Leyla Sanai

Dr Leyla Sanai is a Persian-British writer and retired doctor who worked as a physician, intensivist, and consultant anaesthetist before developing severe scleroderma and antiphospholipid syndrome

The shameful targeting of black police officers

I’m severely disabled, coffee-coloured, a migrant, a refugee and a woman. I was born to a Muslim family and I chose atheism as soon as I could think. To put it simply, I don’t need much convincing that for minority grievances to be ameliorated, meritocracy has to exist. Positions of power must be open to individuals from all

Memory – and the stuff of dreams

Can you remember when you heard about 9/11? Chances are you’ll be flooded instantly with memories — not only where you were, but what you were doing, who you were with, what you could smell and see at the time as well as how you felt. How does that happen? In the first half of

Looking for love: Ghosts, by Dolly Alderton

Of all the successful modern female writers documenting their search for love, none has been as endearing as Dolly Alderton. Candace Bushnell’s alter ego Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City was too brash, perma-groomed and designer-clad. Liz Jones is vulnerable and self-effacingly funny, but her low self esteem and anorexia ring my ‘needs therapy’

There’s no end to the wonders of the human body, says Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has come a long way from being the funniest, most irreverent travel writer around. He’s still as amiable, avuncular and amusing as ever, but his subject matter has broadened over the decades to cover nearly everything, from science to Shakespeare. His modus operandi, however, has not changed. He absorbs reams of facts, the

The problem with the Church of England’s social media guidelines

News that the Church of England has published social media guidelines promoting ‘truth, kindness, welcome, inspiration and togetherness’ sounds welcome. Surely we all want to live in a world which live and let lives, where kindness and tolerance are key, and everybody has the same human rights, regardless of gender, race, colour, sexuality, nationality, or

Prince Charles’ irresponsible support for homeopathy

You might have thought that many of the world’s scientists and doctors had come to an unequivocal decision on homeopathy: that it doesn’t work. There has been extensive research into homeopathy, and the unambiguous conclusion is that it has no more benefit than any other placebo. This is not to say that it’s harmful, unless it

Illusions about delusions

Schizophrenia is the psychiatric illness about which the most misconceptions abound. It’s not so much the ‘negative’ symptoms that cause misunderstanding, devastating as they are — social withdrawal, self-neglect, flattening of mood — but the auditory hallucinations and delusions, often of a paranoid nature, that can accompany it. Nathan Filer, a psychiatric nurse, wrote the

The danger of letting children transition gender too early

Where do you stand on the foster couple who sent their foster son to school in girls’ clothing, aged three, despite express requests from his teachers not to do so, and encouraged him to think of himself as a girl? The same couple had allowed their youngest biological son to do the same age seven,

Two men and no baby

The sorrow of involuntary childlessness is profound. The award-winning novelist Patrick Flanery and his husband knew this pain. Their craving to love and nurture a child left them with an intractable emptiness. Flanery has no siblings; his parents lived abroad, and he had a difficult relationship with his father. So his desire was to create

Sorry Alexandra Shulman but Helena Christensen can wear what she wants

Is 50-year-old model Helena Christensen too old to wear a bustier to a party? The ex-editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, thinks so. ‘There comes that point in every woman’s life,’ Shulman wrote with finger-wagging admonishment at the start of her column in the Mail on Sunday, ‘when, however reluctantly, you have to hand over the fleshpot-at-the-party

Tormented by guilt and desire

James Lasdun is my favourite ‘should be famous’ writer, his work extraordinarily taut and compelling. His eye-boggling psychological thrillers are understated, yet perspicacious and hilarious. By ‘psychological thriller’ I don’t mean they contain newsworthy physical violence. Lasdun is too English for that (although he now lives in New York). I mean the kind of dilemmas

Shades of Lord of the Flies

Gina Perry is the eminent psychologist who blew apart Stanley Milgram’s shocking revelations from his 1961 research. Milgram had caused a sensation by alleging that 65 per cent of volunteers had been willing to inflict painful, dangerous electric shocks on others. He drew direct analogies between this ostensible blind obedience to commands to inflict pain/harm

Cutting up rough

Powerful memoirs by such eloquent doctors as Oliver Sacks, Atul Gawande, Henry Marsh, Gabriel Weston and Paul Kalanithi have whipped the bed curtains open on a previously secretive profession. Steeped as medicine is in uncomfortable facts about debilitating illness, pain and the stress of treating intractable conditions, it was a subject ripe for exposure. Under

Stage fright | 31 August 2017

Patrick McGrath is a master of novels about post-traumatic fragmentation and dissolution, set amid gothic gloom. His childhood years spent at Broadmoor, where his father was medical superintendent, have given him a solid grounding in psychiatric illness for these disquieting dramas. His ninth novel is set in London’s theatreland in 1947, and the grey, skeletal

Doctor of humility

Henry Marsh’s book Do No Harm (2014) was that rare thing — a neurosurgeon showing his fallibility in public and admitting to the great harm that good intentions can cause. It was a stunning, even revolutionary work, displacing doctors from their traditional ivory towers and showing them to be not only human and vulnerable to

The Feelgood factor

When I wrote for the NME as a schoolgirl in the 1980s, it was recognised that there were musicians who deserve derision — those whose egos and clothes’ bills dwarfed their talent — and those who commanded respect. Wilko Johnson, one-time guitarist of Dr Feelgood, was of the latter. Whether pacing moodily on stage, hammering

A choice of first novels | 4 February 2012

Mountains of the Moon is narrated by a woman just released after spending ten years in jail. The reason for her sentence and the details of her previous life are pieced together through disjointed fragments, forming a complex jigsaw. Lulu had a shocking childhood, with a violent stepfather and negligent mother. Her only loving relatives