TOOLS AND HUMANITY
EXPLORING THE MIND WITH ART & TECHNOLOGY: A REFLEXIVE EXERCISE OF CREATIVITY AND HUMAN HEALTH
Exploring experiences of Hallucinations with visual strategies
"Hallucinations involve perceptions of stimuli that do not exist in the physical world, such as hearing voices or seeing visions. Hallucinations occur not only in schizophrenia, but are experienced by people with other psychiatric disorders, neurological and neurodegenerative conditions, and among the general population.
But what is it like to experience hallucinations?
And is the experience of hallucinations the same for patients with different disorders, and people without a diagnosis?
There is strong historical and anecdotal evidence that suggests that the quality of hallucinations is in fact very different, and we have recently shown that the brain imaging evidence points towards entirely separate brain mechanisms for the experience of hallucinations in schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It is therefore possible; perhaps likely, that the lived experience of hallucinations is an indicator of the specific brain mechanisms involved, and may be used in a way that moves us closer to treatments that are tailored to individual patients (University of Cambridge)."
In the gallery below, you'll see visualizations of hallucinations based on people's first-hand description of their experiences.
Innovation in between spaces
How can we explore the plurality of hallucinations and their ubiquity in health and disease?
How can we reduce the fear and stigma of these experiences that challenge our perception of reality ?
Health goes beyond objective physical conditions. How can creative practices and technologies be utilized in the medical space to promote patient-centered care and improve patients' emotional, psychiatric, and holistic well-being?
How to navigate interdisciplinary exercises across art, technology, science, and human health?
SEP: SEEKING COLLABORATIONS FROM THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS IN NEW HAVEN, AND THE NEW HAVEN HOSPITAL, IRB APPLICATION AND PROPOSAL WRITING, FINDING MEDICAL SUPERVISOR, DESIGNING CONSENT FORMS AND SURVEYS, FINDING PARTICIPANT POOL
OCT: DISTRIBUTING FLYER, EMAIL, AND COLLECTING CONSENT FORMS AND SURVEY RESPONSES
NOV & DEC: DIALECTIC CREATIVE PROCESS
participant checking and feedback
a deeper understanding of the participant's intention, needs, and wants
DALLE-2, PHOTOSHOP, LIGHTROOM, QUALTRICS SURVEY, GRAPHIC DESIGN SOFTWARE, MOLDIV, LIGHTLEAP
" I feel really connected to them. You have portrayed my feelings really well. Looking at these images really helped me to understand the manner in which my condition presents to me. "
" For the first time I felt like somebody have understood what I meant! "
" Oh my goodness, this one looks just like the cat I saw! It is gorgeous, wow. It's so strange visualizing something I had convinced myself I had never saw in the first place. This is beautiful and unsettling, this definitely is the closest it's been to real for me."
" For some people, that may be a much harder experience; witnessing something like this with a more upsetting hallucination behind it could send someone spiraling. Luckily for me, it just reminds me of a soft, fuzzy feeling."
"I wish I could show this to my doctor so he could have a better understanding of what I'm going through."
"This brought me to tears. Finally I feel like someone can understand what I'm going through. I am not crazy, you know. These are just the things that I see. I have no control over it."
" There is so much stigma around hallucinations. People think we are crazy but who's to say what they experience is more real than that we do? How do we even define real? "
" Seeing my vision expressed in actual images felt unexpectedly powerful. I need to hang this on my wall.
"What do you mean by powerful?"
"It's a part of me! Now I get to see it externalized and feel connected to what I experience, which is also described as unreal."
"I could never explain my hallucinations to anyone because I was afraid it would offend people. This really means a lot to me."
" I love the realistic aspect of it. This artwork helped me feel heard. Now I know that I was able to take a hallucination and describe it to someone else and receive an accurate depiction of my experience. That makes me feel less alone in dealing with my hallucinations. "
" I think that this would be a good teaching tool for mental health practitioners in encouraging patients to remove the emotions of fear and anxiety from hallucinations. Strip fear and anxiety of their power! "
"I have been in several group settings for mental health, and I think it would be a cool exercise for people to share their hallucinations with one another and have the other people depict them. It would help them know that other people understand their experiences, and again, by removing the debilitating emotions associated with them, can be a great coping mechanism. If I had attempted to create this, I feel I would have put too much emotion into it.
" This artwork certainly made me feel heard. It is an excellent representation of the voices in my head, and it's really powerful to see it brought to life."
" This encourages me to try and make my own depictions of my hallucinations. They aren't frightening and help alleviate some of the anxiety that hallucinations can elicit. Thank you so very much for the time and effort you invested here. I am so pleased with the results, and will definitely be having them printed and placed in my home. "
"I believe that encouraging people in mental health to un-demonize their experiences would be a positive form of expression. I feel it's okay to make them appear unsettling, but to take away the power of fear by depicting them more casually is a great way to visualize without causing further trauma."
A reflexive exercise
Health is an extraordinarily intimate and expansive space that unites all human experiences. It is a form of communication—the language of our organs and our minds, where nature, society, and culture speak simultaneously. In such a profoundly proximate territory where social truths and social contradictions are all played out together, the power embedded in our modality of knowing and sense-making will only be amplified in shaping human phenomena and driving social action.