Troubled mind – 20 June 2022

The purpose of this painting is to encourage the viewer to look carefully at this woman’s face and understand that she is first of all and individual. And she is troubled. Can you tell. So take a long look, what do you see? Notice the hair escaping from her cap, that she uses a crutch or walking stick.  You cannot see her hands. Is she about to speak? What is this look in her eyes?

Although the woman was known by name to the artist, her name is lost to us. Her portrait was painted by way of payment. The artist is Jean-Louis Theodore Gericault (1791-1824). He painted a great picture, now much esteemed The raft of the Medusa. At the time of painting the picture was poorly received. As a consequence, or maybe because of his disposition, he fell into a deep depression. He asked for help from Etienne- Jean Georget, a pioneering forensic psychiatrist. Gericault painted  a number of portraits of individuals suffering mental illness Portraits of the insane. This picture is titled Woman addicted to gambling.

This picture is offered following the gospel reading of yesterday, which told of the healing by Jesus of the demonised man. What makes for our demons, and how might people be healed or set free?


The people (of the town) went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.

Luke 8:35-36

My favourite miracle – the casting out
of devils from the cut and howling man
who lived in tombs above the town.

It cast them into swine, a panicking that sped
the herd to drown themselves like lightning
in the sea. I feel for the townspeople,

the lawful, who thought the madman unbearable trouble
until they saw the miracle – and then
begged the saint (on their knees) to go, godspeed,

even gave him a boat.
Then had to eat the pork,
fished out, boiled down to brawn, for lack.

Had to watch each other, in fear,
for symptoms of contagion.
I think of them when I visit your stink.

When I reach in bare-armed to pull you from your bed.
When I suggest sunlight. When clearing up.
When I talk in a voice even I hate, of hope.

Ramona Herdman, My name is legion, for we are many