Louis Wain ~ The Mind of a Schizophrenic
Have you ever wondered what goes on in a Schizophrenic mind? Do you know what a Schizophrenic sees or feels?
First we will take into consideration Louis Wain an English artist known for his drawings that usually featured cats.
Before being diagnosed with schizophrenia Louis Wain’s early work, is dominated by fanciful imagery of cats dressed in human clothes or engaged in human activity.
Considering that much of his work was political cartooning and illustrating for children’s books, the early work seems an adequate representation of his pre-schizophrenic period.
During the early stages of schizophrenia, Wain continued to paint, draw and sketch cats, but the focus changed from fanciful situations, to focus on the cats themselves. Characteristic changes in the art began to occur, changes common to schizophrenic artists. Jagged lines of bright color began emanating from his feline subjects. The outlines of the cats became sever and spiky, and their outlines persisted well throughout the sketches, as if they were throwing off energy.
The abstraction continued, the cats now being seen as made up by small repeating patterns, almost fractal in nature.
Until finally they ceased to resemble cats at all, and became the ultimate abstraction, an indistinct form made up by near symmetrical repeating patterns.
However, it is not known if these works were created in this order, as Wain did not date them. Rodney Dale, author of Louis Wain: The Man Who Drew Cats, has criticised the belief that the paintings can be used as an example of Wain’s deteriorating mental health, writing: “Wain experimented with patterns and cats, and even quite late in life was still producing conventional cat pictures, perhaps 10 years after his [supposedly] ‘later’ productions which are patterns rather than cats.”
The term ‘Schizophrenia’ was first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Emil Bleulur from the Greek skhizein “to split” + phren “mind,” the idea being that schizophrenics suffer a break from reality, causing them to perceive the world in a bizarre or fantastical way.
Affective flattening – A severe reduction or complete lack of emotional responses to the environment.
Alogia – A severe reduction or complete lack of speech.
Avolition – An inability to persist at common, goal-oriented tasks.
Delusions – Beliefs with little or no basis in reality (e.g. beliefs that you are being persecuted or beliefs that you are the Messiah)
Hallucinations – Unreal perceptual or sensory experiences (e.g. hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there.)
Disorganized thought and speech – Grossly disorganized pattern of speech (e.g. complete incoherence, linking together words because of sound instead of meaning)
Disorganized or catatonic behavior – Behavior that is highly unpredictable, bizarre, and/or shows a complete lack of responsiveness to the outside world (e.g. becoming completely motionless for long periods, sudden, untriggered outbursts)
Of these positive symptoms delusions, in particular, can be broken down into smaller subsets:
Persecutory delusions – False beliefs that one’s self or one’s loved ones are being persecuted, watched, or conspired against by others.
Delusions of being controlled – Belief that one’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors are being imposed or controlled by some external force
Thought broadcasting – Belief that one’s thoughts are being broadcast from one’s mind for others to hear
Thought insertion – Belief that another person or object is inserting thoughts into one’s head
Thought withdrawal – Belief that thoughts are being removed from one’s head by another person or object
Delusions of guilt or sin – False belief that one has committed a terrible act or is responsible for come terrible event
Somatic delusions – False belief that one’s appearance or part of one’s body is diseased or altered
Grandiose delusions – False belief that one has great power, knowledge, or talent or that one is a famous and powerful person
LSD and Schizophrenia
LSD is a drug that puts the user in the shoes of a schizophrenic. It actually helped a lot of psychiatrists understand what a schizophrenic goes through in his daily life when the lysergic experiments were on.
Chronic effects of the drug can be positive and negative. Positive effects include spiritual contact and self-exploration; the most severe negative effect is known as LSD psychosis. LSD has shown to have therapeutic usefulness, although research has been severely limited for the last several decades. LSD psychosis has been linked to forms of schizophrenia, and thus, to some physiological disorders — it appears to be dependent on the user, and not on the drug.
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