Schizophrenic Cats

schizophrenic-cat (1)Louis Wain was an English artist known for drawing cats, going crazy, and then drawing more cats. Later in his life he developed schizophrenia and psychologists believe that his descent into madness can be clearly seen in his cat drawings.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterised by a total disintegration of nearly every aspect of human psychology, including thought, perception, behaviour, language, emotion and communication; these disturbances usually manifest in visual/auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions, disorganised speech and complete social dysfunction – in other words, schizophrenia is the deep end in the pool of mental disorders.

Let’s take a journey through Wain’s psychological breakdown through the following pencil and oil on canvas portraits of cats below.

wain cats

Believe it or not, this is pre-schizophrenia.

wain cat

Wain was always fascinated by cats, but when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, he started drawing them in silly situations to amuse her. His drawings grew in popularity and were featured on greeting cards and in magazines and newspapers. Life was good, that is until his wife died of said cancer and he started to lose control of his mind.

Wain_Cat_(realistic)

“During the onset of his disease at 57, Wain continued to paint, draw and sketch cats, but the focus changed from fanciful situations, to focus on the cats themselves.”

cat1 (1)cat2 (1)

schizophrenic cat 3

Wain began using more vibrant colours and used sharp outlines for the fur. The outlines also became noticeably darker, especially around the head. Finally, the background of the portrait has shifted to an almost psychedelic pattern of abstract colours and shapes.

schizophrenic cat 4

schizophrenic cat 5

schizophrenic cat 6

“Characteristic changes in the art began to occur, changes common to schizophrenic artists. Jagged lines of bright color began emanating from his feline subjects. The outlines of the cats became severe and spiky, and their outlines persisted well throughout the sketches, as if they were throwing off energy.”

By now the psychedelic patterned backgrounds have slipped into the cat itself, resulting in surreal patterns and colours enclosed in an outline of a cat's body. This cat looks quite sad or depressed, in comparison to the above cats which look quite surprised or anxious. Depression and Anxiety are typical mental dysfunctions experienced by those suffering from schizophrenia, although in a much more extreme form.

By now the psychedelic patterned backgrounds have slipped into the cat itself, resulting in surreal patterns and colours enclosed in an outline of a cat’s body. This cat looks quite sad or depressed, in comparison to the above cats which look quite surprised or anxious. Depression and Anxiety are typical mental dysfunctions experienced by those suffering from schizophrenia, although in a much more extreme form.

schizophrenic cat5

“Soon the cats became abstracted, seeming now to be made up of hundreds of small repetitive shapes, coming together in a clashing jangles of color that transform the cat into something resembling an Eastern deity.”

At this stage the drawings become more disturbed; it is clear that Wain's hallucinations are increasing in severity as these drawings look more like demonic oriental dragons on drugs than cats.

At this stage the drawings become more disturbed; it is clear that Wain’s hallucinations are increasing in severity as these drawings look more like demonic oriental dragons on drugs than cats.

schizophrenic cat 10

"The abstraction continued, the cats now being seen as made up by small repeating patterns, almost fractal in nature. Until finally they ceased to resemble cats at all, and became the ultimate abstraction, an indistinct form made up by near symmetrical repeating patterns."

“The abstraction continued, the cats now being seen as made up by small repeating patterns, almost fractal in nature. Until finally they ceased to resemble cats at all, and became the ultimate abstraction, an indistinct form made up by near symmetrical repeating patterns.”

 

Finally, here are the images in the order they are usually presented in psychology text books.

Finally, here are the images in the order they are usually presented in psychology text books.

 

crazy cat

Subscribe to End of the Game by email – you would be crazy not to!

31 thoughts on “Schizophrenic Cats

  1. I had a friend who worked in mental health. She showed me some of her patients artwork. One in particular had similar overtones to these pics, except they were all fish. Angel fish to be exact.
    Use of vibrant colors, almost full on abstract with sharp edges. They were pretty cool to be honest.
    Interesting read……I’ll see my cat from a whole new perspective from now on.

  2. My take is Schizophrenia are people vibrating closer to these other Dimensions (I have seen these cats on DMT) Schizophrenia people seem to be accessing the pineal gland more or having over active DMT in there system, its like its a few layers or dimensions in., sacred geometry being the code language for all of the unified field its like a soup and when ya get thru that you see these cats there fun loving and wanna lick ya n stuff , now surrender and let go and go deeper to break thru is what I call interdimesional travel were u meet other entities and worlds to realize that its all you at different point of your evolution its all happening right now, nobody knows and no one is in charge, and not everyone is ill or for ever a child we are all our own navigators to experience thy self in all ways =) happy creating!

    • Your “take” on schizophrenia is flakey and dangerous. Keep your pipe dreams and new age delusions to yourself. These people suffer terribly and should not be used as validation for your pathetic need for chemical mind alteration.

    • My friend was diagnosed with this. She has to have her medicine otherwise she gets bad. I did not know that when she does not take her medicine she starts shouting and stumping her feet. I told her about her medicine repeatedly but she said she would take it after we visited someone. That day I walk all day being with her. I guess she gets hiperactive. We visited lots of places. That week she got lost. We did not know about her until 2 weeks later. A friend found her thanks to God. We were looking for her but in this huge city which is Mexico It really is surprising we found her. She was with swollen feet but in bad shape all bleeding as well. She had to be cured at a hospital then sent to the mental hospital. Thanks to GOD he receives Positive Light through imposition of hands. For the second time she came out from the mental hospital. Doctors are surprised that a person with her condition makes a almost normal life. She works as well and her brother helps her but does not live with her. She lives by herself. The poeple with this condition do suffer a lot.

  3. All pseudo-science aside, does anybody else think its crazy that the more insane he was the more his cats looked like fractals, in particular the second to last picture. Its like right before he completely lost his marbles he made a perfect fractal. I looked it up, Louis Wain died in 1939. Madelbrot published The Fractal Geometry of Nature in 1989. We didn’t make fractals like that until we had computers. Ive heard stories of people seeing the world in fractals when they were on psychedelics. These people could have been exposed to fractals, but Wain was most certainly not. Maybe this is insightful into the way our mind processes and encodes information about the world around us. Even more so it could begin to shed light on how we create the construct we, as “sane” people, are observing. You know because were computers ourselves. Hes not seeing new dimensions, hes just experiencing the machine code part of the brain that we would normally filter and ignore.

    • Interesting point you’ve brought up. I’ve always found those later pictures interesting for their complex fractals; makes you wonder how severe his schizophrenia had become.

      I have seen fractals on psychedelics, and so have a number of people I know of who have taken them – they are a common occurrence with the drug. Psychedelic drugs have also long been associated with schizophrenia, in the sense that psychologists saw them as temporary doorways into the mind of someone with full blown psychosis. This is the sort of research that was done in abundance during the 60s, until the chemicals were criminalised.

      Our brains filter out a lot of unnecessary sensory information (if your brain registered every sound, smell, taste and colour your head would explode) and when you take drugs like LSD most of these filters are shut down or confused, hence why auditory and visual hallucinations take place, and senses are blended producing synesthesia like effects (tasting colours and hearing sounds etc).

      It is possible that this is the reason we see fractals on psychedelics, as we are tuning into a frequency of reality that is normally filtered out in our normal waking consciousness. After all, most of the natural world is actually made up of fractals, right down to our DNA. When a person develops deep schizophrenia the effects on the brain is very much like a permanent high dose of psychedelic drugs – all of the filters are dropped, and so this might explain why the artist began seeing the world in fractals. Logically he would have to be seeing fractals in order to draw them, especially considering your mentioning that at the time fractals like that hadn’t even been discovered.

  4. Pingback: The Official No Need To Start a New Thread, Thread - Page 109 - Vancouver's Top Classifieds and Automotive Forum - REVscene.net

  5. Just learned about this artist in class. This is amazing and frightening at the same time just to see what someone else saw in their mind through their art. I know now what to look for. Will be sharing this definitely.

  6. Just learned about this artist in class today. This is amazing and frightening at the same time just to see what the artist saw in his mind through art. I now know what to look for. Will be sharing this definitely.

  7. I cannot explain of how interested I am in mental disorders! It fascinates me more than..anything.
    In my Sophomore year, I’m taking a psychology class. I can’t wait to learn so much more than what I taught myself!

    • Hey Carmella, it’s interesting to find someone who is fascinated by mental disorders! You should consider taking a psychology undergraduate degree and maybe even progressing onto your masters in the future. You will unfortunately not learn much at all from a single psychology class, at least nothing more than you already know from your own self research. All the best!

  8. My problem with this article is the fact that i’ve read so many times before that his more ‘fractical’ artwork is supposed to be representing his mind deteriorating, but this isn’t the case.
    His more fractical artwork was never dated, so for all we know they could have been drawn at an earlier time before his decline with mental illness. His works while he started to decline did become more simple than his earlier work, with the occasional fractical background, but i really doubt the ones that are fully fractical could be the fact that he was become a schizo.

  9. Wow! This made my day. And there is a BIG thank you for this post, it also really helped me with my school report on Color Psychology. Awesome, the way how we are made, our mind. This story is a bit scary but amazing. Thank you!

  10. It is hard to dispute the fact that car shopping is a
    stressful, anxiety-ridden task for many individuals.

    The sheer size of the expenditure involved and the myriad of choices on the market
    make the need for education and information quite critical.
    Fortunately, the tips below can make the process far simpler than you may have believed.

  11. Please post a warning for seizures well above the animated flashing picture. It will not affect the vast majority of viewers but could be a huge help to the few that would be affected!

  12. Pingback: Portia St. Luke » The Schizophrenic who Painted Cats

  13. Hi,
    I am looking for the permissions/copyrights for use of Luis Wain’s cat pictures to be used in an article. Do you know if there is any copyright or if everyone has permission to use them?
    Thank you,
    Sarah Strauss

  14. hello i m a psychiatrist and we go through such patients routinely….. sadly but true, illness is grave and has a deepening course but with mutual cooperation of family and medical personnel, good outcome can be promised….

Leave a Reply (Don't Be Shy!)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s