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The Thirsty King: Uncommon Knowledge’s Mission by Mark Tyrrell

What an ancient tale can teach us about mistakes we're making in mental health today

Working as a solo practitioner can be tough. I shot this video to help rekindle your passion for what you do, and to show how the biggest problem in how we approach mental health is due to a human tendency that was recognised long, long ago. I hope you enjoy hearing the story as much as I enjoyed telling it. Click the play button below to watch.

Let me know what you thought of this video in the comments below.

  • Hi and thank you for watching. Do you think the “tale of the thirsty king” does accurately reflect the way many conditions are viewed and treated now? Let me know what you think : )

    • Jacqui Daniels-Gillen

      Yes my daughter had anorexia in late 2012. We did some very effective family based therapy which was just feeding her and literally that was it! Her brain was starving and a starving brain can’t think straight so the not eating became a habit. As soon as she was refed she started to think clearly again and experience emotions again. The only problem started when about 3/4 of the way through treatment she wasn’t gaining quite as quickly as they liked and brought in a psychiatrist who recommended Prozac. We were both not keen but they were so keen on it we gave her some. She became almost manically happy and overrate putting on much more weight than was ideal (and I mean at a rate that was not ideal) and ending up with tremors and heart palpitations! I weaned her off it ASAP. It was really detrimental to our progress as then she was back wanting to lose weight again and she had been gaining so nicely and gradually and was difficult but much more realistically recovering before the Prozac. I got the impression that they were just on a deadline to get us off the family therapy so that they achieved some target or so they could take on another sufferer. It would have been better without the psych and drugs completely natural recovery. They also did not provide the stage 3 CBT that was offered at the start if we passed stages 1 and 2. So now we are never sure whether to leave her or delve deeper into the mental side of the ED being wary it might trigger a relapse. Your story was very appropriate to my daughter’s care.

  • Melissa Rowthorn

    Hi Mark, thanks for your video. I agree with you and practice in this way as well. What is difficult, in our country, within the mental health system, is the medical model and drug treatment of mental illness is the ruling approach. Psychological treatments are mainly add on treatments to address a range of life issues secondary to mental illness and coping skills for residual symptoms, not addressed by medication or caused or exacerbated by medication. They are not offered as a viable alternative.

    Depending on diagnosis and perceived risk, people can lose control over their choice of treatment options and in the worst cases forced to take medication against their will with the assistance of the justice system or put into seclusion or acute units until they are ‘compliant’. Those with a history of noncompliance find it very difficult to get off these acts that forcibly inject medications into their bodies, as they are not trusted and are told they don’t have ‘insight’ into the value of the medication and are at risk to themselves and others if they go off, as that was how they were seen in the past.

    Of course, like you stated, there are many people supported and assisted by medication and we should not advocate for throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    However the changes I believe, need to come higher up than the practitioner level. It is systemic change we need. People could be offered a fuller wider series of options at the point of initial assessment; with medication playing a role, if required, not THE only option.

    For this to be a reality, funders need to provide resources for psychological treatments and more practitioners with this skill set, so there is access to these options. The system needs to recognise people’s choice is important, not a one size fits all mentality and systemic control over what happens to people when they enter the system.

    People themselves need to also want to do the harder work of psychological self help and support, which involves changing habitual reactions to stressful events, looking at themselves as both a cause and solution to their symptom perpetuation, be prepared to feel uncomfortable and for it to take time to recover, commitment and dedication with support. Medication has also thrived because people want quick fixes to feeling better, and that’s understandable in a mental health crisis. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg to only look at mental health crisis as a case in point. In general people are applying quick fixes to their unmet needs and issues all the time – alcohol, drugs, material possessions, short term relationships, sex, entertainment, pills, health treatments, you name it, it’s rife in our Western culture. When you talk about change in our society, this also has to change, as doctors are only giving people what they are asking for when it comes to psychological distress – give me something outside of myself to take away this feeling and experience, I don’t like it and want to feel better. We need to also not demonize doctors, as they are also trying to help in the moment with the tools they have. We need to advocate for and help people from an early age, to take more control of their wellbeing, to learn how to identify and meet their needs and help themselves more, or they will continually seek external solutions to distract them from really looking at the issues driving their distress, and finding support for and meeting the underlying needs responsible. One of these external solutions people want is a quick fix in a pill or other substance or experience, which continually traps them in the consequences and side effects of those options where the needs and underlying issues are still not met.

    Long rant,

    • Thank you Melissa
      That is an incredibly clear summation of what I was talking about in the video. Certainly the change can’t be all “grass roots” although it seems that many people genuinely do want more that a reductionist explanation and/or treatment for their difficulties. But certainly it’s wrong to demonise doctors. In fact any demonisation is counterproductive what we need is understanding which is why I told the tale of the thirsty king. Many doctors and others working from within side the system do sense that they may have part of the picture but it may be a much smaller part than they had been trained to believe.
      Thank you for your input,

  • Helena Cataford C.Ht

    Dear Mark,

    Your presentation was brilliant in it’s simplicity! Thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom.

    Helena Cataford C.Ht.
    Willow Glen Clinic

  • Khaled Abdessattar

    Dear Mark,

    Allow me to say it: You are a fu****g saint! :)

    Your presentation is brilliant, well formed, concise and meaningful,

    However, I do have some thoughts towards your work in general,
    I believe you release new contents too soon, I barely had the time to savor the last emal and post, and then I find a new one,
    In my opinion, it would be nice if you leave a small gap of time between posts,

    I am a huge fan of your work and I am hoping that I get to meet you someday in real life,
    And “Happy New Year !”

    Khaled – from Tunisia (that’s in north Africa by the way, and “No!” I’m not black)

    • Hi Khaled,I know for sure I’m no saint : ) But thank you for your kind words.

  • Debbie Lucas

    I enjoyed your video immensely and have been preaching this to “deaf ears” for most of my life! In America we place great emphasis on two attributes: 1.Their Employment and 2. How we perceive them to be. We are too quick to judge, and do so using their symptomatology rather than what truly defines them. Upon meeting an American you WILL be asked,” And what do you do for a living?”. As soon as you answer, you are labeled. Hence forth, you will be assessed via visual and audible perception by whomever you are speaking with. If you are the poor fellow who suffers depression (or any form of abnormality regarding the psyche) you “become” your diagnosis just as you became your job title. I am of the opinion, these two examples show a most intolerable characteristic trait that many possess today. And serve to aggregate the individual, negating any possibility that their perception could be wrong! How could it be any other way when we are taught that it is the “symptoms” we evaluate, never entertaining the idea that the true nature of someone could possibly be nothing less than exceptional.
    Debbie Lucas

    • Hi Debbie,

      It’s interesting what you say about being judged on what you do. Maybe that’s partly because what you “do” is linked in people’s mind to what you (the general you, not you Debbie : ) have or own. For example I have been asked on first meeting people not just what I do (which believe you me is hard to explain in a word) but whether I’m a “homeowner”.

      Diagnosis can become to be seen as a kind of property as in he/she “has” bi-polar or low self esteem etc. If what you have (your own home, a million bucks in the bank, a lamborghini or a mental illness) is too strongly linked to what you are seen to actually be then perhaps we have got into the situation of not seeing the person behind the possession even if that “possession” is a temporary emotional distress.

      What I’m trying to say is that maybe millions of us have been culturally trained to view people through the lens of what they’ve got in material terms and that has made it all too easy to transfer this way of narrowly defining other people trait onto people who “have” a diagnosis of some kind. What people have “got” is who they are. I think I just made a very simple point in an over complicated way : /

      Cheers, Mark.

      • Debbie Lucas

        On the contrary mark, your explanation was right on! I love to read your “thoughts” (philosophy and experiences), watch your videos, learn about Uncommon Knowledge” and I await, with baited breath, to enroll in one of your programs (the name escapes me right now-embarrassing). I believe it starts up again in April? My timing may be off a month or two. This particular segment (of all the programs you offer) interests me the most, at present. If I remember correctly, classes began in November 2014 and run for six months. Allow me to end my comments with a compliment. I purchased “Fear of Failure”, listened to it one time and I noticed positive changes almost immediately! This is exciting and intriguing, to say the least, ultimately increasing my already curious mind. I feel extremely fortunate to have found you on the net. You are so close to my own thinking, in regards to therapy and the patient/client/student. I have an idea for a hypnosis technique that would blend perfectly with our goals. Perhaps I could present it to you at some time, I would honor any feedback from you. Thank you for all that you have done, are doing and will accomplish in the future. If it was possible, I would join up with your great team. With that being said, if you could use me, in any way, to further your cause please do not hesitate to inquire.
        Your friend,
        PS: Please excuse all the typos, it’s been quite a few days for me…

        • Thank you Debbie it’s always good to hear I make sense.
          I’d love to hear your ideas at some point : )
          All my best,

  • Hello Marianne, well I wouldn’t have guessed English wasn’t your first language. Thank you for your encouraging words. Belonging to a religion can, it seems confer positive psychological and emotional on an individual, longer life expectancy, lower rates of depression, better survival rates for depression and so forth. This doesn’t mean that a particular religion is ‘right’ or the ‘one true path’ (there are so many ‘one true paths’) but that belonging to a religion meets, or can meet, many of the emotional primal needs such as the intrinsic need for meaning, purpose, community and so on. I’m not sure if this is what you meant Marianne though : )

  • Sally Schinkel

    Hear, hear so eloquently put and said with immense passion and great depth of sincerity and feeling.

    I enjoy learning from Mark & Roger because I get a sense of complete authenticity and a belief that they genuinely want to help us Beings to Wake Up!

    I can highly recommend ANY of their courses.

    Sally Schinkel
    Hypnosis Therapy Clinic
    Brisbane & Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

  • Laxita

    Hello Mark, currently I am reading your book it’s very well written. I am not a practitioner yet but I am aspiring to be one, psychology is my passion. Your tips are very useful I am glad that I came across this site.

  • Robert Middleton

    Many thanks Mark. I really enjoyed your video and the message of the thirsty king. I share a lot of your views, but I think it’s important to remember that, while (medical) science is not perfect, it has brought us a long way. I believe very much that if you give a problem to an engineer he or she will provide an engineering solution. A medical practitioner is no different. Most of us at some times in our lives feel anxious, afraid or unhappy, but these are not necessarily medical problems. I believe that hypnotherapy can provide help in many cases, without the need for drugs. I’ve been a teacher for most of my life, but am hoping to start a new career in a few months as a hypnotherapist. I’ll look forward to watching more of your videos and possibly attending some of your courses. Regards, Robert.