Can+Psychiatrists+Recognize+Mental+Illness+in+Paintings+2006

Can+Psychiatrists+Recognize+Mental+Illness+in+Paintings+2006...

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Am J Psychiatry 163:4, April 2006 599 Images in Psychiatry ajp.psychiatryonline.org Can Psychiatrists Recognize Mental Illness in Paintings? I t is widely believed that mental illness is reflected in paintings of mentally ill artists (1). Examples include Van Gogh’s “blue” period (depression) and “pink” period (manic phase of bipolar disorder) (2) and Louis Wain’s cat paintings (progressive deterioration to com- plete incoherence, paralleling schizophrenia) (3). However, when we asked 12 psychiatrists to evaluate randomly selected paintings cre- ated by individuals with 1) schizophrenia, 2) bipolar disorder, and 3) no psychiatric illness (N=10 for each), they were unable to differenti- ate paintings by artists with and without mental illness. We then randomly selected paintings of four artists with known bipolar disorder (Paul Gauguin, Edward Münch, Vincent van Gogh, Mark Rothko). We asked 12 psychiatrists and 12 laypersons matched for education to determine the period of creation (be-
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