My introduction reveals that I am currently facing a health condition that most of us have come to dread for quite some time: Coronavirus. Luckily, my symptoms are currently mild, but the emotional impact has been greater than expected because of the ongoing after-effects of the drug I was given to combat prostate cancer—Prostap-3—so I go on to discuss the impact of this on not just my life, but those of other sufferers too.
The main interview is with Anne Goodwin, a novelist and short story writer who had a long career in the British National Health Service as a clinical psychologist. She spent a large portion of that career in a long-term psychiatric hospital, and she provides some fascinating insights into that work before going on to talk about her novels and the way she weaves her knowledge of psychiatry into her stories.
We cover the history of mental health institutions and how they first came into being during the 19th century, but also how they ended up growing to become far too large to provide the kind of care that was really needed, with both the patients and staff becoming ‘institutionalised’ in a way that was actually detrimental to mental health.
During Anne’s time working with the NHS, these large hospitals were gradually dismantled, with the emphasis shifting to providing ‘care in the community’, which has had its own set of challenges. But Ann is something of an activist on behalf of the benefits of good mental health care, as well as criticising bad practices, and is particularly motivated to support early intervention, where parents are given the best possible chance to raise young children in a nurturing environment.
Ann then talks about her three novels, Sugar and Snails, Underneath and Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, and the way in which they are informed by her work as a psychologist, which makes her characterisation especially strong and believable!
Finally, the Relaxation on the Beach meditation explores how to allow thoughts to come and go during practice, before focusing on the value of close friendships and ensuring that we express our gratitude for them.
Resources and bonus material for this show
Books referred to in this episode
- Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin
- Underneath by Anne Goodwin
- Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin
The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.