If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Career

I am a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and a writer. I read Medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, trained in psychiatry at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and undertook further specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, London. 

For a decade, while working as a junior doctor, I had a parallel career in medical journalism, working both freelance and as an editor at the British Medical Journal (BMJ). During that time, I had six books published, one for international medical graduates and five about mental health, for the public.

My clinical interests are in paediatric neuropsychiatry and medicolegal work. I am an experienced expert witness in Family Court cases and in asylum cases involving minors. In 2013, I was appointed by the Lord Chancelllor as a Medical Member of the First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health).  

I have two MSc degrees, in Mental Health Studies and in Medical Humanities (with distinction), both from King’s College, London. My academic interests are in the medical humanities, especially in illness narratives, narrative medicine, life writing and the arts in health.

 

Academic Background

My PhD uses Critical and Creative Writing methodologies to address four questions:

 

1. What metaphors are used by doctors and patients when communicating about foetal death?

2. Is there a conflict between the way obstetricians imagine and describe foetal death and the way that women experience it?

3. How are parental-foetal relationships represented or denied through these metaphors?

4. How do these representations inform medical understanding of grief and maternal mental health?

 

 

My creative component is a memoir about miscarriage, motherhood and madness. Entitled, From Here to Maternity, it is about my experience of recurrent miscarriages. My experience as a patient enabled me to re-examine things I had taken for granted in my professional experience. While experiencing miscarriages, I worked in a small team commissioned by the Family Court, to provide expert witness assessments of children who the local authority was applying to remove from their birth parents. Almost all my professional conversations were about motherhood and madness, about what makes a good enough parent and what causes harm.  Away from work, I was preoccupied with the smallest physical signs of life and those signs that might herald impending foetal death. These collisions, of private experiences as a woman miscarrying, and my professional experiences as expert witness and member of the judiciary made me curious about how stories are told by parents, by professionals and by the courts. I kept notes of those often incommensurate narratives and on how they seemed to be constructed. Being a patient myself, albeit an obstetric one, made me construct expert assessments and judge things differently. 

 

My obstetric team used military metaphors to describe his treatment plans. My immune system, they postulated, was mounting an attack on embryos, identifying them as enemy invaders’ The consultant suggested I had high numbers of cells called natural killer cells and his proposed treatment was presented as a counterattack. Throughout that pregnancy, I lived with my husband, an army officer, on a large military headquarters. The politics and poetics of war were part of my life during that pregnancy.

 

My critical writing investigates the language used in the recent British medical literature and in the writing of women in memoir and fiction, to describe foetal death, with a particular focus on deaths in early pregnancy. 

 

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Science, King's College London

20 Sep 20174 Sep 2018

Award Date: 17 Jan 2019

Master of Science, King's College London

18 Sep 20006 Sep 2002

Award Date: 6 Sep 2002

Royal College of Psychiatrists

1 Aug 19993 Apr 2002

Award Date: 3 Apr 2002

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry

20 Sep 19925 Jun 1998

Award Date: 5 Jun 1998

External positions

Medical Member, First Tier Tribunal (Mental Health), Ministry of Justice

28 May 2013 → …

Network

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or