Face of Madness: Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photographyby Sander L. Gilman, Hugh W. Diamond, John Conolly
Today the use of photography (and its extension, video) in psychiatry is a common practice. But in the 1850s, when pioneering medical photographer and psychiatrist Dr. Hugh W. Diamond was behind the camera, this technique was an innovative application of art to science, reflecting and expanding the contemporary interest in physiognomic characteristics. In The… See more details below
Today the use of photography (and its extension, video) in psychiatry is a common practice. But in the 1850s, when pioneering medical photographer and psychiatrist Dr. Hugh W. Diamond was behind the camera, this technique was an innovative application of art to science, reflecting and expanding the contemporary interest in physiognomic characteristics. In The Face of Madness, notable scholar Sander Gilman has curated a unique exhibition of 54 of Dr. Diamond's photographs and commentary.
Diamond's photographs are eloquent portraits of the insane-the melancholy, the depressed, the deranged, the alcoholic-whom he cared for at the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum. In addition to their psychiatric significance, these photographs are notable works of art since Diamond was a pioneer in experimenting with and refining photographic techniques.
Diamond's paper "On the Application of Photography to the Physiognomic and Mental Phenomena of Insanity," is included in this printing. This discourse discloses three functions of photography which are still relevant to the practice of psychiatry today: Photography can record the appearance of the mentally ill for study; it can be used for treatment through the presentation of an accurate self-image; and it can record the visages of patients to facilitate identification in case of later readmission.
In addition to Diamond's paper, notes and analysis by Dr. John Conolly are also included in this volume. Dr. Conolly, one of Dr. Diamond's associates, was widely considered to be the leading British psychiatrist of the mid-nineteenth century. His patient case studies accompany 17 of Diamond's photographs. These reports include clinical information as well as diagnoses based on the theories of the physiognomy of insanity accepted at that period.
The Face of Madness is a book to be treasured not only by psychiatrists, but also by photographers and medical historians. As Eric T. Carlson writes in the Introduction: "Until now these photographs have been known only through the sketches made from them. Professor Gilman has performed a great service in locating them and by giving us their history."
Sander L. Gilman, PhD, is a distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. A respected educator, he has served as Old Dominion Visiting Professor of English at Princeton; Northrop Frye Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto; Mellon Visiting Professor of Humanities at Tulane University; Goldwin Smith Professor of Humane Studies at Cornell University; and Professor of the History of Psychiatry at Cornell Medical College. He has written and edited several books including Sexuality: An Illustrated History and Seeing the Insane.
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