About our Symbol


Though our symbol bears certain similarities to the “Star of Life” used by authorization of the Emergency Medical Services Branch of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS), these are merely superficial and non-copyright-infringing allusions to a shared concern with emergency medicine.

As our primary goal is one of public education, our foundational emblem is first and foremost a representation of that process. While, the six points of the NHTS Star of Life are understood to represent essential principals of emergency medical care (“detection,” “reporting,” “response,” “on scene care,” “care in transit”), six points of the Art of Bleeding star represent states of mind characterized by heightened cognitive impressionability (“empathy,” “mirth,” “wonder,” “repulsion,” “terror”). The uppermost and central point, “insight” represents the summation of perceptions acquired in the other six states.

The often unsettling imagery and juxtapositions typically found in Art of Bleeding presentations are intentionally programmed in accordance with Lugner’s principle of “phantasmagoric acquisition,” a model of learning in which information is imprinted much more suddenly and unforgettably than through conventional classroom learning. Analogy has been made to the flashes of insight sometimes gained by humans confronting life-threatening situations. The apparent pandemonium of an Art of Bleeding presentation is therefore a carefully engineered succession of extreme states of empathy, mirth, wonder, repulsion, and terror, yielding more profound insight than that attainable through traditional means.

Particularly effective mental imprints are formed through simultaneous exposure to polar states such as empathy and repulsion, and these therefore are represented in our emblem as opposing pairs. Thanks to this unusual technique, the primary dynamic of Art of Bleeding presentations moves from state of shocked befuddlement (or “wonder”) to a more conscious embrace of the totality of information (or “insight”). These two states are consequently represented along the central north-south axis of the emblem. The movement of the snake (a near universal symbol of gnosis) progresses upward toward enlightenment while at the same time, its indirect spiraling path suggests vacillation between opposing mental states.


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Emergency Medicine for the Unconscious Mind