Professor John Read

Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs

John Read is Professor of the Department of Professional Psychology, School of Psychology, University of East London. He worked for almost 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the US, before joining the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1994, where he worked until 2013. He has served as Director of the Clinical Psychology professional graduate programmes at both Auckland and, more recently, the University of Liverpool.

He has published over 150 papers in research journals, mainly on the relationship between adverse life events (eg child abuse/neglect, poverty etc.) and psychosis. His research has led to: >170 publications, >7,700 citations, 49 book chapters, 5 books and >60 keynote/plenary addresses.

He also researches the extent to which mental health services enquire about adverse life events, the negative effects of bio-genetic causal explanations on prejudice, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the experiences of recipients of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medication, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in mental health research and practice.

John is Chair of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and is on the Board of the Hearing Voices Network – England. In 2022 he was listed in Stanford University’s register of the top 2% most cited researchers in the world, and was inducted as a Life Member of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis. He has been the Editor of the ISPS’s scientific journal ‘Psychosis’ for 14 years.

Areas Of Interest

  1. The relationships of life events (e.g.childhood neglect and abuse) and circumstances (e.g. poverty, ethnicity) to the development of psychopathology (e.g. psychosis, depression and suicidality); and the need for primary prevention programmes, especially in the early years of life. This stream includes a focus on the biological and psychological (e.g. attachment, dissociation) processes by which adverse early life experiences lead to negative outcomes.
  2. The extent to which mental health professionals are asking about, and responding appropriately to histories of childhood abuse and neglect, and the development and evaluation of training programmes to improve this area of clinical practice.
  3. The stigmatisation of people with mental health problems, especially the roles of causal beliefs and amount of contact with users of mental health services.
  4. Evaluating the effectiveness of services for severely disturbed mental health patients.
  5. The phenomenology of psychotic experiences, especially how people who hear voices (hallucinations) and have unusual beliefs (delusions) understand those experiences, including Maori perspectives.
  6. The influence of the pharmaceutical industry on public opinion, research and clinical practice.