POPSUGAR Celebrity

Can You Guess Which Neuroses These "Mental Spa Treatments" Cure?

Jun 14 2011 - 3:30am

Artists Sonia and Mark Whitesnow have an interesting new photo series out called Psychospa [1], featuring fictitious spa treatments that improve the psyche instead of the body. This is the "ironic world of Psychospa, a world which reflects modern man living in a metropolis, unsociable and full of fears and anxieties, but attracted to nature," according to the Whitesnows. "Driven by a set of procedures such as therapeutic mud baths, volcanic minerals, plants, chocolate, and honey, his inner energy awakes," they explain. "The man turns into a strong and resolute creature with a significant moment of clearing the body."

The photos are lovely, but the symbolism here is rather vague for a series so focused on the human psyche and catharsis. All the "spa treatments" have Latin names tangentially related to what's being conveyed in the photo, but it would be nice to have a little more semiotic guidance so that we can better appreciate what they're doing with this putative blending of spa and psychotherapy. I've tried to parse what each of these procedures is about. What do you think they're treating?

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [2]


A pupa is the cocoon or chrysalis of an insect undergoing metamorphosis, so the flaking and "new skin" make sense, as does the flower. Is this one a kaolin clay treatment that leads to a literal rebirth?

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [3]


Corvinus, the title of this photo, means "little raven" in Latin. Ravens are also symbolic of both justice and death, so perhaps this treatment is for overcoming injustice or recovering from loss?

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [4]

Tarandus 1

Tarandus is the Latin name for reindeer, but horns are also traditionally a sign of the cuckolded man. Along with the "ties that bind," is this a treatment to help a man recover from infidelity?

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [5]


Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [6]

Stagnum 1

Stagnum is Latin for a swamp, fen, or any other standing water. Maybe with this body wrap, you go from frozen by indecision or boredom to excited by life? The second half of the image certainly looks that way.

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [7]

Stagnum 1

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [8]

Capillus Promissus

This phrase means "long hair" in Latin, so is this gentleman joining the Hair Club For Men?

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [9]


In Latin, a claustrum is an enclosed space or barrier (which is where we get claustrophobia). Perhaps with all the wrapping and constricting elements here, we're seeing a form of exposure therapy?

Source: Sonia and Mark Whitesnow [10]

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