Psychiatrist in the Chair: Delving into the great mind of Anthony Clare

Biography of an Irish giant of psychiatry gives a truer picture of a ‘shrink to the stars’

Dr Anthony Clare, circa 1985. Photograph: Leon Morris/Hulton Archive/Getty

Dr Anthony Clare, circa 1985. Photograph: Leon Morris/Hulton Archive/Getty

When the high walls around St Dympna’s Psychiatric Hospital in Carlow were pulled down in the early 1960s, locals were uneasy. The hospital was only a few hundred yards from St Leo’s, my boarding school, and I remember fearful chatter among the girls about “mad people”.

Little by little as we passed the lowered walls on our Sunday walks and saw people out enjoying the green lawns and the sunshine, just like us, we began to relax. Some, like me, were to find out how easy it is to become mentally ill and how important it is to meet with compassion and acceptance, not to be locked away.

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