Art as therapy? Poetry as healing? Take a look at the wonderful video I’ve linked to below by Dr. David Watts, which shows how the good and gentle doctor who was the force behind the “Healing Art of Writing” conference I attended a few years back, uses poetry in the practice of medicine. This is really something. In this age of “managed” care I really would like to clone Dr. Watts, and distribute his healing gifts to every physician on the planet, especially since I’ve run into quite a few who are his opposite number. Here’s the link:
Also interesting, I heard today on NPR author/philosopher, Alain de Botton discussing his “controversial” new book, written with art historian, John Armstrong. It’s called Art as Therapy. The book proposes that just looking at familiar masterpieces can be therapeutic, and talks about how art can help us manage the tensions and confusions of everyday life. The book suggests that art has seven functions, to teach us about such things as love, hope, suffering, and remembering. For example, Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter helps us “focus on what we want to be loved for;” Serra’s Fernando Pessoa reminds us of the “importance of dignity in suffering. Hmm. Interesting.
Guess which of the functions of art this painting by Matisse represents? Okay, I’ll tell you: HOPE!
On NPR, deBotton said he had been given the project to actually rearrange the art in a certain museum in the Netherlands, not according to the standard way, usually by date or artistic “period,” which he says is a nonsensical way of arranging it. Instead, he’s working on arranging the art according to its psychological effect on the viewer. And he gets to put new captions on the paintings too!
Well, of course art is therapeutic. Creativity is the source of all healing. Doesn’t seem controversial to me.