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Medical & Health Humanities

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Medical and health humanities seeks to provide insights into the cultural and social contexts within which diverse but interrelated concerns such as the human condition, the individual experience of illness and suffering, and the way medicine is (or was) practiced, might be understood.

The Trinity College Dublin Medical and Health Humanities Initiative brings together researchers from a wide range of disciplines including history, philosophy, sociology, drama, health sciences, religion, cultural studies, arts, literature and languages.

Medical and health humanities seeks to provide insights into the cultural and social contexts within which diverse but interrelated concerns such as the human condition, the individual experience of illness and suffering, and the way medicine is (or was) practiced, might be understood.

The mission statement of the Trinity College Dublin Medical and Health Humanities initiative:
To cultivate a richer understanding of the interactions and synergies between practices and discourses of wellness, health or medicine and the arts, humanities or culture through interdisciplinary research and education"



  • Critically interrogate the synergies between practices and discourses within healthcare, through the health sciences, arts and humanities. 
  • Encourage innovative interdisciplinary approaches and debate to healthcare education, and research.                    
  • Develop a leading centre for Medical and Health Humanities building on the tradition of Trinity renowned as a place for scholarship and innovation.
  • Support a proactive policy of public engagement in conjunction with other institutions, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Develop educational courses and support doctoral and post-doctoral research.
  • Create and attract funding opportunities to drive research initiatives and substantive collaborative projects.            
  • Establish a health related ‘Trinity Collection’ (Anatomy Rooms/library) as a showcase and resource.


  • Promote awareness of TCD’s Medical and Health Humanities through peer-review publications, social media.
  • Identify and collate relevant project work in TCD.
  • Identify potential sources of funding to enable TCD develop innovative projects and research.    
  • Organise public seminar series and conferences relating to Medical and Health Humanities.
  • Archive/Catalogue health related collections for exhibition.


The Trinity College Dublin Medical and Health Humanities Initiative has run a research seaminar series each academic year since 2014. These events bring together researchers from a wide range of disciplines including history, philosophy, sociology, drama, health sciences, religion, cultural studies, arts, literature and languages. They offer the opportunity to see medicine through the eyes of academics who are concerned with literary, historical, philosophical, aesthetic and technological perspectives of health, illness, disability and practice. CPD for medical practitioners has been applied for.

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Shame and Medicine Research Project
PIs: Luna Dolezal and Barry Lyons
This ongoing research project explores the role of shame and stigma within medical practice and illness.

Aesthetic Deprivation in Healthcare Settings 
PIs: Hilary Moss and Des O'Neill 
This project is investigating aspects of aesthetic deprivation in healthcare settings as well as ways to address it.


Name: Anne Coffey

Bio: Anne Coffey, Msc, BA (Hons), PGCert in Arts in Healthcare Settings, is a Child Art Psychotherapist working in private practice and with TUSLA, the Child and Family agency. She is also an established and practicing visual communications designer. Visual Literacy in healthcare is at the core of her research interests which include; drawing and cognition across the lifespan; Art Psychotherapy with ‘Looked after Children’; exploring drawing and visual tools to enhance clinical observation skills; and Salutogenic approaches to healthcare design.  Anne is also active within her local community delivering Visual Arts projects and working with vulnerable young people on a regular basis.

Dr Joan LalorName: Dr Joan Lalor

Bio: Prof Joan Lalor is an Associate Professor of Midwifery whose research is focussed in complex pregnancy care and fatal abnormality/neonatal palliative care in particular. Pregnancy and birth in the 21st century raise philosophical challenges in epistemology, political philosophy and ethics as we consider the assumptions that underpin contemporary obstetrics such as the relationships between knowledge and power, the influence of technology and innovation on pregnancy and on ‘being pregnant’ and the concept of the fatal patient. Joan is also interested in exploring the historical and legal contexts in which  court ordered treatment in the fetal (as opposed to the maternal) interest is permitted and at the extreme can result in the criminalisation of women. Joan’s research seeks to generate evidence likely to influence governances as women negotiate the structures that surround childbirth and early motherhood. 

Research Keywords: pregnancy, prenatal diagnosis, ethics in research, law, human rights

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:

  1. Lalor Joan Gabrielle  (in press)  Pregnancy loss and complexity  In   Spirituality and Childbirth: Meaning and Care at the Start of Life. Jenny Hall and Susan Crowther (Eds). Taylor Francis. London.  
  2. Lalor, Joan Gabrielle, Praying for it not to be true: Religiosity, spirituality and Hope as aspects of grieving in women who have experienced a Fetal Anomaly diagnosis, 31st ICM Triennial CongressToronto18-22 June, 2017
  3. Murphy Tighe, S Lalor, J, Contemporary Media Representations of Concealed Pregnancy: Shaming, Blaming and Vilifying Women, 'Institutions and Ireland': Medicine, Health, and WelfareTrinity College Dublin5th February, 2016
  4. Murphy Tighe S and Lalor JG, Denial as Defense? The Criminalisation of Women who Conceal Pregnancy and Birth, 17th Healthcare Interddisciplinary Research Conference Dublin9-11 November, 2016
  5. Murphy Tighe, S, Lalor JG, Social Policy Implications of Baby Hatches, Safe Haven & Anonymous Birthing Laws: the impact on concealed pregnancy, New Directions in Child Protection and Wellbeing: Making a Real Difference to Children’s LivesEdinburgh, 2015

Bridget KaneName: Dr Bridget Kane

Bio: Following a background in medical laboratory science, Bridget Kane undertook post-graduate education in Management (Organisation Behaviour) and Health Informatics. Her PhD in Computer Science was awarded for her research on multidisciplinary medical team work and MDT meetings. Bridget's main interest is in the application of Health Information Technology, and the design of work systems that will improve quality and safety in healthcare. Bridget currently conducts post-doctoral research, and lectures on Human-Computer Interaction in Healthcare.

Brendan KellyName: Prof Brendan Kelly

Bio: Professor Brendan Kelly MB BCh BAO, MA MSc MA, MD PhD DGov PhD, FRCPsych FRCPI  will take up post as professor of psychiatry in Tallaght Hospital on 1 Dec 2015, and is associate clinical professor of psychiatry at University College Dublin and consultant psychiatrist at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. In addition to his medical degree (MB BCh BAO), Professor Kelly holds masters degrees in epidemiology (MSc), healthcare management (MA) and Buddhist studies (MA); and doctorates in medicine (MD), history (PhD), governance (DGov) and law (PhD). Professor Kelly has authored and co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed papers and 300 non-peer-reviewed papers. Recent books include Custody, Care and Criminality: Forensic Psychiatry and Law in 19th-Century Ireland (History Press Ireland, 2014), Ada English: Patriot and Psychiatrist (Irish Academic Press, 2014), “He Lost Himself Completely”: Shell Shock and its Treatment at Dublin’s Richmond War Hospital (1916-19) (Liffey Press, 2014) and Dignity, Mental Health and Human Rights: Coercion and the Law (Ashgate, 2015). He is editor-in-chief of the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine.

Research Keywords: Psychiatry, history, law, human rights, transcultural psychiatry

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:
1. Kelly BD. Shell shock in Ireland: The Richmond War Hospital, Dublin (1916-19). History of Psychiatry 2015; 26: 50-63.
2. Roche E, Lyne JP, O'Donoghue B, Segurado R, Kinsella A, Hannigan A, Kelly BD, Malone K, Clarke M. The factor structure and clinical utility of formal thought disorder in first episode psychosis. Schizophrenia Research 2015, 168: 92-8.  
3. Kelly BD. Asylum Doctor Extraordinaire: Dr. Thomas Drapes (1847-1919). Irish Journal of Medical Science 2015; 184: 565-71.
4.McCarthy A, Lonergan R, Olszewska DA, O'Dowd S, Cummins G, Magennis B, Fallon EM, Pender N, Huey ED, Cosentino S, O'Rourke K, Kelly BD, O'Connell M, Delon I, Farrell M, Spillantini MG, Rowland LP, Fahn S, Craig P, Hutton M, Lynch T. Closing the tau loop: the missing tau mutation. Brain 2015; 138: 3100-9. 
5. Kelly BD, Emechebe A, Anamdi C, Duffy R, Murphy N, Rock C. Custody, care and country of origin: demographic and diagnostic admission statistics at an inner-city adult psychiatry unit. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 2015; 38: 1-7. 

Shaun McCannName: Prof Shaun McCann

Bio: Professor Emeritus of Haematology and Academic Medicine, St James’s Hospital and Trinity College, Dublin. A graduate of University College Dublin, Prof McCann performed the first successful allogeneic bone marrow transplant for leukaemia in Ireland in 1984. He also introduced an art intervention (Open Window) into the stem cell transplant unit and this study was published in 2011. This was the largest randomised prospective trial of the effect on Quality of Life (QoL) in patients undergoing stem cell transplantation. The study played a major role in the choice of QoL as the ‘theme’ for EHA in 2012-2013.  Author of over 150 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, numerous book chapters and two medical textbooks.  ‘A History of Haematology: from Herodotus to HIV’ will be published by Oxford University Press in early 2016. Prof McCann was appointed Professor of Academic Medicine and Director of Teaching and Learning @ the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin 2006- 2011 and awarded Honorary Fellowship of the College in 2006. He introduced the ‘Humanities’ module into the first Medical Undergraduate year.

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:
1. Denis Roche, Philip Napier, Brian Maguire and Shaun McCann. A clinically useful artwork? Between a Dialogical and a Relational Approach to art in a clinical environment.
The International Journal of the Arts in Society. 2008. vol 3
2. F Hegarty, C McCabe, D Roche and S McCann. Using multimedia technology to help combat the negative effects of protective isolation on patients: The Open Window Project-an engineering challenge.
Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine. 2009,32; 3:72-77.
3. McCabe C, Roche D, Hegarty F, McCann S. Open Window’: a randomized trial of the effect of new media art using a virtual window on quality of life in patients’ experiencing stem cell transplantation
Psycho-Oncology. 2011, doi. 1002/pon.2093. 
4. S.R. McCann. Can an art intervention influence the quality of life in hospitalized patients? Haematologica,  2013, 98 (1): 4-6.
5. C Chomienne, M Guenova, A Hagenbeek, C Lacombe, S McCann, S Salek, J Geissler, I van der Beek. Quality of Life in Haematology: EHA theme of the year…and years to come.
Haematologica 2013, 98 (1): 2-3.

Simon McCarthy JonesName: Dr Simon McCarthy Jones

Bio: Dr Simon McCarthy Jones an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin. Here he teaches on Trinity’s Bachelor in Medicine, being the Director of the 1st year Behavioural Science course and the 3rd year Psychology and Psychiatry as Applied to Medicine course. His research focuses on two topics. The first is the experience of hearing voices other people cannot (‘hearing voices’ or auditory verbal hallucinations). His latest book on this topic is Can’t You Hear Them? The Science and Significance of Hearing Voices. Dr McCarthy Jones also undertakes research into child sexual abuse and is currently funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations grant.

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:

  1. McCarthy-Jones, S. (2017). Can’t you hear them? The science and significance of hearing voices. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  2. McCarthy-Jones, S., Castro Romero, M., McCarthy-Jones, R., Dillon, J., Cooper-Rompato, C., Kieran, K., Kaufman, M., & Blackman, L. (2015). Hearing the unheard: An interdisciplinary, mixed methodology study of women’s experiences of hearing voices (auditory verbal hallucinations). Frontiers in Psychiatry, 6, 181. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2015.00181
  3. Corstens, D., Longden, E., McCarthy-Jones, S., Waddingham, R., & Thomas, N. (2014). Emerging perspectives from the Hearing Voices Movement: implications for research and practice. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 40, S285-294
  4. McCarthy-Jones, S., & Davidson, L. (2013). When soft voices die: Auditory verbal hallucinations and a four letter word (love). Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 16(4), 367-383.
  5. McCarthy-Jones, S. (2011). Seeing the unseen, hearing the unsaid: Hallucinations, psychology, and St Thomas Aquinas. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 14, 353-369.

Hilary MossName: Dr Hilary Moss

Bio: Hilary Moss is Senior Lecturer at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, TCD. For the past twelve years she worked as Director of the National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. She completed her PhD in 2014 on aesthetic deprivation and the role of the arts for older people in hospital at Trinity College Dublin School of Medicine under the supervision of Prof Desmond O’Neill.  She is a musician and Music Therapist and has an MBA in Health Service Management. Her research interests include arts therapies; singing and health; arts and health; health humanities and inter-disciplinary research. She has recently formed the Arts and Health Research Cluster at UL.

Research Keywords: Aesthetic deprivation; hospitals; arts and health;  arts therapies

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:
1. Moss H, O'Neill D. Aesthetic deprivation in clinical settings. Lancet 2014;383:1032-3
2. O'Connell C, Cassidy A, O'Neill D, Moss H. The aesthetic and cultural pursuits of patients with stroke. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis 2013;22:e404-18.
3. Moss H, O'Neill D. The aesthetic and cultural interests of patients attending an acute hospital - a phenomenological study. J Adv Nurs 2013 Jun 3. doi:10.1111/jan.12175. [Epub ahead of print] 
4. Moss H, Donnellan C, O'Neill D. A review of qualitative methodologies used to explore patient perceptions of arts and healthcare. Med Humanit 2012;38:106-9
5. Moss H, O'Neill D, What training do artists need to work in healthcare settings? Med Humanit 2009;35:101-5

Susan MullaneyName: Dr Susan Mullaney

Bio: Susan works a medical ophthalmologist in St James Hospital, Dublin. She completed a Masters in the History of Medicine in the Wellcome Centre, in University College London, in 2008. Her doctoral thesis, completed in University College Cork, was entitled ‘The Evolution of the Medical Professions in Eighteenth Century Ireland’. She currently teaches a module in the history of science, ‘The Scientific Revolution’ as part of the liberal arts program on the American College, Dublin, and contributes to teaching medical humanities in the medical school in Trinity College, Dublin. She is the secretary of the History of Medical Section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, and recently led RAMI’s oral medical history project, Living Medical History, which recorded the life stories of older Irish medical practitioners. She has contributed historical articles on the Irish Poor Law, the regulation of medicine and hospital care in eighteenth-century Ireland, and the history of care of the blind in Ireland. She has also worked on the ongoing benefits of medical humanities for both established practitioners and students, and is currently researching perceptions of blindness in early modern Ireland.

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:
1. S. Mullaney. Poor Paw relief in Late Nineteenth-Century County Louth: An Economic and Social Analysis. County Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal, 2008.
2. S. Mullaney. The Irish Apothecary’s Act of 1791: The First Nationwide Regulation of Apothecaries in the British Isles. Eighteenth Century Ireland Journal, vol 25, 2010.
3. S. Mullaney. A means of restoring the health and preserving the lives of his Majesty’s subject’s’: Ireland’s 18-Century Infirmary System, Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, vol 29, 2012.
4. S. Mullaney. Sir Patrick Dun and the Complete School of Physic in Eighteenth-Century Dublin: Irish Journal of Medical Science, Vol 184, (1) 2015.
5. S. Mullaney. Charles Lucas, a Medical Innovator, Irish Journal of Medical Science, vol 185, (1) 2015.

Des O'NeillName: Prof Desmond (Des) O'Neill 

Bio: Prof O’Neill is a specialist in geriatric medicine whose research is focused on ageing and the neurosciences, and their interaction with the humanities. The founder chair of the National Centre for Arts and Health at Tallaght Hospital, he is one of the most widely published clinicians in the medical humanities in Ireland. Particular interests include arts, aesthetics and health, late life creativity, cultural gerontology, ethics, and the challenges of interdisciplinary working. He was awarded the Joseph T Freeman Award by the Gerontological Society of America in 2014 in recognition of his work in the medical humanities and ageing.

Research keywords: aesthetics; gerontology; arts and health; ethics; interdisciplinarity

Selected Medical Humanities Publications:

  1. Moss H, O'Neill D. The Role of the Curator in Modern Hospitals: A
    Transcontinental Perspective. J Med Humanit. 2016 Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Grey T, Kennelly S, de Freine P, Mahon S, Mannion V, O'Neill D. Towards a
    building typology and terminology for Irish hospitals. Ir J Med Sci. 2017 Jan 30.
    doi: 10.1007/s11845-016-1537-0. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. O'Neill D, Jenkins E, Mawhinney R, Cosgrave E, O'Mahony S, Guest C, Moss H.
    Rethinking the medical in the medical humanities. Med Humanit. 2016
  4. Khan WU, Mohamad Onn Yap IA, O'Neill D, Moss H. Perceptions of music therapy
    for older people among healthcare professionals. Med Humanit. 2016
  5. Moss H, O'Neill D. Aesthetic deprivation in clinical settings. Lancet. 2014 Mar 22;383(9922):1032-3.


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