Tallis, Frank

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Tallis, Frank


Education: North East London Polytechnic, B.Sc. (honors); University of London, M.S.c., Ph.D.


Office—10 Harley St., London, England W1G 9PF. E-mail—[email protected]


Florence Nightingale Hospital (formerly Charter Nightingale Hospital), London, England, clinical psychologist; Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, clinical psychologist; Institute of Psychiatry and King's College, London, lecturer in clinical psychology and neuroscience. Has also worked in the record industry.


Writers' Award, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1999; New London Writers award, London Arts Board, 2000, for Killing Time.


How to Stop Worrying, Sheldon (London, England), 1990.

Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions: A Self- Help Manual, Sheldon (London, England), 1992.

(Editor, with Graham C.L. Davey) Worrying: Perspectives on Theory, Assessment, and Treatment, John Wiley & Sons (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Steven Jones) Coping with Schizophrenia, Sheldon (London, England), 1994.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Cognitive and Neuropsychological Perspective, John Wiley (New York, NY), 1995.

Changing Minds: The History of Psychotherapy as an Answer to Human Suffering, Cassell (New York, NY), 1998.

Hidden Minds: A History of the Unconscious, Arcade Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.

Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2005.


Killing Time, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1999.

Sensing Others, Penguin (London, England), 2001.

Mortal Mischief (thriller; first book of "The Liebermann Papers" series), Century (London, England), 2005, published as A Death in Vienna, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2005.


Frank Tallis has written a number of books that evolved from his work as a clinical psychologist and one of England's leading experts on obsessive-compulsive behavior. Several of them, including Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions: A Self-Help Manual, are written for the lay audience. David Richards reviewed the manual for Nursing Times, indicating that it is a book he would recommend to his patients. He remarked that the volume is "easy to read and makes self-treatment straightforward to follow." Richards acknowledged Tallis as an expert in this field and concluded by saying that the book "fits well with the consumerist approach to health care." Tallis is also a novelist, and his Killing Time and Sensing Others mix science fiction with the psychological thriller genre. The protagonist of Killing Time is Tom, a mathematician, whose best friend, Dave, is a molecular biologist,

and who falls in love with a cellist named Anna. The plot revolves around a trans-temporal camera, developed by Dave, and the disappearance of Anna.

Tallis spent some time working in the commercial recording industry, too, and the main character of Sensing Others is a rock keyboardist named Nick. Nick makes money on the side by participating in the testing trials of Naloxl, a drug that is being developed for intelligence purposes. Naloxl enables Nick to read people's minds, but when he senses that an at-large S&M killer is coming closer, he is not sure whether his intuitions are correct or whether his sensing of the murderer is a side effect of the drug. Added to the cast are Nick's friend Eric, a former rock star turned ecoterrorist, the other members of Nick's band, and his lover. William Field, who reviewed Sensing Others for Crime Time online, called it "amusing, weird, and occasionally erotic," noting that "Hendrix, prog rock, hippy chick Cairo, and rare vinyl all fuel a mixture of paranoia and nostalgia."

Tallis's 2005 novel, A Death in Vienna, published in England as Mortal Mischief, is a murder mystery set in the time of psychological pioneer Sigmund Freud, one of Tallis's in-depth biographical subjects. Detective Oskar Rheinhardt is facing a complex and seemingly impossible case. Charlotte Lowenstein, a beautiful and popular medium, has been killed, but her body was found in a room locked from the inside. Maddeningly, she has obviously been shot, but the murder scene contains neither a gun nor a single bullet. As Rheinhardt ponders the possibility of a supernatural killer, he confers with Max Liebermann, a longtime friend and psychoanalyst in the Freudian mold. Liebermann assists with the case by interviewing members of Lowenstein's circle of occultist friends, all of whom regularly attended her séances, and applying his Freudian psychoanalytic skills to assessing their stories and behavior. These possible suspects include Heinrich Holderlin, a banker; Count Zoltan Zfiborszky, a playboy and member of the Hungarian nobility; Karl Uberhorst, a locksmith; Hans Bruckmuller, a businessman with unfulfilled political ambitions; and Otto Braun, a stage magician who was Lowenstein's former lover and accomplice in crime, and who left town immediately after the murder. "A graceful final paragraph completes the elegant circle that this long, complex tale has so deftly described," stated a Kirkus Reviews critic. The reviewer called the novel "immensely entertaining, and very clever indeed." A Publishers Weekly critic named it an "intelligent murder mystery" in which Tallis "convincingly animates Lieberman and Rheinhardt in a picturesque Vienna roiling with cultural and intellectual change."

Among Tallis's more recent nonfiction works is Hidden Minds: A History of the Unconscious. Here, Tallis gives a considerable amount of space to Freud and his psychoanalytic theory. He notes that Freud believed his "discovery" of the unconscious was equal to Copernicus's discovery of the heliocentric universe and Darwin's theory of evolution. Of course, Freud did not discover the unconscious, and Tallis begins his study with the ideas of St. Augustine, who wrote: "I cannot grasp all that I am," and continues with Wilhelm Leibniz's rebuttal to John Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding." Tallis also recounts the findings of nineteenth-century French philosophy teacher Pierre Janet, whose research demonstrated that physical ailments could have psychological causes. The author points out that Freud never gave credit to the work he appropriated from Janet, who was Freud's contemporary. Peter B. Raabe wrote in Metapsychology Online that "this is one of many glimpses the author gives his readers into the fierce competitive mind set of some of the most famous names in history." Booklist reviewer William Beatty called Tallis's treatment of Janet "outstanding."

Tallis covers many aspects of Freud's personal and professional life, including the cocaine-addicted Freud becoming his own patient, his relationship with Josef Breuer, their use of hypnosis to treat hysteria, and their split over Freud's insistence that the primary cause of mental illness was unconscious sexual desire. Tallis writes of hypnotist Franz Mesmer, whose name generated the word mesmerized, and notes the way in which advertisers manipulate the unconscious in their attempts to convince us to buy their products. Raabe noted that "the fifth chapter deals with the power struggles between Freud and his followers (notably Adler and Jung), Freud's success in the United States, the adoption of Freudian language and imagery of the unconscious into literature, art, and film, and how the notion of repressed sexuality became less important to psychotherapists as they began to turn their attention away from the unconscious to the role of social relationships in the formation of symptoms."

A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Hidden Minds "is strongest when reporting the post- Freudian research that has built a new understanding of unconscious processes." New Statesman contributor

Lavinia Greenlaw commented that Tallis "is a psychologist and neuroscientist, and so this history concentrates on managing and mending. His conclusive analogy is that ‘identity is to the brain what the shape of a wave is to sea water.’" Greenlaw added that "Freud's claim to have made the ‘third blow’ to mankind, after Copernicus and Darwin, frames the book. Now, evolutionary theory, neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence research have reinforced the dominance of the unconscious, and Freud's reputation is being dusted off. Tallis warns of the ‘narcissism of exaggerating our mystery,’ but he also acknowledges that what we need now, as with quantum mechanics, is a philosophical response."

With Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness Tallis puts forth a concept of love that may well have intrigued the founder of psychoanalysis himself. He explores romantic love not as a manifestation of humanity's strongest emotion but as a form of mental illness, characterized by obsessive traits and destructive features that would be considered deleterious in a psychological diagnosis. Tallis identifies aspects of lust, melancholy, manic depression, jealousy, and other components of mental illness that are also found in those experiencing the emotional highs and lows of a romantic relationship. The symptoms and manifestations are "lucidly investigated and alarmingly compared," commented a reviewer in the Bookseller. The book "presents intriguing ideas about how evolution has predisposed us to passionate love," an essential component of human nature despite the often emotional turmoil it brings about, commented reviewer Susan Pease in Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that while romantic passion and may indeed be akin to a mental illness, it is "a condition for which we may never want a cure."



Booklist, September 1, 2002, William Beatty, review of

Hidden Minds: A History of the Unconscious, p. 22; December 15, 2005, Allison Block, review of A Death in Vienna, p. 29.

Bookseller, December 5, 2003, "Previews: February: The Panel Selects the Best New Titles, Including Valentine's Day Offerings," review of Love Sick: Love as a Mental Illness, p. 30.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of Hidden Minds, p. 1113; December 15, 2005, review of A Death in Vienna, p. 1297.

Library Journal, September 15, 2002, David Valencia, review of Hidden Minds, p. 79; February 1, 2005, Susan Pease, review of Love Sick, p. 104.

New Statesman, February 11, 2002, Lavinia Greenlaw, review of Hidden Minds, p. 49.

Nursing Times, June 16, 1993, David Richards, review of Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions: A Self-Help Manual, p. 53.

Publishers Weekly, August 26, 2002, review of Hidden Minds, p. 61; January 17, 2005, review of Love Sick, p. 46; November 28, 2005, review of A Death in Vienna, p. 22.


Crime Time,http:// www.crimetime.co.uk/ (October 15, 2006), William Field, review of Sensing Others.

Frank Tallis Home Page,http:// www.franktallis.com (October 15, 2006).

Metapsychology Online, http:// mentalhelp.net/books/ (October 15, 2006), Peter B. Raabe, review of Hidden Minds.

New Scientist Online,http:// www.newscientist.com/ (October 15, 2006), Roy Herbert, review of Hidden Minds.

SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (October 15, 2006), Georges T. Dodds, reviews of Killing Time and

Sensing Others.

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