Démence Précoce Catatonique Dermographisme. L Trepsat, 1893. From ‘Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpêtrière’, 1904. During the second hald of the 19th century, the belief spread that the phenomenon of dermatographism (or ‘dermographism’, or ‘skin writing’) was linked to hysteria and other mental or nervous disorders. Here a female patient at the Salpêtrière hospital in Paris has had her diagnosis ‘Démence précoce’ (dementia praecox) ‘written’ on her back.
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St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Wall of room in Ward Retreat 1. Reproductions made by a patient, a disturbed case of dementia precox [praecox?]; pin or fingernail used to scratch paint from wall, top coat of paint buff color, superimposed upon a brick red coat of paint. Pictures symbolize events in patient's past life and represent a mild state of mental regression. Undated, but likely early 20th century
In May 1856, Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond presented a paper to the Photographic Society of London outlining his view that photography was useful in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. He felt that by studying the faces of patients, physicians could identify and diagnose mental complaints.