monsters…

“monsters don’t sleep under you bed – they live inside your head” 

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ultrasound brainbaby

my search continues for evidence relating to this brainchild phenomena…

here we have another example of a medical-esque photo manipulation.

the artist is called morgan smail, the original can be found here [link]

no pretence is made by the artist to pass this off as a real x-ray, it is clearly a piece of concept art. indeed, the text in the image ‘idea pregnancy‘ succinctly suggests the birth of an idea: a brainchild.

the reason i call it a photo manipulation, is because it is a composite of two images – the head is an x-ray, and the foetus is an ultrasound scan. to pass for real, both the head and the foetus would have to be ‘imaged’ by the same technology.

i’ve previously posted two other medically referenced images [link].

and while i dont know the intent of these pieces, if they had intended to pass themselves off as real, they both fall down by making similar mistakes. allow me to repost them and explain what i mean..

the above image belongs to brainchild studio [link], it shows a bisected head. however, the foetus and it’s umbilical attachment are not bisected. additionally, the scale of the two objects are way off – even if that was a child’s head, a foetus in such an early stage of development would never be that large. these factors indicate that the image is a composite photo manipulation.

[photo credit  unknown]

this time the foetus is a feasible size within the skull. however the image of the child’s skull is taken by x-ray but the foetus is from a photograph. granted it has been manipulated quite well to look like part of the image, but this too is a composite of two images.

the reason i have been looking closer at these medically-influenced images is because i have just received the forensic examiner’s report which was carried out on rachel’s head. included in the report are not one, but TWO x-rays of the exhibit!

believe me, the report makes for fascinating reading and the x-rays are spectacular – but i am terribly frustrated to say, i have not yet received permission to make the contents public.

as soon as i do, you folk will be the first to know!

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what brings you here?

is this what you’re looking for?

the above photo shows a teratoma.

in simple terms a teratoma is a tumour which can contain body matter not normally associated with the surrounding tissue. for example, a cyst found in the stomach may contain hair and teeth.

i wrote a post about this subject a month ago.

my reasons for researching teratoma was to see whether there was a medical precedent for this brainchild concept – i wanted to know whether it was feasible to have a baby actually grow inside a persons skull cavity. i was surprised by my findings! if you haven’t already done so, read it here. [link]

however, since then i have noticed a substantial traffic increase to my blog. below is a screen grab from my wordpress dashboard that shows ‘search engine referrals‘..

the teratoma post accounts for 800 of the 1700 views i’ve had since it went live. in context, all-time views to this blog are 2300. which means a third of the views to the blog come here looking for cancer.

this bothers me.

i struggle to put my finger on it fully, but i suspect i am concerned that there may be people who have genuine medical concerns about a cancerous diagnosis – and they end up on this blog.

you see, i am using this as a platform to weave a twisted narrative, in which a pregnant girl is murdered by her boyfriend. he cuts the unborn baby from her dead body, and rehouses the foetus inside the girl’s skull. the crime is then hidden in plain sight as he puts her decapitated head on display as a sideshow attraction. the carnival exhibit is explained as a tumorous foetus that grew inside the mother’s skull.

i’m not sure i want the responsibility of somebody who may be newly diagnosed/have concerns of cancer to be faced with such a story.

but then this is the internet isn’t it. surely people don’t believe everything they read, right?  people can tell the difference between fact and fiction, can’t they…? plus, it’s possible that all of those searches were driven by the same kind of morbid curiosity which motivates me to create such an unpalatable tale.

clearly i cant babysit everyone on the internet. but surely i have some degree of responsibility to the people who end up reading content i have published?

but it is hard to know where to draw the line.. i had planned to push the suspension of disbelief further in the next month. my posts were going to be more fictitious in the way they talked of gathering materials and content for an upcoming exhibit that i am organising in liverpool. i need these layers of façade to help sell the story, but i am becoming quite concerned with the morality of presenting the overall theme of a murder.

although, i should also keep in perspective that my post about teratoma was entirely factual. there is no blurring of reality in that specific post. indeed, it is quite informative!

clearly i need to put more thought into this…

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teratoma

WARNING: may i take a moment to warn anyone of a sensitive disposition (or those who are eating!) that it may be better to avoid this post….

i wondered what medical science would have to say about this brainchild concept, and this is what my research showed up…

TERATOMA: from classical greek, meaning ‘monstrous tumour‘.

simply put, a teratoma is an encapsulated tumour which contains tissue or organ components. these tissues may be quite different from the surrounding tissues, and have been known to contain hair, teeth, bone, and on rare occasions more complex organs such as eyes or limbs.

there are 2 rare forms of this condition:

fetus in fetu and fetiform teratoma.

in these cases, the cyst contains tissue components which resemble a malformed foetus. both may contain partial/complete organ systems, even major body parts such as torso or limbs. however, fetus in fetu differs in that it has an apparent spine and bilateral symmetry.

the popular medical interpretation of fetus in fetu is as a congenital complication, whereupon one foetus begins growing within it’s twin. however, without the appropriate in utero conditions, a fetus in fetu cannot develop to physical maturity. there are reported cases of mature teratome which contain partially developed organ systems, cranial bones, and a rudimentary beating heart.

a fetus in fetu can be considered alive only in a very limited sense, as it’s blood supply for tissue and organs are provided directly by it’s host. additionally, all cases of fetus in fetu present critical defects, such as no functional brain, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, or urinary tract.

fascinating stuff. no?

well here’s a little more…

in 2008, a 3day old baby [sam esquibel] received brain surgery to remove a tumour which was picked by an MRI scan. but when the surgeon operated, this is what he found…

the surgeon removed a foot, a partially formed hand, a thigh and a second, but partially-formed foot. read the story here [link].  for dramatic purposes, please let me restate this fact:

these bodyparts were removed from the brain of a newborn baby! 

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ADDITIONAL NOTE  [17 march 2012]

as far as i am aware, all of the above information is factually correct. there are other posts on this blog that discuss a foetus growing within a person’s brain – but they relate to a university project i am currently undertaking.

so, if you arrived at this blog looking for answers to genuine medical questions relating to cysts, then you’d probably be better looking for further information elsewhere, as i’m all out of facts for you.

however, maybe it was a morbid fascination with the human body that brought you here… perhaps the idea that a cyst could grow within the human body, which contained hairs and teeth? or maybe you were curious about a congenital disorder which results in one twin’s foetus being absorbed into the body of another? if it was something like this, then you may enjoy more of this blog.

i am telling the fictitious tale of a sideshow exhibit from the late 1800s – known as Rachel & Baby Rosie.

in this carnival attraction, the decapitated head of a girl named Rachel was on display in a glass case. however, not only was she decapitated, but the top of her skull had been sawn off.

normally, inspection of the inner cranium would reveal a brain, but not in her case. oh no, inside this poor girl’s head was a foetus; a true brainchild!

the unborn child turned out to be a girl, and she was given the name, Rosie.

the rest of this blog discusses my efforts to organise a small exhibition using this carnival attraction as a central artefact. i look into the history of the macabre artefact, and also investigate other accounts of this brainchild phenomena.

let me restate: the head mentioned in this addendum is an item i have constructed myself. the backstory of this head is a fictional story. the exhibition i am putting on is part of a graded module within my degree course.

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brain season

in november, radio 4 began a series of ten programmes on
the history of the brain. [link]

written by dr. geoff bunn, “[the series] covers 5000 years of understanding (and misunderstanding) of what the brain is and what it does from the ancient Egyptians to recent advances in neuroscience. It takes in the myths and fallacies about the brain and what that tells us about the culture of the times.

each 15minute show is now available as a podcast on the radio4 website [link]. they tell an incredibly interesting story of how our understanding of the brain has changed over time, offering a fascinating insight into humanity’s changing ideas regarding medicine, religion, evolution, and mental health.

i am not convinced that very much of this information will make it’s way into my final project, but it has been one of the most interesting sources of research so far.

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morbid anatomy

while looking for reference material for this project, i have come across a rather fantastic blog called morbid anatomy [link]. it is authored by a new york based photographer called joanna ebenstein.

i recently posted some photos of wax sculptures which i understood to be from an italian waxwork museum. it turns out that the exhibits are certainly based there, but the specific photographs were from a larger collection by ebensten, called anatomical theatre. [link]

Anatomical Theatre is a photographic exhibition documenting artifacts collected by and exhibited in medical museums throughout Europe and the United States. The objects in these photos range from preserved human remains to models made from ivory, wax, and papier mâché.”

these artefacts very much embody both the aesthetic and scientific field i am hoping to emulate with the objects i am creating.

this is a fascinating body of work, so please take the time to have a look at the online gallery [link]

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beneath the surface

earlier tonight, i watched a bbc four documentary which looked at the the Otago Medical School, New Zealand, which is one of the last schools in the world that enables their students to do ‘significant human dissection’. [more information here]

for me, the most fascinating moment came when the skull was opened up to expose the inner workings. the students cut through the meninges, then proceeded to explore deeper still…

on a similar theme of anatomical dissection,  i came across these photographs..

i should tell you that these are exhibits from
The “Luigi Cattaneo” Anatomical Wax Model Museum. [link]

personally, i find these to be these beautiful albeit-haunting images.

and, knowing they are sculpted creations does make them more palatable than if they were preserved parts of dissected cadavers. although in that very same breath, it makes the artistic skill behind them all the more impressive.

my desire to construct a bisected-head with anatomically accuracy has truly been invigorated!

EDIT: i have since found out the credit and copyright for these photographs belongs to a NY based photographer called joanna ebenstein.

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