Tag Archives: mental illness

Henry Cotton: Pulling teeth to cure disease

Portrait of Henry Andrews Cotton from Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography, Vol. X, 1924, pages 324–325. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Dr. Henry Cotton believed that all mental illnesses were caused by chronic “focal” infections hidden in various organs. He argued that when these infections spread to the brain, they caused inflammation and mental disorders. To […]

Margery Kempe: Medieval visions, delusions, and hallucinations

Margery Kempe (c. 1393 – after 1438) was an English Christian mystic who dictated autobiographic notes to a scribe. Married when twenty years old, she had a postpartum psychotic episode after the birth of her first child and went through at least fourteen subsequent pregnancies. Psychotic symptoms, delusions, and hallucinations continued all her life. She had […]

It’s not the patient who hit you…

JP Sutherland North America   The Entombment. Oil painting by Federico Barocci, early 18th century. Victoria and Albert Museum. Although Christopher’s appearance was extraordinary, there was no sign (not even in retrospect) that he would kick me in the groin within the next hour. He was naked, and standing motionless with his arms held out […]

Drapetomania: A “disease” that never was

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Two unidentified escaped slaves wearing ragged clothes. Photo by McPherson & Oliver, between 1861 and 1865. Liljenquist Family Collection, Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication. “Slavery is next to hell.” – Harriet Tubman “And before I’d be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave…” – Oh, Freedom, […]

Understanding so little: Cinema and mass shootings

Eelco Wijdicks Rochester, Minnesota, United States   Caleb Landry Jones in Nitram. IFC Films/Photofest. Used with permission. The horrific 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, was serendipitously preceded by a trailer for Gangster Squad, which showed a fictitious shooting of a movie theater audience. Filmmakers have revisited the […]

Qualis artifex pereo

Henri Colt  Laguna Beach, California, United States   Man sitting. Photo by Gadiel Lazcano on Unsplash. This short story is a work of fiction. Translation: “What an artist the world is losing with me!” — cited by Suctonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero 49; Loeb ed., 2:177   Michael had jet black hair and sorrowful brown […]

Furniture of bones

D. Brendan Johnson Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States   Selvportrett i helvete [Self Portrait in Hell]. Edvard Munch. 1903. Munchmuseet. Via Wikimedia. “Would you like the new patient?” My senior resident offered me the next admission, a patient being stabilized in the emergency department after a suicide attempt. As a fresh medical student in the beginning […]

Hypochondria

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Figure 1: Cover of Hypochondriasis. A practical treatise by John Hill. Source. In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold; Alike fantastic, if too new, or old: Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. — […]

Psychiatric care at the historical Athens Mental Health Facility

Cherron Payne Farmington, Connecticut, United States   Athens Asylum for the Insane, Athens State Hospital Administration Building, Circa late 19th Century to early 20th Century. Ohio University Archives. When I was an undergraduate student at Ohio University in Athens, my friends and I would often hike to an intriguing place called the Ridges, overlooking the picturesque […]

Arthur Bispo do Rosário: creation in psychosis

Rebecca Grossman-Kahn Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States   Untitled, Arthur Bispo do Rosario. Personal photo August 12, 2018. Museu de Arte Moderna de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Exhibit: A Tale of Two Worlds, July 12, 2018- October 14, 2018 In a sprawling, cavernous art museum in Buenos Aires, I turned a corner and my eye caught on what […]