‘The remarkable story of a remarkable person’
– Psychiatrist in the Chair
Psychiatrist in the Chair:The Official Biography of Anthony Clare by Brendan Kelly & Muiris Houston has just been published with Merrion Press. It is the first biography of the much-loved Irish psychiatrist, writer and broadcaster Anthony Clare (1942-2007) and features exclusive interviews with Clare’s friends, family and celebrity interviewees. The book also includes previously unpublished images from Clare’s personal papers.
I am delighted to be joining the blog tour today with Midas PR bringing you all an extract from Psychiatrist in the Chair, a book that has been described by The Irish Times as ‘a biography of an Irish giant of psychiatry…gives a truer picture of a ‘shrink to the stars’’ Please do read on for further details about the book, an extract featuring actress Glenda Jackson and a preview from Merrion Press.
[ About Psychiatrist in the Chair ]
Born in Dublin in 1942, Anthony Clare was the best-known psychiatrist of his generation. His BBC Radio 4 show, In the Psychiatrist’s Chair, which ran from 1982 to 2001, brought him international fame and changed the nature of broadcast interviews forever. Famous interviewees included Stephen Fry, Anthony Hopkins, Spike Milligan, Maya Angelou and Jimmy Savile, each of whom yielded to Clare’s inimitable, gentle yet probing style.
Clare made unique contributions to the demystification and practice of psychiatry, most notably through his classic book Psychiatry in Dissent: Controversial Issues in Thought and Practice (1976). This book, the first, official biography of this much-loved figure, examines the man behind these achievements: the debater and the doctor, the writer and the broadcaster, the public figure and the family man. Using extensive public and family records, we ask: Who was Anthony Clare, really? What drove him? And what is to be learned from his life, his career, and his unique, sometimes controversial legacy to our understanding of the mind? This is the remarkable story of a remarkable person.
Contents of Book
1. Introduction: Who Was Anthony Clare?
2. Background and Education (1942-66)
3. The Making of a Psychiatrist (1966-1976)
4. Writer: Psychiatry in Dissent (1976)
5. Psychiatrist, Scientist, Professor (1976-89)
6. Broadcaster: In the Psychiatrist’s Chair (1982-2001)
7. Return to Ireland (1989)
8. Work, Life and the Crisis in Masculinity (1989-2007)
9. The Psychiatrist in the Chair
[ Extract ]
Finding its Feet
In a Radio Times interview on the eve of the first episode of In the Psychiatrist’s Chair in 1982, Clare spoke about the curious position occupied by the profession of psychiatry in the United Kingdom compared to the United States, and he hoped that his series would make the science behind psychiatry more accessible. Elsewhere, he bemoaned an over-emphasis on the flawed and the negative in psychiatry, and expressed a hope that the radio interviews would help shift attention to a more positive focus: while psychiatry was indeed concerned with the flawed and the negative, it was also concerned with values, strengths, survival and positive impulses. What keeps a person from breaking down, he argued, is just as relevant as what pushes them to the brink.
The first interview in the series, with actress Glenda Jackson, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 6.55 p.m. on Saturday, 31 July 1982. It started with a classic Clare theme: Why are you here, and how do you feel about doing this interview?
CLARE: How do you feel, Glenda, about talking about yourself and revealing the private person as distinct from the public persona?
JACKSON: I think I’m enough of an egomaniac to enjoy the idea of talking about myself. How much it will reveal I really don’t know, because I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation like this before.
CLARE: Do you often reflect on what has brought you where you are?
JACKSON: Well, if I ever do reflect, it seems to have been a process of accident, and I don’t know whether I actually accord any validity to the theory that there are no such things as accidents.
The interview with Jackson was open, frank and fascinating, touching on her childhood, career in acting, and fears that she suffered a minor nervous breakdown
CLARE: Were you so low as to feel that life really had lost its purpose?
JACKSON: My prevailing sense was the most overwhelming panic and terror that life itself was going to end. It was at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, and I was absolutely convinced that every aeroplane that went over was carrying the first bomb that was going to be dropped. It actually took a concrete external fear form for me.
CLARE: Did you tell people that?
JACKSON: I don’t think I did, no. I had one very bad night when I had this terrible shaking, and I went to see the doctor the next day, and I was given some form of tranquiliser. The effect was so horrendous, I threw the bottle into the dustbin and would never take anything like that again.
CLARE: Did you dream then?
JACKSON: If I did I can’t remember what the dreams were. I can remember waking up in a cold sweat, but that happens to me still. I sometimes wake up with my teeth firmly clenched, covered in cold sweat – I’ve been in some nightmare.
CLARE: But you can’t recall it?
JACKSON: Not directly. The most recurring nightmare is always of being chased – I take to the sky to avoid my pursuers, but they tend to be able to walk in the air too, so on it goes
For more please click on the link for access to an exclusive preview of Psychiatrist in the Chair via Merrion Press
Purchase Link ~ Psychiatrist in the Chair
[ About the Authors ]
Brendan Kelly is a Professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry and author of Hearing Voices: The History of Psychiatry in Ireland (Irish Academic Press, 2016) and Coping with Coronavirus (Merrion Press, 2020).
Muiris Houston is a medical writer and health strategist, a specialist in occupational medicine, Adjunct Professor of Narrative Medicine at Trinity College Dublin, and writer-in-residence at Evidence Synthesis Ireland, at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a columnist with the Medical Independent and The Irish Times. Muiris is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the University of Sydney. He is an honorary fellow of the faculty of pathology of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.