Mental illness is an inherently blurry, multi-disciplinary and complex subject in its needs and demarcations, ill-defined, and hard to describe. 

Medicine and photography have variously sought to approach it, often in concert, and are both interested in gathering observable effects. There is a rich heritage of this intersection between the clinical approach and photographic technology as a means to capture and represent it. This heritage is represented on this platform in the Themes section, alongside a Timeline that attempts to chart some of the key technological advancements that have influenced the imaging of mental illness. 

By gathering a diverse range of material and drawing on different areas of expertise we have sought to build an overview of some historical approaches to this intersection, and to create a living research artefact that can continue to chart the ongoing story of imaging mental illness. 

Fundamental Facts About Mental Health 2016 - Mental Health Foundation

Fundamental Facts About Mental Health 2016 - Mental Health Foundation

It is our belief that these multi-disciplinary approaches are complementary and that only by looking at the subject in its totality can we both understand the history of the intersection and moreover chart ways for a continued productive interplay regarding visualisation of the complexity of the human mind and its suffering. 

Our vision for the project is to continue to invite and provide for researchers, academics, clinicians, artists, historians, psychologists, people living with mental illness, and other interested parties so that the final product is the result of ongoing research and investigation in the movement towards cogent and coherent imaging of mental illness. 


Harry Wooler and Chrystal Ding | Project Co-Authors