The article examines through two different approaches - anthropological and ethnopsychiatric - the cultural and clinical case study of Aby Warburg. The universal relationship between memory and oblivion, present in different social contexts, is highlighted and particular outcomes produced by exchanges between civilizations are underlined. In 1929, Warburg presented his atlas made of large wooden frames covered with black linen and photographic reproductions of artworks. The title of his atlas Mnemosyne is the Greek word for "memory". This word hangs also over the door of his library. Warburg is a cultural hero of the Western world. His life, mental illness and studies illustrate the connections between memory, trauma and oblivion. In his studies, Warburg suggests that the mechanism of reminiscence creates images. Thanks to these images artistic forms can be transmitted, transformed and restored to a new life. He also points out the endurance of mnestic engrams through space and time using the term Nachleben. Some artistic forms thus become containers, labeled by Warburg Pathosformeln, a paradigm recalling a maiden in motion: the Nymph. A journey to America and a visit to the Hopi provide him with the insight of the present-day survival of ancient practices. This finding grounds his research in the history of art. However, the Hopi theme disappears from his work only to reappear years later in a lecture he gave in 1923, when he sought to be released from the Kreuzlingen psychiatric clinic directed by Ludwig Binswanger.
Keywords: Iconology, Nachleben, cultural psychopathology, images, Nymph, Hopi