Gwen Adshead - Private Passions on BBC Radio 3

The Broadmoor psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead (CLC 1971-1978, Farnley Lodge/ Eversleigh) shares her passion for choral music with Michael Berkeley.

When people ask Gwen Adshead what she does for a living, she sometimes tells them she is a florist, because she is unable to face another conversation about why she has devoted her life to working with ‘monsters’.

Gwen has spent 30 years as a psychiatrist and as a pioneering forensic psychotherapist working at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire with some of society’s most violent, and vilified, offenders.

The author of more than 100 academic books and papers, Gwen recently co-wrote a best-selling book, with her friend Eileen Horne, for a more general audience: The Devil You Know takes the reader into the therapy room at Broadmoor to try to understand people often labelled as ‘monstrous’, including serial killers, stalkers and child sex offenders.

Gwen tells Michael about her work at Broadmoor, encouraging offenders to understand what drove them to violence, to face up to what they have done, and to try to find a future free of violence. She finds parallels in her work with music: the leader of a group therapy session has much in common with a conductor; and as a psychotherapist Gwen has to listen to her patients with the same concentration as when she is listening to fellow choir members.

Gwen’s passion for choral music runs through the programme with pieces by Tallis, Gibbons, Lauridsen and Verdi, and a Maori song that conjures up her early childhood in New Zealand.

Click the link below to listen to the recording broadcast on 25th September 2022:


Producer: Jane Greenwood

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 3