"The primary benefit of practicing art, whether well or badly, is that it enables one's soul to grow."
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and psycho/social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This relationship between our mind, body and soul is crucial to our healing as well as maintaining our health and sense of wellbeing.
Scientists in the field of “psychoneuroimmunology” (PIN) have shown that state of mind affects one's state of health and that stress suppresses the immune system.
Initial studies began in the early 1980s, and in 2000 psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, and immunologist Ronald Glaser, PhD, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine who began to notice the effect stress had on the body’s ability to fight off disease. Since then a flood of studies have been done and by 2004, Suzanne Segerstrom, PhD, of the University of Kentucky, and Gregory Miller, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, research has shown that long-term or chronic stress can ravage the immune system.
There is significant research to demonstrate the positive effects of “trauma writing” on the immune system but very little has been done with the creation of art images. Studies in this area are much needed.
Scientists in the field of PIN are beginning to research theses sort of questions (www.pnirs.org)
No one argues that coping with a life threatening disease illicits extreme stress, producing overwhelming intense feelings that are difficult to articulate. These vast arrays of complex feelings are not speech ready but lie festering just below the psyche’s surface. Suppressed anger, fear, loss of control and even a sense of betrayal can often overcome cancer patients and their families, resulting in a toxic environment of stress.
The creative process gives symbolic voice to these emotions that consume cancer patients during these times, enabling them to move past their “normal” known range of expression into the silent cathartic realm of color, shape, texture, and image. In order to have the energy for surgery, treatment, recovery, and healing, these confusing feelings need to be expressed.
Creating a Healing Icon® begins this process
This video accompanies
the oncology exhibition,
Sometimes Words Are
Download the complete article about the science of the creation of art images in coping with stress and related illness.