Freud hypnosis, brainwashed murderers and more as Wellcome reveals century of mental healing to publicClick on the picture to launch
Produced by the Wellcome in cahoots with top digital agency Clearleft and the BAFTA-winning Fonic PostProduction, who’ve made the soundscape, this is a path from exotic mesmerism to Freud’s couch. Imagined Twitter spats and accounts from entranced surgeons light the way.
“The mysteries of the mind were one of the 19th century’s great obsessions,” says Mike Jay, the author of the story and an expert on bygone mind control attempts and all things ancient London.
“The Wellcome Library has an unparalleled range of resources for exploring medical history.
“The historic texts and images in their collection allowed us to create an immersive world .
“It captures the thrill and terror of science's first attempts to map the unconscious.”
Only hypnosis saved her, recalling traumatic events from beyond her memory in order to vanquish her linked physical symptoms.
“The actual facts in the case are disputed, to put it mildly,” says Jay. “But it became the great illustration of the new model of the mind.
“Anna seems to have two completely separate personalities, and a lot of doctors had speculated that there must be some physical cause for this – some brain defect, perhaps.
“But what Freud argued was that these two apparently separate personalities were actually an unconscious way of dealing with trauma, and that once that trauma was recalled to consciousness they could be brought to dialogue and the rift between them could be healed.”
O herself called her analysts’ method “the talking cure”. She became a pioneering social worker, author and campaigner for education and women’s rights under her real name, Bertha Pappenheim, and her identity as Anna O was only unmasked posthumously.
Freud’s concern that too much control was being imposed caused him to swiftly abandon hypnotism. He believed that patients had to “solve their own riddles” if they were to be cured, but kept one well-known feature he had originally installed for the practise of hypnotism – the famous couch inside his office.
- Mindcraft: A Century of Madness, Murder and Mental Healing is free and available for desktops and tablets. Visit wellcomecollection.org/mindcraft.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
More from Culture24's Science and Nature section:
Charles Darwin notebooks from first attempt at theory of evolution released online
Birth, growth, decay and death in outer space: Scientists celebrate satellite's 10th birthday
Natural History Museum acquires world's most complete Stegosaurus fossil skeleton