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Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton: Mindreading

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    Rights statement: This is an author-produced electronic version of an article accepted for publication in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at http://bjp.rcpsych.org

    Accepted author manuscript, 115 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-9
Number of pages3
JournalAdvances in Psychiatric Treatment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014


Patrick Hamilton’s (1904–1962) books are filled with gin and jealousy and depict obsessive desire in oppressive circumstances. His early financial success funded his heavy drinking, but also allowed him to write some of the best fiction of the 20th century. Following a depressive illness towards the end of his short life he never wrote again, leaving his final series of novels unfinished, the villain forever escaping justice. Hangover Square, set on the eve of the Second World War, tells the tense story of a man whose ambivalence for the woman he is pursuing (who has no interest in him) is manifested in two psychological states, between which he flips without warning. In one state he yearns for her, yet in the other has only one purpose – to kill her. Hamilton precisely describes a number of mental symptoms while not convincing readers of the implied diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, the similarities with a late-19th century French fuguer are clear and perhaps this condition provides a better frame for the main character’s experiences.

    Research areas

  • Patrick Hamilton, Hangover Square, Mindreading, Dissociative Fugue, Fuguer

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