10th Oct 2013 – 2nd Feb 2014
Few books can have as compelling, if not as provocative, a title as Lisa Appignanesi’s 2009 study Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors, which looks at female mental health from Virginia Woolf to Marilyn Monroe, Zelda Fitzgerald to Sylvia Plath – picking through cause, effect, diagnosis and treatment. So, it’s not really a surprise that the book is a springboard for The Freud Museum’s new exhibition (of the same name), which shines the spotlight on the relationship between women and their psychiatrists and therapists.
Although hysteria, depression, obsession and self harm (not to mention misdiagnosis and questionable treatments) might seem rather a downbeat subject, what we like the sound of is the introduction of contemporary art by female artists – including Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Susan Hiller and Helen Chadwick. These evocative creative expressions channel a similar self-examination of fragile, complex, hurt and elated states into empowered works of art. From confessional craft to grand-scale sculptures that make tangible vulnerability and fear, they are, in one sense, an ebullient reclamation and transformation of the mad, bad and sad into something triumphant and positive.