• Fiction's Madness

Fiction's Madness

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ISBN 978 1 906254 23 0 (2009)
Cover Price: £14.00
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Fiction can be a powerful adjunct to mental health education and practice, its capacity to clarify and enlighten aspects of the field beyond doubt. With a rare gift for making the scholarly accessible, Liam Clarke presents an original interpretation of mental health issues based on some of the greatest works of English fiction. Utilising plays and novels, as well as a wide range of critical sources, he provides many fascinating and provocative insights into human distress, its effects and consequences both past and present. If we seek to encounter people and not to decode them, so must we look at ourselves from whatever perspectives we can. This groundbreaking book makes a fine contribution to an enterprise that is as necessary as it is enjoyable and rewarding.

Clarke's book is the first sustained examination of literary texts aimed at informing and amplifying views, attitudes and beliefs about mental distress, this book is ideal supplementary reading for trainees in clinical psychology, psychiatric nursing, counselling, psychotherapy, psychiatry, social work, and all those with an interest in human distress.


1:   What is a novel?

2:   Fiction and madness

3:   Regeneration: Pat Barker

4:   Richard III: Shakespeare

5:   The Yellow Wallpaper: CP Gilman

6:   Jake’s Thing: Kingsley Amis

7:   Macbeth: Shakespeare

8:   Steppenwolf: Hermann Hesse

9:   Felicia’s Journey: William Trevor

10: Metamorphosis: Franz Kafka

11: A Question of Power: Bessie Head

12: Asylum: Patrick McGrath

13: The Good Soldier: Ford Madox Ford      

14:  Conclusion

A few years ago I planned a Psychology in the Real World course where participants would each be given a DVD of Hamlet and asked to do a presentation on what it revealed about people, psychology and mental health ... This was influenced by Peter Chadwick's brilliant book Personality as Art and, in the days when psychologists had freedom in the NHS rather than being pressured to boringly follow an evidence-based cookbook approach, seemed an exciting way of bringing clinicians and people who access our services together to jointly learn from our most insightful psychologist, William Shakespeare.  Liam Clarke has taken this approach in a thought-provoking book where he helps the reader glean insights into human behaviour, psychiatry and the provision of mental health care through choosing nine novels and two plays that address the complexity of these matters and put them in an historical and social context in a way psychology experiments and academic texts rarely manage. Guy Holmes, Clinical Psychologist, Shropshire.

Psychology in the Real World and Personality as Art, both published by PCCS Books.

Liam Clarke

Liam Clarke PhD is currently Reader in Mental Health at the University of Brighton. He has published widely in the field of mental health particularly in relation to ethics, ethnicity, gender and issues of disease and ‘mental illness’.

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Liam Clarke