Manifesto - Theory - Map - VR Experience


    The Anoiksis Experiment is a radical artistic research project that aims to help make sense of the subjective experiences of psychosis by introducing one word into society: Anoiksis.


    What if one word could help make life better?

    One word?


    Imagine a life in which experiences of mental distress and the accompanying psychiatric labels are easier to understand, recognize and even become preventable...

    That sounds like utopia...


    What if powerful change could be achieved by adding a 'simple' word to our vocabulary so that we may better understand what we are feeling, thinking, saying and doing? Actively supporting early recognition, descalation and prevention of suffering.

    I'd think you're crazy...


    The Anoiksis Experiment is for anyone who loves conceptual art and who is actively interested in changing how we hold space for experiences of distress that we find difficult to understand. In pasticular psychosis...but also 'labels' like depression, OCD, bodydysmorphia...

    I'm listening...


    The stories we tell determine how we think, act, feel, and connect.

    Hmm...tell me more?




    Everything we think, act, feel, do or connect subjectively is influenced by 5 things:

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    Anoiksis is an altered state of experience on a hyper or hypo spectrum (more of or less of).

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    Anoiksis is the creative survival mechanism. A sane reaction to insane circumstances.

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    Anoiksis influences our stories. How we tell them and how we act upon them.

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    There are internal and external bio-factors that may influence our Anoiksis.

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    An exploration of our Anoiksis experiences may help us to better understand our needs.


    Labyrinth Psychotica has studied the subjective experiences of psychosis since 2006. The Anoiksis Theory takes a deep dive into these experiences and forms a radical idea on how to make sense of psychosis. Revealing how hallucinations and delusions are not the fringe experiences we often think they are but are logical reactions to altered sense-perceptions that are central to human function and survival. Intricately related to how we build our realities.


    Through playful thought experiments and inspiring insights The Anoiksis Theory workshops will transform your view of the phenomena and raise awareness of experiences of other 'labels' in general, as well as provide insight into how we build our own realities and the conflicts that may arise within them.


    "This is really good [...] So clear and so important. I don't think I remember reading something so comprehensive about the experience of psychosis. I felt it was really connected to my own experiences, and also deeply resonates with the theories I found myself more connected to. I really hope you get this published. [...] I think there are very few clinicians that understand the experience of psychosis... [...] your work is priceless." - Renana


    Getting Lost in Deep Anoiksis

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    image by Natalia Marin



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    image by Natalia Marin



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    image by Natalia Marin



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    image by Natalia Marin




    Get to know your own Anoksis

  • There are five crucial area's that influence our subjective experiences. There is no set process or a specific order in which to explore these themes. Depending on the situation, it may be more relevant to first look at: ‘what is needed’ or ‘what has happened?’

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    The key: Identify how senses and perceptions are altered in an experience of Anoiksis.

    In (Deep) Anoiksis our sense-perceptions alter more extremely - they can become hypersensitive or hypo sensitive.


    EXAMPLE: Early recognition may be in experiences of colors changing. They may become more vivid or they may seem dull and off. Background noises may come to the foreground. We may experience time running faster or slower. We may become thin-skinned. Emotions or words may hit us very hard.

    TIP: Think of it as suddenly being sensitive to sunlight. The light of the sun has not changed, the sensitivity to the light has changed.

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    The key: Discover the link between sensory experience and the story created and distinguish metaphorical significance from literal sense-making.

    We rely so heavily on our senses that it does not occur to us to question them. Instead, we create stories, even if that story seems unusual because it supports our experience. In this stage, we can learn to distinguish metaphorical significance from what may feel like a literal truth.


    EXAMPLE: Prevention can be found in understanding the play between the senses and the metaphorical and literal (underlying) meaning that is created. See a literal thought that “someone is poisoning me” as potentially born from a heightened sense of taste. Investigate personal significance: feeling unsafe? Alone or abandoned? Recognize the underlying need and act on it

    TIP: Think of it as ‘WAKING DREAMING’ in which all associations can be experienced as literal or metaphorical realities.

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    The key: identify high impact life events and discover links between these events, sensory experiences, and meaning created.

    In a model of Anoiksis, we enter the altered sense state of waking-dreaming in reaction to a disruption in our spiritual/mental/physical/emotional experiences. A series of high-impact life events may instigate such a disruption.


    EXAMPLE: Being in love. Deep loneliness. Significant loss or death. Not fitting in. A broken heart, love-sickness, a messy divorce. Moving away from loved ones, forced migration, moving to a strange city, or a trip abroad.

    TIP: Positive high-impact life events can be just as impactful.

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    The key: identify how certain internal and external bio-psycho-social triggers influence altered sense-perception and meaning-making. Discover links between triggers and high-impact events.

    In an Anoiksis Model, there are several major risk factors that (speculatively) influence the evolution of high-impact life events.


    EXAMPLE: Sleep disruption, chronic stress, hormonal disruptions (puberty, menopause, pregnancy) nutritional disruption (vitamin deficiency), intergenerational trauma, fetus development, medicine, recreational drugs, poor nutrition, vitamin deficiency.

    TIP: Think of Anoiksis as a system, imagine a knot of string. Pull-on one loop and all the others may follow…they are interconnected and often feedback on each other. Focus on the system, on the phenomena, and how they relate. Don't focus solely on symptoms.

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    The Key: Identify the deeper, core needs by piecing together information from all five themes. Create ways to practically serve those needs.

    Deeply ingrained in the stories of our minds, bodies, and spirits lay our cultural metaphorical and literal influences in relation to our needs. The clues we have gathered from the previous themes - how our senses change, the stories we create, what disruption events happened, and our triggers - can help us discover what we need.


    EXAMPLE: Needs can be basic such as financial security, healthy nutrition, safe shelter, or loving connections. When we are followed by the FBI, we may hold a need to feel safe. How to help a person feel safe? Needs are diverse. Some need to suppress experiences. Some need to make art. It is the job of ourselves, and our carers to listen to those needs and act.


    TIP: Engage in authentic Deep Listening. Under a symbolic need is a need, is a need. Ask the same question 5 x and you will get a different answer.



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    Ars Elektronica S+T+ARTS PRIZE WINNER

    The Anoiksis Experiment has won 1 of the 10 Honorary mention awards in 2023 and was selected to be part of the S+T+ARTS exhibition at Ars Elektronica!


    There were 1637 applications from 78 countries!



    Changing how we hold space for our subjective experiences


    The Anoiksis Experiment is an artistic installation of the word Anoiksis into society - one mind at a time...will you join the experiment?

    How would I do that?


    Step 1 

    Add the word Anoiksis to your vocabulary.


    Step 2 

    Study what it means.


    Step 3

    Practice using it.

    I have Anoiksis???


    Yes, if you know noticable shifts in your experiences, you know Anoiksis. 

    We see Anoiksis as our creative survival strategy that helps us shift our realities.

    Okay, you got my attention... How does that work?


    My Anoiksis is speaking...

    We enter Anoiksis when our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and imaginational systems are in transformation to help us deal with our realities. We enter Anoiksis when:

    • we fear speaking in public
    • we grieve
    • we have an infection
    • we are in love

    So it's like, related to our survival mechanisms of Fight, Flight, Freeze?

    Yes, in this, we use Anoiksis to describe how our experiences shift in these states and how we can get lost in them.


    Okay? Can you tell me more?

    In this we may see Anoiksis as a spectrum state: Anoiksis vs. Deep Anoiksis. We are in Deep Anoiksis when we enter into:

    • delirium
    • dementia
    • depression
    • psychosis

    Okay...where is the connection?

    The connection is on the spectrum of our subjective experience.


    I don't get it...Can you give an example?

    One example can be how we all have a subjective experience of meaningfulness. In Anoiksis we may begin to see more meaning or less meaning. In Deep Anoiksis our experience of meaning may become hyper or hypo. We may experience the world as overwhelmingly pregnant with meaning, or experience no meaning at all..

    This is beginning to make sense...


    Dr. Gabor Maté describes how trauma is not what happens to us, but what moves within us after what happens. Trauma influences our education, our work, our society. Trauma is a word for our mental, physical, emotional and or spiritual wounds. As Dr. Gabor Maté emphasizes: we need to become a trauma informed society.


    We need tools to help us hold space for trauma. We designed a method to help hold space for our experiences with wonder, curiosity and empathy by adding a single word to our vocabulary: 'Anoiksis'. Will you join the experiment?  


    I'm getting excited!


    Breaking outdated myths about psychosis


    When we can’t understand it's harder to connect. When we don’t connect, we’re left to our own assumptions, fears, and outdated myths. Like these:


    FROM: Psychosis as only a destructive phenomenon, one that should be avoided at all costs, as deteriorating the brain each time someone enters into this state.

    TO: Psychosis is not to be feared, it is the coolest thing our brain does to protect us. Our brain is not our enemy, it is our biggest ally, but if we don't learn listen and recognize it, we may suffer.


    FROM: Psychosis as a disorder of symptoms, with no meaning or value - a misfiring of neurons, a chemical imbalance. Any thought, idea, sense, experience in this state is seen as nonsense and ignored.

    TO: Psychosis is a collection of phenomena, full of meaning and valuable information about our needs, and how to address those needs. Needs can be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.


    FROM: Psychosis as a binary state - there is no spectrum with which it exists, making it incredibly hard to identify early sensory experiences.

    TO: Psychosis as a spectrum state - recognizing a descent into psychosis is not only possible, it can be a choice.


    FROM: Psychosis as a biomedical disorder - treatment primarily consists of medicine and research/treatment methods are narrowly focused on this area.

    TO: Psychosis as a transformative system collapse - Support is system focussed, Deep Listening to underlying needs, and addressing multiple areas at the same time. Sleep patterns, nutrition, thought patterns, inflammation, etc.


    FROM: Psychosis as solely a problem of the client - discounts the value of context (life experience, relationships) on the experience.

    TO: Psychosis as a social systems problem - taking into account the value of context to an individual, as well as a social system


    The lack of understanding results in a lack of action with missed windows for prevention and early detection, unnecessary emotional suffering, physical and emotional escalation.



    A comprehensive framework to navigate the complexity of psychosis for empathy early recognition and prevention. THE ANOIKSIS MAP helps with the following:


    • Brings clarity - The Anoiksis Map appreciates the diversity of subjective experience but identifies patterns and structures that bring an overall framework to a variety of subjective stories. The map holds space for a range of subjective experiences, both glorious and terrifying, both exaggerated and subdued.


    • Helps with early recognition & prevention - This map helps us to recognize early signs ahead of time and process these experiences before they escalate. When psychosis is recognized on time it can be dimmed, subdued, or even prevented (if desired). But also better navigated and channeled.


    • Improves care & understanding - This map provides a frame to understand the subjective experiences of psychosis. This map helps us distinguish subjective reality from literal truth - when we can look at someone’s subjective experiences from a distance, we have the potential to learn more.


    • Builds empathy skills - This map puts psychosis on a spectrum of experience and creates bridges between psychosis and other human experiences.


    • Improves treatment strategies - We can help discover the significant metaphorical meaning coming through the experience - if the experience is arising for a reason, we may even benefit from why it arises in the first place. We can connect subjective sensory experiences to wisdom about oneself, his/her relationships, and the broader world.


    THE ANOIKSIS MAP shows the experience as a reaction to a wide range of mental, physical, and or spiritual high-impact life events. By taking a holistic frame to this experience, we can begin to take a collective and systemic approach to recovery.


    Made possible by

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    The Anoiksis Experience

    In consortium with The Roomforthoughts Foundation, we received a grant from Stichting Doen for the development of the new VR psychosis simulation The Anoiksis Experience.

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    The Anoiksis Map

    A tool to help understand, navigate, and communicate experiences of psychosis (and more). Learn more about The Anoiksis Map here.