I Don’t Talk to Dead Bodies by Dr Rhona Morrison

Today it’s my great pleasure to join the blog tour for I Don’t Talk To Dead Bodies, the memoir from Forensic Psychiatrist Dr Rhona Morrison. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and to the author for the advance copy of the book. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 15 September 2022
Publisher: Right Book Press

About the Book

Prepare to be intrigued, amazed and astonished as you join Dr Rhona Morrison on an often funny, and at times downright bizarre, thought-provoking and eye-opening rollercoaster ride through some of the most curious encounters of her career as a leading forensic psychiatrist.

Delve into the minds of real people, whose actions may shock and stun you, but who’s stories have the power to challenge your assumptions and the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Travel directly into their living rooms and see behind the closed doors of hospitals, prisons and court rooms. Lift the lid on Dr Morrison’s jaw-dropping experiences with murderers, stalkers and other dangerous offenders as she attempts to make sense of some highly unusual situations. Discover the true stories of the inspiring human beings who are bravely learning to live with major mental illness.

I Don’t Talk To Dead Bodies shines a powerful, emotional and surprisingly moving spotlight on the fascinating life of a forensic psychiatrist and the people she works with. It goes beyond the sensationalist headlines to show you just what happens in a world where mental illness occasionally makes good people do bad things.

My Thoughts

Forensic Psychiatry is perhaps one of the key fields in criminal justice that I know little about. The people who not only have to assess and diagnose whether or not the perpetrator of a crime may be suffering from some kind of mental health issue that drove them to their actions, but who also have to treat them, clinically and medicinally, afterwards, ensuring that they have the care and support then need, be that inside or outside of prisons or secure mental health units. In Dr Rhona Morrison’s memoir we are treated to a fascinating and often emotional glimpse of her life and, by extension, the work she has done with patients and convicted criminals to remove the stigma of mental illness and to better understand the people she has been treating.

The book takes readers all the way through the author’s life to date, from her early childhood and time spent with her beloved sister Vivienne, the person who inspired her to become a Psychiatrist in the first place. Vivienne’s mental impairment and arguably premature death, led to the author working hard and pushing herself to be able to study medicine, specifically geared towards Psychiatry, with an intention to specialise in learning disability psychiatry. We follow her through her early childhood, her teenage years, and come competitive badminton playing which ultimately leads her to meet her future husband, Richard. As she walks us through each stage in her life a clear picture starts to form of someone who is completely passionate about her field, about understanding and ultimately helping those people most in need, from children in need of a sympathetic ear and a competent ‘poo detective’, to offenders and ex-offenders who often just need a firm hand.

Whilst the author refrains from walking us through too many of her cases, many of which I am sure would be truly upsetting, as much for the patient as perhaps those they have offended against, she gives us enough of their stories to be able to understand the highs and lows of this very specialised and important field. From stories that, whilst disturbing, will also make you smile a touch – can you imagine having to ask someone not to bring a machete into your workplace next time around? – to those that are just heartbreaking, and sometimes just plain scary, Rhona Morrison challenges perceptions of what it means to be mentally ill and breaks down those barriers that prevent us from seeing those to do bad things as anything than just plain evil. It is seldom that simple.

There were times when this book had me chuckling, times when even the simplest of situations prove that with the right approach you can make a significant difference, but, perhaps more surprisingly, times when I really did feel the emotions leak out of me. Literally. By the end of the book tears were forming. This was a really emotional read and whether it is the author’s innate understanding of how our minds work or just the very human way in which her story is presented, the ending made me cry. It goes to show that no matter what your training or experience, you can never be granted immunity from the tragedies of life. This is a memoir after all, and whilst it does cover the medical cases which have shaped her career, this is Rhona Morrison’s own story, one I feel very lucky to have read. It may be short but it packs a real punch. Emotional, thought-provoking and honest, it is most definitely recommended.

About the Author

Dr Rhona Morrison is a retired Forensic Psychiatrist, who worked in the NHS for 32 years. Born and bred in Scotland, into a working class family, she has a grounded approach to life, with a generous helping of humour. She learned the importance of being non-judgemental and supportive through her relationship with her sensory impaired sister, who had learning and physical disabilities. This prepared her well for working with mentally disordered offenders in custody and in the community, where she often felt humbled by their resilience and privileged to be part of their journey. As a passionate advocate of the de-stigmatisation of mental illness, she hopes her writing can shine a light on this specialist area of practice, so often impacted by negative attitudes and damaging assumptions.

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5 thoughts on “I Don’t Talk to Dead Bodies by Dr Rhona Morrison

  1. Sound like a fascinating read, will have to put this on my read list. I Iove books with that personal life experiences and things on how people see the world and the impact they have on others thanks for sharing

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