• The Prison Psychiatrist’s Wife - book cover

The Prison Psychiatrist’s Wife

by Sue Johnson, Foreword by Charles Bronson


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The Prison Psychiatrist’s Wife is a gripping true story of a Herculean project as Sue Johnson’s husband Bob, recruited to work with notorious offenders at Parkhurst Prison, sets out to discover whether he can change dangerous and violent men.

What begins as a bold and enlightened experiment leads Dr Bob into clashes with prison culture and eventually to the High Court with threats to invoke the Official Secrets Act.

From her unique point of view as an unfettered outsider, the author casts a searingly moving eye onto the workings of our deepest dungeons and the politics that feed them. This book is an unforgettable account from the perspective of the unseen wife.

A rare ‘outsider’ view of prison which casts new light on hidden events. Of wide professional, penal and general interest – a woman’s voice in a strongly male setting.


‘A beautifully written account of the experience of working creatively in a top security setting of control’– Prison Service Journal.

‘I read this wonderful book with joy and appreciation. It’s probably among the very best Waterside Press has ever published in all the years and I have read dozens of Waterside books …. The author is a natural writer full of empathy and understanding, I shall let people know how very good the book is’— John Harding CBE, Formerly Chief Probation Officer, Inner London.

‘A tremendous book. A perspective that needs to be heard’— Oliver James, author, broadcaster and clinical psychologist.

‘I read The Prison Psychiatrist’s Wife on holiday – a good read – an interesting perspective … She is a beautiful writer – really beautiful (I hope she writes a novel)!’— Dr Lucy Baldwin, Associate Professor, Durham University.

‘A rollercoaster ride of emotion, courage, and political chicanery … I was held by the power of the narrative’— Dave Marteau, former Head of the Prison Drug Addiction Service.

‘I was gripped … a great read I would recommend to Prison Service colleagues’— Tim Newell, former Governor of HMP Grendon.

‘Captivating and most beautifully written’— Jerome Carson, Professor of Psychology, University of Bolton.

‘This is phenomenology… women’s writing like Virginia Woolf’— Professor Emerita Eleanor Godway, Central Connecticut State University.

‘I nearly stood up and clapped’— Andrew Holden, film and TV scriptwriter.

‘A beautifully-written account of the experience of working creatively in a top security setting… Sue describes how the stresses of prison life were lived through her. This reflects the experience of many prison families. Her book is a rare insight into those stresses.’— The Friend.

‘Wonderful book… beautifully written as well as presenting the tragic face of humanity versus this country’s inhumane penal system’– Dr Felicity  de Zulueta, Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy.

As featured in Inside Time: ‘Sue Johnson lifts the lid on what life was like being married to a man who worked in the highest security unit in the country – and whose job was to analyse and attempt to heal some of the most dangerous and damaged men in the prison system’.

About the author

Sue Johnson lives in central Manchester, delighting in her roof garden, entertaining and is about to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary. She continues writing, thinking around and researching Social Justice whilst working on her next book.

About the author of the Foreword

Charles Bronson (aka Salvador) has spent decades in maximum security prisons and hospitals and been dubbed Britain’s most ‘feared’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘notorious’ prisoner.

Additional information

Weight260 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 12 mm





Place of origin

United Kingdom

Publication date

7 February 2023


Waterside Press

Ebook (EPUB)


Ebook (PDF)



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