top of page

Art & Psychiatry

Home / Sections / Find a Section / Art & Psychiatry

Image by russn_fckr


The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) has engaged with patients' art since its inaugural congress in Paris in 1950, at the height of public interest in outsider art. The Section for Art and Psychiatry was formally established in 1983, as the Psychopathology of Expression, and changed to the Section of Art and Psychiatry when Dr. Hans-Otto became Section Secretary in 1999.


The Section’s work includes the analysis of art and the advancement of art therapy. The Section, one of the oldest within the WPA, has a strong international membership and seeks to bring together mental health practitioners who are interested in exploring the conversation between art and mental health in our global communities.

Section Officers


Dr Jennifer Harrison278.jpg

Jennifer Harrison


MBBS; FRANZCP; Cert. Training in Child, Youth and Family Psychiatry;

Consultant Child Psychiatrist, The Developmental Assessment and Management Program and Neuropsychiatry Clinic, Alfred Infant Child and Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
3nd Floor, 1001 Nepean Highway,

Moorabbin VIC 3189, Australia

Tel.: work: 61 (0)  3 8552 0555,  mobile: 61 (0)   413839390



Dr Ekaterina Sukhanova.jpg

Ekaterina Sukhanova


Associate Dean for Academic Affairs,

City University of New York.

Address: 205 E 42nd St. #940, New York, NY 10017 USA.

University tel.: +1-646-664-8054, fax 646-664-2958.




Jamuna Gopal Krishnan- Art section.png

Jamuna Gopal Krishnan


MBChB (Scotland); FRANZCP

Consultant Psychiatrist

Royal Darwin Hospital,

Northern Territory, Australia


Honorary Chair:


Hans-Otto Thomashoff


Dr. Phil. Dr. Med

Previous Chair, WPA Section for Art and Psychiatry

Wien/Vienna, Austria

Tel.: +43-1-5334100, Fax: 0043-1-5139437


>> Please click here to see the Section Members list.

Recommended Reading

who report art.png

The first-ever report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the evidence base for arts and health interventions. The Health Evidence Network (HEN) Synthesis Report maps the global academic literature, referencing over 900 publications, including 200 reviews covering over 3000 further studies. As such, the report is the most comprehensive evidence review of arts and health to date. A scoping review published in 2019 discussing research by the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Read the report here.

unhinged book cover.png

Unhinged: On Jitterbugs, Melancholics and Mad-Doctors

Dr. Guislain Museum Ghent

Hannibal Publishing (English edition available)


This wonderful book outlines the history the Dr. Guislain Museum, Ghent, Belgium. From the back cover of Unhinged: ‘Madness is what disturbs us, throws us off balance and leads us to the edge of normality. But where does norm end and chaos begin? And who decides where the boundary lies? In five essays, this richly illustrated book, based on the collection presentation of the same name, explores the boundaries of the traditional and looks for sense in madness. Andrew Scull wrote the foreword.’ The book was reviewed in recording by Dr Jennifer Harrison, Chair of the WPA Art and Psychiatry Section, for the WPA Congress, Bangkok 2022.

You can read a review of this book by Jennifer Harrison (Chair, WPA Section for Art and Psychiatry) here.

Therapeutic Arts in Pregnancy, Birth & N

Therapeutic Arts in Pregnancy, Birth and New Parenthood - edited by Professor Susan Hogan


Mehr Hirn in die Politik - written by Hans-Otto Thomashoff

An Ecstatic Aesthetic.jpg

UN’ESTETICA ESTATICA: Persistenze visionarie dal misticismo storico femminile all’arte terapia - written by Gregorio Merlin and Federica Vettori; CLEUP, 2007.

An Ecstatic Aesthetic: Visionary persistence from historical female mysticism to art therapy - written by Gregorio Merlin and Federica Vettori; CLEUP, 2007.


The text of this fascinating book compares the descriptions of the visions made by mystical nuns with the images produced by anorexic patients in an Art Therapy atelier. The elements initially considered common between the two groups were a strong tendency to introversion, an ascetic tension and the renunciation of food. The research has led to the definition of common elements represented above all by peculiar colours and shapes. The colour red, the colour black in the sense of “nothing”, the circle and the sphere, almost abstract human figures in an attempt to overcome the limits of the body. These themes were significantly more recurrent in the graphic production of anorexic patients than in other pure pathologies observed in the specific Art Therapy groups. Analysis indicated the presence of a common character in both the religious who have left written evidence of their visions (XI-XVII century), and in the contemporary anorexic patients. The conclusions allowed the authors to reflect on the organic hypothesis of the origin of images and on the hypothesis of common perceptions, sensations and fantasies expressed in different creative forms, despite the fact that between the first and the second there is a period of time that can be calculated in centuries.


Gregorio Merlin, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, since 1986 has worked with Art Therapy in the treatment of adult mental disorders. Since 1991 he has led specific Art Therapy groups at the ‘Parco dei Tigli’ nursing home in Teolo (PD). Author of articles and publications, he has held conferences and courses in Art Therapy. In 1996 one of his works was presented at the X World Congress of Psychiatry in the session held by Vittorino Andreoli. From 2006 to 2009 he held an Art Therapy course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.


Federica Vettori graduated in Disciplines of Art, Music and Entertainment at the University of Padua with a thesis on Iconology and Iconography.

Dax Poetry collection.png

The Dax Poetry Collection -  Unusual Work Essay - by Dr Jennifer Harrison (Chair, Section for Art and Psychiatry). Read more here.

Art in-sane exhibition.png

Art In/Sane exhibition - by Dr Valentin-Veron Toma (Member of the Section for Art and Psychiatry). Read more here.

Creative Transformation of Despair.png

"The Creative Transformation of Despair, Hate and Violence” by Rainer Matthias Holm-Hadulla, MD; Professor for Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Heidelberg University, Universidad de Chile (Member of the WPA Section for Art and Psychiatry)
You can access the book
here or here.

bottom of page