Selection of the Month

Anatomy/Insanity 

Maureen Cummins

Anatomy of Insanity

Letterpress printed onto Trace 51

High Falls, NY : Maureen Cummins, 2008

Edition 24 of 30

Gould Library Special Collections

Bound in the style of nineteenth-century record books and medical clipboards, this artist book reflects on the nature of “insanity” during a time when its exploration came to the forefront medical inquiry. Examining patient records at McLean Hospital, one of the first mental hospitals in the United States, Cummins presents a dark and critical look into the history and study of mental illness. The handwritten records showed how the concept of insanity was not only gendered, but constructed during the 1800s and has shaped commonly held beliefs regarding mental illness today. 

Through the use of Vesalius’s medical illustrations, she presents medical data in a way that challenges the viewer to, in her own words, question the “underlying assumption behind the diagnoses.”