Narcississssism

Hmmm. I have a number of former clients who were once diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder under DSM IV. But now I see they were right all along - the problem was not with them but with everyone else. In the brave new world of DSM V (sounds like a nebula encountered by the Enterprise) we're all just daffodils now.

Just as well: I can't spell narcisssisssisssim anyway.

Official Slow-icitor

Yet another facet of the system is creaking under the caseload: I am reliably informed that the Official Solicitor has written to family law practitioners to inform them that his staff is unable to accept new instructions to act as a guardian ad litem or litigation friend without some delay.

In recent months there has been a marked increase in the number of public law children cases in which the Official Solicitor has been asked to act. The steady increase in Official Solicitor's family litigation case load shows no sign of having reached a plateau.

In the letter the Official Solicitor reiterates that his staff should be used as last resort and that practitioners should ascertain from their clients if all other options for representation have been exhausted before seeking to make an application to his office.

If all alternative avenues have been exhausted, then the Official Solicitor is asking practitioners for specific information and an indexed file to assist with the decision making process. This is a much more detailed request than hitherto and is more specific than the questionnaire that has existed for a number of years.

In the letter, the Official Solicitor states: "New cases have been and will be placed on the Official Solicitor's 'waiting list' when this office has received a formal invitation from the court by way of sealed order and the capacity evidence is viewed by this office as satisfactory. They will be 'accepted' only when the acceptance criteria are satisfied and there is a case manager who can manage the case. Save in exceptional circumstances, they will be accepted in strict chronological order starting with the earliest on the list".

This of course is a factor particularly in care cases where one of the parents is mentally unwell or unable to understand the proceedings, which causes delay to the already slow process of deciding outcomes for children in foster care.

Money

Listened yesterday to the Jeremy Vine show on the way back from court (tenuous link with family law). Not my favourite radio show, but yesterday dealt with the novel idea of paying bipolar and schizophrenic patients to receive their medication by way of regular shots. It received a largely 'disgusted of Chingford' response as one might expect from the listeners of daytime radio. But actually what struck me was my own instinctive discomfort at the notion of coercing someone into taking medication that may significantly affect their functioning by financial means. Many - most - patients with enduring mental health problems of this kind are financially vulnerable, and a reluctance to take the medication which can render them dopy and affect their memory and intellectual functions, is to some extent a feature of conditions of this kind. For some the cure is worse than the disease - and a period when well and unmedicated is worth (at the time at least) the inevitable mania or relapse which will follow at some stage. Whilst it is easy for an outsider to say that it's 'better' for someone to be compliant with medication for the sake of reducing risk, it must be very difficult to accept medication which has a tendency to turn you into a zombie (albeit a safe zombie) when apparently well. To persuade yourself that you will recognise the signs of relapse and take the risk in pursuit of 'normal' or socially acceptable functioning is understandable. I'm not saying the pilot scheme discussed on the show is wrong, but I do think it would need stringent safeguards in place in order to be morally appropriate.

Equally unpalatable is the report in the Times earlier this week that members of the public will be paid to monitor a network of CCTV cameras over the internet to spot crime. Nosy neighbours from hell...

It's all about money ain't it? SIGHS.