Table of Contents: May 2005

This painting was done in 1992 or 1993. It was just after I had left Rosemount psychiatry ward, which was the first time I had been in hospital. It was an eye-opener. Being in hospital was everything that you expect it to be, but then nothing like that at all. The end of the line—I had nowhere else to go.

The painting itself was a tough one. Even though it looks fairly simple, to get it to that stage, the colours and shapes, was quite a chore. Every morning and night was medication time and all the patients in our ward would line up outside of a small window through which a nurse would dispense the various pills. At first I tried to paint the picture in the colours of the scene itself (a faint lemon colour)—it didn't work. I tried many different background colours for days until I thought about it—instead of painting the scene, paint what it felt like the mood of it.

In this issue of PLoS Medicine, Dr. John McGrath and colleagues publish the results of a systematic review of the prevalence of schizophrenia. He and the staff of the University of Queensland Park Centre for Mental Health use paintings such as this one by Glenn Brady to teach students about the person behind the disorder. McGrath writes:

Glenn's painting provides a vivid glimpse into psychiatric care early last decade. Over the last three decades, many developed countries have shifted the care of people with psychotic disorders from inpatient settings to the community. However, we still have a long way to go. Despite optimal treatment (medication, rehabilitation, and disability support), many people with schizophrenia still have persisting disability. Paintings can communicate the pain and suffering associated with serious mental illness better than textbooks. Glenns work inspires our staff to research ways to improve services for those with psychotic disorders, and also to unravel the genetic and nongenetic factors that cause schizophrenia.

Image Credit: Glenn Brady (glenox [at]


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