Thursday, May 27, 2010

MARINA ABRAMOVIC

I just went to the Marina Abramovic retrospective at MOMA, I was especially interested in a 1974 performance called RYTHM 2, which was described as follows:

I use my body for anexperimentI take the medicationused in hospitals for thetreatment of acute catatoniaand schizophrenia, and putmy body in an unpredictable
state
Performance

First part
Facing the audience, I take the first medication.This medication is given to patients who suffer from catatoniato force them to change the position of their bodies.Shortly after taking the medication, my muscles begin to
violently contract, until completely loosing control. 
First part: 15 minutes
There was a second part to the pharmacological performance but I did not transcribe the description, it entailed ingesting (what sounded like) a standard first generation antipsychotic like thorazine. Part one is much more interesting and mysterious, there was a photo of her in (what appeared to be) bruxismic agony, but I have absolutely no knowledge of the Yugoslavian pharmacopeia in the mid 70s (1974). As far as I know it could have been strychnine - but its seems odd for them to treat catatonia with some kind of pro-epileptic spasmodic drug, anti-epileptics are used for that purpose today. Does anyone have an idea of what the drug used in the first part of RYTHM 2 could have been?


I swear I've read that, as an alternative to ECT, seizures are induced chemically instead of electrically in europe - but I cant find the source or names of the drugs used to induce a therapeutic seizure...

4 comments:

Adam said...

I would guess it is some kind of GABA antagonist, probably very short acting. This article seems to back up the possibility: http://www.springerlink.com/content/g5phx17686471j58/

I'm too high on kratom to make any more sense of it than that, at the moment.

Hamilton Morris said...

right, i can think of a million drugs (gaba-antagonists, AMPA agonists etc.) which induce seizures, but none which were used therapeutically for that effect...

Gary said...

First insulin, then camphor, and finally Metrazol aka Cardiazol (pentylenetetrazol) were used for shock therapy in Europe and, later, in the U.S. This was in the thirties and forties. One supposed inspiration for inducing seizure to cure mental illness came from the observation that epilepsy and schizophrenia never co-occurred and that sometimes epileptics who becam,e schizophrenic stopped having seizures. But mostly it was an accident, and more about docs doing something dramatic than about patients getting better.

Hamilton Morris said...

thanks Gary! it delights me to no end when knowledgeable people appear out of the aether with useful answers.

also pentylenetetrazol's putative effect on K+ permeability is apropos of a neuroelectrophysiology class i was just attending...