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Follow the rise and fall of the mental asylum and explore how it has shaped the complex landscape of mental health today. Reimagine the institution, informed by the experiences of the patients, doctors, artists and reformers who inhabited the asylum or created alternatives to it.
Today asylums have largely been consigned to history but mental illness is more prevalent than ever, as our culture teems with therapeutic possibilities: from prescription medications and clinical treatment to complementary medicines, online support, and spiritual and creative practices. Against this background, the exhibition interrogates the original ideal that the asylum represented – a place of refuge, sanctuary and care – and asks whether and how it could be reclaimed.
Taking Bethlem Royal Hospital as a starting point, ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’ juxtaposes historical material and medical records with individual testimonies and works by artists such as David Beales, Richard Dadd, Dora García, Eva Kotátková, Madlove: A Designer Asylum, Shana Moulton, Erica Scourti, Javier Téllez and Adolf Wölfli, whose works reflect or reimagine the institution, as both a physical and a virtual space.
AHP readers may be interested in a new open access monograph, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences. The book is a product of the research collective Hubbub, the inaugural resident of the Wellcome Collection’s interdisciplinary research space The Hub. Written by Felicity Callard and Des Fitzgerald, Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences
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offers a provocative account of interdisciplinary research across the neurosciences, social sciences and humanities. Setting itself against standard accounts of interdisciplinary ‘integration,’ and rooting itself in the authors’ own experiences, the book establishes a radical agenda for collaboration across these disciplines. Rethinking Interdisciplinarity does not merely advocate interdisciplinary research, but attends to the hitherto tacit pragmatics, affects, power dynamics, and spatial logics in which that research is enfolded. Understanding the complex relationships between brains, minds, and environments requires a delicate, playful and genuinely experimental interdisciplinarity, and this book shows us how it can be done.
Mindcraft explores a century of madness, murder and mental healing, from the arrival in Paris of Franz Anton Mesmer with his theories of ‘animal magnetism’ to the therapeutic power of hypnotism used by Freud.
Through an immersive scrolling interface including image galleries, video, and interactives, Mindcraft will take you on a journey that asks who really is in control of their own mind, and where does the mind’s power to harm or heal end?
Mindcraft is written by author and curator Mike Jay, and developed by award-winning digital agency Clearleft. Mindcraft can be explored on a desktop browser or tablet.
Explore Mindcraft online here.Share on Facebook
The June issue of the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology is now online. The month’s Time Capsule section examines the work of British psychologist Charles S. Myers on shell shock during World War I. Historian of medicine and psychiatry Edgar Jones examines Myers efforts establish shell shock as a legitimate condition – and not mere malingering – and to treat those affected. As Jones described,
The first cases Myers described exhibited a range of perceptual abnormalities, such as loss of or impaired hearing, sight and sensation, along with other common physical symptoms, such as tremor, loss of balance, headache and fatigue. He concluded that these were psychological rather than physical casualties, and believed that the symptoms were overt manifestations of repressed trauma.
Along with William McDougall, another psychologist with a medical background, Myers argued that shell shock could be cured through cognitive and affective reintegration. The shell-shocked soldier, they thought, had attempted to manage a traumatic experience by repressing or splitting off any memory of a traumatic event. Symptoms, such as tremor or contracture, were the product of an unconscious process designed to maintain the dissociation. Myers and McDougall believed a patient could only be cured if his memory were revived and integrated within his consciousness, a process that might require a number of sessions.
The full article, Shell Shocked, can be read online here.
AHP readers may also be interested in a series of 5 films of World War I era soldiers suffering from shell shock posted online by the Wellcome Library (previously discussed on AHP here). The first of these is featured below.Share on Facebook
As of this coming Thursday, March 29th, the Wellcome Collection in London is featuring a special exhibit on the brain. The exhibit, Brains: The Mind as Matter, runs until June 17th, 2012. As one of the many online components of this exhibit, the Wellcome Collection has put together a Tumblr site that explores “images of the brain in art, history and popular culture” and features many striking images of the brain, including the one above.
The full exhibit is described on the Wellcome Collection’s website as follows,
Our major new free exhibition seeks to explore what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change.
Featuring over 150 artefacts including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos and photography, ‘Brains’ follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire.
‘Brains’ asks not what brains do to us, but what we have done to brains, focusing on the bodily presence of the organ rather than investigating the neuroscience of the mind.
via the Society for the History of Psychology Facebook page.Share on Facebook