Hilda Reilly

Reilly, Hilda

Medical historian Roy Porter has suggested that the real challenges in researching a more patient-centred version of medical history lie in ‘reconstructing patterns of consciousness and action’. My research addresses this challenge by exploring the life and illness of Freud’s patient Anna von Lieben (aka Cäcilie M.) from the perspective of the patient herself, using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to analyse her autobiographical poetry.
IPA is an idiographic and inductive qualitative research method, based on Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology. In contrast to Husserlian phenomenological methods IPA rejects the idea of phenomenological reduction (the setting aside of one’s own assumptions) as unfeasible; it also recognises that it is impossible for a third party to have a complete grasp of another’s subjectivity.
Generally used for in-depth analysis of a small number of cases, IPA can equally be used for the study of one individual case. The procedure is a flexible one which can be adapted to the nature and circumstances of the phenomena/participants/material being examined and can accommodate creative approaches. As such it is open to innovation and is thus particularly suited to a creative and original analysis of the von Lieben case.


  • Seeking Sanctuary: Journeys to Sudan, Eye Books, 2005
  • Prickly Pears of Palestine: The People Behind the Politics, Eye Books 2006
  • Guises of Desire: The Story of Freud’s Anna O, Dicatur Press 2012


  • October 2015: History of Emotions Blog: Playthings, by Alex Pheby


  • September 2016: University of Seville, Spain - International Health Humanities Conference
  • June 2016: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany - Workshop in Narrative Medicine
  • July 2015: University of Exeter - Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference.  Paper presented: Giving a voice to the unvoiced: The ambition of the biographical Novel
  • May 2014: Birkbeck, University of London - Conference: Alternative Psychiatric Narratives