Carson has been subjected at times to sensations of maggots moving in her body since the age of six. One of twins, she was born in London to middle class parents. She describes her childhood as rather unhappy, culminating in a suicide attempt at the age of fifteen. Since then she has spent periods in psychiatric care, enduring chemical and electric therapies without achieving relief from her suffering. The birth of a daughter in her mid-twenties, though, coupled with a move to Cornwall and her marriage, brought psychic stability and for seventeen years a stilling of the feeling of maggots taking over her body. Painting has long been important to Carson, but became Increasingly so when she became ill again in 1996 and started hearing voices. She began spontaneously to paint faces, which she subsequently recognised fellow patients from her earlier stays in psychiatric hospitals, and which brought back a flood of suppressed memories.
The need to capture these memories was reinforced by the urgings of the 'underlings' spirits of dead patients, so-called because they speak to her under the voices of others. Mostly, she says, they encourage her in her work, but sometimes they become frightening and destructive. At these times she enters a local psychiatric unit until she feels able to return to painting in safety.