This month’s British Journal of Psychiatry has another one of its fantastic ‘psychiatry in 100 words’ series, with this month’s column focusing on literature.
The short piece is by psychiatrist Femi Oyebode who is the author of a recent book (pictured on the left) on the subject that covers everything from literary accounts of drug abuse to the use of narrative in fictional accounts of mental illness.
Literature and psychiatry ‚Äî in 100 words
Reading works of fiction and attending to the language, the dialogue, the mood is like listening to patients. In both activities, we enter into other worlds, grasp something about the inner life of characters whose motivations may be unlike our own. D. H. Lawrence referring to this aspect of the novel wrote: `It can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead. Therefore the novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places of life’. Is this not also, partly, the task of psychiatry?