Diseases of Modern Life’s programme of research speaks to many of the most pressing issues of our time, including work place stress and burnout, increases in psychological disorders, and education and mental health in the young. The project’s historically informed and multi-disciplinary approach gave rise to Mind Reading, an ongoing collaboration led by Child and Adolescent psychiatrist Elizabeth Barrett (Children’s University Hospital Temple St and University College Dublin) and literary historian Melissa Dickson (University of Birmingham).
Mind Reading was founded upon a simple question: do clinicians and patients speak the same language, and how might we use literature to bridge the evident gaps? We are interested in how literature might function as a source of comfort or a frame of reference in moments of pain, trauma, and physical and mental illness, in how medical and clinical knowledge might be deployed and refracted through literary worlds, as well as the ways in which literary techniques like textual analysis might be employed as tools to foster understanding between medical learners, healthcare providers, service users, and family members.
Our pilot conference, Mental Health and the Written Word, was held at the beautiful dlr LexIcon Library in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin in March 2017. The full conference programme, with more videos from the day, is available here
Our second conference, The Role of Narrative in Mental Health, was held at the University of Birmingham in June 2018. The full conference programme, with videos from the day, is available here
Our third conference, Adolescence, Literature and Mental Health, was held at St Anne's College, University of Oxford in May 2019. The full conference programme is available here.
Our fourth conference is scheduled to take place at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin, on Friday, 3rd April 2020