Dickens' characters on the couch: An example of teaching psychiatry using literature

B. C. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The value of literature in medical education is widely accepted by medical teachers. There are examples of psychopathology in the characters of novels that provide illustrations of particular psychiatric diagnoses. Characters created by Charles Dickens, often eccentric, have been deemed to suffer from mental disorders. This may be because Dickens could draw on his extensive contact with Victorian psychiatry and interest in psychopathology to create authentic characters. He is widely acknowledged to have described many other medical conditions in his fiction and his writing is already used to teach medical students. This article reviews Dickens' contact with psychiatry and outlines the mental disorders possibly suffered by the characters under ICD 10 diagnostic headings. These descriptions, while interesting in their own right, may also prove useful to clinicians and teachers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Humanities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Dickens' characters on the couch: An example of teaching psychiatry using literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this