Edited by Victoria Tischler (a psychologist in the Division of Psychiatry at The University of Nottingham), with forewords by Dinesh Bhugra (Professor of Mental Health and Cultural Diversity at King's College London) and Allan D. Peterkin (who founded ARS MEDICA: A Journal of Medicine, The Arts and Humanities), this handbook is intended to provide guidance on medical humanities teaching in the field of mental health.  After a short, familiar introduction to the need for such teaching, Tischler offers concrete guidance on how to begin establishing a medical humanities course.  The subsequent chapters deal with topics, perspectives, and forms of art one might include in such a course.  There is a "brief history of psychiatry through the arts" by Allen Beveridge which is, as we are warned in the title, somewhat cursory, but also well-written and thought-provoking.

Following this are chapters on the use of cinema, poetry, literature, creative writing, drama and theatre, and music in medical humanities teaching for mental health, interspersed with essays on Hans Prinzorn, who collected paintings and pictures by the mentally ill; art psychotherapy; community arts (where, as the authors point out, there is no "interpretative component" but rather a focus on participatory creativity); and the blues.  The authors include psychiatrists, artists, mental health nurses, and counselors/therapists, and the book includes a lovely selection of color plates.


This handbook has many practical features; although the approach taken by the authors is varied and sometimes idiosyncratic (one offers a blow-by-blow account of a day as a teacher and therapist), the authors are also clearly aiming to provide practical, useful, and, perhaps most importantly, replicable advice.  The authors give enough information to allow their readers to sketch out what they would need to do to if they were to follow the authors' advice, but not so much information that it is overbearing; one feels as though the authors would be amply flattered by a similar course or a similar lesson and would not insist that their reader mirror their every move.  In fact, the idiosyncracies mixed with this clarity proves to be very inspiring.


Radcliffe Publishing

Place Published

New York




Victoria Tischler

Page Count