M2-M3, installation, 2008-2010

M2-M3 is a conceptual installation, that consists of copies of real psychiatric patients’ records regarding involuntary psychiatric treatment in Finland. The patients’ records are connected to broken, black and white, abstractly painted old telephones with painted cords.

The forms M2 and M3 are patients’ records concerning a three-day involuntary observation period in a mental hospital. While collecting these anonymous patient records, the names and other personal information, such as gender or age, were removed for personal security reasons. In Finland the psychiatric patients are often being “evaluated” in psychiatric hospitals for three days – that is, being held in involuntary psychiatric treatment and being monitored for symptoms. After this, the decision about the possible need of  involuntary treatment is made. This is the process that can be seen in these patients’ records. The texts on the forms are written by psychiatrists. They are commentaries about the patients’ behavior during this three-day observation period. These statements describe people as objects in a clinical study, not as a group of individuals.

The Finnish involuntary psychiatric treatment system allows, and often even recommends, using force on patients. This involves, for example, binding them into bed, or stripping them naked and locking them up into a small cell, without human contact, drinking water, or even a toilet, under 24-hour camera surveillance. This procedure is commonly used as a supplement for proper treatment because there are not enough resources for public health care. It’s a punishment, not something that should be done when treating mental problems.

The medicalized society creates new illnesses as the normal personality traits became something, that can – and should – be cured. Anti-depressants are prescribed more and more often, and pills are affecting even younger people, as the attention deficit disorders are treated with medication, which causes addiction. New drugs and cures are being created for new illnesses, and people are medicated to fit in the narrow concept of normality, based on rules created by society. The lack of communication is one of the main problems in Western countries. Some of the social issues remain taboos, if discussion on these subjects is not actively raised.

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