Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists

Wellcome Trust Arts Award 2009

Posts Tagged ‘History of Medicine

Drawing Dr F

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Dr F came to the Maudsley as a medical student on a short elective and worked in the emergency clinic with a famous psychiatrist called Antony Clare and enjoyed this.When a medical student on my surgical placement her consultant noted how hopeless she was in surgery but how good she was with patients and suggested she do psychiatry. Her interests are campaigning and teaching on improving the lot of children in the UK and she is also involved in an NGO which helps asylum seekers in detentiton to get treatment and get out when necessary.

Dr F has a wonderful realtionship with her patient (Patient C). Her patient attributes her full recovery to meeting Dr F. When I asked what they had in common she replied “So much! I have just been luckier in my life experiences”.

She is a lover of nature and finds peace when walking or cycling in the country side or by the sea. She love elephants, wild animals and birds.

She is influenced by the work of John Bowlby and his followers carrying out attachment research has influenced the way she works and is the conceptual basis for her understanding of  working with survivors of abuse and of torture.

She has a collection of miniature houses, animals and pots made by south americans, who she lived with as a kid.

When I asked her what she would change about psychiatry she said “Remove the right to section people”

Written by gemmaanderson

05/12/2009 at 10:40 pm

Drawing Dr J at Bethlem Hospital/River House 06/08/09

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Dr J Tie/Violin

Drawing Dr J

Drawing Dr J

Notes From Foucault, "The Order of Things"Notes from "The Ancient Doctrine of Signatures", Herbal Review/Vol 2 (1976)

Written by gemmaanderson

26/08/2009 at 3:22 pm

Drawing Dr J

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Dr J plays the violin regularly, he especially likes Wagner and Bach

Dr J plays the violin regularly, he especially likes Wagner and Bach

Drawing Dr J in the Pottery Art Therapy room in River House 06/08
Drawing Dr J in the Pottery Art Therapy room in River House 06/08/09

Notes on the Rational, Vegetable and Animal

I drew this dried Dogfish in Dr Js Lower Abdomen and a sea-horse inside its abdomen, because of the medical symbolism of the sea-horse and its formal resemblance to a Treble Clef.
I drew this dried Dogfish in Dr Js Lower Abdomen

Written by gemmaanderson

26/08/2009 at 2:32 pm

Four Qualities of Ancient Greek Philosophy, In association with the four elements, humours, organs and seasons.

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Four Elements, Humours, Organs and SeasonsElemental Combinations

Written by gemmaanderson

20/08/2009 at 5:21 pm

Dr Tim McInery- Essay from “An Experiment in Collaboration” 2008

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Throughout the development of psychiatry there has always been an association with the arts. It could be argued that the most fundamental creative relationship has been with the visual arts as a means of understanding mental disorder, as a representation of the social and morale decline that is associated with it, as a form of treatment and as a means of expression for the patient.

Gemma Anderson and Dr McInerny wanted to explore this relationship in a manner that related to the story of mental disorder and its historical representation that also was a visual metaphor for the therapeutic alliances that run between doctors and patients in mental health settings.

We hoped to create a series of portraits of the internal worlds of psychiatric patients and their doctors and to move away from the written representation of mental illness and the knowledge that the connection between a doctor and patient is mostly through words. Instead we wanted to create images that provoke the viewer into creating a language themselves to understand how a patient might be experiencing symptoms of mental illness and how the doctor listens, formulates and treats.

In forensic psychiatry the stories that patients carry with them are often distressing and violent. How does the psychiatrist hear such tragedies and how can they process them into meaningful therapy? We hope to create portraits that reflect relationships in psychiatric care towards recovery and return to society.

Forensic psychiatry is that part of medicine which provides care and assessment of the mentally disordered offender. Forensic psychiatry has a long history in the U.K. arising out of Bedlam Hospital over 150 years ago. Early psychiatry was often pre-occupied with the appearance of individuals as a key to their morale and psychic inner world. This science of physiognomy manifested itself in the analysis of the facial structure. The measuring of eyes, nose and lips was an indicator of the internal mental pathology. When Broadmoor Hospital opened in the 1880s patients were photographed on admission. Their facial characteristics, demeanour and affect was believed to be a causative factor in their illness rather than a representation of the distress they might be experiencing.

Broadmoor Hospital was also to recognise that within its patient population visual creativity was often a powerful representation of their internal stress. Amongst their patients was Richard Dadd, now recognised as amongst the most eminent pre-Raphaelite group of painters. Dadd was a patient at Broadmoor Hospital following the stabbing to death of his father provoked by voices and paranoia. He was eventually to die in the hospital where he lived for many years. Dadd was to paint magical worlds stimulated by the fairy gardens of Shakespeare but also beautiful portraits of the doctor superintendents at Broadmoor. The patient, Richard Dadd, was in effect creating a visual representation of the therapist.

The 20th Century led to the development of the creative therapies as a form of expression and a path towards recovery. In its turn outsider art has become a representation of the psychiatric patient’s role in society and in the mid-20th Century a representation of the anti-psychiatry movement as championed by Foucault and R D Laing.

As psychiatry became political so did the care of patients, ultimately leading to the movement across Western civilisation towards care in the community; the return of psychiatry and patients to society.

The last decade has perhaps seen a reversal of such emancipation. The contemporary world has become once again increasingly fearful of the psychiatric patient and the potential risk of violence that they associate with them. Tabloid hysteria, new levels of terrorist destructiveness and the unacceptability of risk has led to the growth of the asylums again in the form of secure hospitals and the coinage of a new phrase, dangerous severe personality disorder.

As a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist working at the interface between medicine and law, the offender and the mentally ill, Dr McInerny wanted to open up the new secure asylums to creative expression through portraiture. Gemma Anderson was given the opportunity to attend in-patient units to hear the stories of patients and discover the therapeutic process of rehabilitation.

These series of portraits are etchings that were created directly from the individuals involved. The doctor is not identified amongst the group of individuals exhibited. This is intentional to ensure that the viewer, as the artist, will “treat” them in the same way. It is hoped that by viewing a doctor and patient in such a manner, the viewer himself creates a therapeutic relationship with those on display.

The patients represented here all suffer major mental illnesses characterised by paranoid delusions of fear and danger, or voices that are persistent, critical and abusive, and an experience in which the self gradually disintegrates in the face of a world that is hostile. The doctor must listen, reassure, contain, treat and above all provide hope.

The finely drawn lines are diagrammatic and descriptive and become a poetic description of the individuals emotional anatomy in a way that is both transparent but also enigmatic. These portraits have a clear historical resonance – not only with the past of the asylums but also with the life stories of the individuals portrayed. They are a representation of how the early pseudo-sciences of phrenology and comparative anatomy have a place in the modern world and in the modern mind of the viewer.

Written by gemmaanderson

20/08/2009 at 3:05 pm

Introduction and Brief History

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In April 2008, I was invited by Jerwood Curator Sarah Williams to propose a collaborative art project for the Jerwood exhibition “An Experiment in Collaboration”.
I asked Dr Tim McInerny (portrayed above) to work with me in order to create Portraits of Patients and Psychiatrists at Bethlem Hospital, London.

We made four portraits, three patients and one psychiatrist in two months. This was a very short length of time to explore the ideas and possibilities of the work. After the success of “An Experiment in Collaboration, we applied for a 2009 Wellcome Trust Arts Award and following the success of the Application, we are now beginning a six month development of the Project.
This Blog will document the working processes, ideas and images during the six months.