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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive and amusing, a very good read
To be honest I've never liked Alastair Campbell. But I'm not interested in the author, I'm reviewing the book.

Also, for the record, I'm Bipolar 1.

At times the book made me laugh outload, and at other times you can't help feel a strong connection to the characters who are having a bad time.
I found the end of the book uplifting, and it has made...
Published on 11 Feb 2009 by Dave Prout

versus
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Written from the head rather than from the heart
The former spin-doctor for the Labour government and writer of the generally well-received work of non-fiction THE BLAIR YEARS now turns his hand to writing a novel for the first time, and in doing so reveals some of the vices of his own past in a story that has acknowledged adaptations of autobiographical events. Drawing on personal experiences of depression and...
Published on 9 Nov 2008 by OEJ


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive and amusing, a very good read, 11 Feb 2009
By 
Dave Prout (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: All in the Mind (Hardcover)
To be honest I've never liked Alastair Campbell. But I'm not interested in the author, I'm reviewing the book.

Also, for the record, I'm Bipolar 1.

At times the book made me laugh outload, and at other times you can't help feel a strong connection to the characters who are having a bad time.
I found the end of the book uplifting, and it has made me see the people in the mental health services in a more positive light.

This book should be compulsory reading for those who secretly think that depressives are just 'weak people', and come out with stupid phrases like 'pull yoursel together'. Intelligent people will enjoy it too.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For me the book was excellent and somewhat important..., 10 Nov 2008
By 
R. MACKENZIE (Oxford UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: All in the Mind (Hardcover)
As a person that has suffered depression in the past and as someone that treats clients that are currently battling their way through mental health issues, I found this book to be a fascinating insight into the world of sufferers and into the potential problems that the professionals that treat them may obtain through their working life.

For me the book was excellent and somewhat important. You see, as a therapist one of the challenges in treating people with depression, is the way that people react to their illnesses (sometimes not even seeing them as ill at all, but attention seeking). For far too long many people have been misunderstood when they convey to friends and family that they are suffering from a mental health issue such as depression. This book would certainly help to educate those friends and family members that are willing to be open minded and to learn.

All of the story lines from the various characters were handled with respect and where delivered very interestingly.

I am looking forward to this becoming a film on the small screen sometime in the future and awaiting eagerly the announcement of Campbell's next novel.

I would be interested to hear the views of other therapists or sufferers of mental health issues on this book.

Warmly,

Richard MacKenzie
Author of Self-Change Hypnosis
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and moving., 25 May 2011
By 
MCB (Sheffield. England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All in the Mind (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this book; the first for a long time that has kept me up at night wanting to know what happens next. The characters lingered on in my head long after I had finished reading which to me is the sign of a good novel.

As a psychotherapist myself, I think Alastair Campbell has enormous insight into the vulnerability and fragility that can exist side by side, no doubt influencing and enhancing a therapist's work. Dr Sturrock is very much a wounded healer, loved and respected by his patients, but with his own angels and demons.

The patients are described vividly in all their humanity and ring true as people.

I think Alastair Campbell has used his own experience of depression in a very creative way. I hope he wil write some more fiction basd on fact. I for one will be eager to read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Certainly Not Just A Politician, A Serious Writer Too!, 9 Nov 2014
By 
This review is from: All in the Mind (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book more to find out about the mind of Alastair Campbell than anything the story, per se, promised to deliver. I find him a fascinating figure, regardless of whether people liked him as a politician or not. I wasn't disappointed with this book.

The story is plausible with a nice bit of interweaving between the (seemingly) many central characters. Campbell also seems to ooze insight into mental issues he surely couldn't have encountered first hand (the trauma of the lady who was raped or the burns' victim, for example), and I sense that it might have been cathartic for him to put to paper the predicaments and mind-sets of the chronic depressive and alcoholic. He also seems pretty good at understanding things from a psychiatrist's point of view. Some of the latter is maybe from personal experience, but there's much more of a 3D representation of the psychiatrist in this book surely than anyone might of taken from a few one-on-one sessions).

Campbell takes on a broad swathe of topics face on and deals with them honestly and pretty incisively - massive bouts of depressive, alcoholism, social anxiety, personal relationships, forgiveness, and themes on empathy and the idea that we are all subject to similar problems despite (or perhaps because of) our careers, social standing and outward personalities.

Sort of knowing who the author is it's quite hard to categorize the book. Is it purely a satire and/or comment on a microcosm of society (doubtful - there seems to be too much of him in it for that), a look at psychology, philosophy, or largely a memoir, We'd have to ask him personally.

I couldn't give it a 5* as to do so would to be to place the book in the realms of the likes of Kafka, Dostoevsky, Camus, Dickens et al and I don't think Campbell is quite at their level (although if he dedicated his life to writing I see no reason why he couldn't be), and his style of writing needs brushing up on - some of it feels a bit flat at times. A thought occurred to me that I wondered how well, despite being a 19th century poet, William Wordsworth could have enhanced the use of the language.

Overall, worth your money and time and a very good first effort at a piece of fiction (if we can call it that)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent portrayal of depression, 10 Sep 2012
By 
LyzzyBee (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All in the Mind (Hardcover)
I picked this up because my friend, Meg, pressed it upon me, and because I've already read Campbell's "The Happy Depressive" and was interested to read his novel on the subject. I was not disappointed. Martin Sturrock is a top psychiatrist, entrusted with the care of a range of people, from a Kosovan refugee to a Cabinet Minister, and his favourite patient, David, who expresses his own and Martin's depression in a way that is both lyrical and precise.

Over the course of a long weekend, several lives appear to start to unravel, including Sturrock's own, spiralling into boundaries being overstepped in a variety of ways, both positive and negative. Thoughtful, very perceptive about men's and women's experiences, and with a surprise denouement that is part of a schema or process of surprises that leave the book with a hopeful and positive ending, notwithstanding the somewhat brutal events along the way.

Recommended, especially for the eloquent portrayal of depression.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 1 Dec 2009
By 
Justin Havens - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: All in the Mind (Paperback)
Just finished reading this book late at night - couldnt not find out how things turned out. I am not afraid to admit that I was blubbing by the end and didnt want to wake up the wife! A very honest and powerful account of mental illness, the role of helpers, and the bittersweet nature of life. Religion/spirituality seemed to feature quite highly at the end - I wondered what Alistair's own experience was? I would recommend this as a novel in its own right, plus also great insight into issues of the mind, and how they can be so arresting. Look forward to a further book - though I would struggle to see how it can be added to - after all, its not like Andy McNab type stuff. I expect that it was a one off book but one that Mr Campbell can be very proud of. He may not be perfect, but i think he shows humility. He certainly understands humility to describe it as he did. Bravo!!!!!!!!
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Written from the head rather than from the heart, 9 Nov 2008
By 
OEJ - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: All in the Mind (Hardcover)
The former spin-doctor for the Labour government and writer of the generally well-received work of non-fiction THE BLAIR YEARS now turns his hand to writing a novel for the first time, and in doing so reveals some of the vices of his own past in a story that has acknowledged adaptations of autobiographical events. Drawing on personal experiences of depression and alcoholic addiction, All in the Mind explores mental illness and alcoholism by way of a cast of a psychiatrist and six of his patients spread over a period of just four days. Central character Professor Martin Sturrock harbours secrets of his own and it emerges that he is as desperate for help as his patients, one of whom is a politician with drinking problems and another is someone who has a psychotic breakdown similar to an experience the author suffered some twenty years ago.

Cynics might argue that this is not in fact Campbell's first stab at fiction and that he should be credited with the infamous `dodgey dossier' of 2003 that led to the invasion of Iraq, even if he was later officially exonerated. This new novel won't attract any allegations of scandalous untruth made against it, and while it feels authentic - the author having experienced most of these personal problems directly or indirectly - there is something of a dramatic void with regard to the narration and the reader might sense that Campbell could have dropped to deeper and darker depths of his soul in describing the stresses that the various characters endure. In his own life he has presumably come out of the darkness and up into the light a survivor, and possibly as a consequence the general flavour of the story is not the one of hopelessness or despair that might otherwise have tugged more passionately at the reader's heartstrings. The first fifty to a hundred pages are impressively brave and the writing is confident, fascinating and audacious, but eventually it becomes clear that the six patients are not so much characters as characteristics of the conditions they suffer from, and this gives off a feeling of banality as opposed to in-depth character study. The result is a book that feels more like a mildly fictionalised series of real-life accounts of depression and addiction, written intelligently but lacking the heart and passion of a decent novel. There is an air of incompleteness about it, by which I mean that the synopsis is interesting but a good editor would probably hand it back to Campbell and tell him to flesh out these characters more richly so that the re-written manuscript felt more like a work of fiction as opposed to a slightly uncomfortable account of actual events and experiences from the author's own life. Instead it feels halfway between fact and fiction and lacking the flair of a true story-teller. Interesting, though.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Fiction is the truth inside the lie", 29 Nov 2008
This review is from: All in the Mind (Hardcover)
My question is, does "All in the Mind" live up to the sensitivity and insight shown in the documentary "Cracking Up"?

"All in the Mind" is a novel about a psychiatrist and six patients, whose lives interweave with his own. Like all first novels, it owes a lot to autobiography. Alistair Campbell's own interest in psychiatry stems from his experiences openly and frankly described in "Cracking Up".

The central character, Professor Sturrock is a likeable character who cares more about his patients lives than his personal life, for which he pays the unavoidable price. The Professor has a humanistic approach to psychiatry rather than the "Give them drugs and see if they need sectioning" of modern NHS psychiatric service. As a result there are plenty of details of the lives these people, to which Professor Sturrock responds with everyday, formulaic advice. The advice such as "write down your goals", "do not be afraid to do what you want", combined with weekly homework for his patients, might as well come from a life coach,.

The theme of the book is people, and how they respond to events in their lives, rather than choosing the lives they lead. It is not obvious why Alistair Campbell wrote this book, other than these stories needed to a voice.

The book is important because of the background against which it was written and what it tells us about Campbell's role in government. Sturrock has a lot in common with Campbell. Sturrock is a man who hears peoples' confessions but has limited power to improve their lot beyond offering bland advice, regular meetings and even, when required sanctuary in his own home.

His patients include the David, the humble factory worker, whose final eulogy has a lesson for us all. Others include Emily Parkes, disfigured and desperate to regain the life she lost; Arta Mehmet, the refugee from Kosovo; Hatsatu, whose profession throws Sturrock's own moral values into confusion; and Matthew the sex addict, or not. The final patient, Ralph is Secretary of State, who Sturrock fails to help control his secret drinking.

These are people Campbell knows well. The game must be to put names to faces. However it will take someone with more inside knowledge than I have to complete the clues to this crossword, for example, "The first one is in Jelly but not in Joy"

Campbell's resignation statement contained the everlasting statement "get a life back for me and my family". In his case, it seems likely to be true. Campbell resigned at the time of David Kelly's death and war in Iraq. It is easy to understand why someone whose values are essentially decent found it difficult to continue in government. Equally, Sturrock, at the end of the book realises that something in his life has to give, whether it is his patients, his family whose lives are increasing disrupted by his work, or himself.

There is a final point. I have yet to meet, or meet anyone who has met an NHS psychiatrist who is involved with his patients lives to the extent of Sturrock. I have yet to discover an NHS psychiatrist who can spend a morning seeing six patients for an hour each or treats people with anything other than major psychosis. In the private sector Yes, in the public sector No!

This omission could be forgiven in an ordinary writer but from someone who was at the heart of government from 1997 to 2003, this is worrying. It perhaps explains why our mental health services are in the state they are. This book is evidence that no one in the Blair government bothered to look further than the bland reassurances of doctors at the "top" of the medical profession. Perhaps Gordon Brown's accusation of politicians having Style rather than Substance, applies equally to David Cameron and to the Blair government of which Gordon Brown was part.

Is this a worthy sequel to "Cracking Up"? Yes and no, it lacks the personal insights and sensitivity of that documentary but read in a historical context, it is well worth the money.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of humility, 9 April 2009
By 
This review is from: All in the Mind (Paperback)
I was surprised by the power and emotion of Alastair Campbell's first novel which is about a psychiatrist, Sturrock, who treats a number of extremely difficult cases: a former prostitute, a manic depressive, a wife who has been raped in her own home, and a pretty girl who has been badly scarred in a fire. Sturrock is a good psychiatrist and appears to 'cure' his patients, but he himself is sick: he visits prostitutes, his marriage is in a terrible state, and he is alienated from his adult children. The novel is compelling because of the way Campbell has entered the minds of his characters with his deceptively simple but readable prose. He has an eye for the small, domestic details which are so important in people's lives. A compassionate wisdom permeates the book, a humility even. I was surprised because he has such an aggressive persona himself. The suicide at the end of the book made me wonder whether the death of David Kelly changed Campbell; there is none of the bravado you'd expect from him. This is not a machismo novel in any way; more a deconstruction of masculinity. I was very drawn to one passage which the manic depressive writes towards the end of the book. In it he says: "I am as important as you are...You are as important as I am. We are all important to ourselves and to the people who matter to us...Humility is knowing we are all as important as each other. And even the ones we think are really important, the ones we see on the TV or put on pedestals, in the grand sweep of history, and amid the great forces of nature, they are grains of sand."
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5.0 out of 5 stars forget who wrote it this is good, 11 April 2014
This review is from: All in the Mind (Paperback)
Right, forget everything you know of the author as a spin doctor and political figure. This book provides a good insight into mental illhealth whilst also being a damn good read.
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