Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

6. the Healing Power of Art-Therapy

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

6. the Healing Power of Art-Therapy

Article excerpt


Art may heal various pathological states. This idea is very old and was applied since Antiquity. "Major figures of those times like Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Pythagoras recommended for therapeutic purposes the contemplation of art works.'"237 When looking at an art work you feel obliged to focus on it, you forget about the problems bothering you. In China and Japan the virtues of art were used to treat precarious psychological states. This therapy stimulated the process of getting healthier. "For healing physical and mainly psychic states, the patients were recommended to pain or draw in nature. It was also a therapy through color."235

In recent times, medical research strengthened the conclusion that the therapeutic virtues of the art are related to the type and topic of the works, to the intellectual training and to the patient's sickness. In case of chronic melancholies and severe depressions, the use of therapy through colors started to be broadly applied in the US, Japan, China, ex-USSR, France etc. Research showed that not any work of art had a positive impact on health. Some works by their chromatics and topic have an unsettling effect and, therefore, must be avoided in the therapy of patients.

In Leningrad, the therapy through art was used to treat diseases of internal organs: hepatic, gastric and pancreatic diseases as the sick were put in front of some works creating a very favorable psychic state and thus increasing the efficiency of some drugs. The therapeutic sessions of looking at some famous art works made by brilliant painters and sculptors such as: Delacroix, Goya, Rodin, Braque were short but these were repeated for 5-10 times a day by projection on color devices or by visits to museums. The results of this experiment were sensational.

The changing of the psychic state of the patient, the elimination of stress and the beneficial effect of colors, all of these improved the healing of some organic and functional diseases in a faster way compared to the usual therapies. We have to underline that when this is abused and the brain gets tired by many viewings, hearing and sight disturbances may occur as well as hallucinations, angst or disorders of the heart rhythm. Some patients may experience the "Stendhal syndrome" discovered by the famous author. This syndrome occurs many times in tourists who, in a very short time, look at the famous art collections of museums sitting for hours and hours and getting tired, experiencing stress states, physical and psychic fatigue. It begins with anxiety, a state of relentless panic and then a form of uncontrollable euphoria can be triggered. "The art-therapy has a broad applicability as it is used mainly for the rehabilitation, stimulation and development of children and adults with physical and mental disabilities but also for personal development and in education, respectively in prevention."239

The working models practiced in Romania starting from the 90s, together with the information transfer especially in practice, made by various charity NGOs, are homologated and come from the UK, France and Germany, countries with a tradition in the research / development of art-therapy and related techniques. Visual arts, music, literature, physical exercises, dancing, theater and puppet shows are the main components of these techniques. In Romania, the specialists and the NGOs they represented opted for a plan with long-term effects, with an incidence at national level with the aim of helping as many beneficiaries as possible. After 1990, the Romanian movement of art-therapy grew and development of several levels of professionalization. Gradually, a critical mass of professionals was created who work in various rehabilitation centers and local NGOs from all over the country and who have the same source of initial training. Positive results soon followed as well as the desire of the coordinators and the authorities to extend this successful model. …

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