Epilepsy as Entertainment, from the epileptic singers of belle époque Paris to Lady Gaga

Any history of epilepsy, hysteria, and dancing plagues must include…

The epileptic singers of belle époque Paris (Baxendale & Marshall, 2012):

In late 19th century Paris, people with epilepsy were treated alongside those with hysteria in the now famous Salpêtrière Hospital, where both conditions were deemed to have a neurological basis. When Jean Martin Charcot became chief physician at the Salpêtrière Hospital in 1862, he described himself ‘in possession of a kind of museum of living pathology whose holdings were virtually inexhaustible’. He opened the doors of his ‘living museum’ and exhibited his prize specimens to all of Paris. By putting his patients on display, Charcot introduced a vogue for pathology that permeated well beyond the world of medical enquiry and into the public psyche and vernacular. Not only did Charcot’s demonstrations provide the inspiration for high culture in the form of operas, plays and novels, they also provided the inspiration for the ‘gommeuses epileptiques’ (epileptic singers), who entertained the masses at the café concerts. This paper explores the foundations of our current medical approaches to mental illness and epilepsy, with a particular focus on the boundaries that emerged between hysteria and epilepsy in 19th century Paris. These clinical boundaries were both shaped by and reflected in the popular entertainments in the city.

 

As modern-day examples, the authors offered Madonna’s Frozen  and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance:

The angular ‘experimental’ dance moves in parts of Madonna’s ‘Frozen’ video (1998) strongly resemble the automatisms seen in many temporal lobe seizures. The same could be said for Lady Gaga’s trademark ‘claw’, prominent in her ‘Bad Romance’ video (2009), and waved back at her en masse by her fans at her stadium shows. It is identical with some of the dystonic posturing seen in generalised seizures.

Others in the genre include Epilepsy is Dancing by Anthony & the Johnsons (2009), and the Black Eyed Peas’ Let’s Get Retarded (2003): ‘Let’s get ill, that’s the deal…Lose your mind this is the time…bang your spine…bob your head like epilepsy…Get messy, loud and sick’ .

However, the authors neglected to mention anything by Ian Curtis and Joy Division, including She’s Lost Control and The Atrocity Exhibition. As we all know, Curtis, who suffered from epilepsy and depression, tragically hanged himself at the age of 23. He was known for his unique dance style reminiscent of a seizure, which he occasionally did experience on stage. This was famously depicted in the biopic Control. A clip from the film, entitled Ian Curtis epilepsy dance, is available on YouTube. But you should really watch this jaw-dropping live performance of Dead Souls by the late Ian Curtis.

 

Reference

Baxendale S, Marshall F. (2012). The epileptic singers of belle epoque Paris. Med Humanit. May 21. [Epub ahead of print].

 

Atrocity Exhibition
   ——Joy Division

Asylums with doors open wide
Where people had paid to see inside
For entertainment they watch his body twist
Behind his eyes he says, ‘I still exist.’

This is the way, step inside.
This is the way, step inside…

 

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Does Not Increase Suicide Risk in Veterans with PTSD

The New York Times recently claimed that PTSD “causes” chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in U.S. military veterans. A new paper questions whether mTBI actually exacerbates the risk of suicide in this population. This is important, because the more direct cause of CTE is likely to be repeated concussions. If these are not increasing suicide risk, then it doesn’t seem that we should be expecting an epidemic of CTE in veterans, after all.

 

Does a history of mild traumatic brain injury increase suicide risk in veterans with PTSD?

Barnes SM, Walter KH, Chard KM.
Rehabil Psychol. 2012 Feb;57(1):18-26.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Research shows that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) independently increase suicide risk; however, scant research has investigated whether mTBI increases suicide risk above and beyond the risk associated with PTSD alone.

DESIGN:

The current research compared suicide risk factors among a matched sample of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) military personnel and veterans with PTSD alone or PTSD and a history of an mTBI.

RESULTS:

Differences in the assessed risk factors were small and suggest that if PTSD and mTBI are associated with elevations in suicide risk relative to PTSD alone, the added risk is likely mediated or confounded by PTSD symptom severity.

CONCLUSION:

This finding highlights the importance of screening and treating military personnel and veterans for PTSD. Future explication of the impact of TBI-related impairments on suicide risk will be critical as we strive to ensure safety and optimize care for our military personnel and veterans.

via Dr. Romeo Vitelli at Providentia

The Melancholia of Kirsten Dunst and Lars von Trier

Melancholia_gray_wool_dunst

“Gray wool, clinging to my legs, it’s heavy to carry along”

The disastrous wedding reception of the severely depressed Justine precedes the end of the world, depicted as a highly stylized and artistic event feared by some but welcomed by others. Kirsten Dunst plays the role of von Trier‘s own melancholia, which was the inspiration for his film.

The image above occurred out of context, at the very beginning, during the bombastic Wagnerian apocalyptic prelude to Part One, “Justine” and Part 2, “Claire.” We don’t hear Justine say those words until later, when she had lost the ability to care for herself. “She should be hospitalized,” I thought at the time, and wondered why no one was getting her psychiatric help. But then we wouldn’t have a movie that deals with internal struggle and suffering.

Melancholia is also the name of the giant blue planet that destroys the Earth.

Melancholia_the_planet

A beautiful movie about the end of the world

DIRECTORS STATEMENT

It was like waking from a dream: my producer showed me a suggestion for a poster. “What is that?” I ask. ”It’s a film you’ve made!” she replies. ”I hope not,” I stammer. Trailers are shown … stills … it looks like shit. I’m shaken.

Don’t get me wrong … I’ve worked on the film for two years. With great pleasure. But perhaps I’ve deceived myself. Let myself be tempted. Not that anyone has done anything wrong … on the contrary, everybody has worked loyally and with talent toward the goal defined by me alone. But when my producer presents me with the cold facts, a shiver runs down my spine.

This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a wrongly transplanted organ.

But what was it I wanted? With a state of mind as my starting point, I desired to dive headlong into the abyss of German romanticism. Wagner in spades. That much I know. But is that not just another way of expressing defeat? Defeat to the lowest of cinematic common denominators? Romance is abused in all sorts of endlessly dull ways in mainstream products.

Lars von Trier, Copenhagen, April 13, 2011.

 

Melancholia_movie_poster

Your Brain in 1492 Pieces

The_human_brain_in1492_pieces

The Human Brain in 1492 Pieces

Structure, Vasculature, and Tracts

$349.99

 

He would look down and laugh at the thought of a crash
Hear the engine moan disintegrate and move on…
Some day look down and see me still trying to escape
 

-Scrawl

In a million pieces the chance of having certain moments increases

-Scrawl, Story Musgrave

 

Discover the New World of Neuroanatomy!

“With this incredible software you hold the future in your hands.”–Dr. Anne G. Osborn

“A wonderful product representing the future of brain atlases. Interactive, accurate, and easy to use, this atlas sets a new standard in both neuroeducation and operative planning.”–Dr. Albert L. Rhoton, Jr.

Synthesizing science and art, The Human Brain in 1492 Pieces: Structure, Vasculature, and Tracts will allow clinicians, educators, and researchers in neuroradiology, neurosurgery, neurology, or neuroscience to explore, understand, and teach the intricacies of the human brain.

 

Keep on burning till the end, the very end

1975: go-go dancers w/ powder blue knee length business suits. Bryan Ferry in an eye patch…   

Both Ends Burning
   ——Roxy Music

Please don’t ever let me down
‘Cause you know I’m not so sure
Do I have the speed to carry on
Burn you out of my mind, I know


Oh will it never end?
Put your foot around the bend
Drive me crazy to an early grave
Tell me what is there to save tonight
Both ends burning
Burning
Burn
Keep on burning till the end, until the end
Keep on burning till the end, the very end

 

Melancholy and the Violence of Inanimacy, Part 2


SRL – A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief (1988)

Runtime: 13 mins
Directed by Jon Reiss

Like all SRL machines, this monster groans and creaks with the cries of distressed humanity, but it’s impossible not to also read the tormented rodent in the same way, as a metaphor for beleaguered humankind in a hopeless world. This work mocks the repeated rituals for which robots were originally designed, as they engage in more violent but equally wrenching variants on the myth of Sisyphus