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Mental Health: Hope and Healing With Horatio Clare and Alex Riley

Two writers on the most fundamental human experiences and their message of hope and healing

How we understand mental health and the level of compassion we show to those suffering from depression and other forms of mental illness define us as a society. In May 2022 acclaimed travel writer Horatio Clare and science journalist Alex Riley came to Intelligence Squared to discuss their personal experiences of mental illness. 

Clare, whose new book is Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing, recounted how, after a lifetime of ups and downs, he had a complete breakdown and was committed to a locked hospital ward. He described the wonder and intensity of the manic experience, as well as its peril and strangeness. Riley, whose first book is A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It, explained how through his efforts to understand his own depression he discovered the macabre, ingenious and often surprising history of the science of mental healthcare over the last 2000 years. 

Join us as these two writers discuss the most fundamental human experiences and share their message of hope and healing. 

Praise for Horatio Clare’s Heavy Light:

‘One of the most brilliant travel writers of our day takes us us now to that most challenging country, severe mental illness; and does so with such wit, warmth, and humanity, that, better acquainted with its terrors, we may better face our own‘ – The Reverend Richard Coles

Praise for Alex Riley’s A Cure For Darkness

Boldly ambitious, deeply affecting, and magisterial in scope’ – Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes



Alex Riley

Award-winning science writer

Award-winning science writer. He received a best feature award at the 2019 Association of British Science Writers Awards for his reporting on The Friendship Bench, a project that began in Zimbabwe in 2006 and has since provided mental health care to thousands of people in New York. Since leaving academia in 2015, he began writing popular science articles for magazines such as New Scientist, PBS's NOVA Next, BBC Future, Mosaic Science, Aeon and Nautilus Magazine.

Horatio Clare

Travel and nature writer, broadcaster and children’s author

Travel and nature writer, broadcaster and children’s author, whose essays and features are published in The Financial Times, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Spectator and Conde Nast Traveller, where he is a Contributing Editor. He is a regular contributor to ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on BBC Radio Four and the World Service. He has published numerous books including  Icebreaker – A Voyage Far North (2017), Orison for a Curlew (2017), The Light in the Dark – A Winter Journal (2018) and Something of His Art – Walking to Lubeck with J S Bach (2018).