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'Psychotic' art student trial opens

'Psychotic' art student trial opens

Published: 24 Aug 2009 08:58 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Aug 2009 08:58 GMT+02:00

The trial of Swedish art student Anna Odell after a faked psychosis she acted out as a part of a final year art project, opened in Stockholm on Monday.

Odell denies the charges of false alarm, violent resistance and fraudulent practice and her lawyer, Claes Borgström, argues that she will not be the biggest loser in the event of a conviction.

"It is more likely to have consequences for the art world and for journalists," Borgström said, according to a report in the Expressen newspaper.

Borgström was referring to the charge of "fraudulent practice" which means that she is accused of causing financial damage, although without profit.

If convicted Odell faces up to two years imprisonment. She is also the subject of a claim for 12,000 kronor ($1,700) compensation from North Stockholm Psychiatry.

The charges against 35-year-old Odell date back to January 21st 2009 when she was detained by police on Stockholm's Liljeholmen bridge following what at first appeared to be an attempt to commit suicide.

She was then taken to the psychiatric ward at St. Göran's Hospital for treatment, only to reveal the following day that the whole episode had been faked as a part of her final art exam at University College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack).

Odell, who has a history of mental illness, explained that she was highlighting deficiencies in Sweden's psychiatric care which she has argued to be "the most dictatorial part of society we have" where "patients are sometimes not believed".

While her actions have drawn criticism from police and medical staff, the opening of the exhibition of her work at the college in May generated a great deal of interest in the art world and wider media.

Anna Odell's trial at Stockholm District Court is expected to be concluded on Monday afternoon.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:14 August 24, 2009 by DidiE
What an incredible waste of scarce resources. The biggest losers here are not the Art World, but taxpayers, and particularly families who have loved ones with severe mental illness. How are we supposed to have our concerns about treatment taken seriously, when stuff like this happens? I'm a full time care giver to an adult son with schizophrenia, and trust me, there is nothing artistic at all about psychoses. Actions like the one described in this article do NOT win any sympathy from bystanders, do not raise awareness of the need for effective treatments for psychoses, and do not stimulate debate about mandatory care for psychotic people. Rather, actions like this create a further sense that it's okay to ignore suffering- the guy talking to himself who is clearly agitated, and living under the tunnelbana is just an art student, right, so why should we care?

This was a cynical action by one person, done to promote her own career and view point, but unfortunately, it will affect many many families in Sweden, many of whom do not at all agree with her.
13:40 August 24, 2009 by Puffin
I feel sorry the person in need of psychiatric care who was forced to wait for care - or turned away from the hospital that night because she was occupying resources for her school project.

Plus the victims of real crimes that evening that couldn't get a policeofficer as 2 units were dealing with her play acting
13:52 August 24, 2009 by Sensiblenick
Lock her up for a year in a psych' unit.

"We'll assess you again in 12 months"

... "But I'm SANE!"

"We know, but in your cell you'll be an *art installation*. We thought that you - of all people - would understand and appreciate the beauty of this.. Seeya."
13:55 August 24, 2009 by eZee.se
Ironic, but she is a nutcase.

Art world my masterpiece ass!

I hope they throw the book at this moron, give her 2 years in the pen so she can come out and write about how they mistreat inmates in prison and how inmates are not believed etc etc.
16:13 August 24, 2009 by mcfluffle
Her act could be used as a means to open discussion on mental health reform if everyone wasn't so quick to jump on a soapbox and rip her a new one. It's one thing to denounce an action and use it as a stepping stone for proper action, quite another to beat a dead horse senseless.
16:39 August 24, 2009 by DidiE
If the huge numbers of untreated, psychotic people seen every day in the subways and on the streets haven't spurred action, if their need hasn't been seen as need for proper action, then why would a make-believe act do so? This drama was self-serving at best, and may have well caused even deeper prejudice against those who really do have to live with the hell of psychoses, each day. I don't want her to go to jail- I would simply be happy with an apology, but I have a feeling I'll be waiting forever.
16:46 August 24, 2009 by Puffin
Well personally, speaking as the wife of someone who works in healthcare - I don't see why my husband should be subject to being hit and kicked for the sake of someone's art project

Did you see the film from the CCTV of her kicking at the police up of the bridge - not to mention the potential for danger that she created with the police forced to stop in busy lanes of traffic to save - as far as they knew - a woman from committing suicide.

One of the biggest current problems for mental health faced by Sweden is that 40-50% of psychiatrist posts are not filled and many hospitals are running on bed occupancy of over 100%. Doctors are forced to prioritise and if the admit a person - someone else is refused a place or they have to discharge another

Odell is just immature and attention seeking - she should grow up - at almost 36 you can't even write her actions off as a youthful error
22:20 August 24, 2009 by Nemesis
When quoting the costs in Krona, why does the local also quote in dollars. The euro is the nearest large currency.

As for the subject of the story.

This woman was previously in a mental institution. She does have an issue with mental health care professionals.

However that does nto give her the right to attack police officers.
22:41 August 24, 2009 by southaustralian
The court case needs to go ahead as this girl has shown no regret for or insight into what she has done. Health professionals and police daily put themselves into danger to help people and this trust must not be abused.
01:09 August 25, 2009 by I Love it when ...
people these days are so messed up.
03:11 August 25, 2009 by kemaste
I think this moron's next endeavor should be an art project on life behind bars. What an egotistical, insensitive twit!
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