Welcome to our Early Bird programme. The full programme will be released at the end of March.
Up Top was the name given locally to the Mid Wales Mental Hospital above Talgarth; a double meaning like 'round the bend', which often located asylums elsewhere – out of sight and out of mind. Purcell’s hitherto untold history, based on archives and oral testimony from staff and patients, shows how mentally ill people were treated through the 20th century. At first the ‘lunatic asylums’ relied on a strict regime of fresh air and bromide. Then they became ‘mental hospitals’, trying desperate measures like leucotomy, deep sleep narcosis and electro convulsive therapy. Then the word ‘mental’ was dropped and ‘psychiatric hospitals’ moved into the era of heavy drugs and psychotherapy. Finally, community care took over. The history of the Mid Wales’ was typical of many institutions that lie as ruined monuments to our attempts to help the mentally ill.
A persuasive and inspiring argument exploring the subject matter of his radical and brilliant book Lost Connections. Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, as we are often told. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions – ones that work.
Adam, an editor at Nature, explores the ground-breaking neuroscience of cognitive enhancement that is changing the way the brain and the mind works – to make it better, sharper, more focused and, yes, more intelligent. Sharing his own experiments with revolutionary smart drugs and electrical stimulation, he delves into the sinister history of intelligence tests, meets savants and brain hackers, and reveals how he boosted his own IQ to cheat his way into Mensa.
The author of The Compatibility Gene introduces the revolutionary new science of the immune system with its breakthrough medical cures. He discusses how stress, sleep and ageing affect our health. “As David Attenborough opens our goggling eyes to the natural world without, so Daniel Davis brings us face to face with the stunningly clever and, yes, beautiful world within” – Stephen Fry. Davis is Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester.
Chaired by the Adam Rutherford, presenter of BBC Radio 4's Inside Science.
Dr Gallagher from the Department of Radiology at the University of Cambridge discusses the basis of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), how it is currently used to image cancer and what the future of oncological imaging may entail.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 50. Andy Bradley, founder of Frameworks 4 Change, recognised by the Observer and NESTA as one of Britain’s Most Radical Thinkers, talks about his own experience of depression and suicidality, and explores the role of shame. Sarah Stone is currently Executive Director for Wales for Samaritans. Luke Woodley is a British Army veteran who has pieced his life back together having developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving under the UN in Bosnia in 1993. Dr Roger Kingerlee is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the NHS and specialises in addressing male defence mechanisms, engaging male civilians and military veterans in care, and suicide prevention.
They discuss why men might be vulnerable and how communities might rise to the challenge of male suicide. Benna Waites, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, facilitates.
The eminent neurologist examines the stories of people whose symptoms are so strange that even their doctor struggles to know how to treat them. A man who sees cartoon characters running across the room; a teenager who one day arrives home with inexplicably torn clothes; a girl whose world turns all Alice in Wonderland; another who transforms into a ragdoll whenever she even thinks about moving. The brain is the most complex structure in the universe and neurologists must puzzle out life-changing diagnoses from the tiniest of clues – it’s the ultimate in medical detective work. O’Sullivan’s book about psychosomatic illness, It’s All in Your Head, won both the Wellcome Book Prize and the Royal Society of Biology Book Prize. She talks to Rosie Boycott.
The French winner of the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize introduces her magnificent novel Mend the Living, a story that is both intimate and epic, that goes to the heart of what it means to be human.
A conversation between the winners of the 2016 and 2017 Baillie Gifford Prizes for non-fiction. France tells Sands the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts.
The writer and doctor considers the transformations in mind and body that continue across the arc of human life. Some of these changes we have little choice about. We can’t avoid puberty, the menopause or our hair turning grey. Others may be welcome milestones along our path – a much-wanted pregnancy, a cancer cured or a long-awaited transition to another gender. We may find ourselves turning down dark paths, towards the cruel distortions of anorexia, or the shifting sands of memory loss. New technologies and medicine have unprecedented power to alter our lives, but that power has limitations.
AIDS. Ebola. Bird flu. SARS. These and other epidemics have wiped out millions of lives and cost the global economy billions of dollars. Experts predict that the next big epidemic is just around the corner. But are we prepared for it? And could we actually prevent it? Somewhere out there, a super virus is boiling up in the bloodstream of a bird, bat, monkey or pig, preparing to jump to a human being. This as-yet-undetected germ has the potential to kill more than 300 million people. That risk makes the threat posed by a ground war, a massive climate event, or even the dropping of a nuclear bomb on a major city pale in comparison. But there is hope. The doctor and Harvard instructor explains the science and the politics of combatting epidemics and tells the stories of the heroes who’ve succeeded in their fights to stop the spread of illness and death.
A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa novel award-winner Maggie O’Farrell. It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose? She talks to the author of A Manual for Heartache and The Last Act of Love.
We often joke that teenagers don’t have brains. For some reason, it’s socially acceptable to mock people in this stage of their lives. The need for intense friendships, the excessive risk taking and the development of many mental illnesses – depression, addiction, schizophrenia – begin during these formative years. Drawing upon cutting-edge research in her London laboratory, the neuroscientist explains what happens inside the adolescent brain, what her team’s experiments have revealed about our behaviour, and how we relate to each other and our environment as we go through this period of our lives. She shows that while adolescence is a period of vulnerability, it is also a time of enormous creativity – one that should be acknowledged, nurtured and celebrated. Chaired by Claire Armitstead.
Where is the seahorse in our brain? What is a sesame seed doing in our knee? Come and find out through this illustrated talk on the mysteries of anatomical terminology. Cecilia Brassett is a University Clinical Anatomist; Emily Evans is a medical illustrator who is also a senior demonstrator of anatomy; Isla Fay is Human Anatomy Technical Coordinator in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.
Professor Littlemore and Dr Turner are co-investigators on the project ‘Death before Birth’. This examines how people who have experienced miscarriage, termination for foetal anomaly, and stillbirth, reach decisions concerning what happens to their babies after death, how their perceptions of the law impact on their decision-making, and how they communicate their experiences and choices to those there to support them. The project will also be examining the existing guidance on what happens to babies after they have died, investigating how it is interpreted in practice by professionals and the extent to which it takes account of the views, experiences and needs of the bereaved. Jeannette and Sarah will be talking about the ways in which people who have experienced pregnancy loss, and those who support, use language to make sense of and communicate their feelings about their loss.
Mitchell spent 20 years as a non-clinical team leader in the NHS before being diagnosed with young onset dementia in July 2014 at the age of 58. Shocked by the lack of awareness about the disease, both in the community and in hospitals, she vowed to spend her time raising awareness about dementia and encouraging others to see there is life after a diagnosis. She discusses her extraordinary book about her condition with the Guardian journalist.
A journey into the Virtual Heart, to understand how human-based computer models and simulations can be used to predict risk of cardiac side effects in patients taking drugs. This technology shows high accuracy and has the potential to play a major role in the reduction and replacement of animal testing in the early stages of drug development.
There is a burgeoning literature on end-of-life writing, on grief, bereavement and memorial. Edmund de Waal talks about mortality and how it is reflected across different genres and art-forms from the poetry of Anne Carson and Max Porter, the memoirs of Paul Kalanithi and Marion Coutts, to the writings of Atul Gawande and Julia Samuel. He will also discuss his own porcelain installations and collaborations that explore ideas of memorial. The Wellcome Book Prize lecture aims to celebrate the place of medicine, science and the stories of illness in literature, arts and culture, and how these stories add to our understanding of what it means to be human. Edmund De Waal, chair of judges for the 2018 prize, is an artist and writer, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes and The White Road.
At the age of 38, a Danish scientist, wife and mother of three, is struck down by an acute bout of bacterial meningitis. She awakes from a coma in intensive care to find herself locked in, unable to show she is conscious except by blinking her eye. It becomes her only form of communication as in the months that follow, Kjærgaard's husband Peter sits beside her helping to interpret every eye movement. She struggles with every basic of life – painfully learning how to breathe, move, eat and speak again. Despite being given a five per cent chance of survival, she works intensively to recover and to achieve every small breakthrough. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Hay stage with Bill Bryson, who has called this “the most spellbinding and harrowing story I believe I have ever heard”.
Louisa first met Robert Lockhart when they were both 17. Their stop-start romance lasted decades, in which time he became a celebrated composer and she, an acclaimed novelist. Always snapping at their heels was Robert’s alcoholism, a helpless, ferocious dependency that affected his personality before crippling and finally, despite five years of hard-won sobriety, killing him.
Young’s other books include My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, The Heroes’ Welcome and Devotion.