Matthew Johnstone – I Had a Black Dog

In 33 illustrations, and minimal text, Matthew Johnstone communicates the sense of what it is to have depression. This is a narrative with few words, but it gives a profound insight – one that resonates with those who have had depression, and can help hugely those living with someone who is suffering its blackness.
How does it do it? Using Winston Churchill’s metaphor of the black dog, Johnstone powerfully represents the physical presence that is depression. He captures the facial expressions, postures, and inertia that are the essence of the hopeless loneliness in a depressive dead-end. Apart from those aging, … Read more...

Scott Stossel – My Age of Anxiety

What is it about these writers with anxiety? How can they make their panic attacks and phobias simultaneously heart-rending and hilariously funny? (Cf Woody Allen, Dr Johnson, Groucho Marx, Matt Haig, etc. etc. etc.)

My Age of Anxiety is at once the riveting personal story of an American writer’s life-long encounters with psychiatrists, counsellors, and psychotropic drugs of all kinds, including a fair amount of family disclosure, and at the same time an intelligent discussion of the history of anxiety disorders and their treatments, and of the nature-nurture debate about their causes. It is authoritative and scholarly, while also being … Read more...

Suzanne O’Sullivan – It’s All In Your Head

Suzanne O’Sullivan is neurologist who has a particular interest in epilepsy. As a result she encounters people who have ‘dissociative seizures’ – fits which are not accompanied by the usual abnormal brain wave activity. These ‘pseudo’ seizures – the term has now been superceded – form the entry point for the world of ‘psychosomatic’ illness and ‘psychogenic’ conditions.

Anyone who works as a clinician will meet people who have symptoms that are unexplained by their diagnosis, or not consonant with neuroanatomy, or whose severity seems out of proportion with the pathology causing them. Indeed, anyone working as a clinician for … Read more...