S7 Medical humanities and psychiatry: the role of literature in training

Date: Monday 10 July
Time: 3.25pm - 4.40pm
Stream: Clinical practice

The care that psychiatric patients receive in hospital has more recently become the focus of attention in the light of media reports of poor practice, coercive treatments and callous behaviour by staff. In this session, we aim to to draw attention to the experience of inpatient care drawing on literature including fiction and autobiographical accounts.

Femi Oyebode will discuss a classic text dealing with the toxic environment of private asylums in the early 1800s. John Perceval (1803-1876) was the son of Spencer Perceval, Prime Minister from 1806 until his assassination in 1812. In his Narrative of the Treatment of a Gentleman he described his treatment at Brislington House and Ticehurst House, both private asylums.

Allan Beveridge will focus on Alasdair Gray’s (1934-2019) novels, Lanark and 1982 Janine. These novels are literary reworkings of Gray’s experience of mental illness. Lanark will feature on the cover of the BJPsych next year.

Horatio Clare, a writer and broadcaster will talk about his experiences of mental illness and the care that he received drawing on his book Heavy Light. An Account of Mental Illness. (https://horatioclarewriter.com/biography)


This session aim to 

  • Raise awareness of the subjective experience of patients of the psychiatric care environment
  • Illustrate the value of the medical humanities as a teaching tool that makes explicit the life of patients as they deal with their illness
  • Raise the value of the arts within psychiatric practice

Chair: Hannah Ali, East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom


Femi Oyebode, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Allan Beveridge, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Horatio Clare, Independent Writer and Journalist, London, United Kingdom

Hannah Ali, East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom

Please email congress@rcpsych.ac.uk or call 020 8618 4120 with any enquiries.