The independent London newspaper

Hearing Voices – changing ideas on mental illness

07 July, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor

Composer Jocelyn Pook

Versatile Islington composer Jocelyn Pook’s Hearing Voices is being performed at The Coronet in Notting Hill over four days next week, from Wednesday to Saturday (July 12-15).

The piece looks at changing perceptions of mental illness – hysteria, madness, dementia and psychological disturbance – through the bewilderment, embarrassment and stigma associated with it. When premiered five years ago, one critic observed that the composition approached the topic “with taste and integrity”.

It’s a theme very personal to Pook whose family has been touched by mental illness over three generations.
Her great-aunt spent her last 25 years in an asylum and her mother wrote a novel, In Two Minds, about her own breakdown and horrific medical treatment.

“What used to be called ‘hysteria’ a century ago is now seen in a completely new light,” says the composer.
“I’m fascinated how psychosis is so often associated with creativity. Artists and composers down the ages have been affected with numerous mental disorders.

“Perhaps these creative spirits are merely more receptive and in a sense reflect, like litmus paper, the greater illnesses in society.”

 Hearing Voices, July 12-15 at The Print Room at The Coronet, 103 Notting Hill Gate, W11, 7.30pm, 020 3642 6606,

Share this story

Post a comment