasgow made me go and eat some sunshine.

 

Bryn 

Yep, you’ll see your retirement here.

 

Bill Saunders 

I absolutely agree. We might have a journal to back it up on my wife is from Jersey and the channel lines my now wife isn’t the from Jersey in Charlotte. So we go back very frequently and I’m still a Portsmouth supporter for my pains and I love soccer and counter bias AFL CIO, there’s always the pool to go back and see some real sport. Right?

 

Bryn 

So what was the original draw and pull towards being studying psychology and

 

Bill Saunders 

being a soccer? Well, actually, that’s quite, that’s very straightforward. My father was a police officer, and a senior police officer, and he believed in black and white. And growing up around somebody who believes in black and white, you actually get enormously frustrated because my father could not see grey. And I knew I had one when at the age of 18, he said to me, what are you studying at university? I said psychology and he said, What fucking uses that. And I knew with the trial, that I chosen the right subject, and

 

Bryn 

just pass it down.

 

Bill Saunders 

Absolutely. But also the world is grey, and I knew the world was grey, and I knew it wasn’t black and white. And I knew, you know, context like right and wrong, and the law, which he totally believed in almost demonically that he was wrong. All right, you know, the law is wrong, you know, at the time. Well, I mean, it’s interesting. When I first came to Western Australia, I couldn’t believe it. When I came as a visiting fellow, I went to play poker with a few lads I’d sort of become friendly with in the northbridge pub, and we got thrown out because gambling was illegal. So gambling was illegal. homosexuality was illegal prostitution was illegal drugs were illegal. Hmm, there’s only one of them left. And that strikes is still illegal, right? That too, will change, of course, because prohibitions on people’s desires and appetites never works. Right?

 

Bryn 

That’s interesting to expand on that. And then

 

Bill Saunders 

we’ll look you know, it wouldn’t it be lovely if we made the drugs that are really bad for you illegal, and we and so therefore, nobody used them. And we believe that by making things illegal, people don’t do it. But there’s a folly in the first place. And we make drugs which are safe legal. Now, if you did that, if you had a league table of the drugs that were safe, top of the list would have to be ecstasy, followed closely by cannabis, followed by LSD. Oh, hang on. They’re all illegal. The drugs you’d have totally at the top of a harmless would be nicotine, alcohol, and pharmaceutical products, particularly benzodiazepines, and antidepressants. Hang on, they’re legal. It’s nonsense. So the drug laws have no, they’re not about safety. They’re about racism. So the drugs of the First World alcohol, nicotine, pharmaceutical products, and legal drugs are Third World Coker, opium and cannabis are illegal. So all the drug laws are about is we don’t like you black, yellow, South American people using drugs. So our white drugs are great. You’re funny colour drugs are shocking. So we make the drugs of the Third World illegal. And we whilst we force feed our drugs, tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical products all over the world. Yes. So it’s got nothing to do with any sane decision to make the bad drugs illegal and the good ones legal. And as we know, prohibition of alcohol in America, totally funded crime. And the illegal drug industry today is worth billions of dollars. And we would all make the world a much safer place if we legalise the lot. So I am absolutely persuaded. My father would love this, I’m persuaded that every 18 year old should sit a frequent fryer test. And when they pass their pharmaceutical or pharmacology, psychopharmacology, knowledge about all the drugs, they can get their hands on, they get a driving licence, they actually get a licence which they can take to an ATM in a pharmacy. And they can get cannabis cocaine, magic mushrooms, morphine, librium, larghetto, in very limited doses, and we know exactly who’s using we charge appropriate prices, all the money would go back into the health system. And instantly you do away with police corruption, you’d empty or prisons and you take away all the money from the biker gangs and everywhere else, it would actually be a very simple solution to what now is a completely useless response to drug use. And we need to be very clear for those people who believe in law enforcement. One of the lightful things I did we I was working in Jersey as a director of our contract clinical service, and we knew roughly in consultation with King’s College London, we usually knew roughly how many heroin users there were in the island. And we also could predict, given this as the average heroin user who uses this amount per day, we could estimate estimate the amount of heroin that was being consumed in the art of Jersey. And then we looked at the seizures, basic custom seizures, and the percentage seized by law enforcement Brynn Take a guess what do you think it was probably more than was sorry, more than no 1% they law enforcement or the huge amount of money was poured into law enforcement seizes less than 1% of the available drugs that are in the community. So every time you see the police with all their with all their brain on their feet standing on polythene, bags of drugs going, we have made a major interruption into the society, the scourge in our society. Just ask them two weeks later, what has happened to the price, the price remains the same. Why? Because they’ve just taken out 1% of the supply a best. So the way to measure those, so that at least is not how much they seize, but the price of the drugs on the street. And if you look at the price of methamphetamine, Western Australia, despite kilos of seizures, the sheer The price is going down, which means there’s more supply, because drugs are like anything else. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s bananas, cauliflowers, Apple or methamphetamine, if you got an oversupply, the price comes down, and under supplied, the price goes up, and the price of methamphetamine is consistently creeping downwards. Law enforcement. To be honest, if you spent two thirds of the money on law enforcement on public health and proper treatment services, you would make a huge impact. And the truth of the matter is for every dollar spent on law enforcement, you get back about 20 cents. For every dollar spent on intervention, you get back about $5. So our drug laws around nonsense our drug policies around nonsense, and they actually criminalise victims, because the truth of the matter is, lots of people do drugs, right. In fact, I hate to say this, but human beings love doing drugs. So from the very beginnings of time, people have drunk naturally occurring alcohol, they have used opium, coca cannabis cat, they have chewed things that have got them intoxicated out of their heads, pissed, pissed, whatever. So human beings in the very beginning times have used mood altering substance most of them which occur naturally. And those that occur naturally can be improved on by chemists. So alcohol gets turned into spirits, cocoa gets turned into cocaine and then into crack. So, you know, you can always improve on what nature provides. But the truth of the matter is, you can’t go to any country anywhere in the world and not find in bedded into the daily fabric of that community, some form of mood alteration. Now, the interesting thing about this is kids, we used to do lots of funny things like roll down hills go on swings, I had this special game I used to play with my twin sister, where we had three steps outside our house, a little terraced house in Portsmouth, and I would stand on the top step, she would stand on the bottom step, I would lift her up under her ribs, and hang on to it for about a minute. And then when I let her go, she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t breathe during this time, and she collapsed to the ground goes slightly blue and burst out laughing. She thought that getting slightly unconscious was an amazing endeavour. And that’s what this is all about. Humans have a natural appetite, and children in play, do it to change our consciousness. So what happens of course, when we are adults, we change our consciousness. Now we can do that by going to the movies, right? And you end up in a trance like state by going to the movies, you can also do it on a Friday night by going for water 10 k run, or climb a mountain, or go abseiling or go to your local pub, or get some ecstasy or whatever. And the thing about alcohol, ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine is they just work so much better than a 10 k run, for instance, mood or duration. So all human beings do drugs. So the interesting thing is, if if everyone does drugs, what sort of percentage of drug users become dependent? Well, that’s an interesting question, because the answer is not very many. So out of every hundred people use alcohol about 10% become dependent on alcohol 90% don’t have every hundred people use cannabis about 5% become dependent 95% don’t have every hundred people use ecstasy 1% at worst become dependent 99% don’t. If you take something like heroin, for every hundred people use heroin about 20% become dependent methamphetamine for the fingers a bit in dispute, but it’s somewhere between 10 and 15%. Cocaine about 10%. So overwhelmingly, people use mood altering substances. And most of us do that. Right. And in fact, whenever I teach, I asked the room I’m in. I get them to fill in the drugs they have used. And I’ve yet to teach any group that hasn’t used everything. So the prevalence of drug use is almost universal. Everybody has done something some done, not just legal drugs, some illegal drugs. So then you’ve got a really interesting question is why don’t people become dependent? If overwhelmingly, people don’t begin with Why don’t they become dependent? And the answer is they don’t need to, because they use drugs from the motive of improving an evening. ecstasy will improve your night. Particularly on a first date girl talk quite happily in chatting to each other and you’ll be less anxious. alcohol. I mean, can you ever imagine going out socially with a new group of people or an old group of people and not drinking, people just don’t do it. Why? Because alcohol works, it makes it’s a social lubricant. It’s just delightful. So if you use your drugs for fun, you don’t become dependent. The people who become dependent are using drugs, not for fun, but for psychological solace. And if you use drugs, for psychological solace, to make you feel better, particularly about yourself, there is the hook. Because suddenly, you have found something usually in your adolescence, late teens and early 20s, which makes you feel as though you’re okay. And if you spend lots of time not feeling okay, if you’ve had a really poor childhood, if you’ve been neglected, or if you’ve been abused, physically or sexually, then substances soon. So your sense of shame, your sense of not being enough, your sense of being different, your sense of being odd, are soothed and removed by substances in the short term. Because next day, you want to do it again. So the hook, the addiction is not in the drug, there’s no such thing as the world’s most addictive drug or any drug can be used well and wisely, any juice can be any drug can be used disastrously. The dependence lies in the interaction, and the motive for use between the user and the thing they’re dependent on. And what happens if your motive is to soothe yourself psychologically, you will get trapped. So the trick of management of people who are dependent is to see beyond the substance and actually deal with the underlying psychological issues. Unfortunately, a lot of our treatment services get focused in on the drug, and they talk about abstinence and 12 step programmes, and they afraid they ignore the underlying trauma and pathology. And unless you manage that, you know, it’s you know, everyone goes from alcoholism is a relapsing condition where only if you just make people sober, and you don’t deal with the underlying issues, if you deal with the underlying issues, and you need psychotherapy to do that, if you use good psychotherapy, then people will walk away and they will not need to use drugs too soon.

 

 

And I forgotten what the question was Britain.

 

Bryn 

It was. Yeah. Why becoming psycho? Why

 

Bill Saunders 

become a psychologist? Well, actually, partly was my father. But there was also something else. It was very funny. I became a clinical psychologist completely by accident. Yes. Right. And what happened was, I was working in Bermuda, I’d finished my first degree, I did a joint degree in psychology and sociology, and I had an honours degree, and I didn’t know what to do next. So I spent, I spent a year in Bermuda being a salesman, selling pharmaceutical products of all things. And I hated ironic. It was ironic, I hated it. And so I thought, Oh, god, I’m gonna have to go back to university. I think if you do an honours degree, you never want to go near a university glide. And so I phoned up a friend and I said, Look, this clinical psychology caper. What’s it about? And he said, Oh, no, you better talk to a mate of mine. So I said, Who’s your main? He said, Gordon Perry. I said, it was Gordon Clark. He said, Well, he’s a professor or something at Glasgow University. He said, ring him up, and which wasn’t easy, actually, from renewed during those days, where was 1971? So I phoned up Gordon Canaria to Glasgow University. I said, Gordon, my name is Bill Saunders. And I’m really interested in physics and psychology, perhaps. Can I come and chat to you about it? So he said, Yeah, when you coming to Britain, I said, Well, I’m going to be in England at Christmas. And he said, Okay, well, why not pop up the guy who’s gonna come and have a chat with me? So I said, Yeah, what time is at 930 on about three days before Christmas. So I fly up to Glasgow and Glasgow Christmas is just amazing. I mean, it was grim, having come from Bermuda, which would brighten sunny. This weather thing is repetitive. And yes, it was just bleak. But Glasgow is a city was superb. It is just vibrant. It is very funny. It is so irreverent. It was everything. My childhood wasn’t so there was an there was something scary about Glasgow, but there was also something very vibrant about Glasgow. So I made my way out to the southern General Hospital and I’m sitting in the waiting room, and eventually I’m summoned. But I go in and see Gordon Clary, he’s got his mate sitting there. And I go morning, boys, and they go home. Mr. Saunders and I go, yeah, look at this clinical psychology K, but tell me about it. Now. What about this? What about that? What’s our role with psychiatry? What the clinical psychologists really do? This was 1971. So havior therapy was just starting the role of psychiatry and clinical psychology, clinical psychology had been a handmaiden to psychiatry during the 50s and during the wars, so, you know, what was our role? Well, that’s it so we had a dingdong Battle of an argument for an hour. And I got to the end and I thought, maybe I might want to do this clinical psychology thing. Maybe I need to apply. Anyway, Gordon says we can you just sit sit outside bill. I go. Sure. I sit outside, and I think that’s a bit weird. I’m going for coffee, and my then girlfriend and he goes, Yeah, thank you very much. It’s been very interesting talking to you will offer you a place on our course. He thought I’d come for an interview. And I hadn’t. And so I got into Glasgow University, and I never filled in an application form. And out of 200 people applied that year, eight of us got in. So, my career of clinical psychology was a complete accident. And I don’t know, we told that story because I have sat on the other side of the table as being head of clinical psychology, interviewing students thinking, shit, if this is me, I won’t get in. Right? Because the students I mean, the level the difficulty of getting into clinical psychology is that is ridiculous. You know, you have to have almost a first class honours degree, you have to have experience, you have to have research experience. I feel sorry for anyone who applies for clinical psychology these days. Because it’s totally underfunded. The provisional clinical psychology in this country is totally underfunded. We are losing more psychologists than we are making. Right, right. And so people like me are retiring. And so that wave of people who were trained largely in Britain postwar, and now are retiring, and the universities have not had the funding to replace not just the ones who are leaving, but to actually meet the population demand. And so currently, in Australia, we’re about 5000. Psychologists short. So if you can get into the discipline, it’s ideal because you can always run a private practice and make money because the demand for psychology and psychotherapy far outstrips the supply of psychologists. There you go. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

So, I want to go back to the again, the bit you were talking about just previously about different drugs and getting them reclassified, etc, etc. Yes. Listen to you makes perfect sense.

 

 

But it is perfect. So it is

 

Bryn 

executing that.

 

Bill Saunders 

Oh, almost impossible, because the drug debate is not a logical debate. It’s a moral debate. Yes. Right. And we can all feel sorry for poor bonking, Barnaby. I mean, overwhelmingly, people in long term relationships are unfaithful. But bonking, Barnaby Joyce has actually, you know, got caught out and look at the moral opprobrium. And yet the moral opprobrium for him is doing what 70% of men in long term relationships do. They’re gonna have sex with somebody else. You know, it’s perfectly normal. his behaviour is not that heinous, that he is in a moral debate. And so is the drug debate the drug debate as a moral debate. On the left hand, end of this debate, you’ve got the pharmacological Calvinists, who believe desperately that any use of any mood altering substance is a sin and must be punished, then you’ve got the medical morbidity managers who believe we’ll know you can use mood altering substances such as heroin, morphine, whatever, but not for pleasure, only for the release of pain and that pain has to be physical, it can’t be psychological. So you’re allowed morphine for pain. But you’re not allowed morphine for pleasure. Right? So we’re really hard on the morphine for pleasure people, we lock them up. So that’s a moral debate. It’s a moral attitude. I mean, look how bizarre it is. I worked in Glasgow, I worked in the hospital in Glasgow as a very young clinical psychologist. And in Glasgow, if you’re dying, and the morphine no longer works and keeps the pain down. You can have heroin, and heroin, the hero drug, that’s what the name comes from, because it was better than morphine. It has better pain relieving qualities than morphine. And actually, for most people, it doesn’t make them sick, but it has nausea. So in Australia, if you’re dying, and you’re on morphine, and you break through the pain relief of morphine, you are not allowed heroin, because john Howard determined you might enjoy it, you might enjoy the death, you might enjoy your death. How bizarre is that? So we cannot use heroin in any way for fun. Despite probably as a drug, if you ever wanted to wrap yourself up in a cocoon of bliss, I recommend heroin, right? You can try morphine, but heroin is better. It’s quicker, it’s faster, it’s safer. Heroin is non toxic to the human body. Alcohol is extraordinary toxic to human body. Heroin is non toxic to the human body. And how lovely is it to wrap yourself up in a little cocoon of bliss when nothing touches you, particularly if you’ve been sexually abused, particularly if you’ve been neglected as children, particularly if you’ve had a shit childhood, particularly if you’re depressed. becoming dependent on heroin could make very good sense. But if you do, you will go to jail. So we actually punish the victims, because the big guys very very seldom get caught. So it’s the big guys really big, really big dealers, we of course, we have to have really big dealers because of course, we made it illegal so the state can’t control the supply. So the bikers do all the Chinese drug gangs do when we have millions of dollars to them to spend without tax. It’s just bizarre. So the difficulty is I mean, if you ever wanted to be or you can be one of came to Western Australia there was this very funny ad from the health department health promotion to be all you can be had all these pretty people running around the river going bill you can be and they’re all slim and good looking and they’ve been all they can be by running. I don’t just run a few marathons but it was bizarre thing I tell if you really want to be, or you can be if you really want to absolutely find out how brilliantly wonderful, magnificent you are. methamphetamine is the drug. Marvellous. You have a hitter methamphetamine, and you will be or you can be if you ever want to feel 10 foot tall, bulletproof and very funny. And you want to chat up the most attractive person in the room, dex amphetamine, methamphetamine, whatever will do the trick. Before you can be take drugs. Now, you can’t go around saying that because people get terribly upset because this is a moral story. It’s not a factual story. So we’ve got the pharmacological Calvinists, we’ve got the medical morbidity managers, and then we’ve got this group of utilitarians who basically go, come on guys, this is my camp. Drugs are like cars, cars are really dangerous cars are smelly cars pollute cars take up acres of space cars are really a pain. But they’re very, very useful. So let’s make our cars as safe as we can. So we have roll cages, we have seat belts, we have adaptive cruise control, we have made cars stunning, be safe, so stunningly safe. They’re actually increasingly dangerous. Because you get could you get there’s a collusion between the car and knew that you can do 150 and it’s safe, which it really isn’t. I once heard that the best road accident prevention strategy was to put on each steering wheel, a great big spike, very sharp spike, which actually risks against your chest, and it comes out of the steering wheel and rests against your chest. So you know, if you hit and you think you’re dead, everyone would slow down. But I probably better not recommend that. The point here is though, so the utilitarians believe, let’s make our drugs as safe as possible. Let’s manufacture them, let’s supply them legally. Let’s make sure that everybody knows exactly what they’re taking. So we won’t have any more stupid deaths raised because people are conscious good people take the wrong substance in the wrong amounts. They don’t know what they’re taking.

 

 

But Heaven forbid

 

Bill Saunders 

we should have drug testing at a concert. What would that say we must give the wrong messages about drugs. What’s the wrong messages about drugs? Well, I think the wrong message is that they’re illegal that they actually evil you can use once and die. We know that that Carnage and drug use 98% of all harm from drugs comes around behind nicotine. Maybe we should make them illegal. But it won’t work when you didn’t in America, because prohibition of people’s appetites doesn’t. And then the other lot left is the far right group, who actually have the sort of psychotropic headedness, and they believe a day not wasted is a day wasted. So they don’t do they’re not very good for the argument that you should use your drugs well and wisely. Look, it was very funny. I ran into this moral debate on an occasion in the mid 90s, where myself and another postgraduate student tuckerton, wrote a very funny, very clever in my view, but that’s my view. But it’s very funny, very clever, the User’s Guide to the Galaxy, how to use any drug well and wisely and we had really sensible advice, but lots of pretty pictures on three page in the student Union’s magazine called grok. I mean, like five minutes of would you write some of these short books, and it’s great fun writing it with these other students who have experienced decades, and I have never got into so much trouble. It was as though I said the Pope was in the Catholic birds don’t shoot him was. It was remarkable. And it was astonishing to see the opprobrium I ran into, from writing sensible, real news about drugs. And in fact, the police, the police commissioner at the time came out saying we have filth coming out of our universities in technicolour. Now, that’s why the drug debate is never a sensible one. It’s a moral debate and people take moral positions and the trouble with moral positions, or open objects and I’m not forgiving him for what he did, but poor Barnaby Joyce, and he’s run into all this thing about and and being an unfit human being. Whereas in fact, all these being is human. And I think we need to get away if we can from a moral debate and move into a scientific debate. That is extremely difficult in the drug world. Because even the people doing research into drugs, they actually get polluted by it too, because they know that if they say things like drug use is fine, anyone can use drugs. It’s not an issue. And what we need to do is focus on the victims not and what we need to do is that prevention is not have silly exercises, a drug education in schools, which just does not work. What we need to do, we need to make sure that every child has a good childhood. Because people have nice childhoods do not become dependent on drugs. So we don’t need any drug education. We don’t need drug interventions of the preventive. So what we need is make sure people’s childhoods are better. And when I was the director of the Oregon drug service in Jersey, I actually wrote the annual I wrote the three year strategy, which was nothing about drugs. And it was all about trauma, neglect, in children in schools, and having really early identification social workers in schools, even in kindergarten. So when kids started to behave badly or act out badly, there were interventions that were our parental interventions, there was support given to the most vulnerable kids. Now, unfortunately, didn’t stay there long enough to realise the fruits of that, but I suspect he only some of it occurred because it’s not politically popular to argue that, but what they want is action and what they want. And what the police wanted was a larger boat, they could drive around the island in so they could arrest criminals who were bringing drugs into the island, successfully intercepted 1%. So you’ve got this real moral debate in the drug world. You know, and if you believe that drug use is sin, then you’re going to punish the sinners. There’s trap uses normal. Hmm, all of us use Moodle for exams. And actually, that’s not true. About 1% of people in Australia use no mood mood altering substances at all, they don’t even use coffee. Now, I think they’re really, really odd. And I’m sure with the appropriate treatment, we could give them a helping hand to be a bit more normal. And we could probably get them using caffeine occasionally.

 

Bryn 

Is there also an element to this about having sovereignty over your own body?

 

Bill Saunders 

Absolutely. I think yeah, we look, we allow people to have money. Yeah, and the most dangerous thing we have is relationships with each other.

 

 

And

 

Bill Saunders 

60% of all murders are done by lovers and ex lovers. Right? And we allow them to actually leave now allow them to have sex with the same sex. Oh my goodness, me. And the world was going to fall apart if we allowed people who wanted to have sex with the same gender as themselves. We thought the world would come to an end. But that was a moral debate. And we just seen the ridiculousness of the moral debate over the same sex laws. And thank goodness we’ve got where the issue here is we need the same debate about drug use. And to be honest, the world The sky is not going to fall down if we decriminalised everything, if I believe lost a lot, but and we’d make money. And not only that, everyone it’s very funny because you hear the tourist people go, Oh, yeah, we need we need longer licencing hours in rato, when you get Bradley Rhodes Bradley Woods from a hotel cessations alcohol is really good for it because it keeps the people employed. If you want employment, legalise cannabis, if you want tourists, legalise cannabis ever been to Amsterdam, Amsterdam has a huge tourist trade, which goes there purely to go to the coffee shops. And you know, they’re remarkable places you walk in, you’re greeted nicely. They offer you a range of cannabis menus. What would you like, sir? He looked at me and went, well, you’re a bit older. You are right doing this. I said, Yeah, give it a go. Don’t worry. And he said, I think we’ll get something mild for you. And so we get a joint to it cost five euros for the joint, but five euros for the lighter to light it, which I thought was very funny. Yeah, shows you the value of if. So for 10 euros, we got a joint and we go up in this lovely building, and there’s coffee and tea and some alcohol on one floor, and absolutely got this movie going. Right. And it’s the funniest thing in the world. Because I walk upstairs, and I’m sitting there and they’ve got this movie, but everyone’s got their 3d glasses on. So I’m looking a lot of people with 3d if we only see I was looking at the audience, right? There’s about 100 people with these 3d glasses on and it’s hilarious. I’m sitting there. And my wife says, We’re gonna like this, or we’re just going to hang on to it. No, no, sure. So we lit up our joint, we have our joint, I’m not sure. 10 minutes, I am totally fixated on all these people with their little 3d glasses. I’m not watching the movie behind me. But I’m absolutely enthralled by the reflection off of all the categories, and I said, I’m getting very hungry. Should we go downstairs and get something to eat? I said, I’d love to, but I don’t think I can move. Right? And it was enormously difficult to actually stand up, walk down stairs, get something to eat. And I remember that I decided I needed some fresh air. So I went outside and got completely lost. Right? And actually, my daughter was there as well. And after about an hour, which was probably 10 minutes, my daughter comes and says that are you doing so I have really lost I don’t even know where I am. Where’s the hotel? She said, Dad, you’re standing by the front door of the hotel. And I said this kind of stuff is marvellous, isn’t it? Isn’t it fantastic? And she said it’s great fun. Let’s do it again tomorrow. And that you know, and nobody came to any harm. It was a great event it was very funny is the campus is not for me. I’m not a cannabis user, but to do it legally, to have fun. It was just like going to a pub. But safer. Because there was no violence. There was no people shouting and yelling, the police didn’t have to turn up ever. Right? So if you want to have violence, if you want to have accident emergencies full of people, make alcohol legal, make it available all day long, and make it very, very cheap. One of the most interesting places to go to is also where you see no public drunkenness, you walk into a pub, it’s quiet, you go to a restaurant, it’s savoury you come out of midnight, you can walk down any street in Oslo. Why? Because bottle of wine costs $200. Why? Because a pint of beer cost you $60 expensive alcohol is very safe alcohol. But suggest that to the Australian Government, and all the evidence is raising the price of alcohol works, causes total conniptions because the moral people get out and say You mustn’t restrict us, you are actually harming our capacity to have fun as we wish you are trying to gain sovereignty over our drug use. And you go But hang on, guys, you’re the people who argue the exact opposite about cannabis, cocaine, and magic mushrooms.

 

Bryn 

What is it about drink that turns everybody into being violent, etc. Like, I think we’re not

 

Bill Saunders 

it’s not in the drink. Actually, it’s not in the drink. The interesting thing about alcohol is it’s not in the drink, I used to do some guests visits to the shoe, which is the special handling unit in casuarina. And I love doing it because you got all the most violent offenders. And they’re really good. You ever want to see personality disorder in action, you go to the shoe. And I used to have this exercise where I used to, people are not stopped, because they are good. So we are not law abiding, because we are good, we are lower back because we think we may get caught. So one’s perception of the likelihood of getting caught is a deterrence. So people with very high and probably wrong perceptions of getting poured behave themselves, right? However, if you have a very low perception of getting caught, particularly if you don’t, lots of times got away with it, you’re more likely to engage in crime. So I always have this exercise when I used to work in the show about saying, There’s $250,000 and a house next door. You can go in there and steal it because it’s illegal money. However, you got a one in 1000 chance of getting caught. So we got 10 or 12 violent offenders in the room, they all put their hands up, yeah, we’ll do the Chrome. And these slowly reduce it. And you reduce it and you reduce it and say you got one in 50 chance, by the time you say one in 50, you get a couple of more of the most central ones put their hands down. And then you go you got one in 20, you got a one in five, you got a one into by the time you get to one in two, you’ve got a couple of people with their hands up. And then you go it’s definitely one in one is one hour isn’t certain if you steal the money, you will get caught. And there’s one inmate who puts his hand up and you go, what’s that about? He said, and he said, quote unquote, you can’t go past an opportunity. So that absolute sense of no consequence is it’s just startling. And I I’m very taken by deterrence model because because I you need harsher punishments. No, you don’t harsher punishments don’t work. They just clog up our jails for longer. What you need is certainty of detection. Right if, if Barnaby Joyce knew the day he first had sex with his staffer that he was going to get caught that day, he had never done it. So deterrence theory tells us it’s not the punishment that matters. It’s your sense of how much you’re going to get caught. And that’s true of illegal drug users. Now, I know that the number of phone calls I need to make to get cocaine or cannabis, or magic mushrooms, and I’m 104 years old. So I’m not the typical drugs. But I know I only need to make one phone call. And when you do a study, and we’ve done this study, that’s the same for everybody. So illegal, making drugs illegal does not remove them from the marketplace. It ensures they’re in the marketplace. And what is fascinating is, I would bet all your listeners that they can all go Oh, yeah, I only have to make one phone call. Right and some people don’t have to do you have to walk next door? So the notion that the law protects us both from our human appetites, and from access to drugs is complete nonsense. What stops access to drugs is making them expensive. Because drugs like any other commodity, Rolls Royces are more expensive than masters. And there’s a lot more masters than there are Rolls Royces. So if you put the price of the drugs and if you control the supply of drugs, within reason, you’re gonna get a much better safety record if the state supplied the drugs and took the profit. And we all knew exactly who was using what because on you Your frequent flyer card that you put into the ATM in the chemist, your name is on the addresses on there. And if you fuck about and go over your daily limit, shoot, your car doesn’t come back. Right? So you would know when people were being excessive. And you see, we actually do do this because we actually prescribed methadone to people. And when I worked in Glasgow, we actually had a prescribing. We prescribed heroin, where we prescribe that methadone we prescribed cocaine we prescribed speed. And the good thing about that was we lowered the crime rate. But then Mrs. Thatcher came along and didn’t like and it all got banned. So one day, we had a drug supply canape. Next it was all gone, we had to do abstinence, just say no. doesn’t go down well, in a city like Glasgow, so the number of armed robberies went up.

 

 

It’s so simple, really. And yet, to get the moral,

 

Bill Saunders 

to get those people who believe drug use is sin, and we’re going to use drugs for physical pain. To get them to change their minds is really, really difficult. Mm

 

Bryn 

hmm. I’m interested in you talked about the fact that for most of us, it would be almost like exploratory. Yes. And then for some, it’s covering over wounds. Yeah. etc. Yeah. And, you know, from doing a bit of reading myself and looking around, there seems to be an over prevalence of prescribing people on pharmacological Prozac and things like that. And is there like a middle ground there between people who have like, very clear sort of childhood trauma, and those who just haven’t quite developed the resilience for life and then that’s getting covered over? Okay.

 

Bill Saunders 

There’s a beautiful study done by Harvard University. It’s 1972 and Harvard University invited 508 month old babies to come into the laboratory laboratories, and they videotape now eight month old babies can’t come on their own so they came with mum. So they videotaped for 20 minutes mum interacting with her child. And they said to mommy, she writes, thank you. This is so and so for coming on date. Just go into the next room with your lovely little daughter Charlotte and just be accepted as you are with her. We’re not interested in you. We’re interested in what little Charlotte can do. Psychologists lie that’s completely untrue. They already knew what they babies could do because all the toys were age appropriate. What they were interested in was the mother child interaction particularly in terms of maternal warmth, attachment, and attune attune is how much is man tuned in to the needs of the child. And they videotape please. 500 and 500 videotapes of mums interacting with their eight month old babies, and they sent them off to Duke University for analysis to pretty independent analysis. And the results came back 6% amongst brilliant, excellent. They were tuned, they were attached. They were very warm. 80% were Okay, so they ranged from good to good enough. And then down the end, you had 10%, who were really very, very poor. Now most of those 10% just put little Charlotte on the ground, looked out the window and smoked a cigarette she could do in those days, and completely ignored the baby. And eventually, but eight months old, the baby didn’t even mind the baby just sat still on the floor, because the baby but eight months old was already used to be neglected. There were a few who yelled at their children and did things like you know, you’re the worst thing that ever happened to me. I don’t know why I had you your father’s run away that you have ruined my life. So it was a it was a bit of that. But not much and money if one or two evens hit their children. So it’s amazing what people do when they forget they’re being videotaped. That data slin stored for 34 years. Little years later, Harvard University got in contact with 472 of the 508 month old babies and said, come and talk to us. You were part of a study 34 years ago. So all these 35 year olds turned up and filled in something called the SCR 90, which is a symptom checklist 90, which is it measures anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug dependence, aggression, psychosis and so on. So it’s a it’s a full broad spectrum, psychological checklist you know of, well, basically how fucked in the head of you test.

 

 

What was fascinating was

 

Bill Saunders 

as you came down the line, to where the mums were very poor, the rate of mental health issues started to rock it. So the truth of this is the pauri or eight months old, the best prediction of mental health as an adult is the quality of your relationship with your man when you are eight months old. And it was blatantly clear. So there’s two messages This is one is next time around, choose your mum much more carefully and the Other is what we see in presentations of mental health are the quality of your childhoods. Now, these childhood varied, so the ones with whom mums who were excellent or very good, these kids had resilience, right? They knew they were valuable, they knew they were love, they confronted the world from a different place. Whereas when you came down the other end, where you wouldn’t have been neglected, you’re much more likely to be vulnerable, because life events and they measured life events and life events are the same across the board. It just means that if you get a great man, you’re resilient, and you can manage life better. Now, we also see you could also see that the rates of alcohol and drug dependence went up hugely down the the wrong in so to speak. So those the poorer the quality of your parenting, then the more likely you are to have mental health problems as an adult. And it’s got nothing to do with your biology. So the notion you see there’s what happened. And it happened in the 70s in Britain and America. And here, there was a sudden flurry of discovery of new psychotropics. So you suddenly got you’ve got the first antidepressant in the 50s 1952 nardil. Then you got like actual in the late 60s, which was the first anti psychotic, but they were outliers. And then suddenly, in the late 60s, early 70s, you started to get tri cyclic antidepressants, you started getting other anti psychotics like black actor, and psychiatry as a discipline shot into a biological culdesac. In fact, when I was at Glasgow University teaching, what’s

 

 

the difference between

 

Bill Saunders 

psychology and psychiatry? Oh, the difference is quite straightforward. Psychologists spend six years studying human behaviour. And psychiatrists spent six years studying medicine, and then do two years of psychiatry, with practice plays as well as he can stretch out to four. But so what happens is psychologists study normal people and then make judgments about what’s abnormal from a statistical base. Second, actually determines what’s taken normal by diagnosis. Now, the problem with psychiatric diagnosis, there are 291 of them. In DSM five

 

 

Hmm.

 

 

There’s not a single blood test for any of them.

 

Bill Saunders 

Right, there’s no hard endpoints for any diagnosis in psychiatry. So every diagnosis in psychiatry is an opinion. And the interrater reliability between psychiatrists is below 40%. Right. So whether you’ve got bipolar people come with me, I’ve got bipolar. How did you know that? What the doctor told me yesterday? And I saw what about the previous 20 years? Oh, no, no, I mentioned it. Right. There’s a study between Glasgow, London and New York about schizophrenia, which you would think you know, it’s a major mental illness in inverted commas. You’d think they get schizophrenia, right? The interrater reliability of diagnosis of schizophrenia is less than 40%. Know how to influence. If you go on to the doctor, he takes a blood test your PSA scores high. He goes, Oh, you got prostate cancer, we’ll treat it like this. Right? Or I’ve got a friend today who’s unfortunately just been diagnosed with having some metastasis from a melanoma in his brain. And what they’ve done, they’ve taken a DNA, the, the metastases are in from this melanoma, and they’ve got a direct drug, which deals with that. DNA type melanoma, perfect diagnosis by science. in psychiatry, it’s diagnosis by committee and guesswork. And the interesting thing is, what’s the point of diagnosis? If you only got three or four treatments, you got 291 diagnosis and how many how many psych treatments psychiatrists that well, they went up this biological polasek in the 1970s, and they’ve never come out of it. So basically, psychiatrists now prescribe antidepressants. Now, antidepressants aren’t antidepressants. they prescribe antipsychotics anti psychotic are anti psychotics, they describe anti anxiety drugs. Well, yes, they do actually stop your anxiety in the short term. If you go out tonight, and you have sex with somebody shouldn’t and in a week’s time, you’re peeing and it’s painful and you’re bleeding and you’ve got pass coming out of your penis, you will take your penis off to the doctor and they will take a swab and they will diagnose what bug it is you’ve got and they will give you an antibiotic antibiotic which is specifically intended to kill off that bug until these add up normally. diagnosis and treatment in psychiatry are 291 diagnosis and for treatments. That’s bizarre. And these treatments don’t work. Because antidepressants aren’t antidepressants if you take an antibiotic clever use by the pharmaceutical companies of language if you take an antibiotic pillbugs antidepressants don’t kill depression, what they do they make you more serene. So antidepressants are not antidepressants. They’re so renix they actually make you more serene. And the trouble about becoming more serene you can become after six to nine months so serene, you don’t move. And you can live in the land of blur. And also your work. And you’ll never have an orgasm ever again if you’re female, because that’s what the side effects of these drugs do. They absolutely shut you down. Well, you might appeal

 

Bryn 

to any vivid aspect of humanity,

 

Bill Saunders 

you end up in, you end up in, you know, in old TVs used to go foot and nice to have this white line across the middle us Gosh, if I have to buy a new TV, well, that’s life on antidepressants after two years during the white line of misery. Right? Because the drugs actually are highly problematic end, as the Royal College of psychiatrists in Britain have just reported with antidepressants not only do does everyone taking antidepressants get side effects almost immediately. 80% of people have trouble getting off them, because their dependency producing right because what happens you stop taking them you get withdrawal symptoms. Now, withdrawal symptoms are always the opposite to the effect of the drug. So if you take a stimulant drug like speed, and stop it, you then feel like shit and you want to kill yourself because everything’s just a burn wasteland. If you take a depressant drug alcohol had too much eventually what you’ll get, you’ll get the shakes, the sweats, and whatever. So you get this rebound, which is all arousal, physiological arousal. But antidepressants, which are so Renick drugs, the opposite serenity is anxiety. So if you stop taking your effects, or your Prozac, your Cymbalta or whatever, or your Lexapro, a week later, you’re feeling shit, you’re all agitated, oh, it’s my depressions getting back and I need to go back on the drugs. No, actually, you need to go carefully off the drugs. And you need to deal with the withdrawal aspects of these drugs. Support old psychiatrists and I feel sorry for them, they’ve got trapped into this cul de sac of prescribing where the drugs don’t actually remove depression, they palliated the anti anxiety drugs don’t remove anxiety, they just palliated the anti psychotics don’t actually stop you being psychotic, they just left brain seizing drugs, so they slow your brain down. So you don’t actually think as well. So your psychosis isn’t as vivid. Now in the short term that can be useful in the long term. It’s disastrous, because you’re slowing down people’s brain. And we know what happens, you know, you slow down people’s brains and their metabolism, and then you end up with hugely obese psychiatric patients. And so the poor old psychiatrists that got themself up this colder sack and what is really, really interesting, there have been no new psychiatric drugs for 25 years. So also cash the left with poor darlings, is, oh, your effects or doesn’t seem to be working? Well, of course not. You become tolerant to it after taking it so we can raise the dose 300 600 It’s amazing. Some of the doses people are on antidepressants. I mean, they’re totally off the scale. They’re not even in the in the licence. And remember, no antidepressant has been licenced for children, people under 18. Yet, and yet, the number of eight under 18 years old on antidepressants in Western Australia was soaring, right. And so what these poor darlings of gun all they’ve got left is is to change drugs. So you have these admissions where people are changing their meds. Now I have never in any other discipline, have we need to admit you to change your meds doesn’t happen with cancer, it doesn’t happen with you know, heart disease, you have a drug it works, or you operate in psychiatry, bring you in to change your meds. Why? Because these ones aren’t working anymore, why? Actually, you become dependent on them. So we’re going to give you a slightly different antidepressant, and that will help for about six months, and then you’ll become dependent on that. So in six months time, we’ll have to change your meds. And if you want to see the amount of medication people are on a number of changes they’ve had in the changes of diagnosis is quite astonishing, quite astonishing,

 

Bryn 

scary,

 

Bill Saunders 

and it’s scary. And here, these poor old psychiatrists that have called a second nowhere to go, because there’s no new drugs. There is a drug company now there’s lots of drug companies or trying to find new psychiatric meds. And there’s one particularly that he’s trying it’s got a new anti anxiety drug. And so far, phase one or phase two shots, so it’s as good as Lorazepam Lorazepam is effective. Unfortunately, everyone using the rest of him comes dependent on it, and then you get withdrawal effects from the rest Pam, and it doesn’t cure any anxiety. But if this drug happens to work, that drug company will explode. I won’t tell you the name of the drug company is actually an Australian one. But if their drug trial if their third drug trial is successful, everybody in that who own shares in that company will become enormously successful because every psychiatrist will prescribe that drug. And it will be the new wonder drug. I wonder what it’s going to do. Right? Yeah. And we’ll go right around. And in five years time, everyone will be dependent on that drug. And they’re even saying at the moment, this is a non dependent producing anti anxiety drug. Oh, hang on, guys. If it works, if for people who are tearing themselves apart with their shame and with their sense of not being good enough, take a drug where they feel benign. And they feel okay about themselves. They’re going to keep on using it, and then they’ll become dependent.

 

Bryn 

So for those in the like from the Harvard study, we’re done bottom and Yes, yeah. And if we can now if we can, that if, if based on what you’re saying, we can predict that if the sort of the future of your resilience is, is related to the quality of your relationship with your mother, that sounds extraordinarily deterministic, which I get on one level, so well,

 

Bill Saunders 

not as deterministic as biology. Because the notion I mean, you know, there is a meta notion of biology is destiny. Right. And I think the lovely thing about this is my mother was shocking, right? I feel very sorry for my mom, she was 38 when she had me and I was a twin, and she was expecting one child. And she already had two children who were 10 and seven. So she never expected it was one of those probably a bunk on a Wednesday morning, they didn’t really mean to have and she wasn’t expecting to get pregnant, and suddenly, she’s pregnant. She doesn’t like to get rid of it. That’s 1950s bloody Britain. So you couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to. So suddenly, she’s 39 years old, she’s got twins, she was totally overwhelmed. So my childhood was one our prolonged neglect. My mother just didn’t look after us. She just disappeared. So I had hours on my own with my twin sister. And I have to say probably, what kept me going was my twin sister. I mean, we will be put out in the garden, in the snow in a pram because fresh air was good for us. And we’d have to sit and look at each other for hours, right. So the sheer boredom of my childhood was enormous. And I can remember doing things like just running away from home for stimulation. And my mother didn’t even notice. When I was three months old, I actually drowned because my mother fell asleep on the beach, and the tide came in and out to sea. And it was only my big sister coming back from swim, we found this nappy, and she pulled the nappy out the water and found me in it and I was necessitated by passing stranger on the beach. Now, that sort of stuff. impacts on you. Yes. Right. So that neglect, I’ve got a patient who said to me, she said, it wasn’t the sexual abuse, that was the problem. It was the endless grey days of neglect. that drove me crazy. Now, I know the neglect to my childhood has had a huge impact on me in terms of self reliance, I am totally self reliant. I’ve got a test about the self reliance test, which is how long does it take you when you’re in Bunnings? to ask for help when you can’t find something? People like me will walk around for hours. Because asking for help. What was the point, if you ask for help, as a child, nothing happened, there was no one to ask for help. Or if you’d ask for help you get any. So you learn to sort everything out yourself. And it’s really funny, because in my career, I’ve made all the decisions myself, and it has been quite remarkable. I do not seek counsel from other people, when I have a decision to make. And it’s really interesting how self reliant I am, I’m my now wife rails that because what she wants is mutual independence. And there’s me being highly self reliant. So I make decisions that we’re going to do this to did it and I do it. And it’s just well, and I’m sorry, who are you? Right? And I can Oh, yeah, my wife, I supposed to involve you in my decision making. But if you grow up, you know, beautiful family, of course, you make decisions and your love mutual interdependence. Right. So I know mine neglect has been a double edged sword for me, because a, what neglect tells you is you don’t matter. Right? You don’t matter. That’s what neglect tells you. You’re just not important. So there was always on the one side of this double edged sword was the shiny bit, which made me determined as a university student, particularly postgraduate student, I’m gonna make my mark. And I work very hard at making my mark. So by the time I was 20, I was working for who by the time I was 29, I was the inaugural director of a teaching and research unit in Glasgow. And by the time I was 35, I was an Associate Professor of Psychology could, you know, that was a very fast trajectory, but I was determined to make my mark. But at what cost? What the cost was that, you know, my children now will say to me that, you know, it’d be nice if you’ve been around, they quite cross with me that I’m now around and they’re grown up, and I wasn’t around when they have children. I have dad, we’re all busy now. You know, catching the, the catch in the cradle type thing they get in the cradle, and, you know, his son’s grown up just like me, and like a fact. Yeah, I’m just you know, and I regret now, but I didn’t put more spend more time my children but I was too busy. mattering. Even I didn’t matter. I mean, that, for me mattering was very important. And if I don’t matter if I get a message from anyone that I don’t matter, Wolf, watch out. You know, I get enraged and we know that Yeah, anger is a normal human emotion. rage isn’t. Rage is a mark of trauma. So trauma breeds rage. So if you have partner or friend or a lover or a mother who’s rageful, they’ve been traumatised. Because basically in rage you go from calm to rageful in nanoseconds, right? And there’s lots of interesting brain studies now at the shows exactly what happens that you’ve got three brains, and it’s your reptilian brain, a very old object, your brain comes right back from the beginnings of humankind, that reptilian brain, which goes back in, and literally, you lose control. So there’s a number of celebrated moments, which I will not repeat during my 20s 30s and 40s, where I’ve lost my temper with people. And each one, the marker was that they didn’t pay me the attention that I thought I deserved. And they didn’t listen to me, I didn’t matter. So the wounds of childhood come right through into your adult life. Now the lovely thing about psychotherapy is you can change that, you can repair that so good psychotherapy. And there’s a recent meta analysis of using drugs doing CBT during different types of psychotherapy. And if you do psychotherapy, some psycho analytical psychotherapy, not only will you get better, so you’ll get back to baseline, you actually be 50% better again, so good psychotherapy will make you a better human being. If you take drugs, the best you can expect is a 30% reduction in your symptomatology. But you won’t get better because they don’t cure. So drugs are not curative psychotherapy is. So the lovely thing about being a psychotherapist and I still dabble one day a week. The lovely thing about being a psychotherapist is what we do is curative. And I have seen people totally change. I have seen people who were the worst methamphetamine user in the world. And now she’s a delightful paddle boarding grandmother. Right? I have seen somebody who was a shocking heroin use and sex worker who has now got her PhD and is an acclaimed psychologist. Right? So I know that psychotherapy works. The evidence says that psychotherapy works. The evidence shows that psychopharmacology doesn’t work. Your experience was excellent, but also the evidence does so so even at the APS, the American Psychological Society recently did a study of the effects of psychotherapy. And what they can show is that people going for psychotherapy do better than people who don’t do psychotherapy or people who do specific types of psychotherapy, which which address the issues of your childhood, do better again, and they will become better human beings. So, we don’t need bigger prisons. We need to depopulate Prison poppers by decriminalising drugs, but also we need to have lots of programmes, which deal with the pain of people’s childhoods. Just as on a chilling note, I work quite closely with a GP who’s an addiction specialist. And we both had we both worked in the same possible Abbotsford private hospital and I made him a bet one day over a beer. I said how many people the last 50 women we’ve seen with an alcohol and drug problem? How many of them do you think was actually abused? And he said, Oh, 65% I think you’re wrong. I think it’s higher than that. I go 75%. He said, okay, Butler read on it. So I went and got the last case notes from the last 50 people we’ve seen. And the answer was of the last 50 people. We had seen women who had alcohol and drug dependence, 100% of them have been neglected and sexually abused as children. And they’re the people the police want to lock up for drug use. It is wrong. Hmm. It is humiliating. It is. It is totally absolutely wrong. And this is the era of john Howard of Richard court, we’ve got to be tough on drug users. Know what we need to do, we need to look beyond the substance use, we need to drop down off our moral fucking high horses. And we need to say here is a dependent drug user. Here is somebody who’s been wounded in their childhood. Let’s deal with those wounds. Because the word trauma IQ scores from the Greek word wound, so we need to heal their wounds and good psychotherapy does that good psychotherapists do that. And the interesting thing about that it’s a private hospital when we were involved full time it was the only private hospital in Australia that would manage people with drug problems, and mental health problems. Now, the truth of the matter is, if you have a mum and or a dad or whatever, and you get neglected and you get abused as a kid, then not only will you have an alcohol and drug problem, because you’ll use drugs Sue’s you’ll also be depressed Because you’ll be shamed you’ll also be anxious because the world is a scary place and you’ve got trauma, right? I mean, it’s very interesting for me because my mother did it again falling asleep on a beach and drowning thing when I was about three and I ended up on a rubber ring three miles offshore on a fishing boat came to rescue me. Right now you imagine what that was, like three years old, I couldn’t swim and I sat in this rubber ring cleaning up to do like I’m fak. Right now what is interesting for me is it doesn’t matter what I do, physiologically, I can be absolutely calm in my head. I can be thinking lovely thoughts. between the hours of 8am every morning at about 10am I set. Why because my primitive reptilian brain is going where’s the threat today? Now what is fascinating is that over the last decade, there’s been a huge shift in the management of trauma. So people’s neglect and trauma in childhood is now being dealt with as an issue not just of the mind, but also of the body. So we know that the body learns and the body remembers trauma. And so what you’re getting you’re getting some very interesting interventions or sensory motor psychotherapy there somatic experiencing this a comprehensive resource model, all of which deal with the bodily symptoms of trauma. Now I’m ready to go and do some Huh, right I’m really already gonna find myself with that.

 

Bryn 

JOHN Sarno studies into back pain and he came up with them PMS cut, remember exactly what it was, but he was essentially, he was a physio who basically pinned 80% back a big trauma, the stress and mood from the ulcer yet into back and neck. We know because the body shuts down oxygen in an area. Yeah, okay.

 

Bill Saunders 

I owe my life. I’ve seen lots of patients work on drug problems with trauma. All of them are physically compromised. In fact, I wrote a report for somebody trying to get a disability support pension. And her childhood was one of unrelenting not being good enough. So she set herself as an adult impossibly high standards. And in writing this disability, just so you know, I wrote about here was a girl who was never good enough. And of course, all she got, she’s got chronic fatigue. She’s got chronic pain. She’s on high doses of morphine and so on. So this poor woman has never had the underlying issues addressed. And she has battled on. Absolutely gamely all her life, and she’s now 62 and struggles to get to the front door. Right now. What a shame. She wasn’t psychologically managed 40 years ago. Yeah. Because if we done the body stuff then and done some of the self compassion stuff. Well, what is very interesting is, along with this new bodywork, there’s also a whole new dimension of self compassion, psychotherapists, which are about saying to people, you are, but human pain is inevitable suffering is optional. Let’s deal with this moment of suffering. Right? It’s all about, you know, human beings. fuck up. You’re not alone. On your own Barnaby Joyce, you’re not on your own real human experience. And also about being mindful to be in the moment to actually take pleasure in what everyday things I had. This is a funny story, actually, we had a patient who had a meth problem. And we we ran, we run clinical radically down south. So people come into the hospital. And then they could have a month down south and this beautiful retreat, but they did intense psychotherapy. And of course, like many drug users, because he was going there that day, he thought I just need one more use just to sort of sit down and say goodbye, you know, it’s like going to your lover and having a final fight just to say goodbye. So final, final goodbye, facts and well known. So he has a final hit and he walks he came out it stood on the balcony in collapsed he fell over backwards off the balcony of our day hospital and collapsed onto the ground and the ambulance came and took him away. And what they discovered was that he had a tapeworm in his brain from eating he was came from a third world country and he had a huge tape burning his brain which the use of methamphetamine that moment that stimulated and made him go unconscious. So they killed the tapeworm so that methamphetamine use literally saved his life because the tapeworm is getting bigger and bigger and when they would have killed him. But what is interesting, he says to me, he said, Bill, I’ve got the answer. I got What’s that? And they want me to let him in. And I will take worms. He goes, Well, that’s part of the answer. I go, what’s the answer? He said, the answer is every time you have a shower, you turn it on. You put your hand on it and you think of nothing else other than the water hitting your hand. And that’s all you concentrate on. You don’t worry about anything. You just concentrate on the water you have. It takes my mic shower, 28 seconds to get from cold to too hot to stand in. And so for 28 seconds every day. I have 28 seconds of rest. Now what is really interesting The new psychotherapists are telling us but if you can get your brain into a resting state that is soothing. And it actually helps you manage and makes you more resilient. So I practice moments of rest, it’s not the same as doing nothing doing nothing is laying on the couch watching air crash investigation, that’s doing nothing. Rest is an activity, which I think is extremely important, which is the conscious, allowing your brain to literally go into idle. Right. And so I practice moments of rest, and I get my patients to practice my rest. And I get them to do it, I do it in the ocean, I’ll take my dog is very old and decrepit. And by the time I got him down, the beach is exhausted. So I lay him under the chair a trick and I sit on the bench trick, and I just breathe with the ocean. And so for five minutes, me and the dog just breathe with the ocean. And I would like to say he has a spritely a walk on the way home. That’s not true, but I do. Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of anxious people, a lot of very depressive, they’ve never had those moments of rest that voice in their head, berating them telling them this shit, you’re not good enough, you should have done this, you should have done that decision. You see in depression, right? It’s not a biological event with low serotonin levels. You know, it’s a lovely idea. The animals we can’t measure serotonin levels in people’s brains. So we have no idea whether people with depression have low serotonin levels or not the drug companies like it, and because like to give you drugs, which increase your serotonin levels and with depression, no, actually, you’ve just make people more serene. And even when people taking an antidepressant become more serene. I think what they need to practice is moments of rest, because at the end of the day, depression is a prison in which you are both the pitiful prisoner, and the cruel and inhumane jailer. So people by their relationship they have with themselves, make themselves depressed. And that’s part of that must try harder, I must do better. I’m shameful. I’m not good enough. And it’s really interesting. The reptilian brain? Well, it actually comes probably from a more emotional brain, actually, you see, we became mammals about 100 million years ago. And that was a huge change. Up until the I think of think of the Communist reptile, we get the turtles, right, so mommy turtle comes up, digs a big hole, plunked, 100, eggs and then pieces off, her mothering is over. So when those reptiles come out, they wake up, they come down the beach, and everyone’s out to get them. So there are sharks, there are snakes, there are birds, there are humans. And so they come down to the back and they get in the water as fast as possible. And then a big fish comes along who eats them. So there’s 2% survival rate in turtles from every hundred mom, ladies, I need to make it. So that’s that model of nurturing. So we have a reptilian brain which goes fuck the world is a dangerous place, look out. But we are mammals. And mammals have literally mammalian glands, ie we breastfeed so I was up in Exmouth recently, and I watched these beautiful, huge humpback whale with her baby, right, so mum had Shepherd her into the shallows, they were resting. And then the guy with a said in about two or three days, man will take her out for the reef, and off they go to Antarctica. And I thought, isn’t that an interesting model, because then mum will get down there, the baby will be big enough, and the baby will swim off having had that nurturing. So we’ve got a mammalian brain here, which reflects the way we are nurtured. Now, it will trigger your reptilian brain when you’re under attack. So it will that your amygdala will go watch out. There’s something nasty coming to get you now each of our amygdalas are highly individualised by our experience of safety as a kid. So it’s very interesting. I am because of my childhood, often on high, high guard. Right. And there’s like it, right. We were in Jerusalem recently and it had been quite vandals when the stabbings were happening in Jerusalem and my wife’s shopping and she hasn’t got a care in the world. She is just going What do you think baby like these shoes are? What do you think I get the scarf. And I’m standing like back to the wall watching for anyone with a knife. And I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am alive. I am watching. This was my childhood where is the next threat coming from? My wife is the busiest she had a you know, benign childhood. And so we are programmed. We are conditioned from an early age about that. How well we were nurtured and nurturing gives you resilience. And I’ll give you an example. I went to an English public school when I was 15 to finish off my education and I met a guy there called Adrian gamer. I loved Adrian’s parents, he would invite me to have lunch with him. I mean, in two years of voting republican My parents never visited me once. That’s that was nothing abnormal in that there’s just neglect. It’s just that when you’re in school, we’ve come see you you know the ridiculous idea anyway. So Adrian parents used to come with him every other week. So you can see the difference already. Adrian’s mum was delightful. She was very funny. She was very caring. She looked after agency or sort of After me, she gave me money. She was lovely. And agents deck was just great. And I always remember one day we went shopping in Carnaby Street or staying with him during a nice to break over short, short term half term. And we’ve gone into Carnaby Street and Carnaby Street. 1966 was the place to go right. So there we are in, in London. So I buy these flat grey trousers and this pair of Jersey and I, we come back home, we were looking really great, but 1966 great. And I remember Adrian’s mum going boys, you look superb. I phoned dad, we’ll all go to the pub for dinner. So we went to the pub, and then they made a big fuss and we also got our hair done. So we had beautiful long hair. It was just superb. So we had a great day out in London and a beautiful meal and pubs. Adrian’s mom and dad paid for and it was just delightful to be a valued, right to have a sense that you matter that your choices are good. Six weeks later, I’m home and I put on my Carnaby Street gear walk out into the living room and my police officer father says, What the fuck have you go on? Go and change. See the difference? In celebration versus denial. And Adrian top boy at school, went to Cambridge became a physician. Got on every committee under the sun has recently had a knighthood for services to medicine. Every committee that anyone runs Adrian ends up as chairperson, even if he doesn’t start off as chairperson, because everybody loves he’s been married since he was 2829. To a woman who’s Swiss woman who speaks seven language. Adrian now speaks six, I’ve got four children, they’ve all gone to Oxford and Cambridge, I doubt with his wife and his he have ever had a serious argument in their entire life. And he’s just retired. And he’s a wonderful human being and everyone loves him. Don’t you just hate him? And how easy was all of that for him? I mean, he got it. You know, I think you know, our lives are like a silo. If you start at the bottom of the silo, if you get a quarter of the way out. You don’t bloody well, Adrian started the top 99 percentile of having a wonderful mother and a wonderful father. And what did he do? He got a fucking nighter. But of course he did. Because he’s wonderful. Because he never had a Commodore. It never dawned on him to self doubt himself. He always knew he was special. He knew he was loved. Nobody would make him angry. Because, you know, they’re just being human. You know, all people make the wrong steaks. And you know, he had a grand sense of I know best, because he was told on his childhood that he was super. So you need the age remember childhood? Not the bill Saunders childhood, if you’re really going to succeed.

 

Bryn 

So what what do we what do we do for the bill Saunders, childhood people as they go into the world, otherwise, this just goes around the circle?

 

Bill Saunders 

Well, you see, the challenge is always to be a less bad parent than your own parents. So was I a better dad than my dad? Yes. But you have to be some of it. Sorry for my dad, because he grew up in an orphanage. His dad was killed while he was in utero. His his mother was somebody who just couldn’t cope. So he’d go into the orphanage men would take him home for a while then you go back to the audience. The man couldn’t catch. He wasn’t in an orphanage all his life. Now, what do you learn? You’re? It’s 1914. That’s my dad was born. And he’s in an orphanage all through the First World War. What do you think you learn in an orphanage? Well, I think you learn a number of things. Be happy. Show no vulnerability. Don’t get angry. Don’t get sad, don’t cry. And don’t be miserable. I father tried to teach me to have no emotions.

 

 

But, you know,

 

Bill Saunders 

I was anxious. I like poetry. I like reading. I liked English. You know, he just thought i was uh, I actually I think he thought I was gay. And I think he actually thought there was something very wrong with me. And I know that he couldn’t connect with me. Why? Because he was trying to make me safe in a world that he’d come from, was in fact, I wasn’t in his world. I was in a world where my mother was the problem. right because of her neglect. So what do we do for the bill Saunders blowed Well,

 

Bryn 

I’ve heard you can only blame your parents for so long. It’s got a shelf life around about 2930.

 

Bill Saunders 

I think, look, the lovely thing about Australia is that everyone can have 10 sessions of psychotherapy every year, and Medicare will pay. I mean, it’s a brilliant idea. So I would say to everybody, and I don’t care how good you are initial Adrian gamer, and 98% of us are not. I would say that. If you keep on finding yourself running into a similar problem, go and talk to somebody go and talk to somebody who’s good at packing your childhood. I’ve got a patient two reports that she is very grumpy and very anxious in the mornings. So she makes everybody smile around her uncomfortable, and she’s always in a fluster and arrives at work late. So when we explored her childhood, her dad had left her mum when she was about Eight or nine, among collapsed. So every morning when she got up, she didn’t even know if her mom was going to be alive or not as she killed herself during the night. So this child was late, you know, we’re going to look after mum. And mum wouldn’t look after her. So she looked after mum. So going to school was a nightmare for her because she left to go to school and she’d be in a panic because she was late or gym dinner lunch, and she wouldn’t have got things right and where was a homework and, and so she would go to school knowing shit, I wonder if my mom’s gonna be alive and I come home tonight. So going out of the house for her was enormous, the anxiety provoking. So here we have, she’s just, she’s 45 years old, and she’s still having privacy, she she still got stuck with her response in her childhood. So a bit of a joke, I got her partner to get her ready for school the night before. So now her partner helps her get ready for work the next day, and he understands they’re very frustrated. And he understands that when she wakes up in the morning, the world is not a bright, sunny place where you want to go and walk along the beach. It is a place full of threat. Yes. And slowly and slowly and slowly. That will mean that we’ll get better, she will quietly come to understand that her anxiety in the mornings is a hangover from her childhood. And you know when it’s a hangover from childhood, because it’s when people overreact and something small happens and they blow it out of proportion. But what’s happens that’s a trauma echo. So it’s something from the past. But it’s now been reignited. So it’s like tearing the scab off an old wound. So when you do blow is there you didn’t know is there because you built you know, you built up something over it. And then something will happen and you’re reacting a certain way. But I love it. When patients do that. They go I went crazy. And I don’t know what it’s all about. It’s a cool, let’s play detective, we can find out what it’s all about them. So we have an hour of extreme curiosity. And we always find out what it’s about yet. absolutely fascinating. And what happens with that and understanding and insight, you should go, Ah, that’s what that’s about. And suddenly people are not so judgmental. So you’re not just being a bad tempered beggar in the morning, you are actually somebody who, in the chaos of trying to look after their mother and keep her mother alive, also has to go to school, which she doesn’t want to do, because mom might be dead when she comes home to you. Because you can’t protect my wife. She’s at school. So that makes sense. And and as soon as it makes sense to people they can go. Right. And they Stop overreacting to trivial things that are about and they slowly become karma. Look, there’s no doubt about it. I have mellowed significantly over my past 2530 years, right? So, in fact, it was funny for me, I walk I’ve taken up walking with an old men’s group. So we will Shuffle Along. We went for a walk today. 15 old men going out for a walk. So we all talk to each other. And one of the guys it makes it you’re really different on you. And I said what are you mean, I’m really different. He said, I met you 25 years ago, and you were a bad tempered fucker. And I thought was I Really? He said, Oh, yeah, he said you were shocking. And I thought, you know, I don’t think

 

Bryn 

I was that bad. Honest. Because you didn’t feel like you mattered?

 

Bill Saunders 

Well, probably. But what was interesting was that, you know, you said you’re really different. And I think that’s the success of psychotherapy. I mean, I mean, I’m a believer that all people who do psychotherapy or psychotherapy should have psychotherapy, because then you realise, yeah, I think you should do it yourself. So I have spent some time doing it myself and what you find from doing psychotherapy, which I find delightful, I mean, turn up and talk about this last hour, I’ve been delighted I just talked about my ideas. It’s just super simple.

 

Bryn 

everlight podcast with me do a bit of therapy.

 

 

Yeah, exactly.

 

Bryn 

And I myself have been in psychotherapy, and I find it I find it incredibly constructed. I’ve always I’ve always got this slightly militant view. That is it. It’s imperative that we spend an amount of time in nearly every day considering what goes on in the inner world, because it’s the outer world it’s going to cop it if you don’t.

 

Bill Saunders 

Absolutely. And look, I think one of the nice things about being retired, I now have time to reflect a bit and you know, sitting up on the bench trick beach, watching the ocean come in and out, you know, when I was working, I didn’t have time to do that. You know, Jesus Christ, you know, let’s have some tea and, you know, get ready for tomorrow. So I think it is luxurious to have the space to actually be reflective and it’s quite interesting. Here’s a tip. Never ever discuss your childhood with your siblings. Because every siblings experience of childhood is different to the other one. And the last time I spoke I’ve got three sisters. So as there was Grandma, Mom and Dad three ugly sisters and poor little me and The last time I spoke to my three ugly sisters, we had a ferocious round about our childhoods, because I just innocently said, maybe not quite so innocently because I knew of course trouble. I just said, you know, I’m really wasn’t very good. She really was very neglectful wasn’t she? Wow, the Pope’s not Catholic, the, my big sister went off her face and starts telling me how good man been? And I said, Yes, I think she was few you were the firstborn. She had energy. You were the first child. I’m sure she was very good for you. Right? And she wasn’t working and she paid you a lot of attention. So then the second one starts. It goes, mom was mum was Mother Teresa and dad was a saint. And I’m going sorry, who we talking about here? Right? And again, I thought, yeah, that probably was better with you. Because he was only a junior police officer, then he wasn’t a commissioner of police. You have fewer demands. That is and he probably just ignore time among was easier with you. And because they were actually better as an item. By the time we got born. My parents relationship was pretty tatty. And I think us arriving made it Tatia? So there were lots of message about the kids of the twins have ruined our lives, like made us poor or the rest of it. And you know, even better if they weren’t here that that was it. It wasn’t over. But it was a covert message. And I think it’s right. I you know, I think it was a terrible Wednesday morning bunk, and my mom should never have done it. And then I wouldn’t be here. The so my experience of childhood was hugely different from my two older sisters who did get the best of my parents. But not only that, we’re different from my twin sister. So even though we got a twin sister, her experience of her childhood was different from mine. Why? Because she was a girl, and the sisters looked after her. But they were cross with me because they thought the boy was going to get more attention. And when I meet with them, I get the message that you were the spoiled one. Oh, Bill was always spoiled, I thought in which wasteland of neglect was spoiling heaven. And it’s very interesting. My big sister. I had a nickname for me from Bill and Ben, the flowerpot men, which was a popular BBC TV programme for kids. And there was Bill and they were flowerpots. And Ben, but there was also a character called Little weed, and little weed was a weed. That was my nickname for my three sisters. They called me Oh, here’s a little weed. They’d laugh. But can you imagine what it’s like you’re five years old, and we’re calling a little weed. And I was sweetie. I’m not a real criminal psychologist, you know, I don’t blow up things and make bridges and I can’t fix anything. So I am a weed. But to have that message of

 

 

Hello, middle weed.

 

Bill Saunders 

40 years after that, I’m 45 I’ve been working for the United Nations. I’ve just flown into London. It’s before Christmas, I walked into my sister’s house in London. As I walk in the door, she goes,

 

 

Oh, Hello little weed.

 

Bill Saunders 

For me to go in there and kill her was extraordinarily strong. Right and hold her say you, you fucking whatever. Hello, ma. And it doesn’t. And that’s why it’s no point in having a discussion with your siblings about the nature of childhood because every child’s experience of childhood is different. And it’s a complete waste of time having the debate. But what you need to do is realise your own childhood in the context of the family. And always, always remember that families of origin are optional. So as you grow up, you can leave them behind. And it’s funny because my family, my family ended up living in Bermuda. Right now if you drill a hole out of Perth, you come out the other side of the world.

 

 

Bermuda,

 

Bill Saunders 

I could not have got further away from my family of origin if I tried, and I didn’t even realise I’d done it. Yeah. Right, which is absolutely fascinating. And it took me 10 years to realise that my selection of a job at Curtin University way back in the 80s was probably unconsciously motivated by the desire to escape the last

 

 

tendrils of my chart of origin. Hmm.

 

 

Fascinating.

 

Bryn 

What was the best day in the job? Ever? Yeah.

 

 

One interesting question.

 

 

Oh, look, there’s been lots of them.

 

Bill Saunders 

There’s been lots of best days. I mean, the lovely thing about working in Glasgow is that it’s funny. So I look back to my years as working as a clinical psychologist in Glasgow working in an asylum with great glee. I mean, it was so much fun. And we were very much a team and it was just very funny. And I was psychotherapies being funny, but it was funny. And we were the youngest because there was about four young psychologists and we all vied with each other to be the best one and the psychiatrists good fun because the psychiatrists then in the 70s, were all psychotherapists. They’d all trained in psychotherapy, and they didn’t have any drugs. To use a real psychotherapist, so you can actually have a serious conversation with them. So that was all good fun.

 

 

I think

 

Bill Saunders 

I think the best days were pants suddenly realising I had a voice. And I could say things that mattered. And I would get invited to conferences, I would do keynote speeches, I would get invited to write books and chapters in books, I suddenly realised that what I had to say mattered. And I, from my childhood, that was very important. I also like the fact that people view me as a bit of a maverick. I mean, clinical psychologists, professionals, terribly dull, you know, you walk into a room of clinical psychologists and you go, like, you know, what,

 

 

like, you know, they’re not

 

Bill Saunders 

probably fortunately. But

 

Bryn 

I’ve seen a whole line of no other guests coming.

 

Bill Saunders 

And so I, I think I like my sense of reverence. I like my it’s interesting what my colleagues worry about, I just don’t. And in some ways, look, I ended up being a director of a private hospital, what we ended up doing, I had a mate, it was a GP, and I had this psychiatrist colleague, and my mate, the GPS, Bill, this is all psychiatric hospital. Do you want to buy it? I burst out laughing. I said, Yeah, with what john? And he goes, No, no, we could buy it. It’s gonna be great. And I said, Yeah, right. You’re right. It’s deadbeat. It’s broke, it can’t make money. So but we can make it make me come on you, me and a couple of others, the lads, we can have a go at this. So I thought that’s never going to happen. So anyway, we all ended up in his house one night, way back just before the great financial crisis. And he said, Okay, I need five of you to be in, you’ll need to put in this amount of money. And then we can buy this hospital. And the 10 of us in the room, we went around the room. And by the time we got to me, I was laughs I’m sitting next to him. And he had four people. And he looked at me with pleading in his eyes, and here was a man I really respected. And he was a medic, I was in a room. I remember my childhood, I was in a room of doctors, psychiatrists, GPS, and little bill, whose father was a police officer who always saluted anyone who was more higher up the social the English social class than him. So suddenly, I was an equal player with the big boys. And I’d gone along that night. And I said to my wife for Friday, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it or not investing it. I don’t care what john says, I’m not going to do it, it’s going to be a disaster. And the words came out of my mouth, and he looked at me, so bill, and I went very calmly, I’m in. There’s the words coming out of my mouth, I wanted to grab hold of them and stuffed them back down my throat. But I knew it was not about the business deal. It was about being able to play with the big boys. That’s a very magic moment. Right? Because suddenly, I was the equal to people who all I’ve been told all my life was superior to me. And you know, that English class system DD. So I mean, Australia doesn’t really Australia has a money class system. It doesn’t have a social class system like we grew up in. So suddenly, I I shed my shackles of my childhood. And the, the the notion that there are people who are inherently better and better than you are, because they’re further up the social class. And I went home that night, and I said to my wife, I said, she said, Daddy, can I said, I’ve just pledged every cent we have and 100,000 we don’t into the hospital. And she went, Oh, I thought you said you weren’t gonna do that. And I said, Yes, I did. So I wasn’t gonna do that. She said, but you ever come in the moment? Absolutely. She said, I suppose we can move on big beams. And we took that hospital, which was totally broke. We ran it for 18 months. We got it working. So I became the head of psychotherapy. john was the managing director and Steve proud became the clinical director. And we ran that hospital for 18 months. And then we had another night of red wine and decision making, did we not at all, because the Health Department said your hospital is so decrepit, you have to build a new one or shut you down. So we went should we build 18 townhouses on this block of land in leederville? Or should we build a new psychiatric hospital? The new psycho psychiatric hospital will cost $10 million, which we have to borrow. Hmm. But we can have 18 townhouses. And it’s very interesting because it’s like Catherine said, I didn’t get into this business to build townhouses I got in this business to make the best psychiatric hospital in Perth.

 

 

And I went, Oh, fuck, I’m in.

 

Bill Saunders 

And I joined the big boys again, and we borrowed $10 million. That’s an extraordinary day going to the bank and signing, signing on the dotted line for $13 million. And literally, I mean, we’re all guarantors, none of us we wouldn’t have had. I doubt if we had $5 million between us and I was certainly the poorest of the boys. And I think we turned habits for private hospital into the it has to be one of the best Secretary hospitals in Perth. And 18 months ago, some wise men from the east came along said we want to buy your hospital. And we went Thank you. So not only do we create something good, we actually made a profit. Notice and there’s something in that which has been the best day of my life. Yeah. So there’s something very, particularly from my childhood, which was poor, don’t actually end up being successful.

 

Bryn 

was some It was one of the darkest days during the correct.

 

 

Ah,

 

Bill Saunders 

the darkest day of my career.

 

 

Hmm.

 

Bill Saunders 

That’s very interesting. There’s been a couple of them. And they both involve not getting jobs I thought I could do. And the first one was, when I was 34, five, I applied to be deputy head of the Applied Social Studies department where I was working. And the professor chose a time serving bureaucrat, a dull man. How do you choose him over me? This is ridiculous. I quit. Okay, to Australia. And then there was a moment of curtain where I went, Okay, it’s time for me to become a professor as an associate Chris time to be the professor and the headed partner said, it’s never going to happen over my dead body is that you’re too outspoken. I don’t like you. I suppose universities are supposed to be articulate places. He said, We don’t like your articulation. And I certainly thought our ideas were not allowed public speech, we were supposed to tow the party line that all drugs are bad. And that we must just say that, I look back at the summer here. And then I went and worked in Jersey. So they were but you know what the funny was looking at the data. They were very good decisions in retrospect. Because I think, you know, the way the way to run a career is to realise when you’re winning and push, and then when you realise that you’re, you know, you’re no longer flavour of the month and you’re a bit on the nose or your face doesn’t really fit is to walk away with your head, how high. And I think I did that, but both leaving curtain and leaving Scotland were both they had an element of painfulness in Indian is something that I’ve been told I don’t matter.

 

 

Right, or I wasn’t good enough.

 

Bryn 

After that, if you could go back to point when you’ve graduated from university, and you’re going to go out, well, actually, when you finish with your academia part, and you’re going to go out and become a practising psychologist. Yes. And move forward. If you could go back and give that bill a piece of advice, what would it be?

 

Bill Saunders 

Very clever question. Um, I think I would give him that bill, the advice of probably believe in psychotherapy more. I mean, I did, but I didn’t write I mean, because remember, this is 1970. So the evidence about psychotherapy wasn’t as robust when it was happening. It was not robust at all. So there was a degree of doubt about the role of clinical psychology. I mean, now psychology is everywhere. You know, you haven’t you can’t run a political campaign. Without psychologists. You cannot pick a jury without psychologist, you can’t plan an advertising campaign without psychologists. You know, executives are everywhere. So psychology is a discipline has totally flourished. In the last in the 50 years that I’ve been a psychologist, I mean, it’s gone from being a a minor activity into being probably a very major activity and nobody, when you know, your judges don’t make decisions without psychological reports. So are the prestige of psychology has been just enormous. I mean, as little fuckers get everywhere, but we do. We’re getting everywhere. So I think I would get it over the granite. Sorry, I have a degree. We get everywhere. So I am. Look, I would have given build the advice of trust your product more. And probably just a little bit more humble about yourself. Because I think what I did, I had a layer of bravado about me, which was to cover up this gnawing sense of I’m not good enough, and I don’t matter. And I can remember that. I’m 26 I suddenly get a phone call from Geneva. And it’s somebody from who saying, Would you come and do a two week consultancy with us? I said, Sorry, who are you? He did it from the Office of this that and the other in Geneva. And I think it’s a mate of mine taking the piss. I said, Yeah, go fuck yourself. You’re just taking the piss. So it’s fine. No, it really is true. Do you want to find me back? Yet right. So you gave me the number and sure behold is blowing to me for asking me to do a consultancy about alcohol and drugs in young people and It was stunning, because you know, I am 26 what do I know? But I think as part of my bravado and part of my presentation of self in my profession, which got me up there, you know, there’s, there’s a bit about bullshitting, which, if you can bullshit, you know, you can fake it, you can make it. So there’s a little bit of that going on. And then it’s very extraordinary. You write papers, and they suddenly get published. And you go, Wow, right. And I over my piece of academic as an academic for 20 years, I’ve got over 100 publications, and you suddenly realise, people read, I was actually sitting in a conference in Poland. And the bloke next to me, a complete stranger was really one of my papers. And that is weird. Right? And there were, there were some wonderful months, I did quite a lot of TV and stuff. I did a number of documentaries for the ABC and so on. And all of those were good fun, and I enjoyed that. of it, which made me unpopular with my fellow academics. They didn’t like my slightly narcissistic you know, self aggrandizing fun me. In fact, there was a professor who said when I left Kearney, so I’m really pleased you’re leaving. I said, I said, he said, cuz your room is next to mine. And all I hear coming from your room is laughter and people enjoying themselves. Academic is academia is a very serious discipline, and there’s no room for laughter and fun in it. And I thought, hey, Jesus Christ,

 

 

stop it all wrong. And I

 

Bill Saunders 

look, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I think the students I thoroughly enjoyed my, you know, irreverence about things. And I still look, I still teach, and I still I miss aspects of teaching very bright people. I mean, the lovely thing about clinical psychologists, they are the cream of the cream, and they are extremely bright. And they are very good fun to teach. And I missed that having to really use my brain to inform, educate, and instruct. Because now when I teach, to be honest, it’s relatively easy. So I was teaching medical students the other day, I mean, I’m not being rude about medical students, they were great. But I can walk into a room of medical students, and you don’t have to pair because the psychology I know is strictly, you know, as long as you’re a couple of books ahead of them, but I’m ahead of them. And the same with some of the people I teach. For the non government agencies, and even in universities, with psychologists. My experience now as such that it’s not the same challenge as it was, because there’s something really scary about being, you know, the 37 and teaching postgraduate students know, and having the sense that shit, I’m supposed to know things

 

 

properly. But great fun.

 

Bill Saunders 

Yeah, that’s what there’s nothing like the anxiety of preparing a workshop for making a brilliant workshop. So you know, you have to perform, you know, they’re gonna watch, you know, you’ve got a critical audience. So you just have to be at your best. And there’s, and that’s the other side of neglect. You see, on the one side, the rusty side of that double edged sword is I don’t matter, but the bright side is I’m gonna have to fucking matter. I’m going to prove I matter. And here I come.

 

Bryn 

I’m super. And finally, for the person out there who’s considering a career in psychology in clinical psychology, what piece of advice would you give? Look, the difficulty

 

Bill Saunders 

is that the, in any sort take somebody like an accountant will have four or 500 undergraduate students. And in the clinical psychology masters, it’s got like places. So you’ve got a really tight funnel. So we test scooping at the bottom, and we slowly narrow it down, and you’ve got to have very good marks. So the people who come in to clean who get into clinical psychology to be honest, over bright over educated overkeen, over desperate over everything. So what I would say probably, if you want to get into kin psych, or counselling, psych, I think cleverly about it, I would do my undergraduate degree, make sure you get a reasonable undergraduate degree. And then I would take myself off around the world and experience the world, right. And I would go and work for non government agencies, I would go and work for places that you don’t really want to end up working, but it’s a stepping stone. So when you’re 30, you can come back to a place like Kurt nor any of the universities and go, I want to apply for clinical psychology. I’ve done this, this, this and this. And I think you need to plan to show that you are a well rounded, mature and determined individual. And you’re going to have runs on the board. But as I said, I wouldn’t have got into my own clinical psychology course. You

 

 

know, if I really wouldn’t have done

 

Bill Saunders 

yeah. And interviewing people is just so hard because you know, we get three or 400 applications. We whittled down some because they weren’t appropriately, you’d end up with 100 people who any of them would be good enough to get in. And then you have to whittle them down to 50. You interview 40 because a few will drop out and go elsewhere. So you interview 14 you’ve got 10 places right places. is horrible, you know, as a selector, it’s horrible. So I would say to anyone applying for twin cycle postgraduate psychology, I would say very much. Look at your options apply everywhere. Think even think of you if you can do it even think about applying to do it privately. So you actually a fee paying students somewhere overseas. I think a number of the American doctorates are extremely good, the de sacs are extremely good. I, I would also recommend Britain, I think if you can afford to live in Britain for three years and paid to go to university, I mean, if you can pay will get in, as long as you’ve got the credentials, you have to meet the basic criteria. So I would be very planned and deliberate. And I wouldn’t do what I did, which was to leave University, take a year out and then go back into clinical psychology because, um, I, I was very young, I was 22, when I was a baby clinical psychologists, which is very young. And I, you could see some patients going, Well, you know, what the fuck, you know. But I have very good support from my colleagues. But there was a sense that I didn’t know much. And I think if I had gone older, I think I would have enjoyed it even more. That, you know, I think it’s a very interesting, I was at this big conference in the states before Christmas, and I happen to be sitting by the toilets, this is really weird. And I happen to be sitting there, ladies and gents, and I suddenly realised that all the men going into the gents are 50 Plus, all the women going to the latest sort of psychotherapy conference 5000 people, right, so clinical psychologists, social workers, whatever, but all the people going into the the female toilet, but 25 to 40. In 10 years time, there won’t be a male left in the psychologist splint. And when I started, it was a male discipline. Now, we can argue the rights and wrongs of that. But what I would say to men who want to get into clinical psychology is, I think you’re going to become an increasingly rare species Now that may come may make you very vulnerable, or it may make you very isolated. Women better psychotherapists? Well, the truth of the matter is that most people would rather see a woman than a man, which is really interesting. So 60% of men want to see women and 90% of women want to see a woman for psychotherapy. So that’s probably what the discipline is reflecting. But there’s something else which is also very, very interesting. There’s absolutely no evidence that having a master’s degree in psychology or having a PhD, or having any qualification at all, makes you a better psychotherapist. So there’s no evidence for that,

 

Bryn 

right? None, zilch, what doesn’t make you very

 

Bill Saunders 

well, in order to make it be a super shrink and this research has been done. The best training in the world is to have a narcissistically depressed mother, which is really funny. But if you have a mother who you constantly have to be empathic to meet her needs you you are getting very good training about working with people. And your tolerance will be enormous. Hopefully, that’s a bit of a joke, but it works.

 

 

The other thing

 

Bill Saunders 

the research is very interesting is a guy called Scott Miller in Chicago, and he wanted to know what made good psychotherapists and he looked at the evidence about qualifications couldn’t find any there’s still there really is none. Even though clinical psychologists claim all the time that either a scientific discipline and B they’re better than everybody else. So they’re either not either they’re probably not an either. They’re neither a scientific discipline, or let them they’re definitely not better than anybody else. That makes me very unpopular, like clinical psychologists, but there’s no evidence. So what Scott Miller did, he looked he got 1000 interviews of counselling sessions, and he tried to analyse because each agency knows who the best therapist is. So he’d go in, and he said, Who is your best therapists and get their tapes and who is less good to get their tapes, and they try to look couldn’t find a thing. Not a thing. So he spent about a quarter he spent about a quarter of a million dollars on this million dollar research project into what makes a super shrink. He’s getting a bit getting a bit worried. And he accidentally gets on his bike. When I accidentally gets on this painting accident. He sits next to this bloke. And he says to the bloke sitting there as I’ve gained about Chicago, what do you do? And the guy goes, Oh, I’m an editor for the Cambridge book of excellence. So Scotland, I guess what I’ll say about as we look at excellence and what makes excellence in what sort of field says Scott Miller, he said across the board, you know, what makes an excellent Carpenter what makes an excellent surgeon what makes an excellent musician what makes an excellent score? psychotherapists, we haven’t actually done psychotherapists, but we know the answer. Scott, when it goes back, he knows the answer is going to tell me, you know, he goes, What’s the answer? He said, You have to read the book. Right? So it gets out this book, The Oxford the Cambridge book of Cambridge University book of excellence, which is literally 10 inches thick white to a tee time Yeah. And he goes on what is it? And the guy goes, practice. Let’s go. Because no, no, no, no, that can’t be it. We’ve looked at that it’s not practising not experience. It’s not just No, no. It’s a particular type of practice. It’s practice with feedback. Scott Miller goes, fucking now you’re right. Because what Scott Miller has realised is that the best therapists, they do something in their therapy, that what they will do when they’re working with somebody towards the end of the session, they go, how do we go today? Our session been for you. What have I done that might not as jarred with you what I’ve done that’s work for you. That was the topic thing. Have we been on course today? practice with feedback. David health got the pianist, the Australian pianist. He’s very famous. He was in the film shine. And so yeah, he’s very interesting sort of documentary about him. I just heard Scott Miller talking about practice with supervision. And I was watching this documentary on flight. And this day of it and you know, he’s Goodsell effective. So he’s a bit manic. He’s very funny. And he talks and he givers and he, you know, he plays brilliantly. And yet what I noticed all through this documentary that everyone was playing, he was playing across Europe, everywhere he went in the preparation for his concert, he would get someone sit in and critique his playing. So you’d have the conductor or you’d have somebody from the orchestra, sit with him and get no data that’s a bit too fast. Don’t do that. That’s really good. David, do this. And it’s practice with feedback. So Scott Miller literally has a questionnaire, a session satisfaction questionnaire scale, she has 410 centimetre lines. And at the end of the day, you hand it to your patient and go, how do we go today, and you’re supposed to get it because it’s 10 centimetre line. So every every point is one score. So if your score down here, you get naught. If you scored at one centimetre, you get one if you’ve got a 10th. And if you get 10. And the aim of every therapist to get 36 out of 40. And what is really interesting, as soon as you start doing that, you realise where you’re weak. And it’s fascinating. People always enjoy my relationship, they enjoy the fun we have they enjoy what we address, but only to a point, because I go off tangent, No, I haven’t done that a tour today.

 

 

And I am alert

 

Bill Saunders 

to the fact that when I’m working with somebody, I go off tangent now. So I’ll get nine out of 1010 out of 10, three out of 1010 out of 10. And that has made me a better psychotherapist, right, because I now consciously stay on topic. And what Scott Miller says that’s all the training you need, is to practice with people with this questionnaire. So we can probably do away with clinical psychology masters, PhDs and whatever. And we could have a kartra of psychotherapists, who we recruit largely on the capacity for empathy. So empathy is a proven, empirically proven intervention. So you could have, so what you look for in the ideal therapist is the capacity to be empathic, and their capacity to rate themselves as they go along. And Scott Miller, just to finish with tells this beautiful story of

 

 

this woman who natural she’s

 

Bill Saunders 

got no qualifications whatsoever, which everyone comes back to. And she says at the end of this session, to the patient, Mr. Gorgeous, how do we go today? And they go, Hey, good, good. Is there anything you didn’t like? He goes, Well, actually, there is something you’ve got a bit of a funny look. Someone got a bit of a funny look. She’s what he said that look, I’m sure you don’t mean it. But you actually, every morning you have to go like this. And it looks very disapproving. So she says, How do I go Come with me? So she marches him off to the lady’s toilet, a patient stand beside and he says, you know, and she moves her face around? He said, Yeah, that’s it. She goes, do feel my face doing Isn’t that interesting? I wonder what that’s about? He said, I don’t like it. She looked me honest. He said, Now we’re talking about it. I really don’t like it. It’s I really feel judged. Yeah. Sorry, guys. I’m really sorry about that. I’m gonna really pay attention to that in future. So she goes home. And she says to have him chat really weird today. I was asking his patient, how are we gone? And he said, I’ve got a look. He said, yes, you’re doing I hate it. Stop doing it. Practice with feedback.

 

Bryn 

Indeed. So have you enjoyed today?

 

Bill Saunders 

I love talking about myself.

 

Bryn 

And how have I done

 

 

superbly? You just let me run indeed.

 

Bryn 

Thank you so much today. I don’t know.

 

Bill Saunders 

It is Fitbit. 513. So we’ve been going for two hours. Crikey, fell, you can cut that into various or do you kind

 

Bryn 

of get a bit what do you do? We’ve not finished I’m going to say thank you very much. Thank you for being open and being super For open and honest and food and sharing your views with us and the listeners, it’s been an amazing experience. Good. plenty to digest.

 

Bill Saunders 

And do you edit this and catechism?

 

Bryn 

No, it all comes out as just as it is just as it is. Good luck, indeed. Thank you very much. Thank you

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