James Dunk

Madness ‘haunts all of our imaginations’, writes Andrew Scull in Psychiatry and Its Discontents, but it is more than a nightmare. Each year, one in five Australians will experience mental illness, according to the Black Dog Institute, and the World Health Organization warns that one in four globally will experience a mental or neurological disorder during their lifetime. The essays gathered here, however, raise grave doubts about the psychiatric knowledge and practice upon which these epidemiologies are based.

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‘Climate change is coming,’ fourth-generation farmer Charlie Prell told an Independent Planning Commission hearing on a proposed expansion of the windfarm near his Crookwell property on 6 June 2019. He and his family constantly hear the noise of the turbines spinning five hundred metres away, generating electricity. They hear the sounds of traffic from the road, ...

Alan Atkinson reviews Bedlam at Botany Bay by James Dunk

Alan Atkinson
Thursday, 23 May 2019

James Dunk is not the first Australian historian to notice that mental breakdown was surprisingly common during the first two European generations in New South Wales. Malcolm Ellis linked the ‘Botany Bay disease’ to rheumatic fever, rife on shipboard, which ‘ruined the lives or unbalanced the minds of … many pioneers’. Manning Clark spoke of ...

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On 6 October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report warning of the dangers of surpassing a 1.5° Celsius rise from pre-industrial levels in average global temperatures. They are many, and dire. To halt at 1.5°, carbon emissions need to fall by forty per cent globally by 2030 ...

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In 1784 William Bryant was sentenced, rather optimistically, to be transported to the American colonies. Britain had just lost the War of Independence; Bryant thus languished in a hulk in Portsmouth while Britain adjusted to the loss. This meant that when he finally arrived in New South Wales with the First Fleet, Bryant’s ...

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‘The devil! It’s a woman!’ exclaimed a charwoman as she laid out the naked body of James Barry, MD, for burial. Seventy-six years earlier, Barry had been born ...

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Edward sits on Sydney Harbour Bridge, considering jumping. It is 1948, and he has written several times to George VI about building a new naval base in the waters below, and not ...

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James Dunk reviews 'The Profilist' by Adrian Mitchell

James Dunk
Monday, 21 December 2015

'Everything is so sedate you could weep for vexation.' The first novel of literary academic Adrian Mitchell is a strange one. It is a fictional memoir that aims to inhabit the imagined world of the colonial artist S.T. Gill. This is a conceit that should free the narrative from the mundane, but The Profilist is a study in the ordinary.

The novel is ...


James Dunk
Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Gregori stares at the camera, his eyes hard and sure as he watches five babies being wheeled through the corridors of a maternity ward, selects a mother with a split lip and no flowers, and charms her. When he strokes the face of her child, Alexander, his eyes are tender. The range between these expressions is the heart of Partisan.

Through an unmarke ...

Seasons of War is a fictional firsthand account of the Allied invasion of Gallipoli. Opposite the title page, the blurb suggests that it offers ‘the kind of truth that only fiction can’: what it felt like to be there, and how being there transformed the Australian nation (a contention which belongs, truly, to fiction).

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