Psychasthenia 2

Psychasthenia 2

Psychasthenia 2 is the latest work by Psychasthenia Studio.

Psychasthenia 2 is an interactive artwork that explores the culture of psychological diagnosis and treatment within the context of a highly mediated consumer culture that often produces the ills it purports to treat.

The project is a navigable 3D interactive space built with the game engine Unity.


See screen shot documentation below.

Joyce Rudinsky and Victoria Szabo

Project Levels:

Habits of
All and
Vagueness and
Related Evils
On Drawing
the Line

Habits of Thought

In the opening level of your treatment program, you, as the patient, wake up as an in-patient in a hospital room. Dr. Carl Abraham appears onscreen and orients you for your journey towards functional competence. In order to earn your discharge into the world, you will need to pass a number of tests, each represented by a game level experience corresponding to a stage in Maslow's self-actualization pyramid. Before you can initiate the therapeutic process, however, you must wend your way through historic and diagnostic literature, which is made accessible to you through a maze of files. Your destination is the therapeutic consultation room where you will continue your quest - with the help of your therapist, Dr. Carl. Dr. Carl will guide you through your therapeutic process, administering finely tuned diagnostic instruments and advice along the way.

video documentation of level 1 (drag corner to resize)

All and Some

Your first challenge is to choose very best products and ideas to support your homeostatic baseline. An eclectic series of self-help books, nostrums, potions, and religious icons are presented as objects to add to your burgeoning shopping cart of remedies and cures. You must consume enough products to fill the screen, ensuring the continuation of both the self-help economy and your own, wavering existence. Can you avoid insolvency, compulsion, and hoarding as you shop for sustenance?

video documentation of level 2 (drag corner to resize)

Vagueness and Related Evils

Your next challenge is to confront and suppress your fears, which correspond to Maslow's "safety" level. Making your way through a dystopian urban alleyway, you must engage with social, medical, and larval horrors, as well as with the destabilizing effects of your pathology's experiential manifestations. Beset by instability, fear, and doubt, your goal is the mellow meadow of medication.

video documentation of level 3 (drag corner to resize)

Tabloid Thinking

Appropriately buffered and sustained, you next venture into the social whirl. In the realm of love and belonging you must explore the vicissitudes of love, family, and religious associations by mingling with the groups you meet and greet in a crowded cafe. Your goal is to become more than a monad, for a time, by establishing the human connections that bolster against melancholy, insobriety, and loneliness - and then to proceed, well-caffeinated, towards your final challenge.

video documentation of level 4 (drag corner to resize)

On Drawing the Line

It is not enough to meet your own needs - you must prove your worth in the halfway house of the working world, with all the anxiety, neurosis, and boredom that implies. Earn the esteem of the community by submitting to the proper authorities as challenges quite literally pop up before you. You must proceed, undeterred despite inevitable setbacks, towards the lumbar-supported seat of achievement that will provide external validation - and the means to perpetuate your own psychasthenically-impaired system.

video documentation of level 5 (drag corner to resize)


At last you emerge into the ambiguous white light of self-actualization! Your badges complete, Dr. Carl greets you with some final words of wisdom and admonishments, along with the reassurance that you can always come back for more treatment of your chronic condition.

video documentation of level 6 (drag corner to resize)