Why We Need the Arts in Medicine

Check out this article by Gary Christenson, M.D., on the value of including the arts in both medical education and healthcare in general.

Here’s a break down of the main topics:

1. Studying the arts makes medical students into better doctors

2. The arts have therapeutic benefits

3. The arts can help prevent disease

4. The arts can improve the patient experience

5. The arts can promote physician well-being

Hat tip— the Art Therapy Alliance on Twitter.

After Brain Damage, the Creative Juices Flow For Some

From the LA Times:

“Before the stroke in 1997, her mixed-media paintings featured strange and cryptic images: medieval seals, transvestites, bingo cards. Reviewers called her work cerebral and deliberate. Creativity, says the UC Berkeley professor, was an intellectual and often angst-filled struggle.

After the stroke, she could no longer paint on canvases mounted vertically, so she laid them flat, moving around them in a chair with wheels. She learned how to work with her left hand; it had less fine motor control but was more free and natural in its movements. She began to use different, less toxic types of paint, which led to new kinds of visual effects.

And she began to more deeply explore the beauty of blood vessels in the brain after seeing some of her own brain scans.

Critics called the new work intuitive and raw, more vibrant, abstract, expressive.”

Artists and Activists in Burma

Hat tip: Sara Windrem for emailing this article from Smithsonian Magazine to me.

Yangon’s tiny avant-garde community has been putting on secret exhibitions in spaces hidden throughout this decrepit city—in violation of the censorship laws that require every piece of art to be vetted for subversive content by a panel of “experts.”

“We have to be extremely cautious,” says Zoncy, a diminutive 24-year-old woman who paints at the studio. “We are always aware of the danger of spies.”

Nigeria—The Importance of Art Education

Taken from the Nigerian paper, The Compass, Kent Onah observes that teaching children a curriculum that excludes art does them (and by default the nation) a great disservice. Without creativity, innovation will not take place.

“…The polymer scientists needs some artistic knowledge to be able to come up with good polymeric innovations. The industrial designer must basically be an artist first if he/she can create useful and attractive products. The food technologist must first have a basic knowledge of art to perform effectively. The psychoanalyst or psychiatrist can not treat effectively all the time without employing art therapy.

As mentioned earlier, the medical doctors and surgeons depend on artistic illustrations to treat and to teach.

The environmental designers must basically be talented artists. The list is endless. The active presence of art in the curriculum will help the child to communicate better by exposing him/her to other outlets of communication beyond his/her mother tongue and verbal communication.

The creative process involved in the teaching or production of art helps to break the monotony in the study of other courses. As art is activity based, it adds variance to the teaching and learning process, thereby breaking boredom and encouraging more assimilation and better understanding. Art develops and improves the imaginative power of a child as well as encourage him/her to observe greater details in appreciating his/her culture and environment.

The inclusion of art studies in the school curriculum will help to discover as ‘well as treat or proffer solution to a child with psychological problem at its earliest stage. It will encourage resourcefulness among our youths and empower them toward self- reliance. It will expose the child to the endless potentials of art as a humanizing experience.

Above all, it will reawaken an interest in the visual arts which is the basic ingredient on which science and technology rely for their ultimate success…”

Arts and Science Reading

Taken from Science Daily, here are some articles that got me thinking. Hopefully you’ll find them inspirational too.

  • 2006: A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that art therapy can reduce a broad spectrum of symptoms related to pain and anxiety in cancer patients.

  • 2008: Art Therapy Useful to Treat Mental Disease

  • 2009: Drawing Enhances Verbalization In Children Of Drug-Addicts

  • January 2010: Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Program Uses Art to Engage at-Risk Kids and Identify Needs

  • 2009: 3-D Printing Hits Rock-Bottom Prices With Homemade Ceramics Mix

  • 2006: Scientists Develop Artwork That Changes To Suit Your Mood

  • 2009: Do Computers Understand Art?