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When art meets science: new Cultural Institute collaboration

Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) researcher, Dr Charles Heriot-Maitland is one of eight successful academics selected by the Cultural Institute at King's to be part of a new creative partnership to bring research ideas to life. 

In collaboration with a music video producer and animator, Dr Heriot-Maitland will develop a music video that will chart the therapeutic progression from being tormented by voices towards experiencing contentment alongside them. As well as furthering his research, the video will have potential as a therapeutic, educational and de-stigmatising tool.

Based at the Department of Psychology at the IoP at King's, Dr Heriot-Maitland's research focuses on the role of social processes in the relationship between dissociative traits and psychotic states. For example, how stigma may play a role in maintaining vulnerability to psychosis; and the relationship between social threats or safeness and psychotic states. He is also testing the feasibility of a new therapy called Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) for psychosis, which aims to target social processes at the individual psychological level.

Commenting on the award, Dr Heriot-Maitland said: "Through this project, I want communicate both the research and therapeutic aspects of my work to a non-academic audience; particularly people with psychosis, their friends and families. Short videos are now a standard feature in most of our lives - they can be uploaded online, and can be watched any time, any place. 

"Using animation to represent the momentary assessment of mental states in relation to social processes may help people to recognise the role of social context in dissociative and psychotic states. I hope that it can act as an educational and de-stigmatising tool, engaging families, friends, and societies as active agents in the recovery process. 

"More generally, I look forward to learning how to collaborate with the cultural industry in the creative dissemination of academic research, which will be a useful skill to take forward in my clinical-academic career." 

The academics were selected following 30 applications from across King's as part of the Collaborative Innovation Scheme for Early Career Researchers. In addition to brokering and supporting the cultural partnerships and project development between August and December, the Cultural Institute will be contributing to the costs of each project.

Talking about the projects, Deborah Bull, Director, Cultural Partnerships, said: "The open application process across King's has delivered a wide range of ideas across a number of disciplines, each of which promises to have real impact. Partnership with the cultural sector will provide a unique opportunity for these academics to gain a fresh perspective on their thinking and ensure their ideas have genuine resonance. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these exciting collaborations."