Archive | April 2012

Understanding Autism (mental disorders awareness)

It is currently the last week before my exams so I haven’t been able to write a proper blog post. Will be posting properly again soon! However, here is a link to a brilliant documentary on Autism by Louis Theroux. It includes very honest accounts about what life is like for families in the USA who have children with Autism. The documentary also follows the amazing children and staff at the inspirational Developmental Learning Center in Warren, New Jersey. I understand that if you are not from the UK then this link might not work- apologies!

Louis Theroux – Louis Theroux – Extreme Love – 1. Autism

Louis Theroux. Foto: Gaute Singstad.

Louis Theroux. Foto: Gaute Singstad. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Famous artists who suffered from mental illness (Psychology meets Art 1)

This is the first installment of my ‘Psychology meets Art’ feature in which I expore the relationship between these two domains. This post includes a list of famous artists who are to said to have suffered from mental illness and an explanation of how I think this has influenced their work.

  1. Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh suffered from epileptic seizures as a result of the amount of absinthe he drank. Art historians have studied his personal letters and noted that experienced very depressive states, which were followed by manic episodes where he showed extreme passion and determination towards his work. Could it be that he had bi-polar disorder? Some say he may have had schizophrenia. Many have tried to diagnose him but the answer is not known. Many of his late paintings show an optimism to return to good mental health. However, the painting below; ‘Wheat field with crows’- (1890) that depicted wheat fields under troubled skies reflects his melancholy feelings of extreme loneliness. The dark sky seems to represent a feeling of overshadowing doom. It was in fact in a wheat field like this that on the 27th July 1890 Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver.

2. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Michelangelo suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He would isolate himself and work on his arts for very long periods of time. He refused to ever take off his boots. He also had a very short temper and would suffer from angry outbursts towards those who offended his beliefs.

3. Georgia O’Keeffe

Reportedly had clinical depression.

4. Pablo Picasso

Was also said to have had clinical depression.

5. Jackson Pollock

American abstract artist Jackson Pollock dealt with clinical depression. He experienced a nervous breakdown in 1938 and resorted to alcohol and substance abuse in order to cope with his debilitating self-doubt and a marriage in turmoil.

6. Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

His paintings reflected his depression with themes such as absurdity, meaninglessness, physical torment and death.

7. Edvard Munch

Many of Edvard Munch’s works depicted his depressive states. His period of paintings that showed dominant women devouring weak men like vampires were as a result of his obsession with his first love.

In the early 1900’s he became an alcoholic until, in 1908, he collapsed. As he was hearing hallucinatory voices and suffering paralysis on his left side, he was persuaded to check into a private sanitarium where he reduced alcohol intake and improved his mental state.

Self-portrait Between the Clock and the Bed (1940-42) his last self portrait before he died represented the fact that he had ‘hung back from the dance of life’. He is stood rigidly and awkward as if to apologise for using space next to his paintings that he referred to as his ‘children’ as he devoted his life to them, even through bouts of depression.

The list of not just artists but creative people in general, whose lives have been affected severely by their own ill mental health, is endless. Some seek refuge from reality in their creative works and others become ill because of their obsession with their art. It is said that mental health disorders such as bi-polar are associated with manic episodes of great creativity, followed by extreme emotional low points. There is no doubt that mental states, be it highs or lows, have inspired some of the greatest artwork in history.

What are your thoughts?

Edvard Munch's Madonna

Edvard Munch's Madonna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understanding Aphasia (mental health disorder awareness)

Aphasia is a language disorder that causes an impairment of language ability. The first video shows Sarah Scott who suffered a stroke at the age of 18 and now has Broca’s aphasia. This means that she has difficulty articulating her words. There are many different types of aphasia: Broca’s aphasia is an example of ‘non-fluent’ aphasia; this is where the person has good comprehension but speech is not fluent. Another type of aphasia is ‘fluent’ aphasia, which is where speech is fluent but the person has difficulty conveying meaning and the speech does not make sense. Aphasia can also affect reading and writing ability. The second video shows Sarah talking about how aphasia has affected her life and includes the importance of acting ‘F.A.S.T’ to signs of a stroke. Aphasia can also occur as a result of a head injury or can develop because of a brain tumour, infection, dementia or a learning disability such as dysnomia.

Location of two brain areas that play a critic...

Location of two brain areas that play a critical role in language, Broca's area and Wernicke's area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would like to know more you can visit the National Aphasia Association website-

or the communication disability network connect-

Fair access to family sign language classes- sign the petition!

“Nine out of ten deaf children are born to hearing families who have little to no experience of deafness. Communicating with your child is a basic right, but many families are not getting the support they need to learn British Sign Language. Sign language courses vary throughout the UK in regards to availability and price.

It is unacceptable that parents of deaf children who wish to learn sign language are not getting the help they need to communicate with their child.

We, the undersigned, are calling on the Department for Education to roll out family sign language classes for families of deaf children, and to incorporate national standards on sign language support in family services, early years settings, schools and further and higher education in any forthcoming special education needs legislation.”

If you are from the UK you can click this link to sign the petition. I believe it is for an extremely important cause so if you can please do so!


Prosopagnosia – ‘face blindness’ (mental health disorder awareness)

Whilst revising the effect of damage to the parietal lobe of the brain I came across the disorder Prosopagnosia. The disorder is associated with damage to the parietal and occipital lobes of the brain. However, many people have not ever suffered from brain injury and are therefore evidence that there could be a developmental or genetic influence. The effect is an inability to recognise faces and remember new faces. The woman in this video, when asked which image shows a picture of her mother could only identify her by the colour of the jumper she is wearing. She is unable to recognise a photo of her own face either.  There is currently ongoing research being carried out in order to gain more insight about the disorder. If you would like to find out more visit:


Just a quick introduction on what this blog is going to be about… I’m an undergraduate Psychology student from the UK and my plan is to discuss different topics and issues that I come across during my studies. This blog is really for my own benefit as it will encourage me explore the subject in a different way than I already do. If you enjoy browsing it then that is a bonus! Thanks for reading!