The history of cure

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[ The history of cure ]
Installation - Frames with texts, scalp, leave of hellebores, cross, medical tools and pills
“Psycho – Art and Bipolar Disorder”, group exhibition in Athens School of Fine Arts, 9/3/2010 – 21/3/2010.


The installation presents a research on the history of medical treatment for mental illness and aims to record the most famous therapies in history of medicine. Many of these treatments were influenced by religions, obsessions and social stereotypes, and are nowadays considered inappropriate. The first frame is referred to craniotomy, an ancient way to remove the devil spirits from the mind, through a hole on the scalp. In the second frame there are some leaves of the poisonous plant Hellebores, with a text from “Aphorism” written by Hippocrates in the 5th century BC. The text describes the properties of the plant and some recipes for curing mania. The third frame shows a cross, symbol of Christian civilisation, and an extract from Matthew’s gospel, largely used from the orthodox church for the exorcism. Mental illness was considered as a devilish consequence in the middle age and in order to be cured the ritual of exorcism was often used. The forth frame jumps in the 20th century and it presents the medical tools used for lobotomy by Walter Freeman in the United States. In the background, we can read the awarding speech honouring the neurologist Egas Moniz with the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine in 1949, awarded for his discoveries of leucotomy (lobotomy). The last frame displays the recipe found in a packet of antidepressant pills, describing the side effects that can be caused to the patient. Above the text, the viewer can see the most famous pills used nowadays to cure schizophrenia and manic depression.

Will we consider in the future the pharmaceutical treatments used today, as equally catastrophic?