My Sam Smith Mystery Series features psychologist Dr Alan Storey. Occasionally, reviewers refer to Dr Storey as a psychiatrist, which invites the question: what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour of humans and animals. As a social science the aims of psychology are to understand individuals and groups through a set of general principles and through research into specific cases.
The roots of psychology can be traced back to the ancient civilisationsof China, Egypt, Greece, India and Persia. Aristotle and Plato wrote about the mind while in the 4th century BC, Hippocrates identified that emotional disorders had a physical rather than a supernatural cause. The teachings of Confucius and Buddhism added to our knowledge.
During the Age of Enlightenment, psychology became a ‘hot’ topic. Many notable thinkers, including Rene Descartes, John Locke, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill expressed opinions on the subject. While in the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin’s Theory of Revolution invited more radical thought.
As the tree of psychology grew, inevitably, it developed numerous branches, or schools. These included: Psychodynamic, Behaviourism, Cognitive, Humanistic, Bio-Psychology and Social-Cultural. Dr Alan Storey is a Humanistic Psychologist, someone who believes in an holistic approach to human existence with the emphasis on creativity, free will and the positivity of human potential. Humanists also believe that we need to fulfill an hierarchy of needs, outlined in the graphic below, before we can achieve self-actualisation, the process of realising and expressing our capabilities and creativity.
In contrast, psychiatry is a medical discipline devoted to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental disorders. These disorders include various problems related to behaviour, cognition, mood and perceptions.
The earliest known texts on mental health stem from Ancient India. Indeed, psychiatric hospitals were established in India in the 3rd century BC. Moving through the centuries, specialist hospitals such as the Bethlem Royal Hospital were established in medieval London.
By the turn of the eighteenth century, asylums were rare. However, by the beginning of the twentieth century they had become familiar landmarks on the landscape. Psychiatrists believed that asylums were the answer. Unfortunately, these asylums created problems such as institutionalism, which led, in the late twentieth century, to more enlightened thinking and a wider range of treatment options for the patient.
So, to answer our initial question, what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Psychologists focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioral intervention. Whereas, through their medical training, psychiatrists can prescribe medications and therefore they spend some of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment.
For detailed advice about psychological and psychiatric issues please visit your medical practitioner or the BetterHelp website.
My novel Sam’s Song discusses the taboo subject of domestic violence. Many thanks to Sarah Fader for this guest post.
Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects people of all races and genders. There are two parties involved in an abusive relationship, the abuser and the survivor (the abused). Some people might not understand why a person who was getting physically abused would stay in a relationship. To the outside observer this doesn’t look like love, it looks like violence. Here’s an innocent person who is being beaten or intentionally hurt in a violent manner by someone whom they’ve grown to trust and love. Why would they stay in this situation?
People stay in abusive relationships for a multitude of reasons. First, the abuser isn’t always mean. In order to gain the trust of the survivor, the abuser can be charismatic and even appear warm and loving. Once they’ve secured an attachment and gained the trust of the abused, they have power over them. Another clever trait of an abuser is that they put on a good show to the outside world. People often don’t believe survivors because the abuser is a good “actor.” They might be well-known in the community as a good father or a hard-working professional.
There are many different forms of abuse that fall under the category of domestic violence. Physical abuse is a form of harm that can sometimes be seen. When a person is abused they may have broken bones or bruises. The abuser has to come up with clever ways to hide what they’ve done to their partner. They might threaten to harm them further if they tell a family member, friend or the authorities what’s actually going on.
In domestic violence relationships, there is a constant dynamic of power and control. The abuser wants control over the survivor. They will do just about anything to get this control and maintain it. They often cut their partner off from family, friends, and any social contact outside out of the abuse. The survivor (or the abused) feels that they need the abuser in their life, because they’re made to feel that they have no option other than to stay in the relationship. And the abuser continually reminds them of this. The abuser might say things like “you can’t do any better than me,” or “you’re nothing without me.” This makes the survivor feel like they are trapped and cannot leave the relationship. They also start to view abuse as love, because that’s all they know.
Sometimes people do not realize they are in an abusive relationship until other people make them aware of signs of abuse. The abused person may not believe their friend at first. They might make excuses, become defensive or blame their friend for being jealous of their partner. All these behaviors make it difficult for the survivor to affectively see what is going on in their abusive relationship.
If you suspect that you are in an abusive relationship you might think to yourself “where can I find a therapist near me?” There are so many resources that you can use to find a mental health professional whether that person is an online therapist or one that you meet in person. If you suspect that a friend or loved one is in a domestic violence situation speak up and let them know that you are there to help. Nobody should suffer alone.
Through her looks and life story, Gene Tierney has provided the inspiration for two of my characters – Ann Morgan in my 1944-5 Ann Morgan Mystery Series and Dana Devlin in my forthcoming Sam Smith Mystery Series novel, The Devil and Ms Devlin. Therefore, in appreciation of Gene Tierney’s life and career, I decided to write this article.
Born on the 19th November 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, to a wealthy insurance broker and a socialite mother, Gene Tierney enjoyed a privileged upbringing, an upbringing that included exclusive schools, extensive travel and glamorous parties. Aged seventeen, she met Anatole Litvak, an influential Hollywood director, and he invited the debutante to make a screen test for Warner Brothers. Impressed by her looks and potential, the studio offered her a contract. However, her parents were not pleased.
Obeying her parents, Gene Tierney returned to Connecticut where she endured a mind-numbing season of debutante parties. At the close of the season, she informed her parents of her desire to carve out a career as an actress. On this occasion, her parents offered their support. Her father, Howard, secured mentoring and schooling, and he formed a company, to assist Gene in her ambitions.
Gene Tierney’s early theatre performances attracted the attention of Warner Brothers who, once again, offered her a contract. However, she turned them down; instead, she signed a six month deal with Columbia.
With Gene Tierney’s star on the rise, eccentric movie mogul Howard Hughes entered the picture. He was besotted with her beauty. However, as she later pointed out, “Cars, furs and gems were not my weakness.” And she rebuffed Hughes.
Despite the rebuff, Howard Hughes remained friends with Gene Tierney, one of many influential and powerful people she encountered during her life. At this stage, she was a contract actress with a major studio, reduced to roles dependant on her looks, rather than her acting ability. Then she caught the eye of Darryl Zanuck, of Twentieth Century Fox. Later, Zanuck stated that Gene Tierney was, “the most beautiful woman in movie history.”
In 1940, Gene Tierney played Eleanor Stone in The Return of Frank James. The reviews for the movie, and Gene’s performance, were unkind. Indeed, Gene endured a number of unfavourable reviews throughout her career, and while some of those reviews were merited, you have to wonder if jealousy, over her looks and privileged upbringing, was also at play.
Also in 1940, Gene Tierney’s private life changed direction. She met fashion designer Oleg Cassini and within months the couple were married. Once again, her parents were not pleased and a rift developed within the family. Over time, that rift widened until Gene was cut off financially, and from Connecticut high society.
Stressed, and enduring a string of dubious movies and poor reviews, Gene fell ill. Nevertheless, she remained in Hollywood and continued to work, landing the lead role in the 1943 movie, Heaven Can Wait.
In June 1943, a pregnant Gene Tierney contracted rubella. On the 14th October 1943, she went into premature labour and soon after her daughter, Daria, was born. Tragically, the rubella affected Daria’s development and she suffered from a number of impediments.
With professional help, Gene Tierney and Oleg Cassini raised Daria at their Hollywood home. While adjusting to her maternal responsibilities, Gene landed the title role in Laura, in 1944, arguably the highpoint of her acting career. Although the film received mixed reviews – a consistent thread throughout Gene’s career – it did well at the box office, netting over a million dollars, and now is regarded as a cinema classic. As Vincent Price, one of her co-stars in Laura, said, “No one but Gene Tierney could have played Laura. There was no other actress around with her particular combination of beauty, breeding and mystery.”
The success of Laura should have brought Gene Tierney great happiness. However, Oleg Cassini could not cope with his daughter’s disability and, in 1946, he walked out of the family home.
Before that, in 1945, Gene Tierney starred in Leave Her to Heaven, and received an Oscar nomination for her performance. In 1946, she co-starred with Vincent Price in Dragonwyck and during the filming she met J.F. Kennedy. A relationship developed, but was not pursued because of J.F.K.’s political ambitions.
In 1947, Gene Tierney made The Ghost and Mrs Muir. However, unhappy with her personal life, she decided to leave Hollywood and returned to Connecticut. In 1948, while constantly crying tears for Daria, Gene went through a whirlwind of emotions with Oleg Cassini – they divorced, Gene became pregnant, she gave birth to a second daughter, Christina, on the 19th November 1948 her 28th birthday, and later remarried Cassini.
Unable to cope with Daria’s health problems, Gene bowed to Oleg’s insistence and placed her daughter in an institution. At this point, Gene’s health faltered and she slipped into deep depression. Mood swings ensued. A lack of understanding from the medical profession and the stigma from an uncaring society added to Gene’s problems. She threw herself into her work and later wrote, “As long as I was playing someone else, everything was fine. It was when I had to be myself that the problems began.” She added, with great insight, “Depression is only a temporary thing. I’ve often thought that if people who committed suicide could wake up the next morning they’d ask themselves, ‘Now why in the world did I do that?’”
In the early 1950s, Gene divorced Oleg Cassini for a second time. Her career, personal life and health were in crisis.
In 1955, while working with Humphrey Bogart on The Left Hand of God, Bogart noted that Gene had problems. He alerted the executives at Fox studios, but they dismissed his concerns in flippant fashion. As Gene Tierney later wrote, “It was the fashion at the time, still is, to feel that all actors are neurotic, or they would not be actors.”
On set, Gene continued to work to a high standard, while at home she struggled to cope with the basic tasks of life. In despair, Gene entered a sanatorium. Within the sanatorium, she received electroconvulsive-therapy, a degrading and barbaric practice, now considered inappropriate by many mental health professionals.
In the spring of 1957, Gene Tierney contemplated suicide. In New York, she walked on to the ledge of her mother’s 14th floor high-rise apartment. She later wrote, “I felt serene…totally without fear.” However, she didn’t jump because vanity took hold. She confessed, “I thought of what I’d look like when I hit the ground – like a scrambled egg. That didn’t appeal to me.”
More treatment followed, but thankfully treatment of a saner, helpful variety. Gene entered the Menninger Clinic in Kansas. There, in an atmosphere of peace and quiet, she was encouraged to talk. With support, she developed skills and coping strategies, until she reached the stage where she felt more in control of her illness. Today, even though drugs and other treatments are available, talking often remains the best cure.
While on holiday in 1958, Gene met W. Howard Lee, a Texas oilman. A year later, she resumed her acting career in Holiday for Lovers, but the strain proved too much, and she dropped the part. However, on the 11th July 1960, she did marry W. Howard Lee and stated, “The only time I was really happy was in my childhood – and now.”
After continued treatment at the Menninger Clinic, small acting roles followed, along with greater insight into Gene’s problems. She later wrote, “If you break an arm or a leg it takes months for it to really heal, and years for it to be the same again. So you can imagine the problems with a broken mind.” And, “More than anything, I learned that the mind is the most beautiful part of the body and I am grateful to have mine back.”
In 1962, Gene suffered a miscarriage. Bouts of depression and periods of mania followed, but when they faded she was able to reflect on them with humour, often joking with her new husband.
Although not reaching the heights of Laura, Gene appeared in movies and television series, until 1969 when she quit Hollywood and television for good.
W. Howard Lee died in February 1981, and from that point on, after years in the spotlight, Gene Tierney decided to live a life of seclusion.
Gene died on the 6th November 1991, of emphysema, a condition brought on through chain-smoking; at the start of her acting career, and showing no regard for the individual, the studio suggested that Gene should take up smoking, to make her voice huskier.
Gene Tierney wrote, “Wealth, beauty and fame are transient. When those are gone, little is left except the need to be useful.” And she served that statement well by writing her autobiography, Self-Portrait, in 1979. Through her frank and honest account of her life, Gene Tierney helped to break down the stigma of mental illness, and along with her numerous movies, that stands as her greatest legacy.
Further reading: Self-Portrait – Gene Tierney with Mickey Herskowitz.