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UBERMORGEN, Psychos Sensation, 2014. Photo by Brian Slater.

Psychosis Sensation is a piece of software that allows users to diagnose their own mental health condition from the definitions listed in the diagnostic statistical manual of mental disorders, and then make a print out of the medicine needed to treat them. Used by psychiatrists in clinical practice, the DSM provides definitions of hundreds of mental health conditions, yet critics have argued that its strict classifications can present a reductive understanding of emotional distress. The arbitrary and automated nature of Psychosis Sensation reflects these nuanced debates about the efficacy and morality of using psychiatric drugs to treat complex psychological conditions.

Psychosis Sensation is set in an installation based on a psychiatrist’s office in the heart of Vienna, the birthplace of psychoanalysis. The traditional furniture and the sparse decoration allude to the presence and authority of the psychiatrist, but in this imaginary world the doctor has become a machine. Drawing on contemporary political narratives about outsourcing and privatisation of healthcare, the installation asks us to question how much responsibility we are willing and able to take for our own mental wellbeing.

Acknowledgements: Dr. Shird Schindler, Fabio Paris, and Domenico Quaranta. Courtesy of the artist and Carroll / Fletcher Gallery, London. With the support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.