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Mental Health Depicted Through Art – Charlotte Farhan

Charlotte Farhan is an artist, illustrator, writer, activist and Mental Ideas Ambassador. She’s co-founder and managing director of arts organization Art Saves Lives International.

She campaigns against inequality, stigma, rape culture, capitalism and war. Her Facebook post about why she would not be changing her profile picture to an overlay of the Tricolor in the wake of the Paris Attacks, even though she is French and from Paris, went viral and received international media attention, including from the New York Times, Telegraph, Independent, Mail, Mirror & Le Huffington. She has written articles for CNBC, Open Minds Quarterly (as a Resident Artist) and as editor of ASLI Magazine.

Originally from Paris, Charlotte now lives with her husband Mohammed in the UK, along with their four cats and her psychiatric warning dog, Amadeus. Charlotte has a diploma in Fine Art and BA degrees in Creative Writing, Philosophy, and Psychological Sciences. Here, she writes for Brainstorm about her ongoing art collection Outsider Art: Mental Health Depicted Through Art.

I am an outsider.

Which makes me an outsider artist; meaning that my art is created outside the boundaries of “official” culture and the exclusive art world.

“Outsider Art” was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English synonym for art bru  (“raw art” or “rough art”), a label created by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art by those on the outside of the established art scene, such as psychiatric hospital patients.”

In this ongoing collection, my work focuses on my internal struggles with – and the world’s discrimination against – mental illness. Suffering from C-PTSD (Complex post-traumatic stress disorder) due to childhood abuse and teenage sexual violence, as well as abandonment and neglect in childhood and early adolescence made me susceptible to other forms of mental illness. I now suffer from Borderline Personality DisorderPsychotic DepressionAgoraphobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Derealization, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I am also still in recovery from an Eating Disorder.

My mission is to use art to show people on the “inside” that WE – The Outsiders – have a voice and it needs to be heard! This helps me communicate with fellow sufferers on the “outside”: together we fight for equality and diversity.

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