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Everybody be cool

'Mindfulness? What the f**k is mindfulness?' asked Copperfield's registrar. So he looked it up on Wikipedia...

'Mindfulness? What the f**k is mindfulness?' asked Copperfield's registrar. So he looked it up on Wikipedia...



Funny how certain words and phrases insinuate themselves, without you noticing, into the medical lexicon. ‘Funny' as in ‘annoying'. Hence, ‘robust', ‘downsize', ‘federation' and so on.

From a clinical perspective, one of the chief corrupters of our language is the field of psychiatry – particularly the fluffy, touchy-feely, ‘How does that make you feel?' sector.

They've contributed the following, all of which are now established psycho-babble but which sounded novel and vaguely exotic at first: ‘counselling', ‘cognitive-behaviour therapy' and ‘neurolinguistic programming'. Actually, I'm not sure if I can really hold psychiatry responsible for NLP. But I can say I once went to a NLP study day, and everyone involved seemed bonkers.

Anyway, the shrinks have contributed a new one: ‘mindfulness'. I've vaguely been aware of this as a concept for a while but it was only the other day that I fully realised a) it seems to be a bona fide treatment and b) I haven't a clue what it is. This was prompted by a conversation with our registrar.

He'd sent a patient to the CMHT for some anxiolytic chat-therapy and received a letter in reply saying that the fluffheads were going to try ‘mindfulness' on his patient. The full extent of my ignorance because apparent when he asked me, not unreasonably, ‘What the f*** is mindfulness?' and I found myself pulling odd faces rather than speaking.

So I've looked it up. Wikipedia, fast becoming my number one source of EBM, states it's 'a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is'. In other words ‘mindfulness' is a way of saying to the patient ‘don't worry and go away'. Cool.

I see myself as being at the cutting edge of modern practice, so I'm going to incorporate this into my consultations. In fact, I already do, it's just that I hadn't been aware of how mindful I've been for all these years.

And I'd like to extend the concept, too. Say hello to ‘arsefulness'. As in, I've had an arseful of commissioning, boundary changes, cuts, busted budgets, revalidation, extended hours and so on. Using arsefulness, I'm assuming, as per mindfulness, I can stop worrying and they'll go away.

If that doesn't work, I'll try NLP.

'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.

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