The Royal College of Psychiatrists is in the last year of its ‘Changing Minds' campaign to reduce the stigma of having schizophrenia, substance use problems, dementia, eating disorders, anxiety and depression. As a mental health service user with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I have been involved in the campaign since its outset and have become used to blaming the media, especially the tabloid press, for a large part of the stigma that people with mental health problems encounter. However, recently while in hospital I re-read an Agatha Christie book and began to wonder whether crime novels, with their usual starting point of a murder, could actually contribute as much to such stigmatisation. As Agatha Christie was probably the most prolific crime writer in the English language, this article examines some of her novels with a view to discovering the extent to which she played a part in the perception of the ‘mad’ killer.
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