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Remarkable lives: Spencer Insley in conversation with Jerome Carson

Spencer Insley (Department of Psychology, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)
Jerome Carson (Department of Psychology, University of Bolton, Bolton, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to provide a profile of Spencer Insley.


Spencer gives a short biographical account and is then interviewed by Jerome. Areas covered in the narrative are the misery of mental illness, the prodromal signs of illness, hospital admission and discharge to supported accommodation.


Apart from the losses resulting from a diagnosis of major mental disorder, Spencer also talks about the loss of friendships. His admission to hospital was especially traumatic, leaving him frightened and confused and feeling he was treated like an animal.

Research limitations/implications

While Spencer's is only one story of many, his experiences have a sorry familiarity to them.

Practical implications

Too long denied in the history of psychiatry, service user narratives help us understand the nature of mental suffering and the often inadequate nature of service responses to mental distress.

Social implications

Involuntary admissions to hospital need to be handled in a more therapeutic manner.


So often it is nurses and occupational therapists who have the most impact on the lives of those with lived experience. Psychiatrists were felt not to be interested in Spencer, whereas his community mental health nurse “Had a genuine interest in what I was doing and how I was getting along”.



Insley, S. and Carson, J. (2015), "Remarkable lives: Spencer Insley in conversation with Jerome Carson", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 17-21.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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