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Acclaimed BBC correspondent Fergal Keane reunites with Priory psychiatrist Dr Niall Campbell and psychotherapist Christina Garcia-Llavona at launch of book about war reporting and PTSD

Multi-award winning BBC correspondent Fergal Keane, from Cork, first experienced the horrors of war covering the Troubles in Northern Ireland, before reporting on conflicts around the world including the genocide in Rwanda and mass atrocities in Sudan. 

Fifteen years ago, he had to confront a deeply personal battle with PTSD and was introduced to Ballymena-born consultant psychiatrist Dr Niall Campbell

The two men, from different cultural backgrounds and upbringings, formed a strong emotional bond. This mutual understanding greatly helped with their therapeutic relationship and Fergal's journey towards recovery.

They were reunited this month at the launch of Keane’s celebrated book, The Madness: a memoir of war, fear, and PTSD.

It is a compelling and deeply moving investigation into the causes and impact of PTSD, and tells of Fergal’s long, crippling struggles with nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks among other mental health struggles including debilitating depression. 

In it, Keane talks of Dr Campbell’s insight into the treatment of PTSD. At the book launch, he paid moving tribute to the psychiatrist, and psychotherapist Cristina Garcia-Llavona who introduced him to EMDR (eye movement desensitisation therapy) aimed at reducing the vividness and emotion associated with traumatic memories. 

He described them as the ‘dream team’.  In a recent BBC2 documentary on PTSD, he credited Dr Campbell and Cristina with helping save his life.

“It was an emotional evening,” said Dr Campbell, who now works at the Priory’s famous hospital in Roehampton, south-west London. “I am a huge admirer of Fergal as a person and a correspondent who looks for the truth. He has borne witness to some of the most extraordinarily brutal events of the last 30 years and this has come at considerable personal cost. He has told the story of man’s inhumanity to man in a personal, and unforgettable way. His book is revelatory in the way it addresses his PTSD in compelling detail, but also reaches out to others experiencing what he has called the ‘silent agony’ of PTSD,  to let them know they are not alone. It’s been a privilege to meet and know Fergal over many years.

“I know it was hugely painful for Fergal to recount his experiences in his book. It was immensely brave. Hopefully other sufferers will take something from it. PTSD is a condition with very distressing effects but with the right help it can be treated.”

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