How Would Schizophrenia Look on Paper?

by Cloe Gray, Ph.D., Senior Medical Writer at BioSerenity

April 14, 2022 | Neurology

Harriet Tubman
The paintings of Louis Wain

Louis Wain was an English artist known for painting pictures of cats, including drawing cats in a caricature of human behavior, such as wearing clothes and walking upright. He began to exhibit mood swings and was hospitalized later in life. It is thought that Wain developed schizophrenia and suffered from delusions. His paintings became more erratic, exemplified by depicting cats in an increasingly abstract sense. Louis Wain’s schizophrenia diagnosis, especially when connected with the change over time in his painting style, is contested by some psychiatrists. They point out that the progression may simply be due to his evolution as an artist, and the fine detail he was still able to paint in his more abstract cat portraits does not align with the deterioration of the mind that typically arises from schizophrenia.


Schizophrenia is an affective disorder characterized by psychosis (hallucinations and delusions), difficulty in executing everyday activities, and a reduction in the expression of emotions. It is thought that schizophrenia has genetic and environmental (especially stress and poverty) components, as well as differences in the overall brain structure of schizophrenics from non-schizophrenics. Schizophrenia is typically treated with antipsychotic medication to reduce hallucinations and delusions, including clozapine or risperidone. Patients may also benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy and job training.

How can BioSerenity help with the diagnosis of schizophrenia?

BioSerenity is developing remote diagnostics and physiologic signal recording to help in the detection of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Our goal is to provide a portable, ambulatory diagnostic device to allow screening and biomarker analysis of physiologic parameters consistent with these affective disorders.

Some have argued that his later drawings demonstrate his psychotic deterioration. Do you see it? Do you think if he had been diagnosed earlier and received treatment, he could have created even greater works of art? Please comment with your thoughts!

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