Lifestyle Books and Art 18 Sep 2016 Pain relief: Art and ...

Pain relief: Art and despair

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DR NARESH VADLAMANI
Published Sep 18, 2016, 2:02 am IST
Updated Sep 18, 2016, 6:50 am IST
Why the Philippines wants its addicts to start painting.
Art therapy is becoming more acceptable.
 Art therapy is becoming more acceptable.

Philippines is a country so ravaged by drugs that the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared open season on dealers. It’s true. You can actually gun down a drug dealer anywhere in the country without fear of legal trouble.

But amidst the violence, there has been reason. Reports reveal the existence of a small group of individuals who are trying to rescue the country’s addicts using Art Therapy — a form of treatment modality that uses art as a tool for expression and nonverbal communication. It allows patients to create media which explores emotional conflicts, self-awareness, reality orientation and self-esteem.

 

But it’s being used primarily for healing. There are instances where, through art, people have resolved conflicts through new-found personal insight.

Also, every psychiatrist in practice will have to deal with patients who have been struggling with suicidal thoughts.

One of my clients, an IT professional, suffered from severe depression and had active suicidal thoughts precipitated by relationship troubles. After starting her with appropriate medications, we discussed various forms of interventions. I finally suggested soothing art activity for “homework” — just to keep her occupied and help re-focus her attention to something more positive. She was a painter or more specifically, a Mandala artist (one who works on geometrical art). Today, she has rediscovered a passion and an exhibition is set to happen soon.

 

Some might not know this, but the creating of art releases Dopamine and science has proven the chemical helps people feel “wonderful”. On the canvas, doctors see the release of some powerful thoughts and emotions that have been internalised for a very, very long time.

There are tests too — such as DAP (draw a person) or HTP (House, tree, person) which help bring out deep-rooted issues and aid clinical psychologists in diagnosis. A patient once drew a picture of a woman with her child far away. That childhood anger had later turned into alcohol abuse and this history was traced thanks to a drawing.

 

Art therapy is becoming more acceptable. But more importantly, it proves that a few brushstrokes can reveal an image much more clearer than what a mirror can provide.

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