Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham

Psychiatric Tales
by Darryl Cunningham
Blank Slate, 2010

A stark collection of anecdotes from Cunningham’s experiences as a health care worker in an acute psychiatric ward, which focuses chapter by chapter on specific conditions and topics, and gradually warms up into a compassionate, demystifying catharsis, like a mournful symphony.

The artwork is deliberately simple with some nice transitional touches – a labyrinth becomes a crossword, glasses become handcuffs. The chapter ‘People With Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives’ has brief biographies of Churchill, Judy Garland, Brian Wilson, Spike Milligan and Nick Drake. The chapter on suicide is much more harrowing. Despite a certain amount of distance, it’s a very personal book and was obviously an important work for the author, which is better than just churning them out for the spondoolies.

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