The (Revised) Clinical Imagination: An Unpublished Appendix to 'The Problem of Pain'


  • Sarah O'Dell University of California


Robert Havard was a medical doctor and a little-known Inkling who, at Lewis’s invitation, wrote an appendix to The Problem of Pain. Lewis revised the resulting document extensively before publication. An examination of the unpublished version provides both a window into the workings of the Inklings, and insight into the humility and complexity of Havard's medical practice. This is particularly evident in Havard’s discussion of mental illness: in contrast to the brief and almost flippant tone of the published version, the first draft paints a poignant picture of mental suffering and confesses the limits of the clinician’s knowledge. Sarah O’Dell speculates on the reasons for the far-reaching revisions, exploring the place of mental pain in Lewis’s theodicy, Lewis’s own experience as a caretaker for a man going mad, and instances of madness in Lewis’s fiction.

Author Biography

Sarah O'Dell, University of California

Sarah O'Dell is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of California, Irvine, where she is enrolled in a dual-degree MD and PhD (MSTP) program. She received her MA in English from Azusa Pacific University, where she completed a thesis titled "The Poetics of Memory: Literature, Imagination, and Alzheimer's Disease." While at APU, she also studied with Inklings scholar Diana Glyer. In addition to the Inklings, she is interested in the intersections between medicine and literature; correspondingly, her work has appeared in Mythlore and the Journal of Medical Humanities. She is currently working on a book-length study of physician and Inkling Robert E. Havard. Further updates can be found on her website,