Now I have never taken an abnormal psychology class, but I do find it interesting how the idea of the abnormal mind is portrayed in a single image on the book covers for textbooks and the like. It all started with simple google image searches for various mental disorders, and I may write a post about that, all the fractured mirrors, people huddled on floors, people clutching their heads (as if with headache?), and broken faces or multiple faces, a rip off of the two drama masks that often go along with bipolar disorder imagery.
Now as for the text books they seem to fall into certain camps as well.
The first group is those with Van Gogh paintings or paintings mimicking the style of Van Gogh and post impressionism. Here are two:
The first one here is obviously Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Crows (full image below). This painting is purported to be Van Gogh’s last, before his own mental illness, whether considered an abnormal psychology, insanity, or epilepsy led either directly or indirectly (depending on who you ask) to his death by gunshot, and many think, by his own hand. The second textbook cover looks a lot like Van Gogh’s Landscape with Olive Trees (below).
These cover arts seem to suggest the view of the world (or a landscape and nature) from the perspective of one with a supposed abnormal psyche. Even for Van Gogh, his epilepsy may have caused him to at times to literally see colors more vividly and vibrantly than at other times, and some think this shows in his work, combined with the electric and urgent and sometimes tortured brushstrokes that some also say suggests things about his psyche.
What I find interesting here in these to book covers is that the abnormal psyches themselves are not the object being portrayed but rather a troubled mind’s subjective post-impressionist skewed view of things. On the other hand, when it seems that the subject of the image is the abnormal psyche itself, its surrealism and not post impressionism that seems to be at play the most, most notably influenced by Giorgio De Chirico and Rene Magritte.
First, compare these two images:
The bottom is Rene Magritte’s “The Future of Statues.” A direct influence. And here’s another:
which seems to be influenced by two Magritte Paintings found below, one with an image over the thing imaged, and the second The Son of Man, where the mouth is obscured by an apple.
Then there’s a whole strew of Abnormal Psychology cover art that rips off the idea of the lone figure found in the picture above. A lone suited figure walking through some landscape whether or not other people may be walking by, and turned away from the camera or viewer. Here are a few:
Magritte painting many paintings with lone images of a person not facing the viewer. Here’s just one of them:
What does all this tell us about the abnormal psyche? that it turns from “us” the “normal” viewer? That it’s face is hard to see? That they at least feel “alone” in the world? That what is in the book beneath these covers will like the cover show us the abnormal psyche or person and also show the world that they face, as are ‘lens’ is behind them?
…and now onto the images that are close up of faces. First compare these:
The bottom one is a surrealist painting by De Chirico, who was obsessed with mannequins and busts of heads. Which leads us to these, that also play with the idea of surrealism, close up of head shots, and illusion/reality dualism that is at the heart of surrealism:
The bottom is by far my favorite. A painting of a face that’s also a puppet or cloth-made thing with buttons that seems to come apart. And oh yeah. It’s crying! No really tho, it’s a great painting.
The rest on amazon.com I find a little less evocotive. Most are photographs, close ups of heads again, obscured by things or looking anxiously in their reflections.