Maudsley Lecture | The Singing Detective: A place in the mind

 Registration is closed for this event


The Singing Detective: A place in the mind
16 May
David Bell
7.00pm - 8.30pm
10 Windsor Walk SE5 8BB or online via Zoom
Chaired by: Anne Patterson & Emma Hotopf  

The Singing Detective is by general agreement Dennis Potter's masterpiece and perhaps one of the greatest drama works written for television. In the 6-part TV series we encounter Phillip Marlowe, a detective story writer who lies in his hospital bed (referred to by Potter as "a place in the mind") stricken with the most severe crisis of the incapacitating psoriatic arthritis that he has suffered for much of his life. However, it is clear that we are to take this physical state as a metaphor for a kind of psychological breakdown in which he comes into contact with childhood experiences that created the foundation of the cynicism world that dominated his life. We witness this hallucinatory and anguished inner world as he struggles to come to terms with primitive guilt and loss. Potter skillfully weaves inner and outer realities, past and present, into his narrative in a manner that demonstrates the extraordinary depth of his understanding of the inner world. 


Please can you watch the BBC series of ‘The Singing Detective’ before the lecture on the 16th May. Below is the link to the 6 episode series that you can access for free. David Bell will give a synopsis but it would be a much better experience if you have watched the series.


Dr David Bell is a past President of the British Psychoanalytical Society.

He retired in January 2021 from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust where he established and led the Fitzjohn’s Unit a service for the most complex and severe adult cases referred to the Trust. 

He lectures and publishes on a wide range of subjects including the development of psychoanalytic concepts, the work of Freud, Klein and Bion and the psychoanalytic understanding of severe psychological disorder. For his entire professional career, he has deeply involved himself in interdisciplinary studies – the relation between psychoanalysis and literature, philosophy and socio-political theory – and has lectured and written extensively in those areas.

Books include: Reason and Passion, Psychoanalysis and Culture: a Kleinian Perspective, Living on the Border, Turning the Tide (on the work of the Fitzjohn’s Unit) and one small book, Paranoia. During his professorial fellowship at Birkbeck College (2012–2013) he focused on different forms of degradation of knowledge and thinking.

He is one of the UK’s leading psychiatric experts in asylum / human rights. He has been deeply involved in thinking about the current debate over gender dysphoria in children and adolescents, trying to maintain a thoughtful and psychoanalytic perspective in a highly toxic and politicised climate. 


Concession tickets are available, for students, BPAS candidates and NHS trainees. Please email if you are unsure if you qualify for a concession ticket.

REFUND POLICY: Tickets are fully refundable until 14 days before the lecture, after which time no refunds will be issued.

Views and opinions expressed by speakers are their own and do not represent the views or opinions of the Institute, event organisers or other speakers. We expect delegates to respect the confidentiality of clinical material discussed in our events. The content must not be recorded, conveyed or disseminated in any format and participants must not share access to the event with non-registered participants.


May 16th, 2022 7:00 PM through  8:30 PM
Online via Zoom
United Kingdom
Event Fee(s)
Standard Online via Zoom £ 25.00
Concession ticket Online via Zoom £ 15.00
Standard In Person £ 25.00
Concession In Person £ 15.00
If selected, only members with the status New, Current or Grace and those that have a website account will be able to register for this event.
Standard Online via Zoom £ 25.00
Concession ticket Online via Zoom £ 15.00
Standard In Person £ 25.00
Concession In Person £ 15.00