The Life and Times of a High-Security Psychiatric Patient
Michael Maclean [pseud], my maternal uncle, was detained within the high-security psychiatric system from 1972 to 2002 after being convicted of a criminal offence and sectioned under the 1959 Mental Health Act. Maclean’s offence carried a maximum sentence of five years, but his hospital order was for an indefinite time period. I am researching a historical memoir centred on Maclean’s experiences, investigating his life in these institutions and the medical care they provided. The project draws on privileged access to institutional files; archival material; my recollections of childhood visits to my uncle; interviews with Mikey, family members, former patients and clinical staff. The result will be an indepth examination of the world of a high-security psychiatric patient and the social, medical and judicial institutions that shaped it. The work combines theoretical investigations into mental illness, secure institutions and the criminal justice system, with creative experimentations in life-writing. Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton have often been associated with a small number of notoriously violent individuals. This creative project seeks to narrate the life of a man whose ‘psychopathy’ rendered him highly stigmatised and to consider the implications for institutional and public responses to serious mental illness.