Mind Reading: Mental Health and the Written Word

Arts Building - Lecture Rooms 6 and 7 (2nd floor)
Monday 18 June (09:00) - Tuesday 19 June 2018 (17:00)

Queries relating to the Mind Reading Project can be addressed to Dr Melissa Dickson (University of Birmingham).


Do clinicians and patients speak the same language? How might we bridge the evident gaps in communication? How can we use narrative to foster clinical relationships? Or to care for the carers? How does illness impact upon our sense of self?

This two-day programme of talks and workshops is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, UCD Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Diseases of Modern Life and Constructing Scientific Communities Projects at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Together we seek to explore productive interactions between narrative and mental health both historically and in the present day.

Bringing together psychologists, psychiatrists, GPs, service users, and historians of literature and medicine, we will investigate the patient experience through the prism of literature and personal narrative to inform patient-centred care and practice, and focus on ways in which literature might be beneficial in cases of burnout and sympathy fatigue. The conference is open to professionals, academics, students and the general public.

The topics covered in the conference workshops will include:

  • Lived Experiences
  • Teaching the Arts in Psychiatry
  • Using Narrative to Promote the Privilege to Care
  • Understanding Doctors’ Vulnerability
  • Cultural Metaphors for Illness
  • Writing Therapy
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Pariah Syndrome and why people desert the ill
  • Narrative, Culture, and Public Health

See the full draft conference programme

Further reading on the ‘Mind Reading: Mental Health and the Written Word’ project, including a toolkit of resources and details of last year’s conference, can be found on the group’s website 

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities