American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2005, Vol. 75, No.
Copyright 2005 by the Educational Publishing Foundation 0002-9432/05/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0002-94188.8.131.52
Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder: Visual Representations of the Experience of Madness
Thomas J. Schoeneman, PhD, Carly M. Henderson, MA, and Vaunne M. Weathers, MS
Lewis and Clark College
The authors surveyed 38 textbooks of abnormal psychology and found 673 pictures of the inner experience of mental disorder. Textbook authors use these pictures to demonstrate diagnostic features of individuals and groups, to make a connection between mental disorder and artistic talent, and to suggest what it is like to experience mental disorder. To fulﬁll these functions, many of the pictures in the sample use the incongruities and distortions of expressionist, surrealist, and naive techniques.
Psychologists and psychiatrists who study stereotypes of mental illness have shown that stigmatizing attitudes toward the mentally ill are widespread and harmful (Corrigan & Penn, 1999). Investigators in this area have tried to counter this prejudice, in part, by describing the contents of stereotypical beliefs about the mentally ill. This work initially focused on public opinion. Rabkin (1972), for example, found that public attitudes consistently characterize the mentally ill as unpredictable, dangerous, and not responsible for their actions. Later investigators turned their attention to media depictions, conﬁrming the presence of these negative attitudes in plots and characterizations (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1988; Wahl, 1992) and adding descriptions of recurrent narrative themes that feature mentally ill characters as rebellious free spirits, enlightened outsiders, homicidal maniacs, narcissistic parasites, and dehumanized asylum inmates (Hyler, Gabbard, & Schneider, 1991). A third component of stereotypes of madness involves visual elements: There are common and recurrent visual depictions of both the outer appearance and the inner experience of insanity. Visual stereotypes have occasionally been noted by social scientists (e.g., Scheff, 1966), but they have been studied
Thomas J. Schoeneman, PhD, Carly M. Henderson, MA, and Vaunne M. Weathers, MS, Department of Psychology, Lewis and Clark College. An earlier version of this research was presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, April 1997, Seattle, Washington. For reprints and correspondence: Thomas J. Schoeneman, PhD, Department of Psychology, Lewis and Clark College, 0615 Southwest Palatine Hill Road, Portland, OR 97219. E-mail: email@example.com
systematically by historians (Gilman, 1982, 1985, 1988; MacGregor, 1989). Our focus in this article is on visual stereotypes, particularly on the contents and implications of depictions of what it is like to be mad. We begin by brieﬂy describing stereotypes of the external appearance of the mentally ill and then turn to a more extensive survey of two trends in the artistic representation of the inner experience of madness.
Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
The maniac, the melancholic, and the fool are recurring ﬁgures of external appearance in medical, artistic, and popular conceptions of mental disorder over the course of Western history (Gilman, 1982; Schoeneman, Brooks, Gibson, Routbort, & Jacobs, 1994). Depictions of the active madness of the maniac feature wide eyes and an open mouth, a contorted body posture, disheveled hair and clothes, full or partial nakedness, and restraints. The melancholic is generally presented in the pensive philosopher’s pose—seated, eyes downcast, head in hands—with face and ﬁgure in at least partial darkness. Depictions of folly often combine aspects of maniacal madness or melancholy with silly or vacant facial features, incongruous clothes, and such props as a fool’s staff, pinwheel, or balloon. Other visual features, such as the staff of madness or hidden hands, can be present in depictions of all forms of madness. In the past 150 years, the catalog of visual stereotypes of madness has expanded beyond portrayals of appearance to include depictions of the experience of mental disorder (Gilman, 1982, 1985). Using a metaphor borrowed from art, we call this type of picture interior landscapes of mental disorder. Two kinds of depictions of the inner world of madness have be-
Expressionists revered van Gogh and viewed his mental illness as crucial to his greatest paintings. the artist. hospitalized amateurs such as August Klett and Adolf Wo ¨ lﬂi were hailed as “schizophrenic masters. pharmaceutical ads. in tandem with Freudian psychoanalysis and sometimes under its direct inﬂuence. The ﬁrst stage in the emergence of interest in interior landscapes of mental disorder began in the middle 1800s. Sander L. In particular. Prinzhorn. 20th century artists. but one common result of many of these agendas was the visual exploration of interior experiences such as emotional states. and collected. megalomania. tilted frames. 350). alongside depictions of tradi-
. chronic mania. At the beginning of the 20th century. Visual references to mental disorder that include blurred images. 1922/1995). could be used to understand the ways that individual patients constructed their realities. Gilman also observed. which resulted in “a considerable amount of amateurish and naive ‘psychologizing’” (p. Paul-Max Simon suggested that patients’ art could be used in the differential diagnosis of melancholia. 1989). 1982. now in Lausanne. Romanticists were fascinated with the inner emotional life of the passionate. and the like— often occurring in conjunction with stereotypic pictures of external appearance—are now commonplace in such diverse locations as horror movies. HENDERSON. a historical survey of stereotypes of the external appearance of the mentally ill. core self. including their interest in the depiction of emotional states and disordered mental processes. As James MacGregor (1989) has noted. 1989). whereas Surrealists proudly emulated works produced by inmates of insane asylums. and psychiatrists often proceeded in their endeavors with a superﬁcial understanding of each others’ disciplines. 1985. magazine illustrations. A conﬂuence of 19th century Romanticism and moral psychiatry spurred interest in the art of the insane as a window into the phenomenology of madness (Gilman. AND WEATHERS
come standard: the artistic products of mentally ill individuals. 1989). the respected psychiatrist Ambroise-Auguste Tardieu suggested that the artistic productions of the insane. then. Under the inﬂuence of Romanticism. uncanny settings. 1989. general paralysis. dementia. At the same time. which had until that time been discouraged and ignored in asylums. The lives and works of trained artists such as Richard Dadd and Vincent van Gogh were used to validate the conception of the mad genius. in many cases.172
SCHOENEMAN. Outraged critics reacted to modern art by questioning the sanity of its practitioners. 1985. they considered madness to be a heightened state of awareness that was. As a result. Iconoclasts in modern art movements were keenly interested in works produced by the insane. dreams. psychiatrists and artists alike began to take greater interest in the art of the insane. allied with genius and creativity (Kessel. but they were nevertheless inﬂuenced by its interest in the inner world of the genius. art historians. Later in the same decade. and the representation of a madman’s delusion through the use of distorted sets and unconventional camera angles in the German Expressionist ﬁlm The Cabinet of Dr. Among these critics were psychiatrists who assigned diagnoses to noted artists on the basis of analyses of their paintings and sculptures. cartoons. and psychology textbooks. analyzed. What is ironic about this history of revolution and reaction is that the visual ideas of modern art movements. Gilman (1982) noted the continuing presence of these stereotypes in many of the pictures in a modern textbook of psychiatry. art movements such as Expressionism and Surrealism abandoned the goal of faithful
representation of external reality (Gilman. two great collections of the art of the insane had been established: The Prinzhorn Collection in Heidelberg bears the name of the psychiatrist who founded it. and artists’ renditions of disordered mental processes. 1985. artistic products of asylum inmates came under close scrutiny. MacGregor. owes its existence to the artist Jean Dubuffet (Gilman. Well-known examples include the anxiety suggested by the turbulent. and imbecility (Gilman. “Schizophrenic art” in particular began to be encouraged. whereas the Collection de l’Art Brut. and the madman.
The Uses of Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
In the epilogue to Seeing the Insane. Psychiatrists of the late 1800s did not share the Romantic distrust of reason and sanity. and psychopathology. Caligari (Wiene. are now a part of everyday popular culture. Each school had its own revolutionary ideals. the melting clocks and barren sands of Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory (1931). 1919). MacGregor. The bodies of work that produced these depictions of disordered mental processes bear an interesting relationship to the art of the mentally ill. In 1872.” By the middle of the 20th century. orange sky in Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1894). The second trend in the depiction of the inner world of the mentally disordered involved professional artists’ depictions of mental states in general. 1982). MacGregor.
INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
tional stereotypes of exterior appearance. the history of attempts to correlate artistic elements with diagnostic categories has been full of controversy and frustration (Gilman. see the psychological analysis of art as useful in illuminating individual symbol systems (Gilman. and scientists—is at least as ancient as Plato and Aristotle (Gilman. 224). 224). Art produced by mentally ill individuals and by professional artists who aim to simulate disordered mental processes has appeared with increasing frequency over the last century in gallery exhibitions. even if images of the internal world of the mentally ill are intended to
. with two minuscule ﬁgures running in the background. “an entirely new area of perception” (p. should be established independently. 1989. the picture of a female hugging three children while a male sits apart in the background illustrates “a patient’s relationship to his parents and siblings.g. Today. A casual look at two or three textbooks of abnormal psychology easily conﬁrms Gilman’s (1982) observation: Pictures of disordered psychological processes as well as pictures produced by mentally ill individuals are easy to ﬁnd.” In another. The caption refers to the fact that “paranoid patients are often unable to separate the thought from the deed and fear that their angry impulses can kill others or themselves. Opponents of the bipolar hypothesis have countered with demonstrations that mania increases the quantity but not the quality of works produced. and relevant cultural stereotypes of depicting different types of individuals and mental processes. 1989). more broadly. such as the artist’s life situations. Kessel. 1985.” (p. 1985) but also caution that this project can only be undertaken with great care. 1982. and to illustrate the subjective experience of madness. arguments that mental disorder in general decreases artistic output. musicians. MacGregor. Kraepelin’s (1921) suggestion that manic episodes of bipolar mood disorders disinhibit and enhance artistic cognitions and behaviors has modern proponents who claim empirical support (e. the analyst may venture interpretations based on the form and content of artistic works. and a suggestion that the madness– genius connection is nothing more than one of many prevalent stereotypes of mental disorder (Kessel. and the mass media (Gilman. in the careful. 1989). This is a far cry from the earlier agenda of mapping artistic elements to speciﬁc diagnostic labels and mental processes. MacGregor. 224) in textbooks of psychiatry and psychology? Our brief history of interior landscapes of mental disorder suggests that mental health professionals have found three uses for this type of art in the past 150 years: to diagnose varieties of mental disorder and. MacGregor. the hypothesis of a connection between mental disorder and creative genius remains controversial. He gave two examples:
In one instance. Diagnosis. 1989). Mental health and art professionals alike have used these images to depict the subjective experience of mental disorder for lay audiences. Once this thorough assessment is in hand. to understand the psychology of individual artists. and a reintegration into society of the mentally ill (e. acceptance. followed a few decades later by the Nazis’ identiﬁcation and suppression of degenerate art and artists. However.g. Weisberg. Modern psychodynamic observers of art. therapist inﬂuences. 224)
Gilman (1982) noted that many of these pictures offer a combination of both the “external aspect of the patient” and “his mental life and history. Some observers applaud the proliferation of interior landscapes of mental disorder as having the potential to promote understanding. the reader is presented with an image of the dismembered body of a clothes mannequin lying on an open space. During this time. . professional publications. Those who afﬁrmed the utility of art in understanding the psychology of the artist suffered notable embarrassments—for example.. if relevant. Andreasen. 1995. . erudite tradition of Hans Prinzhorn
and Ernst Kris. to demonstrate a connection between mental illness and creative genius. All three of these functions have turned out to be problematic. Nevertheless. Jamison. The concept of the mad genius—an umbrella that covers not only practitioners of the visual arts but also poets. 1987. Schoeneman & Marley. this combination is not only accepted but expected” (p. .. The use of art to demonstrate a connection between madness and creative genius has often occurred in conjunction with the diagnostic function in the past 150 years. novelists. In teaching aids today. the analyst must have a thorough knowledge of art history and a comprehensive grasp of relevant external factors. current and past artistic conventions. 1994). 1985. mental health professionals have disagreed about whether artistic products have diagnostic usefulness. Cesare Lombroso’s late 19th century use of paintings and drawings to illustrate moral degeneracy in both criminals and geniuses. Gilman’s commentary raises an interesting question: Why are interior landscapes of mental disorder “not only accepted but expected” (p. From Tardieu and Simon in the 1870s to Prinzhorn (1922/1955) in the 1920s to the present day. 1989). 1989). MacGregor. 1989.
g. The empathic function uses both process and product pictures as ways of representing what it is like to experience mental disorder. The commonality between process and product pictures lies in their use as windows into the psyches of a particular class of the Other. HENDERSON. As this example suggests. or the Romantic idea of “insanity as a marvelous state of creative freedom and unrestrained imagination” (MacGregor. All disagreements were resolved through discussion. Of these. drawings and paintings).. We also suggest three uses of interior landscapes of mental disorder. range ϭ 2– 43). of a van Gogh self-portrait or a photograph of a person looking at a distorted reﬂection in a mirror. First we determined interior picture type—that is. All process and product pictures were coded for psychological status (normal vs. & Gibson. results of formal assessment (e. interior mental processes. p. Interior landscapes of mental disorder appear in two varieties: Process pictures are professional artists’ simulations of the inner experience of disordered mental processes.. whereas the madness– creativity function uses these artifacts as evidence of a connection among mental disorder. Although we have focused so far only on artworks as products of mental disorder. Purveyors of internal landscapes of mental disorder could also inadvertently promote degeneracy theories.
Seeing Into the Insane in Textbooks of Abnormal Psychology
Let us summarize our argument and propose a terminology for use in the rest of this article. Our studies of
pictures of the exterior appearance of the mentally ill that have appeared in textbooks of abnormal psychology in the last 20 years have shown us a sufﬁcient number of interior landscapes of mental disorder to conﬁrm Gilman’s (1982) earlier sightings and pique our interest. and we inspected pictures and captions to interpret the implicit and explicit messages that they contained.g. reduced via combination to 18 for this report. Carly M.7 interior landscapes of mental disorder per textbook (SD ϭ 11.229 pictures of people’s external appearance or interior experience. with an interrater reliability of 98%. and writing samples. 98%) and diagnosis (26 categories.
.229 pictures as depicting exterior appearance. Their percentage of agreement was our estimate of interrater reliability. Henderson and Vaunne M. directed drawing). 1989. or mixed (e. 93%). process versus product—with an interrater agreement of 97%. AND WEATHERS
promote empathy. 282).. In this report. and product pictures are works produced by mentally disturbed individuals. Weathers independently sorted each picture into a number of predeﬁned categories (Schoeneman. for instance. 1972). Our methodology is both empirical and interpretive: We derived our sample and coded pictures using content analytic procedures. they may function in the same way as depictions of the external appearance of madness by emphasizing the difference of the mentally ill and the distance between the disordered and the normal (Gilman. 1982). To study interior landscapes of mental disorder.g. In addition. creativity. illustrated letters).
Our sample of pictures came from all 38 textbooks of abnormal psychology published in the United States between 1986 and 1996. Schoeneman as the ﬁnal arbiter. writing samples (e.4. ﬁgure copying.
Our sample yielded an average of 17. abnormal. 673 (9%) are included in our sample of interior landscapes of mental disorder.. the distinction between process and product pictures often depends on the way that a picture is used by its exhibitor (Berger.g. with Thomas J. Pictures rated as products were further categorized as art (e. 1995). As is the case with many conceptual distinctions. two other types of artifacts can also ﬁt into this category: drawings produced as a part of directed psychological assessment. boundaries can be fuzzy. We then coded each of the 673 pictures that depicted interiority on a number of dimensions. or both. we turn our attention for the ﬁrst time to pictures of the interiority of mental illness in these textbooks to answer questions about their prevalence and characteristics.174
SCHOENEMAN. with an agreement rate of 95%. copies of letters). The remaining 69% of the sample. and genius. There were 207 process pictures (31%). process and product pictures are not always clearly separable: A reproduction of Edvard Munch’s The Scream could serve as a depiction of the experience of anxiety or as an example of a work produced by a mentally disturbed artist. the mad artist stereotype. Brooks. These books contained 7. the mentally ill. The diagnostic function uses artistic products to classify and understand the unconscious processes of the artist. we needed a source of such pictures. Interior landscapes of mental disorder often contain aspects of exterior appearance—think. We coded the initial sample of 7.
amnesia. 92% of the sample of 673 pictures). 8 of these were attributed to schizophrenics. and dissociative disorders other than dissociative identity disorder (i. Furthermore. schizophrenia (1 time).INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
the product pictures. included 322 artworks (48% of the total sample). especially for schizophrenia. of the seven different van Gogh paintings we encountered. Assess-
ment products were by far the major picture type for organic brain syndromes and mental retardation and were nearly absent from all other categories except childhood disorders.
Table 1 gives frequencies associated with various diagnostic categories. the well-known The Starry Night (1889.
. and nondisordered subjects. six are self-portraits. Written products were predominant for no disorder category but were encountered with some frequency for mood disorders. writing (10). art (10) Art (12) Process (16) Art (7). 54 writing samples (8%). 22% of the sample. personality disorders. including most prominently Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear (1889. somatoform disorders. OBS ϭ organic brain syndrome. and 10 art– writing mixtures (1%). and depersonalization) and were predominant for anxiety disorders. 80 depictions of assessment drawings (12%). An overwhelming majority of these pictures represented abnormal psychological processes (f ϭ 620. Several features of this catalog deserve comment. Works. and childhood disorders.e. 9 of the 10 pictures in the mixed category were art and writing combinations. 5 times). fugue. we ﬁnd Vincent van Gogh to be foremost: His work appears 12 times in our sample. are used to show the exterior appearance of this mad artist as ﬁltered through his own disordered mental processes of bipolar disorder (5 times).. childhood psychosis. By a wide margin. a Numbers in parentheses indicate frequency of picture type. Turning ﬁrst to originators whose artworks are used to represent their disorders. Figure
Table 1 Diagnostic Categories Represented by Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
Disorder Schizophrenia/psychosis OBS/mental retardation Childhood disorders Other/not speciﬁed Mood disorder Possession Multiple personality/DID Anxiety disorders Addictive disorders Stress-related disorders Other dissociative disorders Paraphilia/transsexualism Diagnosis open Personality disorders Paranoid disorders Eating disorders Somatoform disorders Normal Total 146 78 67 64 41 40 38 35 21 18 16 14 13 11 9 6 3 53 % of sample 22 12 10 10 6 6 6 5 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 0 8 Prevailing picture typea Art (108) Assessment (63) Art (43) Art (57) Art (19). and unspeciﬁed disorders. An alternative way to describe the diagnostic features of our sample is to look at which disorders are characteristic of each picture type. 138 of these depicted schizophrenia). Finally. or an unspeciﬁed disorder (4 times). and Collections
Table 2 presents originators of interior landscapes of mental disorder whose works appeared 5 or more times in our sample. paraphilias and transsexualism. Process simulations were exclusively used to depict possession states. paranoia. interior landscapes of schizophrenia and other psychoses were the most frequent in our sample (146 pictures. These works. Three quarters of these pictures were artistic products. DID ϭ dissociative identity disorder. Art was the most prevalent picture type in 10 diagnostic categories. epilepsy (1 time). process (10) Process (40) Art (22) Process (32) Process (11). process (2) Process (3) Process (35)
Originators. writing (6) Art (9) Process (7) Art (7) Art (3). In the seventh work. Table 1 also lists the dominant picture types for each diagnosis.
Several of these masters are included in Table 2: August Klett. The Dead Mother & the Child Flowers-in-vase series (paranoia) Worm Holes etc. Wurmbrandt (head-roasting cure) Letter/postcard to Jodie Foster Photo of dyslexic child’s writing Universe Inversion (PC) Paintings of alcoholism Maisons (AB)
Note. The prominence of van Gogh’s work in our sample supports MacGregor’s (1989) suggestion that. these two institutions account for 13% of the pictures in our sample.176
SCHOENEMAN. DID ϭ dissociative identity disorder. series of paintings depicting the progression of paranoid schizophrenia (Anonymous 1) and Alzheimer’s disease (Anonymous 4). far more than any other source acknowledged in textbooks’ picture credits. Franz Karl Buhler. Joey). Adolf-Giant-Creation (AB. These include portraits of the alters of people diagnosed with dissociative identity disorders (Chris Sizemore. often during hospitalization. more generally. van Gogh remains the quintessential exemplar of the mad artist (cf. a Originator’s work appeared in multiple editions of only one textbook. and Aloise Wey. Catherine Exorcising a Possessed Woman (see Figure 7) Three-faced portrait of DID alters (see Figure 6) Donna and the Disasterettes Portraits of DID alters The Scream.
1). AND WEATHERS
Table 2 Originators of Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
Originator Vincent van Gogh Girolamo di Benvenuto Chris Sizemore/“Eve” Roz Chasta Billy Milligan Edvard Munch Anonymous 1a August Klett/Klotz Nadia Joeya Louis Waina Anonymous 2 John Vassos Adolf Wo ¨ lﬂi Anonymous 3a Anonymous 4a Elizabeth Moudinea Anonymous 5 Anonymous 6 Franz Karl Buhler Matthias Greuter John Hinckley Will and Deni McIntyre Joseph Sell/Schneller W. Table 2 also contains the artworks of mentally disordered amateurs other than those represented in the Prinzhorn and Art Brut collections. of works 7 1 3 5 4 3 3 3 3 4 4 1 6 4 2 3 3 1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 3 Picture type Art Process Art Process Art 8 process. (PC) Rooster (autist savant) Mechanical boy (autism) Cat series (psychosis) Exorcism scene Depictions of phobias St.
. The relative predominance of these
mentally disordered masters in our sample can be gauged by the frequencies of pictures supplied by the Prinzhorn Collection (f ϭ 38) and the Collection de l’Art Brut (f ϭ 47). Adolf Wo ¨ lﬂi. Despair. Frequencies are the frequency with which the originator’s work appeared in 38 textbooks. the mentally disturbed individual who develops artistic excellence. see Figure 5) Drawings of sadistic fantasies Windmill series (Alzheimer’s disease) Elizabeth & the Beasts Bender–Gestalt Test copies Moonstruck women (18th century) Untitled (PC) Dr. Billy Milligan). 1 art Art Art Art Art Art Process Process Art Art Art Art Assessment Process Art Process Writing 4 writing. Aloise Weya f 12 11 11 11 9 9 9 8 8 8 7 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 No. Schoeneman & Marley. HENDERSON. Taken together. The Representative work column gives titles or descriptions of one or more of the originator’s works and includes indicators of two sources: the Prinzhorn Collection (PC) and the Collection de l’Art Brut (AB). the artist is seen as using the swirling moon and stars of the night sky to represent the inner turbulence of his bipolar disorder. Joseph Sell. the number of works is the number of different titles by the originator that appear. drawings by autistic children (Nadia. outside the discipline of art history. The mirror image of the mad artist is Prinzhorn’s (1922/1995) “schizophrenic master” or. 1 assessment Art Art Art Representative work Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. 1995). The Starry Night (see Figure 1) St.
A textbook in our sample noted that “Vincent Van Gogh probably suffered from bipolar disorder” and presented this picture because it “expresses the expansive. Acquired through the Lillie P. Nathan. (472. Table 2 contains examples of two other kinds of product pictures: writing samples and assessment results. and paintings by a schizophrenic (Moudine) and an alcoholic (W. in this regard he was a forerunner of German Expressionism (ca. p. Oil on canvas. 1905–1930). The Starry Night (1889).). Over the course of the 20th century. the majority of the 80 assessment pictures in our sample were ﬁgure copy and drawing tasks from tests of
. see also Chilvers et al. adopted van Gogh as a kind of patron saint who. The most prominent of patients’ assessment products in our sample was a set of Bender–Gestalt Test ﬁgure copies taken from Lacks (1984) that appeared ﬁve times (Anonymous 5 in Table 2).1941) Copyright by The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource. In fact.. Van Gogh (1853–1890) used exaggerated depictions of nature to express human emotions.INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
Figure 1. in fact. MacGregor. Vincent van Gogh. 1989). Bliss Bequest. New York. promoted the movement’s ideal of challenging conventional perceptions of reality. In the sample as a whole.
drawings of the sadistic fantasies of an autoerotic asphyxia fatality (Anonymous 3). p. creative quality of [the artist’s] mania” (Wilson. 9. & Clark. 7) and “like a site where discourses on madness and creativity converge” (p. through his madness and creative genius. The written materials in Table 2 consist of two of John Hinckley Jr. 44 of 54 (81%) written products and 9 of 10 art–writing mixtures appeared anonymously. 1989. O’Leary. In addition to works of art produced by the mentally ill. The Expressionists.’s messages to Jodie Foster prior to his presidential assassination attempt (reproduced ﬁve times) and a photograph of a dyslexic
child’s printing containing reversed and transposed letters (f ϭ 4). 29 ϫ 361⁄4 in. 1996. 199). van Gogh became both “a contender for the position of the most widely known European artist” (McQuillan. 1994.
On the basis of an examination of the random sample of 30 captions and of the complete sample. the viewer of a grotesque is likely to react using descriptions ranging from “strange” and “odd.
Qualitative Aspects of Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
We now turn our attention to aspects of interior landscapes of mental disorder that lie outside the reach of our formal content analysis. HENDERSON.178
SCHOENEMAN. It was. All 30 of the captions attached to these pictures fulﬁlled one of the three functions. Table 2 also contains frequently occurring pictures that are used as simulations of disordered psychological processes. but Table 3 displays 10 that we can use as examples. . 180. they can: Depictions of psychological interiority seem to cluster into two varieties.
. Note that the process pictures in Table 2 are a mixture of works by professionals whose names are given in captions (Benvenuto. and 7 ﬁgure drawing tasks (9%). by deﬁnition. Osborne. 13 in which they mentioned the empathic function. The term grotesque serves as both a colloquial and a technical description. artworks also seem to be the primary locus of correlations drawn between mental disorder and artistic productivity (Captions 9 and 10). although they can also express the diagnostic function if the process as depicted is claimed to be typical of a particular disorder (Caption 3). . cartoons.
Too much space would be needed to reproduce all of these captions. & Farr. Assessment pictures were produced primarily by patients with organic brain syndromes or mental retardation (f ϭ 63. In an attempt to pursue this impression (albeit somewhat informally) and to generate examples for use in this report. in his book The Grotesque in Art and Literature. 79%) and developmental disorders (f ϭ 10. All assessment pictures in the sample were anonymous. 1994. Thus. In fact. In our sample as a whole. was more speciﬁc: “The grotesque is a structure. The remaining 120 came from the collections of picture services. Chast. 27 other ﬁgure copies (34%). came to imply whatever is incongruous with the accepted norm whether in life or in art” (Chilvers. Bender–Gestalt Test ﬁgure copies and the like—raises a question about whether any pictorial commonalities could possibly be discovered. Artworks are versatile: They see service as expressions of the artist’s unique psychology and as the typical productions of a type of patient (Captions 6 and 7) as well as serving as windows into the experience of those suffering from a disorder (Caption 8). exorcism scenes. and madness– creativity functions of interior landscapes of mental disorder. our impression that captions almost always express one or more of these three functions. The remaining 8% consisted of six Draw-APerson (Aiken. satisfy the empathic function of showing what it is like to have a particular disorder (Captions 1 and 2 in Table 3). By our count. 1995) results and one reproduction of a self-monitoring journal. the term shifted meanings from the 17th through 19th centuries: “The word ‘grotesque.” on one end
Picture Captions and the Functions of Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
It seems reasonable to expect that the descriptions and explanations given by picture captions contain expressions of the diagnostic. capitalization in the original). the grotesque and the naturalistic. there were 17 instances in which captions mentioned the diagnostic function. in fact. empathic. Its nature could be summed up in a phrase that has repeatedly suggested itself to us: THE GROTESQUE IS THE ESTRANGED WORLD” (p. Two questions interested us: What do textbook authors write in describing these pictures? Is it possible to characterize the visual aspects of pictures that represent the inner experience of mental disorder?
Visual Elements of Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
The diversity of images collected in our sample— paintings by mentally ill amateurs and professionals.’ originating as a technical term designating a late Roman type of decoration and a Renaissance decorative style based upon it. p. 12%). and 11 in which they mentioned the madness– creativity function. 87 pictures by 35 notable artists and cartoonists constituted 42% of all process pictures. . we offer the following generalizations. and Vassos) and of the more anonymously presented images supplied by picture services (Anonymous 2 and 6). The grotesque in interior landscapes of mental disorder. Wolfgang Kayser (1963). AND WEATHERS
cognitive and intellectual functioning: These included 39 Bender–Gestalt Test copies (49%). Process simulations. Munch. 184. In art history and criticism. 222). we drew a random sample of 34 pictures (5% of the total sample). 11 presented two functions. visual simulations of psychological processes such as anxiety and delusions. handwriting samples. Reproductions of patients’ writing and assessment results seem to serve the diagnostic function almost exclusively (Captions 4 and 5).
p. & Greene. Many epileptics have visual premonitions of an oncoming seizure. anxieties. 431). 6. sometimes autobiographically (Chilvers et al. form. 8. (Collection de l’ Art Brut. A remarkable aspect of this art is that it was produced spontaneously. this trend can be found in the works of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch near the turn of the 20th century. “[The Collection de l’ Art Brut] provides an extraordinary glimpse into the inner lives and private visions of cultural outsiders and conﬁrms Dubuffet’s sense of the profound talents that often lie within those who are. by people living in socially isolated. with no formal artistic training. 1987. 257). not as a part of a therapy program. LSD is an hallucinogenic drug that gives rise to a vivid parade of colors and visual distortions. p. Picture type and function Process: empathic function
Process: empathic function Process: empathic and diagnostic functions
Writing: diagnostic function
Assessment: diagnostic function Art: diagnostic function Art: empathic and diagnostic functions Art: empathic function
Art: madness–creativity function
Art: madness–creativity function
of a continuum. Lausanne. 164). p.” and “weird. “The artists [in the Prinzhorn Collection] were mentally ill patients. “How it feels to have an epileptic seizure. “Two ﬁgure drawings illustrating the defensive hysteroid (left panel) and the defended depressive (right panel) sides of a character neurotic personality” (Willerman & Cohen. considered to be abnormal” (Carson & Butcher. 1986. & Jamison. unstimulating environments” (Sue. never realizing the source of their anxiety is within themselves” (Duke & Nowicki. “An LSD trip. Sue. p. 427). & Sue. and blurring to
. 1992. they usually cannot summon up or implement these ‘insights’” (Nevid. who lived during the late 1800s to early 1900s. This drawing was made by a victim of grand mal epilepsy. . 1986. 7. Children develop these skills at different rates. 1990. highcontrast shadowing.
in the Expressionist movement in German art circa 1905–1930. 231). although the individual is still fully conscious. 1986. 2. “The cartoonist Roz Chast has captured the thinking that is typical of a depressed person” (Sarason & Sarason.. and psychopathologies.” “bizarre. Those who develop them later than average often are at a disadvantage in kindergarten and in later school years” (Sarason & Sarason. . surrealism. color. to “fantastic. “Paintings by schizophrenic patients that suggest the disturbance of affect and sense of self that are often present with the disorder . Some users have claimed to have achieved great insights while ‘tripping. 343). “This painting is typical of artwork produced by schizophrenics. 4 “Learning to write requires a certain degree of coordination and cognitive skill. . artists used distortions of the physical world and human form to express emotions. These experiences resemble dreams. 318). and naivete ´ . In the history of art. 1994). people appear to be trying to run away or distance themselves from the source of their anxiety. James Ensor. “In the various forms of dissociative disorders. an aura can help steel an epileptic for the ordeal of a seizure” (Goldstein. Rathus. and in German Expressionist ﬁlms of the 1920s and American horror movies and ﬁlms noir of 1930 –1960. and perspective. 5. and John Vassos (see Figures 1 and 2) and photography that uses techniques such as multiple exposure. In this tradition.INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
Table 3 Examples of Captions and the Functions They Serve
Caption 1.” on the other. 360). p. p. passions. called auras. p. Munch. Examples of the expressionist trend in our sample include pictures by professional artists such as van Gogh. 1988. Baker. Terrifying as it often is. p. for one reason or another. p. 3. Henry Fu ¨ ssli. inside front cover). 9. (Bottom) The partly hidden ghostlike ﬁgure painted by this patient suggests depersonalization and loss of identity” (Bootzin & Acocella. 1994. 10. The expressionist trend in interior landscapes of mental disorder is characterized by distortions and exaggerations of line. zoom effects.’ but when the drug wears off. shadow. How do the pictures in our sample achieve this estrangement? A scrutiny of the pictures themselves and of the names and works of prominent artists in the sample suggests three strategies used in the visual depiction of the grotesque: expressionism. 1988. 1987. Switzerland)” (Meyer & Salmon. They were most often diagnosed as schizophrenic and did not express themselves artistically until after the onset of their illness. 277).
artists and writers of this school tried to fuse the realm of dreams and halluci-
nations with external reality. published in 1931 by the New York ﬁrm of Covici. Our sample includes pictures by Surrealists such as Salvador Dali. Rene Magritte. p. Yves Tanguy. 1976). and other pathological processes (see Figure 3). the incongruous. and the irrational” (Chilvers et al. which resulted in highly detailed representations that made no rational sense. The surrealist approach is “characterized by a fascination with the bizarre. Illustration courtesy of the University of Syracuse Library.
suggest experiences such as hallucination.180
SCHOENEMAN. Department of Special Collections. John Vassos. This illustration is one of 23 collected in a limited edition of Phobia. AND WEATHERS
Figure 2. Vassos (1898 –1985) used darkness and the distortion of perspective and form to convey the fear of heights.. dissociation. and Wilfredo Lam alongside more recent depictions. 1994. such as a photograph that represents schizophrenic perceptual disorder as a white cat with numerous human eyes and mouths superimposed onto its body (see Figure 4). Acrophobia (1931). Paintings and drawings by schizophrenic
. HENDERSON. The Surrealist movement in the 1920s and 1930s was heavily inﬂuenced by the psychoanalytic conception of an irrational unconscious. Friede (see also Vassos. 482).
(and other mentally disordered) masters also partake of the incongruity of the surreal in our sample (see Figure 5). distortions present in the printing of dyslexic children and the ﬁgure copies of patients with brain lesions. 1994. perspective nonscientiﬁc. We use the term naturalism to describe “an approach to art in which the artist endeavors to present objects as they are empirically observed. Down the Road. unconstrained creativity (cf. 1994. The earliest works of this type include all 40 of the possession and exorcism scenes in our sample (6%. and
perceptual expectations of realism. and so on that seem to be presented to the reader as empirical data. Caption 9 in Table 3). however. p. 439). Dan McCoy. members of “primitive” societies. A second type of naturalistic picture involves a more or less realistic depiction of a person’s exterior appearance along with the inclusion of a “thought bubble” containing words or pictures. Not every internal landscape of mental disorder ﬁts into the category of the grotesque. social. Surrealists. The expressionist zoom effect in this photograph is used to depict the interior experience of psychogenic fugue in three textbooks in our sample. Naturalism in interior landscapes of mental disorder. and vision childlike or literal-minded” (Chilvers et al. 3) that are “lacking in conventional expertise in representational skills” (Chilvers et al. naive art has been of considerable interest to Expressionists. p. 439). and artists such as Jean Dubuffet.INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
Figure 3.. Naive art includes “curiously crude objects and images” (MacGregor. “colors are characteristically bright and non-naturalistic. Again. see Table 1). Three subsets of the pictures in our sample are free of distortions and incongruities. and naive characteristics is incongruity: These pictures contain features that depart from artistic. Copyright by Dan McCoy/Rainbow. In our sample. of course. rather than in a stylized or conceptual manner” (Chilvers et al. surrealist. There are some that strive for an apparent naturalism. naive characteristics can be seen primarily in the works of mentally disordered masters and amateurs (Figures 5 and 6).
.. 351). 1994. In fact. but the emphasis in these pictures seems to be on normative errors rather than on strangeness or incongruity. The ﬁrst type of naturalistic depiction of interiority involves all of the 134 assessment results and writing samples in our collection (20% of the entire sample): These are reproductions of handwritten notes. 1989. for example. the founder of the Art Brut collection. the common thread that we have identiﬁed in pictures that show expressionist. in their efforts to break away from social and artistic conventions and approach a purer. The term naive has been used to characterize the work of well-known artists such as Henri Rousseau and Grandma Moses and also artifacts produced by children. p.. In naive painting. and social outsiders (including the mentally ill). p. ﬁgure copies.
Michael Weisbrot. and Gary Larson. 163). and anonymously produced process pictures from picture services. It is possible to estimate the relative proportions of grotesque and naturalistic depictions in our sample of interior landscapes of mental disorder..
There are a number of ﬁndings in this study that warrant further discussion. The next manifestation of pictures containing thought bubbles occurred with the work of 19th century caricaturists such as George Cruikshank and Honore ´ Daumier. Sidney Harris. The ﬁnal trend in naturalism in our sample involves a very small number of pictures that are rendered realistically but with an apparent expressionist intention in either the artist’s execution or textbook authors’ intended use. AND WEATHERS
Figure 4. & Gresham. Photograph copyright by Michael Weisbrot. p. 32% of the pictures in our sample belong to one of the three categories of naturalistic pictures. Grifﬁn. which are said to express the loneliness and alienation of modern life using starkly realistic subjects and styles (Chilvers et al. In our sample. This public awareness of schizophrenia has a
. Examples include paintings of George Tooker and Edward Hopper. Weisbrot. personal communication. 2003). 1994). 1986. As noted above. September 2. The photograph was originally produced for an exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan that had nothing to do with mental illness (M. surrealist. There are only six process pictures in our sample (1%) that are rendered in a naturalistic style. The remaining 68% are artworks and art–writing mixtures. Segerstrom. or naive styles. An approximate and conservative estimate therefore puts the proportion of grotesque pictures in our total sample at 60%. Our experience in scrutinizing these latter pictures suggests that an overwhelming majority conform to the grotesque style of interior depictions. appears in a textbook with the following caption: “Everyday objects can make some unexpectedly frightening changes as schizophrenics experience hallucinations” (Duke & Nowicki.
these pictures date from the 16th century and usually present a demon exiting through the mouth or ear of the patient (see Figure 7).182
SCHOENEMAN. Mindy’s Cat. HENDERSON. with its surreal superimposition of eyes and mouths on a white cat. In the balance of this article we focus on three questions raised by our ﬁndings: Why is schizophrenia so predominant in our sample? What intended and unintended messages are conveyed by interior landscapes of mental disorder in textbooks? Do these pictures promote viewers’ acceptance of the mentally ill?
Interior Landscapes of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia has been identiﬁed as the prototypical mental disorder in a survey of modern Americans’ implicit categories of psychiatric diagnosis (Schoeneman. such as Roz Chast. process pictures by artists known to use
expressionist. 32 pictures (5%) are 19th and 20th century cartoons involving thought bubbles. This picture. but space considerations do not permit us to be exhaustive. these artists were the forerunners of the 20th century cartoonists in our sample. 1993).
For these reasons. it is not surprising that schizophrenia was the preeminent diagnosis in our sample of interior landscapes of mental disorder.. impact on family members and other people.INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
Figure 5. Lausanne. Baumann. Many abnormal psychology textbooks devote two chapters to this disorder. Schoeneman & Marley. 1992. however. in fact. & Routbort. Gibson. We have suggested elsewhere (Schoeneman et al. 1989). If we consider loss of function and capacity for independent living. whereas other chapters deal with clusters of related disorders. from the Collection de l’Art Brut. Colored crayons on paper. render this statement problematic. the most severe mental disorder. Schizophrenia is clearly an extremely debilitating disorder. Lausanne. 2003). A few moments of consider-
ation. One could also assert that schizophrenia receives so much attention because it is. In terms of number of people affected. Entre les Deux Villes Geantes Niess et Mia (1924). cost to the economy. and a major example in the public mind of the centuries-old stereotypical ﬁgure of active mad-
. photo by Henri Germond.
parallel in professional interest. 1994) that schizophrenia is both a violation of Western conceptions of the individual. Saint Adolf Portant des Lunettes. and disorder-related deaths. Adolf Wo ¨ lﬂi. 51 ϫ 68 cm. & Wo ¨ lﬂi. depressive disorders and alcoholism surpass schizophrenia. but part of its perceived severity may derive from a larger social ideology. schizophrenia has rivals in Alzheimer’s disease and other organic brain syndromes and in developmental disorders such as autism and mental retardation. It is not surprising that schizophrenia is represented in textbooks by more pictures of sufferers than any other disorder (Schoeneman. Brooks. Jacobs. psychiatric interest in the art of the mentally ill has often taken the form of analysis of the works of “schizophrenic masters” (MacGregor. 1995). In addition. This work by a schizophrenic master shows both surrealist incongruities and the unconventional techniques of naive art. in terms of loss of rationality and personal agency. Wo ¨ lﬂi (1864 –1930) was the subject of a major exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in 2003 (Spoerri.
Figure 6. the maniac. This Romantic outcropping may be the same tendency that made it possible in the 1960s for R. a work that exempliﬁes techniques of naive art. teachers and students. The current study adds interesting details concerning the cultural imagination of schizophrenia. MacGregor. The Washington Post. The latter is represented by the three-faced ﬁgure in Sizemore’s painting. behavior.
ness. passionate core that erupts into artistic expression may be seen as evidence of a strain of Romanticism that inhabits these textbooks. HENDERSON. The connections suggested between schizophrenia and a turbulent. as well as the culture in general. We speculate from this that schizophrenia is a cultural construct that is endowed with considerable interiority: There is a fascination with the inner landscape of schizophrenia. who was given the pseudonym of Eve in The Three Faces of Eve. The prominence of interior landscapes of schizophrenia in our sample may reﬂect the disorder’s prototypical status in this culture. to want to look into the mind of the schizophrenic—far more so than for any other disorder. dominated as they are by modernist science. The heavy use of schizophrenic art. and appearance of the patient. Laing to propose an analogy between schizophrenia and LSD trips and that fuels continued interest in Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis (Gilman. Copyright © 1975. to represent the schizophrenic interior suggests that it is conceived to be a disturbing yet fascinating place. 1985. 1989). a place that cannot be directly observed but can only be inferred from the unusual speech.
No other disorder in our sample receives this amount or kind of attention.184
SCHOENEMAN. Reprinted with permission. a body of work noted for its strangeness. D. Photo by Gerald Martineau. we found
Uses and Effects of Interior Landscapes of Mental Disorder
In our examination of pictures and captions from current abnormal psychology textbooks. There seems to be a strong impulse on the part of textbook authors and their audiences. the viewer sees both the external appearance of a famous case of multiple personality disorder and the interior experience of dissociative identity disorder. In this photograph of Chris Sizemore.
INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
Figure 7. DrawA-Person and other directed drawing assessment results. Schoeneman et al. Appropriate uses of pictures for the diagnostic function in our samples include the display of Bender–Gestalt Test and other ﬁgure copy assessment results used to illustrate brain dysfunction and perhaps some of the writing samples that show suicide notes or dyslexic errors. we suspect that readers may be receiving unintended messages about the diagnosticity of artworks. The diagnostic function. with the interior process represented by the demon exiting from the possessed woman’s ear.. these inappropriate expressions of the diagnostic function did not occur often in our
sample: There were no instances of handwriting analysis and only six reproductions of directed drawing assessments. Authors’ verbal disclaimers. 1989). Girolamo di Benvenuto. Denver Art Museum. Catherine Exorcising a Possessed Woman (ca. Nevertheless. may not be sufﬁ-
. Some authors. madness– creativity. or sculptures. and no authors made the claim that people with different disorders produce differentially characteristic drawings. At the other extreme. if given.
that the diagnostic. St. and empathic functions are operative. Let us brieﬂy consider the three functions with an eye toward this question of unintended messages. but the pictures’ semiotics may convey information that is not intended (Berger. Oil on panel. 1982. In other. paintings. in fact. transferred to Masonite. In some cases. given that the picture is often embedded in a chapter that discusses the signs and symptoms of a particular kind of disorder and (especially in the case of schizophrenia) may appear alongside other artworks by individuals with the same diagnosis. 1972. copyright by Bettman/CORBIS. but we haven’t yet discussed the issue of unintended messages given by the use of these pictures: Authors may use interior landscapes of mental disorder to serve a particular purpose. 1995. an artwork is identiﬁed by title and artist and perhaps a diagnostic label and a brief case history. 1500 –1510). We call the inclusion of these pictures appropriate because they have demonstrated reliability and validity as diagnostic aids (Aiken. Gilman. 1994). MacGregor. A painting in the naturalist style. In general. apparently more innocuous cases. 1995). do so: The reader may generalize from the individual case to the diagnostic group. captions assert that a painting is typical of a particular disorder or that an artistic production is a manifestation of speciﬁc symptoms of a disorder (see Captions 6 and 7 in Table 3). in fact. and spontaneously produced artworks over a claim that analysis of these materials can be used to make reliable diagnoses (Aiken. it is inappropriate to display handwriting samples. provided disclaimers that counteract the idea that art can have diagnostic utility. These pictures do not appear to suggest the diagnosticity of artworks but may.
Sixteen (42%) textbooks mentioned the bipolar hypothesis. and Naive artists alongside the works of schizophrenic masters and disordered amateurs— or a collection of works by mad artists such as van Gogh and Munch alongside the paintings of their less disturbed artistic peers and descendants—we suspect that laypersons and mental health professionals would not be able to reliably distinguish the works that were the products of troubled psyches. To continue with our previous example. In visual terms. Picture captions indicate that authors sometimes use these artworks to fulﬁll the diagnostic and empathic functions (see Captions 6 –9 in Table 3). Rather. ﬁgures of representation that are like ﬁgures of speech? The work of Lakoff and Johnson (1980) on metaphorical thinking in everyday life suggests that this question has answers that are far from trivial. we can then question the adequacy of these metaphors: Is out-of-focus photography a good approximation of anxiety? Does a darkened image really inform the reader about the experience of a major depressive episode? Can a densely detailed drawing truly represent a schizophrenic disorder of attention? We can also ask whether the use of these kinds of visual metaphors has any consequences for the viewer’s perception and action beyond sympathetic understanding. HENDERSON. On the one hand. that latent creativity is released when a person becomes afﬂicted by a disorder such as schizophrenia (Gilman. 197). our thinking and speech are so full of metaphors that we are generally unaware of them. it seems strange to question the potential impact of these metaphors beyond their descriptive uses: Are they not the visual equivalents of verbal metaphors. The 3 remaining pictures that were associated with the visual arts were also a part of our sample: They were paintings by van Gogh. Sontag. These questions may seem odd at ﬁrst glance. Of the 22 pictures that accompanied the presentation of the hypothesis. 1980). which connects creativity to bipolar manic and hypomanic episodes. Readers may also come to believe the obverse of the mad artist stereotype—that is. and four (11%) mounted this kind of exhibition throughout the entire volume as chapter openers. These texts are full of reproductions of paintings by van Gogh and Munch. and either speciﬁc mental disorders or mental illness in general. only 3 were interior landscapes of mental disorder. If we were to present an array of artworks produced by Expressionist. 1985. ﬁve politicians. is generally not associated with the pictures in our sample. More speciﬁcally. but verbal descriptions also draw attention to the creative talents of disordered individuals and groups (see Captions 9 and 10 in Table 3). Eighteen textbooks (47%) in our sample assembled three or more artworks within chapters on schizophrenia. It is also possible that the inclusion of so many reproductions of the artworks of the mentally ill in these textbooks suggests to viewers that disordered art is distinctively different from normal art. drawings by autistic savants. and an actress. and pieces from the Prinzhorn and Art Brut collections. Surrealist. The portraits included eight authors. These latter captions generally do not explicitly claim that there is a substantial correlation or causal connection between artistic talent. The question then arises about how well these pictures serve the empathic function. Textbooks may. be giving the impression that such a distinction is possible. on the other. cited in Kessel. or genius. however. These authors made three assertions that are relevant here. darkness and depression.” Nevertheless. Textbook authors deﬁnitely do intend that process simulations and artworks should convey to viewers some idea of the experience of mental disorder (see Captions 1–3 and 7–9 in Table 3). It is interesting to note that the Kraepelinian hypothesis. p. portraits of multiple personality disorder alters by Chris Sizemore and Billy Milligan. ﬁve composers. 1990). On the other. de-
. we believe that the vividness and frequency of reproductions of artworks by disordered individuals probably override verbal lessons
and may reinforce the stereotype of the mad artist or genius—the idea that “Great wits are sure to madness near allied/And thin partitions do their bounds divide” (John Dryden.186
SCHOENEMAN. AND WEATHERS
cient to counteract impressions of the diagnosticity of patients’ artworks that are given by the vivid reproductions that appear within the text (Nisbett & Ross. In the ﬁrst place. it seems entirely obvious to equate. if we construe interior landscapes of mental disorder as assemblages of visual metaphors for disordered mental processes. 19 were portraits. 1989. creativity. might they not also wonder if all nonrealistic styles of art are representative of eccentric and even disordered minds? The madness– creativity function. on the one hand. the connection presented in textbooks of abnormal psychology between mental disorder and creativity is striking. for example. The empathic function.” or “Individuals who suffer from Y sometimes show great artistic talents. captions usually take one of two forms: “X was an individual with Disorder Y who showed great artistic talents. If readers of abnormal psychology textbooks do infer that there are distinctive differences in abnormal artworks.
we can consider a recent analysis of William Styron’s (1990) rhetorical strategies in his memoir of major depression. and depictions of external appearance) and cultural constructions of the Other for the purposes of explaining misfortune and deﬁning “the good” by contrast (Gilman.INTERIOR LANDSCAPES OF MENTAL DISORDER
pression is not literally darkness or dark colored. attack. Three points seem worth making in this regard. narrative themes. and through. Thomas Szasz (1960) has pointed out that the metaphor “Abnormal behavior is (like) illness” absolves people from responsibility for their actions. Schoeneman. 1988. and knowledge of
less continue to anchor AIDS pictorially to concepts of death. culpability. A thorough examination of visual metaphors of mental disorder and their interconnections and action consequences is beyond the scope of this article. evil). relevant research has examined the depiction of AIDS and it sufferers. Second. For instance. he portrayed his recovery in largely opposing terms that seem to erase the divide between the reader and the author: Recovery and mental health are up. visual depictions of the experience of mental illness are not limited to a speciﬁc kind of psychology textbook: They are easily spotted in such nonpedagogical venues as advertising and entertainment. and they are clearly a feature of several important Western art movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries. but we use the analogy so much that the pairing seems natural. Two examples demonstrate this. p. Finally. a sequential process of return to a life of goodness and light (Schoeneman. Finally. for verbal and visual metaphors to promote empathy and sympathy while simultaneously maintaining the distance between self—the viewer—and the Other. “Depression is (like) darkness” coexists with other metaphors that link depression to downward directionality. They are part of a web of meanings that include other aspects of stereotypes of mental disorder (attitudes.g. described one aspect of visual representation that characterizes a large portion of our sample: the use of incongruity and distortion to depict the experience of mental disorder. venues that are sympathetic to victims of this disorder. 325). & Obradovic. heaviness. in. alienness. One could ask whether this extreme particularity might limit the topic’s interest to psychiatrists and psychologists. p..
We have given extensive attention in this report to a particular kind of stereotype as it exists in a particular kind of cultural institution. In addition. First. thus setting up very real conﬂicts between legal and medical authorities and the social groups in which the authorities are embedded. night.. then these depictions of incongruities may emphasize the difference of the mentally ill and maintain the distance between the viewer and the Other even while they are attempting to promote empathy. 2004. Schoeneman et al. however. Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. victimization. 1994). Susan Sontag (1990) has suggested that warfare metaphors of invasion. If this is so. Styron ﬁrst described depression using metaphors that seem calculated to increase the distance between normality and depression: Depression is down. We have. & Stallings. We think that the inclusion of grotesque depictions of inner experiences in textbooks of abnormal psychology provides a potentially troubling answer to our question about whether interior landscapes of mental disorder promote readers’ acceptance of the mentally ill. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and others have asserted that metaphors are not just ﬁgures of speech (or representation): They have consequences for individual and social behaviors. 1982. depictions of the experience of madness are blueprints for social behavior. We raise these points in the hope that they will stimulate a continued scrutiny and questioning of the use of interior landscapes of mental disorder for empathic purposes. and otherness (Gilman. In contrast. and darkness has other connotations in our culture besides disordered mood (e. interior landscapes of mental disorder are part of a cultural system of social representations that may promote distance from the mentally ill in the minds of individuals. and counterattack used to describe the onset and treatment of cancer and AIDS cause unnecessary distress to people who have these disorders. and away and a sequential process of suffering and adversity that is a form of malevolence and annihilation. Schoeneman. These analyses have found that the more liberal news media as well as college-level textbooks. out. and foul weather (to name a few). these stereotypic depictions do not exist in isolation. It is possible. 184). If “the grotesque is the estranged world” (Kayser. 1963. In the realm of images. 2002). of course. A second point to consider is that metaphors in everyday cognition do not exist in isolation but are a part of a web of related and consistent metaphors. Schoeneman. Sontag argued further that the metaphors “Cancer is (like) an invading army” and “Chemotherapy is (like) war” can contribute to feelings of helplessness and delays in seeking treatment on the part of the patient as well as avoidance of the patient by others.
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