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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Mind reading: Tolstoy’s Oak Tree Metaphor: Depression recovery, and Psychiatric ‘spiritual ecology’

Today, Raj Persaud is discussing this paper authored by Professor Jeremy Holmes and published in the journal ‘Advances in Psychiatric Treatment’.

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Jeremy Holmes is a psychiatrist and Professor of psychotherapy at the University of Exeter.  He is best known for his work in Attachment Theory and its applications to psychotherapy and psychiatry.  He also has written extensively on the relationship between literature and psychiatry, most recently in his book The Therapeutic Imagination: Using literature to deepen psychodynamic understanding and enhance empathy.




Tolstoy’s life and work illustrate resilience, the transcendence of trauma, and the enduring impact of childhood loss. I have chosen the famous ‘oak-tree’ passage from War and Peace to illustrate recovery from the self-preoccupation of depression and the theme of ‘eco-spirituality’ – the idea that post-depressive connectedness and love applies not just to significant others but also to nature and the environment.



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Each month our podcast team broadcasts the very latest breakthroughs and discoveries in neurosciences, psychiatry and psychology.


Podcast editors:

Dr Raj Persaud






                     Dr Raj Persaud

Dr Peter Bruggen

Dr Peter Bruggen


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