Art of Psychiatry Society

Cancelled: Screening of “The Arbor” followed by Q&A with director Clio Barnard. 6pm 17 February Wolfson Lecture Theatre IoPPN
February 1, 2015, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
the arbor
Update 8 February 2015
Unfortunately due to unforseen circumstance we have had to cancel this event.  We are sorry for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.  We will post details of upcoming meetings in due course. 
Upcoming Art of Psychiatry Society meeting held in colloration with the Maudsley film club

Screening of film The Arbor (2010) followed by Q&A with director Clio Barnard.

Tuesday 17th February 2015 at 6pm in The Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience

Please join us for a film screening and Q&A of The Arbor (2010) on Tuesday 17th February 2015 at 6pm in The Wolfson Lecture Theatre, IoPPN.

We are thrilled that the writer and director, Clio Barnard, recently awarded the inaugural Wellcome Trust and BFI Screenwriting Fellowship, will be joining us to discuss her original and moving film following the screening.The Arbor is an experimental documentary on the life of the playwright Andrea Dunbar and meditation on memory and family relationships.Andrea Dunbar grew up on one of the roughest estates in Bradford but against the odds, wrote three plays, all produced at The Royal Court, including “Rita, Sue and Bob Too” (later made into a successful film). She was on the brink of major success but drinking heavily and sadly died of a brain haemorrhage in a public house aged just 29. She was survived by three children.Barnard explores her extraordinary life and legacy using actors lip synching real interviews with her children, archive footage of Dunbar, and restaged excerpts from her plays on the estate where she lived. They reveal the subsequent impact on her children and show how different their experiences and memories of the same events can be.Trailer for the film:

Upcoming meeting Tuesday 25 November 2014 6pm Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience Seminar room 6 Dr Trevor Turner “Psychiatry in Shakespeare: Ministering to diseased minds”
November 19, 2014, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Theatre





Upcoming Art of Psychiatry Society meeting

Tuesday 25 November 2014 6pm Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience Seminar room 6

Dr Trevor Turner

“Psychiatry in Shakespeare: Ministering to diseased minds”


Psychiatry and Shakespeare have had a tortuous relationship, ever since ‘Alienists’ established themselves as a specialty in the early 19th century. Henry Maudsley, John Bucknill and Cesare Lombroso (of criminal head shape fame) all had their say, and psycho-analysts went to town on Hamlet. This ‘diagnosing’ of characters in Shakespeare is more than unreliable (silly even), but within the canon there is a rich range of behaviours and personalities deemed “mad”, as well as outlines of causes, symptoms and even treatments. There is even a hero pretending to be “mad Tom”. Dr Turner will discuss the similarities between the ‘mad’ about which Shakespeare writes and the work of psychiatrists today. Shakespeare can help us understand the social matrix that so often is missed; it’s also beautifully written, so reading/watching Shakespeare can really make you a better psychiatrist!


About Trevor Turner:

Dr Trevor Turner completed a Classics degree before switching to medicine and studying at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, then training in psychiatry at the Maudsley. He was a consultant in general adult psychiatry in Hackney until 2013. During his career he has had a keen interest in the arts. He has published numerous articles on the history of psychiatry, psychiatric practice in inner city areas, and the treatment of schizophrenia.

Please join us for our last meeting of the year.

All welcome (including psychiatry trainees, service users, consultants, IoPPN staff and the general public) – wine and snacks provided.




Upcoming Art of Psychiatry Event: Film screening “All Divided Selves” – Luke Fowler’s film about RD Laing followed by Q&A with Luke Fowler/Ton​y David/Vaug​han Bell – IoPPN Wolfson Lecture Theatre 6pm Thursday 16 October 2014
September 29, 2014, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Film
All_Divided_Selves (RDL young)_PRINT

Upcoming AoP meeting: film screening of “All Divided Selves” followed by Q&A with artist and filmmaker Luke Fowler, Prof Antony David and Dr Vaughan Bell

Date: Thursday 16 October
Time: 6-8:15pm (screening approx 6-7.30pm)
Venue: Wolfson lecture theatre Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience

How to find the IoPPN:

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with artist and filmmakerLuke Fowler, in discussion with Professor Tony David and Dr Vaughan Bell from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

All Divided Selves explores the life and legacy of the controversial Scottish psychiatrist, R D Laing (1927-1989). Laing famously argued that normality entailed adjusting to an alienating and depersonalizing world. Thus, those society labels as ‘mentally ill’ are in fact ‘hyper-sane’ travelers. The film concentrates on Laing and his colleagues as they tried to acknowledge the importance of social environment and disturbed interactions within institutions in the aetiology of human distress and suffering. Using a collage of archival material the film portrays the vacillating responses to Laing’s radical views and the less forgiving responses to his latter career shift; from eminent psychiatrist to enterprising celebrity.

This is an open meeting – all are welcome (including psychiatry trainees, service users, IoP staff, and members of public). No need to book – just turn up.

Wine and snacks provided. Look forward to seeing you there!

About Luke Fowler and RD Laing:
Luke Fowler:
RD Laing:

All Divided Selves:

Image credit: Luke Fowler, All Divided Selves, (2011, 93′, 16mm film, UK, 2011, B&W/colour, sound) Courtesy: Luke Fowler and LUX

Speaker meeting: Professor Roger Cardinal – “Responding to Outsider Art” Institute of Psychiatry Tuesday 23 September 6pm Seminar room 1
September 5, 2014, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Art, Uncategorized


Upcoming Art of Psychiatry Speaker meeting meeting:

Professor Roger Cardinal – “Responding to Outsider Art”

Institute of Psychiatry Tuesday 23 September 6pm Seminar room 1

Outsider art is a term used to describe art created outside the mainstream art establishment, and is often applied to work created by psychiatric patients.

Roger Cardinal is widely known for his publications on self-taught art, in particular his pioneeing book Outsider Art of 1972. He has also written on French Surrealism and the early avant-garde, and is currently preparing a monograph on the mediumistic artist Madge Gill.

This talk will offer specimen works of Outsider Art originating in a variety of material contexts and involving a range of belief systems and mental perspectives. It will provide a general map of the field and will use illustrations from the work of some classic creators, as well as little-known recent artmakers. Professor Cardinal will seek to clarify what is at stake when we encounter such productions. What do we need to know about the author of a given work? Is a purely technical perspective adequate? Is there beauty to be savoured, or a whole new aesthetic to be established? Can we dwell within enigma? Outsider Art is rather special, and the viewer needs to adopt a sensitive stance toward the work and its maker.

Talk followed by questions and discussion.

This is an open meeting – all are welcome.  Wine and snacks provided.  Look forward to seeing you there!


Mug up beforehand:

Roger Cardinal

Outsider art

Speaker meeting: Dr James Whitehead “Creativity and madness – debunking the myth?” April 8 2014
March 27, 2014, 8:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Speaker meeting: Dr James Whitehead “Creativity and madness – debunking the myth?”

Tuesday 8th April 2014 6pm Institute of Psychiatry Robin Murray lecture theatre A

The idea that creativity is linked to mental illness has long been ‘one of the characteristic notions of our culture’, as the American literary critic Lionel Trilling wrote in 1945. It has informed, among many other things, popular representations and stereotypes of artistic or literary ‘genius’, whether as personality or as practice, a range of polemics about modern art, decadence, and the avant-garde, the formation of the idea of outsider art, and psychoanalytic readings of culture.

But when, how, and why did this idea become so popular and widespread? In this talk Dr Whitehead will discuss the ways in which it was popularized or stereotyped in the nineteenth century, with particular reference to the image of the ‘mad poet’, and examine the extent to which we might think of it as a romantic (or Romantic) myth.

James Whitehead is currently Wellcome Research Fellow in the English department at King’s College London, attached to the interdisciplinary Centre for the Humanities and Health. His first book examines nineteenth-century writing (including poetry, journalism, criticism, biographical writing, medical and psychiatric literature) which linked poetry and poets to madness. It is under review for publication with Oxford University Press as Madness and the Romantic Poet. Whitehead’s current research project moves from literary mythologies surrounding madness to the realities (and unrealities) of its experience, and examines the history of autobiographical writing about mental illness

We look forward to seeing you there!

This is an open meeting and all are welcome.  As usual there will be snacks and wine

Review: The man whose mind exploded
March 9, 2014, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized



The Man Whose Mind Exploded documentary film by Toby Amies

Review by Greg Neate

With a handheld camera and sometimes haphazard footage, this part gonzo documentary, part affectionate tribute sees first-time director, Toby Amies, investigate the final years of a determinedly individualistic yet vulnerable man, living alone on a Brighton council estate.

While Drako Oho Zarhazar’s colourful past contains enough source material for its own feature length film, it’s his cognitive impairment and declining health that draws the detective filmmaker into acting beyond being his champion. Breathlessness and neglected leg sores seduce Amies into becoming a carer for his friend, in as much as friendship’s possible with someone whose amnesia means he can’t recall who this frequent, camera-toting visitor is.

That’s not to say that ‘Drak’ lacks for an identity, as is evident from his tattooed and pierced physique that fills the screen. For this septuagenarian, “the world is my stage, so appearance is very important”; a personal assertion that would be widely endorsed by all who ever shared a bus journey with this Daliesque moustachioed, caped and croc wearing pensioner.

Still even his appearance only hints at what’s inside his cluttered, one bedroom flat where self-penned notes, old letters and eye-catching, male pornography dangle on countless strings creating a hectic, projected installation of his mind. With these hanging threads, Drak remains connected to his past, whilst Amies tries to see through them to understand how his film’s ‘star’ can live independently amongst increasing disorder but without apparent doubt.

“Trust. Absolute. Unconditional.” declares Drak, a motto which is permanently inked on his arm and which he adopted whilst recovering from his second life-threatening brain injury. It’s one of many repeated phrases and recollections that prevent him from becoming a stranger to his past, despite insisting that he lives “completely in the now”.

Interviews with his sister and nephew demonstrate that the former dancer and interior designer can relate meaningfully with those from his pre-injury past. His sister observes that despite being changed in character after his last coma, the ‘damaged’ Drak is more likeable, if still as irresponsible and hedonistic in spirit as ever.

As interesting as The Man Whose Mind Exploded makes as a case study, the film goes further by revealing the relationship between the two men, which tests each other’s tolerance. The ever stubborn subject faces down further do-gooder interference, the observer struggles with how far to intervene whilst faced with sheer bloody mindedness. This demonstration of exasperated but respectful caring for an individual’s autonomy and well-being is an unexpected outcome and it’s likely that no one would have been more surprised than this lifelong pleasure seeker.

However, with regards to whether either party is being exploited, the honours are often hilariously shared. “Do you think its fair for me to film stuff” asks Amies “when I know you’ve got brain damage?” “Yes” Drak replies instantly while plucking at his own nipples pleasurably, “because I enjoy being used!”

On the nearby pebbled, naturist beach, their mutual trust is most movingly displayed when filmmaker leaves his camera to appear cheekily in frame and assist his elder, disrobed friend with rising to his feet.

The Man Whose Mind Exploded is being screened at the British Film Institute, London as part of BFI Flare, the London LGBT Film Festival. Tickets are now on sale.  Mar 26 6:20 PM, Mar 29 6:40 PM, Mar 30 8:40 PM

Film website

Link to trailer

Link to facebook page

Review of secure by Audrey Gillan
February 2, 2014, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Radio


‘Secure’ by Audrey Gillan

Radio 4 – Afternoon Drama

Lightning fast dialogue and inspired by recent events, this Radio 4 drama delivers an imaginative and believable back story that engages right up to its gut wrenching end.

Unmistakably set in playwright Audrey Gillan’s native Glasgow, the troubles of two teenage girls in care maybe at the extreme end of experience, yet their concerns are common to many coming of age within a climate of individualism and instant interaction. What could be a voyeuristic re-enactment has universal themes, where those who are vulnerable and disenfranchised carry unquenchable feelings of hopelessness and loss.

“I want you to lock me up! I need to be safe!” shouts the middle class and bullied Siobhain though an intercom as she seeks entry from ‘the Open’ side of the care home into ‘Secure’; a place where “you’re locked up, but you feel protected”. All too quickly, her continual longing leads her and troubled roommate, Kerry, on a fateful journey to view the city lights.




Rachel Cooper’s Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science discussion by Hopkins branch of Maudsley-Johns Hopkins Reading the Mind Book Group
January 30, 2014, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

rachel cooper

By Nicole Leistikow

Discussion of Rachel Cooper’s Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science made for a cozy chat on a wintry December 5th evening, accompanied by pasta and pinot noir. Cooper’s straightforward prose and promptly terminated sentences came as a relief after the group had grappled with Thomas Szasz a few months before. It didn’t hurt that she takes on Szasz with refreshing clarity: “Szasz claims that mental illness is a myth, but he is wrong about this.” She goes on to explain that when the best explanation for a behavior is “sub-personal,” meaning biological and physiological in origin, then that behavior can be thought of as a symptom of a mental illness rather than a purposeful action. She was rather preaching to the choir in this setting, as all around the table, from attending to intern, had spent recent time on the inpatient wards and had difficulty viewing acute exacerbations of psychosis as anything intentional.

On the topic of psychosis, the discussion leader tried to interest the group in the question of whether psychiatrists should take LSD to better understand this phenomenon from the inside, an actual 1956 experiment that Cooper describes, but the chocolate truffles must have been too satisfying, because no one would make the argument that further chemical stimulation was needed. This did spur conversation on the role of empathy in treatment, and whether doctors who are simple prescribers need any warmth at all to do their job. The point was made that whether writing scripts for anti-psychotics or anti-hypertensives, physician’s acting with empathy can impact patient buy-in and adherence.

From there, the question turned to dualism and reductionism, and whether practitioners of the latter are less empathic, as people. Cooper seems to be trying to make peace between the various factions, concluding that “dualism is compatible with all neuroscientific findings” and that most reductionists can still agree that mental states are something more than brain states. The Churchlands’ views on eliminative materialism were discussed and a 2007 New Yorker was produced along with a delightful imagined conversation of Paul and Patricia Churchland after a long day of work attributing their mental states purely to neurotransmitter flux. The evening ended early with the call of toddlers for some and “tea” for others, as the group sallied forth into the snowy chill to take up their various domestic and social responsibilities, encouraged by the conclusion that if psychiatry is not purely a science, it is a practical discipline with enough rigor to be analyzed and made clearer by the likes of Rachel Cooper.


Speaker meeting: 18 February 2014 Victoria Tischler on ‘Art in the asylum’
January 30, 2014, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Art of Psychiatry speaker meeting as part of the Edward Adamson Festival

Dr Victoria Tischler on “Art in the asylum”

Tuesday 18 February 6pm Institute of Psychiatry Seminar room 1

Victoria Tischler is Associate Professor in Behavioural Sciences, School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham and curator of the recent exhibition “Art in the Asylum”. She joins us to talk about the exhibition which examined the evolution of artistic activity in British psychiatric institutions from the early 1800s to the 1970s and the reception of asylum art into mainstream artistic circles. This time period saw the shift from invasive treatments of mental disorders to more humane regimes in which creativity played a significant role.

This event is part of the Edward Adamson Festival, which is celebrating the life and work of Edward Adamson (1911-1996).  Adamson was a visionary pioneer of art as therapy and the founder of the Adamson Collection. The festival programme is available at

This is a public meeting and all are welcome.  Wine and snacks provided.


Link to short film about exhibition:
Interview with Victoria on the AoP blog:
Art at the Institute:

twitter: @artofpsychiatry

Information on finding the Institute of Psychiatry:

Details about the IoP are found on this page

Institute of Psychiatry,
King’s College London
16 De Crespigny Park
London SE5 8AF

The Denmark Hill Station serves Overground and national rail trains.  The nearest underground station is Elephant and Castle or Oval.

Seminar Room on is next to the main door when entering the De Crespigny Park entrance.

January 14 2014: Helpless Compassion’: From Samuel Beckett’s ‘Not I’ to the Francis Report
December 21, 2013, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sam Beckett

Beckett participatory workshop – ‘Helpless Compassion’: From Samuel Beckett’s ‘Not I’ to the Francis Report

Seminar Room 1 Institute of Psychiatry Tuesday 14 January 2014 start 6pm (end approx 7.30pm)

**Please note that we can only accommodate a maximum of 25 participants at this workshop.  Please sign up by emailing***

Workshop facilitator: Jonathan Heron (IATL Teaching Fellow, University of Warwick / Artistic Director, Fail Better Productions.)
Discussion chair: Dr Elizabeth Barry (Associate Professor in English University of Warwick)

Please join us to participate in a workshop on Samuel Beckett’s Not I (1973) which will explore Beckett’s play in performance and reflect on the insights it provides into concepts of mental disorder, and doctor-patient interactions.

This workshop evolved from collaboration between scholars and clinicians during the Beckett and Brain Science project (Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2012).  It demonstrates activities adapted from the performing arts and has been used in medical education for consultant psychiatrists and multi-professional teams (Health Education Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 2013).

Following the workshop, Jonathan Heron will be interviewed by the AHRC Project Investigator, Dr Elizabeth Barry about their collaborative work in the Medical Humanities.

More information about previous workshops and the Beckett and Brain science project can be found at: