“They say she is bipolar and he’s got OCD”

"They say she's bipolar and he's got OCD" by Pierre Leichner

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders Re-revised & Related Texts

by Pierre Leichner

Sept 7 – Oct 14th, 2012
Opening: Fri Sept 7th, 7 – 10pm, in conjunction with SWARM, Festival of Artist Run Culture (swarm.paarc.ca)

To see pictures from this exhibition, please visit our Flickr account https://www.flickr.com/photos/gallerygachet/sets/72157631493289054

In Canada, mental health illnesses are diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM IV- Revised) Text. The DSM is a categorical classification system of mental disorders, which has been growing in size and usage since the 1970’s. DSM’s are insidiously becoming instruments of control and a rigid and narrow way to define human behaviors globally. They inform treatment development and availability in many countries. There is no significant alternative (evidence based) system for the definition of mental disorders in North America. The next revised DSM book is due for publication in 2013 and it will probably include more brand new diagnoses and categorizations.

The exhibition, “They say she is bipolar and he’s got OCD” is a critical multi-media exploration of the DSM texts and related psychiatric books presented through the eyes and hands of an ex-psychiatrist of 35 years.

This is an ongoing art project by Pierre Leichner that currently comprises more than 30 exhibition pieces. Featured in the show at Gallery Gachet are altered books (livres detournés) that have been sculpted and repurposed into metaphorical shapes of landscapes and referential symbols, including mirror frames, Pavlov’s Bell, dinosaur eggs, angels, and male/female cut outs made from recuperated paper. Plus photographs, sound and video are presented that document the process. As an audience member, you can be initiated and trained by a DSM training guide dog and you can receive a free DSM fortune cookie diagnosis! In addition, during the duration of the exhibit Pierre will be folding and teaching people how to make 1000 Origami cranes out of DSM paper.

One of the major critiques of the DSM text is the singular authority it has assumed, particularly in North America, in shaping psychological language and thought, thus becoming a determinant in the development of health care and a standard for behavior. This text has become a cultural “dispositif” or agent of control to appropriate Foucault’s term. It is a categorical classification system that was created by researchers in the United States. North American clinicians, due to their perceived need to legitimize psychiatry as a medical science, welcomed it. Today this system is being introduced in many countries and influences the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10) markedly. Corporation administrators and third party insurers have also adopted it. Clinicians behave more and more like researchers and employees, while patients are increasingly seen as economic commodities.

Pierre Leichner: “I installed my first carved DSM in an office at the psychiatric hospital Montperrin in Aix en Provence. I furthered my research and installed a series at the Hopital Louis-Hypolite Lafontaine in Montreal in rooms on an abandoned ward. I also installed new works in libraries in Lille, France and at The Emily Carr University Library. During this show, I will also be folding with the public a thousand origami cranes out of DSM paper in the gallery. One of my reasons to become artist was to obtain a view and a voice outside of the medical institutions in which I had worked for decades.

This body of work is not anti-DSM, anti–psychiatry, anti-diagnosis or anti–pharmacotherapy. It is not against books per se as instruments for the dissemination and control of knowledge.  But it is against the unquestioned, unbalanced use of any mode of interventions by health care providers and their blind acceptance by their clients. It is against any theories or treatment approaches that diminish the importance of the unquantifiable humanness necessary in health care. It is against providing health care as a for profit business.

This work is about questioning, “power relations in a given society, their historical formation, their source of strength and their fragility, the conditions that are necessary to transform some and abolish others.” (Foucault) It is about recognizing text as a continuously changing construction with personal, cultural, political and spiritual associations.”

Pierre Leichner – Bio

Over the past 10 years I have been transitioning from a thirty five year career as an academic psychiatrist to that of an artist. I obtained my Bachelor in Fine Arts in Vancouver from Emily Carr University and my Masters in Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal in 2011. Most of my works address biological, psychological, social/cultural, political and spiritual issues simultaneously. This has led me to use multi-sensoriality in many of my projects. My recent projects Pommier Renversé, The Root Laboratory Project and Jardin Biologique, Potager de Résistance # 8 and 9  and Connected put me in a collaborative dependency with living matter (www.leichner.ca). Dr Legumes, my alter ego performs daring surgery on vegetables that can be seen on You Tube.  Since 2005, I have had 10 solo shows, participated in 25 group shows and presented in 7 art conferences. I am also working on an altered book’s project: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) Re-Revised that draws on my previous experiences and knowledge as a psychiatrist and an artist. It questions the political and economic issues that are associated with psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.


For more info, please contact Lara Fitzgerald, Programming Director, Gallery Gachet, 604 687 2468 or programming@gachet.org

Galerie Gachet présente

“Ils disent  qu’elle est bipolaire et qu’il a un TOC.”

Le Manuel Diagnostique et Statistique des Troubles Mentaux (DSM) Texte Ré –  Révisé et Livres Associés

par Pierre Leichner

Au Canada, les maladies mentales sont diagnostiquées en utilisant Le Manuel Diagnostique et Statistique des Troubles Mentaux IV – Révisé (DSM). Le DSM est un système de classification catégorique et rigide, qui a été créé aux Etats-Unis par des chercheurs. Il a été adopté par les cliniciens  américains entre autres pour répondre à leur besoin de légitimer la psychiatrie comme une science médicale. Aujourd’hui ce système s’est globalisé. Ce pont établi entre les scientifiques et les cliniciens est devenu  plutôt à sens unique et a été accaparé par les corporations gestionnaires de soins.  Les cliniciens se comportent de plus en plus comme chercheurs, fonctionnaires et les patients sont de plus en plus traités comme des objets inscrits dans une rentabilité économique. Le DSM V doit paraître en 2013 et comprendra certainement des nouveaux diagnostiques.

“Ils disent  qu’elle est bipolaire et qu’il a un TOC.” est une exploration multi-media de ces livres et d’autres qui y sont associés à travers les yeux et les mains d’un ex-psychiatre pendant 35 ans.

Pierre Leichner: “J’ai creuse mon premier DSM a l’Hopital Psychiatrique Montperrin d’ Aix en Provence et puis installer plusieurs a l’Hopital Louis-Hypolite Lafontaine de Montréal. Depuis, ces œuvres ont ete montrées aux Etats-unis, et en France dans des galeries et des bibliothèques. J’ai taillé, miné et sculpté leur contenu. Je les ai changés en paysages. J’ai transformé leur contenu en visages et autres objets. Des petits chiens en peluches servent de DSM guides d’instruction. Une time lapse vidéo raconte le processus du changement. Le son aussi a été capté. Des photos montrent des mots et des phrases découvertes par cette excavation. Tous les visiteurs ont droit à un diagnostic DSM servi dan un « fortune cookie »  et à participer au pliage de 1000 grues en origami fait de papier DSM.

Ce  travail n’est pas anti-DSM, anti-psychiatrie, anti-diagnostique or anti-pharmacothérapie. Ce n’est pas contre le livre comme instrument de propagation et de contrôle des connaissances. Mais je veux questionner la situation ou il n’y a rarement  d’alternatives enseignées ou utiliser. Je veux questionner un système qui semble de plus en plus valoriser ce qui est mesurable et donner moins d’importance a l’humanisme nécessaire dans les soins. Et je suis contre les situations ou quelques-uns font beaucoup de profits monétaires à travers la maladie d’autres.

Dans ce travail, je questionne les relations de pouvoir, leur formation historique, leurs forces et faiblesses, les conditions necessaires à les maintenir ou les abolir (Foucault).

Je veux aussi rappeler que tout textes sont des constructions qui évoluent continuellement avec nos association personnelles, culturelles, politiques et spirituelles.

Pierre Leichner – Bio

Après 35 années de travail clinique et académique en psychiatrie, je commence une nouvelle carrière. J’ai obtenu mon “Bachelor of Fine arts” (Baccalauréat en arts plastiques) à Vancouver à l’Université Emily Carr  et mon Masters en “Fine Arts” (Arts Plastiques) à l’université Concordia de Montréal. La science et l’art partagent  le but (l’objectif) de découvrir la signification (le fondement) de l’existence humaine.  Mes derniers travaux s’inspirent du “Bio Art”, de l’installation et de l’esthétique relationnelle. Dans mon Root Laboratory Project,  je  forme des sculptures avec des racines de plantes. Dans mon Jardin Biologique #8 j’utilise des déchets recyclables pour contenir les plantes et les légumes du potager. Mon alter ego,  Le Dr Legumes fait des operations innovatrices avec des legumes que l’ont peut  voir sur YouTube (www.leichner.ca).   Depuis 2005 j’ai eu 10 expositions solo ; j’ai participé dans 35 expositions de groupe et 7 conférences. Je travaille actuellement sur les projets d’art environnemental  Le Grassroots  Project et le projet « le DSM-ré-révisé » (DSM- Diagnostic and Statistical  Manual of Mental Disorders). Tirant de mon expérience et de mes connaissances comme psychiatre et artiste, ce dernier projet explore les aspects politique et économique associés au diagnostic et au traitement.


Pour plus d’information, s’il vous plait contacter: Lara Fitzgerald, Programming Director, Gallery Gachet, 604 687 2468 ou programming@gachet.org


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