Illustrating Crazy Idioms

Part of another project of mine for an editorial-like illustration/ mental illness artwork to accompany some haiku of mine: here are some primilinary sketches I have for black-and-white watercolors/sumi-e paintings that describe idioms for mental illness.

Bats in the bellfry:

Crazy as a loon (notice the distressed face in the reflection):

Cuckoo:

Off your rocker:

And, being a crackpot:

More probably to come later.

Psychological Perspective Project part II

Yesterday, I made two posters for my psychology perspectives project, one for psychodynamics, and one for the sociocultural perspective . Psychodynamic psychology works off the theories of Freud  and the role of the unconscious, and the behavioral perspective has to do with what culture we are raised in and the societal expectations and norms with which we are faced.

Here are two more posters. The first is the behavioral psychology perspective, which lies in between the two from before on the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture spectrum of proposed causes of actions, and which states that we are who we are and do what we do because we imitate others doing so, and because of our habitual behaviors, and also because of our involuntary reactions to stimuli within the environment. Here’s the visual — I was thinking of scientists studying learning and behaviors in mice, and how the brain can look like maze and this is what I came up with:

Psychology's Behavioral Perspective
Psychology’s Behavioral Perspective

The second visual for today is for psychology’s evolutionary perspective. This is more on the nature side of the spectrum. We are who we are due to our genes interacting with the environment, where it’s survival of the fittest. Hence apes becoming Homo sapiens and turning on the bulb in the mind.

psychology's evolutionary perspective
The evolutionary psychology perspective

Psychological Perspectives Project

I’ve come up with a project for myself: to visualize 7 major perspectives in modern psychology, all of which, in turn, go into the biopsychosocial model. They are: psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, neuroscientific/biopsychological, evolutionary, and sociocultural. I want them all in a simular format, a box with a profile of a head. I’ve done the first one below, psychodynamic. (It’s suppose to look like a iceberg, implying both the sub- and un-conscious. I may have to tweak it.)

psychodynam perspective psychology
The psychodynamic psychology perspective.

And here is my second one, on the sociocultural perspective.

psychology's sociocultural perspective

I was inspired by the minimalist poster-style visualizations of several mental disorders found here. Check it out.

Mental Maps

A diffusion MRI Tractography in the brain white matter.Date  Published: December 23, 2008 Source Gigandet X, Hagmann P, Kurant M, Cammoun L, Meuli R, et al. (2008) Estimating the Confidence Level of White Matter Connections Obtained with MRI Tractography. PLoS ONE 3(12): e4006. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004006 Author  Xavier Gigandet et. al.
A diffusion MRI Tractography in the brain white matter.
Date Published: December 23, 2008
Source Gigandet X, Hagmann P, Kurant M, Cammoun L, Meuli R, et al. (2008) Estimating the Confidence Level of White Matter Connections Obtained with MRI Tractography. PLoS ONE 3(12): e4006. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004006
Author Xavier Gigandet et. al.

Connectomes, are comprehensive circuit diagrams of brains, or in other words, maps of neural pathways. Complete connectomes have already been achieved for the flatworm, C. elegans, which has only around 300 neurons. Currently the NIH has an Human Connectome Project. A gallery of some of those anatomically correct and very beautiful and colorful images of healthy human brains can be found here.

But in a new study published in NeuroImage by Irimia et al, scientist have created a new way of looking at neural connections. They term it a connectogram, and it is more diagrammatic and schematic than the typical approach. It is in un-anatomically correct visage of a circle, filled with spaghetti loops and a rainbow of colors:

A connectogram showing the average connections and cortical measures of 110 normal, right-handed males, aged 25-36. Source PLoS One, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0037454 Author  John Darrell Van Horn
A connectogram showing the average connections and cortical measures of 110 normal, right-handed males, aged 25-36. Source PLoS One, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0037454
Author John Darrell Van Horn

Click here to read the wiki about these interesting diagrams.

Schematic approaches to maps of complex systems, whether they are of transit or nervous systems are useful and easy to understand, although they are not anatomically or geographically “correct”. While this connectogram is full of curves, in “true” diagrammatic maps routes are usually straightened out or set and at fixed angles.

The first to make a diagrammatic representation of an entire rail transport network according to Wikipedia, and perhaps one of the first to make a diagrammatic map of any kind, was George Dow of the London and North Eastern Railways, in 1929. Historians say he inspired Harry Beck who launched the iconic 1933 London Underground map, after which transit authorities across the globe imitated this method and look for their own maps. Below you will find a diagrammatic map of the NYC subway system, as well as a “geographically correct” map of NYC on the just below that. Note the differences. If a geographically correct depiction of the subway map were to be made, it would look much different, and be extremely hard to read, especially if all of the cluster of subway connections within Manhattan (where I live) were not blown up to a larger-than-geographically-correct size, and straighted out vertically (going against a “true north”) for readability.

Diagramatic New York Subway Map
Diagrammatic New York Subway Map

The map the NYC MTA currently uses for it’s subway system is somewhat of a hybrid, and can be found here, which I suggest you check out if you’re not familiar. Hybrid maps have what I call the “spaghetti effect” and many transit systems use them. The geography and the routes are a little more “naturalized,” routes are curved slightly, rather that rigidly straight, and the geography is a tad more “accurate.”

The mapping of the brachial plexus, a network of nerves located in the armpit, can also be anatomically or schematically portrayed. Below is an anatomically correct depiction of the brachial plexus. Note there’s a lot going on and its somewhat hard to understand. When I was first learning the brachial plexus, I found the schematic approach that my Medical Illustration teacher Jim Perkins made far more easy for me to understand. I don’t have a digital file of that image, but below on the right is a schematic approach to the plexus I found on the web. I am not in love with the beauty of this image, and it is actually incomplete, but do note how they have straighten out the pathways of the nerves and even color-coded it much like the transit system map, as well as setting the connections between the nerves at fixed angles.

Brachial Plexus Anatomical Approach
Schematic approach to brachial plexus.
Schematic approach to brachial plexus.

Many medical illustrators today however, I believe use a hybrid approach. Here is an example of one below and a link to the Wiki entry about this bundle of nerves. This image in the Wiki is actually interactive.

Brachial Plexus hybrid approach.
Brachial Plexus hybrid approach.

Note how the nerves are curved and gently angled so as to fit in the armpit of the body and somewhat more natural looking but still or organized somewhat schematically, and the three main trunks are separated from each other in equal distances. This does not actually occur in the body.

DSM 5 Personality Disorders Map

The most recent revisions of the yet-to-be published DSM 5 is currently open to public comment. Somehow the the text cursor in the comment box isn’t showing though even after I’ve signed in. Anyway, they don’t have an easy to understand visualization of their now numbering six and newly defined personality disorders, so I thought I’d make one. I’ve mapped them onto their trait facets which I’ve reorganized the listing of but which are still organized within their respective trait domains, also listed across in a different order than the way the DSM does in their literature for easier visualization and understanding.

DSM 5's Personality Disorders Mapped upon Trait Facets Organized within Trait Domains
DSM 5’s Personality Disorder Map

This is the third and final time the DSM 5 is open to public comment. You can find out more information on the yet-to-be-published DSM 5’s proposed revisions of personality disorders here.