The Dark Threads is the true story of how a bright teenager was transformed into a zombie thanks to a cocktail of drugs and electric shock treatment for an illness she never had. Jean Davison lost years of her life when doctors misdiagnosed her mental state as chronic schizophrenia. Sucked into the psychiatric system, she eventually lost her job, her boyfriend and all self-esteem. But eventually she managed to break free. Told with humour and insight, using extracts from her medical case notes, Jean’s memoir raises disturbing questions about psychiatric treatment in the sixties and seventies, which are still relevant today. ‘Essential reading for everyone who is involved in improving services in mental health.” – Dorothy Rowe, author and psychologist.

You can see the Amazon (UK) reviews if you click here (and you can buy it from that site, too, if you wish!).  It’s also available at  My publisher Accent Press closed down in 2020 and it’s now published by Headline Accent, which is part of Hachette.

Here are some snippets from other reviews:

‘Jean Davison’s memoir is poignant, stark, striking and destined – in my view – to become a classic in the genre of psychiatric autobiography alongside the likes of Sylvia Plath, Susanna Kaysen and Janet Frame. In the midst of a literary explosion into the realms of ‘misery lit’ – autobiographies of dreadful childhoods, often ghost written – Davison’s narrative stands distinct from such works. Hers is an exquisitely constructed text, interwoven with her clinical case notes which provide a (albeit frightening) clinical context.’  –  Charlie Baker, Madness & Literature Network. To read the full review, please click on

‘The Dark Threads is a beautifully told but intense and harrowing memoir… The narrative sparkles with Davison’s perceptive wit, and thankfully her story does not end at High Royds. A wry, wonderful and important book, The Dark Threads works both as a compelling memoir and as a general critique of psychiatry.’  –  Asylum Magazine.

‘I found this to be an unputdownable read, both disturbing and fascinating’.  –  Jo Derrick, The Yellow Room Magazine.

‘One of the best accounts I’ve ever read of what it was like to be on the receiving end of hospital treatment … The closed world of the old psychiatric ward, with its characters, injustices and general hopelessness is brilliantly captured. Anyone who has experienced this will instantly recognise it as an authentic picture. But the quality of the description and the dark humour that underlies the story prevent it from getting miserable … The book works on many different levels, and the theme of class and power are never far from the surface. This is essentially a hopeful book, a book about survival, and a mind that stayed awake, kept thinking, and eventually found a way out of the maze.’  –  The Advocate Magazine.

‘She [Jean] is a powerful representative of that disenfranchised group – psychiatric survivors. ‘But what about the silenced? What about their stories?’ We, and they, must hope that Davison will continue to use her compassion and talent to tell their stories too. ‘ –  Therapy Today.

‘ A powerful account… It deserves to be on any nursing tutor’s list of personal accounts of service.’  –  Mental Health Practice Magazine

‘This brave and powerful book, written with humanity and humour, shows someone ultimately strong enough to break free and delivers a forceful exposure of the enormous influence of the pharmaceutical industry and the arrogant and punitive attitude of many hospital staff.’  –  Western Mail.

‘The book she [Jean] began writing decades ago on an old portable typewriter in the YWCA is now published, and though harrowing is crafted with much style and dignity and not without humour. In the words of author and psychologist Dorothy Rowe the book is ‘essential reading for everyone who is involved in improving services in mental health’. To this I would add a far broader readership will also applaud ‘The Dark Threads.’  –  from a review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

The book is compelling reading, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in these matters. As I’ve said many times, it is the survivors who manage to speak out, who ultimately will draw this sad chapter of human history to a close.      Philip Hickey, Ph.D   Full review here