Tuesday, October 20, 2015

de Clérambault, and Enduring Love again

Some more thoughts about the "appendix" to Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, discussed in an earlier post.  The appendix is, or, as it turns out, purports to be, a reprint from the "British Review of Psychiatry", by Wenn and Camia, about de Clérambault's syndrome.  An early review of the book,as you may remember from that earlier post, thought it was the article on which the novel was based.  But others were suspicious, noting that the journal was not one they had heard of, and also that the authors' names were an anagram of Ian McEwan.

I was interested to know what would happen if you critically appraised the paper.   Could you tell that it was (as McEwan admitted in Psychiatric Bulletin) fictional?

Of course, the psychiatric science in the article might well not be fictional at all.  According to Oliver Burkeman's Guardian article (cited in my earlier post), this paper was submitted for publication to the British Journal of Psychiatry, but did not make it into print - it would be fascinating to know why!  An appraisal of the content, though, would be a critical appraisal exercise for psychiatrists or mental health nurses.  But I wondered - what about the references?

The last one is also by Wenn and Camia, so once you know that these are fictional authors, this one is suspect.  It turns out the volume number and year don't match, and those pages in that volume are something else entirely.

One of the British Journal of Psychiatry references has an author name and title belonging to different page numbers and volume, but the page numbers and volume cited actually belong to another article about the same syndrome.

The other British Journal of Psychiatry references are correct, as is the one from Social Science and Medicine (which is, however, missing a section title, being made up of many sections at the time).

One reference has no article title.   Another has different punctuation. 

But apart from the Wenn and Camia article, and that mixed up British Journal of Psychiatry reference, this is all relatively trivial.   In days gone by I was "bibliographic adviser" for a microbiology journal, and checked the reference lists for accuracy.   There were often errors of this sort, so this "British Review of Psychiatry" paper is, I suspect, no worse!

de Clérambault is cited as C.G., rather than G.G., but that again is minor (although possibly if you were a psychiatrist, you would know - possibly not, though).

Here, in closing, is some reading material about de Clérambault and his work.  He was a French psychiatrist, who trained first in law, who published many articles, and whose "Oeuvres psychiatriques" were collected together after his death.

de Clérambault's syndrome, from Patient.info.

Signer, S. F. (1991). “Les psychoses passionnelles” reconsidered: a review of de Clérambault’s cases and syndrome with respect to mood disorders. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 16(2), 81–90. 
(Another of Signer's papers is cited in the appendix, but with the wrong initials, I think).

Clérambault, from Encyclopedia Universalis (in French)

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