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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Dr Maria Grazia Turri, DPhil, PhD, MRCPsych


Senior Lecturer in Creative Arts and Mental Health



I am Senior Lecturer and Co-director of the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health, a collaboration between the Centre for Psychiatry and Mental Health and the Department of Drama. I am a psychiatrist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, theatre scholar and practitioner. I am committed to promoting the contribution of the creative arts to research, education and practice in mental health.

Following completion of medical school in Padova (Italy), I obtained a DPhil (Oxford) in psychiatry. I subsequently trained in psychiatry and psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Oxford, qualifying in Medical Psychotherapy in 2011. I worked in psychiatry in the NHS for 15 years, including as Consultant Psychiatrist in Medical Psychotherapy.

I have a PhD in Drama from Exeter University (2015). My research focused on understanding processes of identification in theatre through psychoanalytic theory. 


Postgraduate Teaching

I teach on critical mental health, psychoanalysis, and the intersection between mental health and the arts. I have also taught theatre history and theories, and theatre practice-based modules. I supervise MSc dissertations and I am co-supervisor for PhD dissertation projects at the intersection between theatre and mental health.

If you want a glimpse of the work we do on the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health, please listen to the audio-piece Futuring Mental Health, created in collaboration with previous students, or explore our online repository with work from previous students.

Futuring Mental Health

Arts in Mental Health online repository



Research Interests:

My main current project is a study of the power dynamics underpinning laughter, with a particular focus on comic processes in Commedia dell’Arte, a theatre form which flourished in the early modern period across Europe. As theatre practitioner, I worked as deviser with theatre company Gaia Drama Group and directing children and young people devised projects.


An updated list of publications can be found here:


Single-Authored book:

Turri, M.G. (2017) Acting, Spectating and the Unconscious. A psychoanalytic perspective on unconscious processes of identification in the theatre. London: Routledge.

Articles and essays:

Turri, M.G. (2023) “Theatre as Intersubjective Space for the Mediation of Collective Identity: Outline of a Psychoanalytic Perspective”, In:
Theater(s) and Public Sphere in a Global and Digital Society, Volume 1, Riccioni, I. Ed, Leiden: Brill, pp.110-121.

Turri, M.G. (2022) “Teatro come spazio intersoggettivo per la mediazione dell’identità collettiva. Tracce di una prospettiva psicoanalitica”, In: Teatri e sfera pubblica nella società globalizzata e digitalizzata, Riccioni, I. Ed, Milano: Guerini e Associati srl, pp.65-77

Turri, M.G. (2021) “Londra 2018. Attori Shakespeariani recitano la Commedia dell’Arte: scenario come spazio transizionale”, In: Creating for the Stage and Other Spaces: Questioning Practices and Theories, Guccini, G., Longhi, C., Vianello, D. Eds, Bologna: Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna, pp.275-286;; DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsacta/6823

Turri, M.G. (2021) “Review of Performing Commedia dell’Arte, 1570-1630. By Natalie Crohn Schmitt. London and New York: Routledge. (2020)”, Modern Language Review, 116(3), pp.507-509

Turri, M.G. (2021) “Exploring emotions of war through theatre – a youth theatre project”, Drama Magazine, Vol. 27(2)

Turri, M.G. (2021) “Psychoanalysis and theatre revisited: the function of character in mediating unconscious processing in spectatorship”, Sinestesieonline, 32

Turri, M.G. (2018) “Review of Théâtre et psychanalyse: Regards croisés sur le malaise dans la civilisation. Ed. C. Page, C. Koretzky, and L. Jodeau-Belle. Montpellier: Editions L'Entretemps (2016)”, Theatre Research International, 43 (1), 111-112.

Turri, M.G. (2015) “Transference and katharsis, Freud to Aristotle”, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 96(2), pp.369-387.

Turri, M.G. (2015) “Transferencia y catarsis, de Freud a Aristóteles”, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis (en español), 1 (2), 391-413.



Chatterjee, P. and Turri, M.G. (2023) “Humanising care in a forensic mental health ward through creative writing workshops for staff and residents: a case study”, The Mental Health Review Journal,

Turri, M.G. and Hilton, G. (2021) “Art objects in conversation with psychiatrists at the Ashmolean Museum”, Journal of Holistic Healthcare, 18(1), pp.15-19.

Allan, C.L., Turri, M.G., Stein, K., Da Silva, F.N. and Harris, J. (2016) “Exploring psychiatry through images and objects”, Medical Humanities, 42 (3), 205-206.



Turri, M.G., Merson, S., McNab, S. and Cooper, R.E. (2021) “The Systemic Assessment Clinic, a Novel Method for Assessing Patients in General Adult Psychiatry: Presentation and Preliminary Service Evaluation”, Community Mental Health Journal, 57(4), pp.753-763.

Turri, M.G. (2019) “The best kept secret in psychiatry”, Asylum Magazine, 26 (2), 5-6.

Turri, M.G. and Andreatta, L. (2014) “Does psychoanalytic psychotherapy offset use of mental health services and related costs in severe Borderline Personality Disorder? – A case study”, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 28(2), pp.139-158.

Igoumenou, A., Turri, M.G., Din, R., and Gordon, H. (2009) “Mental illness that is difficult to classify: a case study”, BMJ Case Reports, 14-20 December 2009.

Turri, M.G., Chhabra, P., and Chaplin, R. (2007) “Audit on the follow up of people recently discharged from psychiatric inpatient care”, Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 24(3), 122-123.

Willis-Owen, S.A., Turri, M.G., Munafo, M.R., Surtees, P.G. Wainwright, N.W., Brixey, R.D. and Flint, J. (2005) “The Serotonin Transporter Length Polymorphism, Neuroticism, and Depression: A Comprehensive Assessment of Association”, Biological Psychiatry, 58 (6), 451-456.

Turri, M.G., DeFries, J., Henderson, N.D. and Flint, J. (2004) “Multivariate analysis of quantitative trait loci influencing variation in anxiety-related behavior in laboratory mice”, Mammalian Genome, 15 (2), 69-76.

Henderson, N.D., Turri, M.G., DeFries, J. and Flint, J. (2004) “QTL Analysis of Multiple Behavioral Measures of Anxiety In Mice”, Behavior Genetics, 34 (3), 267-293.

Turri, M.G., Henderson, N.D., DeFries, J. and Flint, J. (2001) “Quantitative Trait Locus mapping in laboratory mice derived from a replicated selection experiment for open-field activity”, Genetics, 158 (3), 1217-1226.

Turri, M.G., Datta, S.R., Henderson, N.D., DeFries, J. and Flint, J. (2001) “QTL analysis identifies multiple behavioural dimensions in ethological tests of anxiety in laboratory mice”, Current Biology, 11 (10), 725-734.

Umesh Adiga P.S., Bhomra A., Turri M.G., Nicod A., Datta S.R., Jeavons P., Mott R., Flint J. (2001) “Automatic analysis of agarose gel images”, Bioinformatics, 17 (11): 1084-1089.

Mott, R., Talbot, C.J., Turri, M.G., Collins, A.C. and Flint, J. (2000) “A method for fine mapping quantitative trait loci in outbred animal stocks”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 97 (23), 12649-12654.

Turri, M.G., Talbot, C.J., Radcliffe, R.A., Wehner, J.M. and Flint, J. (1999) “High-resolution mapping of quantitative trait loci for emotionality in selected strains of mice”, Mammalian Genome, 10, 1098-1101.

Turri, M.G., Cuin, K.A. and Porter, A.C.G. (1995) “Characterisation of a novel minisatellite that provides multiple splice donor sites in an interferon-induced transcript”, Nucleic Acids Research, 23 (11), 1854-1861 (1995)



I am currently the PhD supervisor for:

  • Tommy Maltby: Accessing arts based intervention through social prescribing, for whom does it work and why?

Public Engagement

I believe that the dominant epistemology in mental health and the resulting mainstream practice are in urgent need of reform and I promote artistic projects which contribute to rethinking mental health through research, education and advocacy.

I am the co-convener of the annual conference ‘Mad Hearts: the Arts and Mental Health’, in collaboration with Prof Bridget Escolme, Dr Louise Younie and Rupert Dannreuther. The conference explores productive, radical, contemporary encounters between the arts and mental health, bringing together clinical, artistic and research perspectives that offer a re-interpretation of contemporary mental health science and practice.

I collaborate with Dr Francesca Cornaglia and East London local arts organisations to improve practice in arts-based social prescribing, so that the value of the arts for mental health and wellbeing can be better understood and appropriate frameworks for referral pathways and outcome evaluations established.

I have convened a working group resulting in the launch of an online community in the arts and mental health, and the establishment of the collective MadHeartists.

I was interviewed by InterAct Stroke Support on the role of the arts for mental health and wellbeing, for their arts and health podcast series Right Side of the Brain.

My Letter to a Mental Health Patient from a Psychiatrist turned humble, written as a response to the play Life in Boxes, by Isabel Dixon, has been published online.

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