Creative Healing Theories
From Art as a Healing Force
“How does art heal? Scientific studies tell us that art heals by changing a person's physiology and attitude. The body's physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation, from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration. Art and music put a person in a different brain wave pattern, art and music affect a person's autonomic nervous system, their hormonal balance and their brain neurotransmitters.
Art and music affect every cell in the body instantly to create a healing physiology that changes the immune system and blood flow to all the organs. Art and Music also immediately change a person's perceptions of their world. They change attitude, emotional state, and pain perception. They create hope and positivity and they help people cope with difficulties. They transform a person's outlook and way of being in the world.
In fact it is now known by neurophysiologists that art, prayer, and healing all come from the same source in the body, they all are associated with similar brain wave patterns, mind body changes and they all are deeply connected in feeling and meaning. Art, prayer, and healing all take us into our inner world, the world of imagery and emotion, of visions and feelings. This journey inward into what used to be called the spirit or soul and is now called the mind, is deeply healing. For healing comes to us from within, our own healing resources are freed to allow our immune system to operate optimally and that is always how we heal. This is the contemporary version of freeing our healing energies and is now recognized to be crucial to healing. We go inward on The Creative Spiral together through art and music.”In my research on doll making and healing,
I have embraced several theories that support this creative modality of art and healing dollmaking.
The fundamental principal of the art therapies is that they provide opportunities to make concrete objects that represent feelings and thoughts that are elusive, hidden, and mysterious. The process of the artmaking, as well as the art, offers something to dialogue about and with, which is less threatening than talking about the difficulties directly. Artmaking can clear away emotional debris; allow you to embrace pain, wound, or illness; and reclaim your wholeness.
Expressive Arts Therapy
This emphasizes the artistic process as a means of emotional expression and release. It is similar to art therapy and may use dance, movement, narrative, and poetry to help a person open up and heal. The artwork is not used as a diagnostic tool because it is believed that only the person who created the work knows the meaning inherent in it.
Scientific studies tell us that art heals by changing a person’s physiology and attitude. The body’s physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation; from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration. All the fine arts—including visual art, music, dance, and writing—put a person into a different brain wave pattern. They affect the autonomic nervous system, hormonal balance, and brain neurotransmitters.
Psychoneuroimmunology is the science of how thoughts and emotions influence health. The underlying theory of this science is that the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected and that an individual cannot treat one without affecting another. It also suggests the ultimate healing must come from within the individual, that we all have a mind and a soul that influences and creates who we are—even our illness. This also means our minds have an equal capacity to make us well. Scientists of this theory study the impact of emotions on the central nervous and immune systems. They have proven that painful emotions unresolved and unexpressed for long periods of time have a direct and measurable effect on the immune system and the development of illness and disease. Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion, challenged conventional science and those in the total-wellness field to reconsider how our bodies think, feel, and heal. She suggests that “where emotions are instigated, is also where unexpressed emotions are stored. The catharsis of illness expresses the sudden, overwhelming release of information that has been trapped in our bodies.”
Imagery and Healing
This is commonly referred to as visualization; it is the work of the relationship between the body and the imagination. It is used as a tool in dream work, hypnosis, trance, biofeedback, and meditation. You will see this discussed along with left and right brain theory. We all share and associate with universal images dependent upon the culture we were raised in. Joseph Campbell, mythologist and writer, researched and wrote about this extensively.
Gate Control Theory of Pain Management
Dollmaker and occupational therapist Pamela Hastings talks about this theory in Dollmaking as a Transformative Process. According to the gate control theory of pain, our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions may affect how much pain we feel. The fundamental basis for this theory is the belief that psychological as well as physical factors guide the brain’s interpretation of painful sensations and the subsequent response. For example, many athletes do not experience pain during the intense activity of the game. After the game, when they turn their attention to their injuries, the pain suddenly appears to come from nowhere. Many pain sufferers find their pain is worst when they feel depressed and hopeless—feelings that may open the pain gate—but that it’s not so bothersome when they are focused on doing something that demands attention or is enjoyable. Although the physical cause of pain may be identical, the perception of pain is dramatically different. Pam says, and I would agree, that blocking the pain with a “buzz,” like mental involvement in doll making, can block out worries and pain, leaving space for the body to relax and heal itself.
Narrative psychology asserts that the stories we tell about our lives contain all the clues for what we believe, what afflicts us, and how to heal. The details of the story are more important than a diagnosis, and the storytelling allows the person to search for the answers within details of the story.
Neurocience and Neuro-Aesthetics
Neuroscience, also known as Neural Science, is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions. Not only is neuroscience concerned with the normal functioning of the nervous system, but also what happens to the nervous system when people have neurological, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. Neuro-aesthetics is the study of art by neuroscientists.