Saar Roelofs







Dr. Saar Roelofs worked many years in the Dutch mental health care, as scientific researcher, psychotherapist and department manager. 

In her thesis she unravels the complex interaction between excessive alcohol use and anxiety, and offers starting points for treatment. See summary of this thesis. ►►                                                                  




►► She is also a painter, educated at the Dutch State Academy of Arts (Rijksakademie) in Amsterdam. Untill now she published five non fiction books, four of which are illustrated by her own hand.   

Her paintings are exhibited in venues such as the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the National War and Resistance Museum Overloon, the Netherlands


WHO IS CRAZY, ACTUALLY? about the mental health care(2008, text in Dutch) about the mental health care is Saar roelofs' credo as a psychologist. It shows that the boundaries between "healthy" and "ill" are not as sharp as one often supposes in the mental health care. The book comments on the current diagnostics, shows that the treatment can derail by unsolved emotional problemes of the therapist and shows that people in psycological disstress are able to tap into unsuspected inner sources. Richly illustrated with examples from the therapeutic practice and referrals to the visual arts, world literature and music. With cartoons by te author.

Recption of Who is crazy, actually?:

  • "An eye-opener for both therapists and patients about important issues." (National Public Library) 

  • "Saar Roelofs shares with the well known psychiatrist and writer Irvin D. Yalom sincerity, commitment and respect for the experiences of the patient." (Dutch Foundation of Confidants in the Health Care)

  • "A thorough reflection on what happens between the walls of the consulting room (Zinweb - Dutch internet book magazine) "

  • "Highly recommendend" (Dutch Client Counsel)

  • "Clarifying. With funny cartoons." (Dutch client website)



Do Not Disturb (1997, text in Dutch) is a critical reflection on the Dutch outpatient mental health centers based on the critical professional literature, dossier research and own observations. 
The author
discusses the bureaucracy and issues concerning the patient-therapist relationship such as careless psychiatric
diagnoses and the therapists  inclination to use his own preferred treatment methods at the expense of the patients needs. She points out how the daily routine could change for the better.

Do not disturb ends with a description of the developments in the mental health care after the Bijlmer Disaster (see Racial discrimination in the mental health care after the Bijlmer Airplane Crash). 
The book is interlaced with cartoons and passages from the world literature. 
Recption of Do not disturb:

  • Saar Roelofs describes the mental health care on the basis of examples from the daily practice in a playful and humorous way.” (Dutch national tv, current affairs programme: Een Vandaag)  

  • "Criticism applying to all kinds of professional health care organizations. The book discusses in fact the arrogance and opportunism of therapists and organizations.'  (Journal of Psychiatry)  

  •  “An eye opener for anybody who works in the (mental) health care.”  (Modern Medicine)  

  &  Even now
(text in Dutch) describes the life stories of two Auschwitz survivors.
The following questions are raised: How did they cope with their camp experiences? How are they looking back on these events after so many years? How are they evaluating those events in relation to other far reachting life events?  

     Reception Even now:

  • "Totally different from other eyewitness reports of the Second World War. Saar Roelofs is an excellent writer." (Dutch national radio, VPRO).  

  • "A book with much expressiveness." (National Public Library)

  • "Much attention for the psychological consequences of an  unhappy childhood and war experiences"

  • "A real contribution to the existing literature about this subject." (New Israelite Magazine, NIW)

  • "Psychologist Saar Roelofs shows a.o. that youth trauma's can prevent the integration of war trauma's." (Readers review on bol.com = Dutch equivalent of amazon.com)  

Turning Point
(text in Dutch) contains stories of eleven people who changed the course of their life's in a positive direction  after a personal crisis or a series of  far reaching life events. The misfortune varies from the dead of a child and the loss of a job till a destructive relationship and imprisonment in nazi concentration camps. 

Recption of Turnig point:

  • “An accessible writing style. Food for thought.” 
    (National Public Library) 

  • "An inspiring book." (public press)  

  • "A series of remarkable interviews." (professional journal 
    Care and Health




Inner world
People in their inner world of thoughts and feelings

The girl and the wolf
About a girl in a concentration camp (1995/revised 2016)
The original 1995 series was 3x exhibited in the Netherlands.

Reception of The girl and the wolf:

  • "Not only confronting, but also a beautiful work of art"  (public press:  De Gelderlander)"

  • A powerful statement of universal application" (Jack Boas, writer about Dutch Jews under de Nazis)

  • "Images, still and moving, subdued and expressive." 
    (public press: Zinweb)

  • "Interesting and moving" (Helmuth Braun, Head of Exhibitions Jewish Museum Berlin)

  • "Impressive paintings.” (Inge Jaehner, former director Felix-Nussbaum-Haus)

  • "Powerful and exceptional." (Marcia Reines Josephy,
    former director/curator of the LA
    Museum of the Holocaust)

  • "Impressive and moving." (public press Algemeen dagblad)


Ten Composer Portraits 
in Word and Image
text in Dutch) contains introductory biographies of ten outstanding 20th century composers as Messiaen,  Takemitsu, De Leeuw, Cage and Piazzolla.
The biographies emphasize their creative processes in relation to their personal life. 
Illustrated with 20 painted portraits. 

Reception of Ten composer portaits in word and image:

  • "Clearly  written biographies which are excellent introductions of the work of the composers" (professional journal: Mens & Melodie)

  • “Roelofs uses an accessible writing style. In a nutshell she gives an excellent impression of the life of ten composers. Meanwhile she also describes the connections and similarities between the composers. The painted portraits show a convincing likeness with the represented persons. (professional journals: De Muze van het Museumplein, Summer issue 2001; Oorsprong, November 2001)

  • “A beautiful book. Very characteristic portraits. Life and work of the composers are written in an accessible way.” (Dutch radio station for classical music: Radio 4, December 2000)

  • “Roelofs describes life and work of the ten composers in a pleasant style. Because of the painted portraits the composers become more alive.” (Public press: Dagblad van Almere, March 22 2001)

Conform her interest in music and  composers Saar Roelofs also paints musicians. Her most recent work (2015) consist of a series of violinists. 
Former series were exhibited i.a. in Music Center Vredenburg Utrecht and Gallery Amsterdam.

"With whirling brushstroke and strong diagonals Saar Roelofs creates a maximum of movement 
without  losing sight of the characteristic posture of the musician."

(Concert agenda Music center TivoliVredenburg)

Enclosed in the vook: Ten composer portaits in word and image Exhibitions in music center Exposities o.m. in Vredenburg/Tivoli Utrecht, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and Museum Van Bommel Van Dam Venlo.

"Beautiful portraits which Saar Roelofs created with profound understanding and convincing brushstrokes." 
Public press:  De Gelderlander.

“Remarkable portraits. Professional Music journal: Mens & Melodie

"The portraits of the seven composers who I knew personally impress me because of their psychological accuracy." Ton Hartsuiker, former managing director of the Cinservatory Amsterdam.


In her paintings the human figure is  the most important subject. She also created a series of landscapes, some of which were exhibited during concert exhibitions  in the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. 

This website is selected as digital heritage for inclusion in the Dutch Royal Library, the national library.