The regular practice of narrative medicine and arts therapy has been proven to lower blood pressure, regulate breathing and heart rates, promote short and long term positive mood changes, decrease feelings of depression, isolation and loneliness, reduce chronic pain, and improve memory.
Here are some of the scientists and scholars who are studying the tangible health benefits of narrative medicine today:
Greenhalgh, Trisha. “Narrative based medicine in a evidence based world.” PMC. N.p., 30 Jan. 1999. Web. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1114786/
This source explains the importance of Narrative Medicine and how it has been devalued by those who feel it is too subjective. This source explains that relying on evidence alone is not enough to diagnose a patient, and establishing a dialogue and conversation using narrative medicine techniques allows clinicians to better understand and diagnose potential medical anomalies.
Bromberg, R. (2008, March 14). “Poetry and Medicine.” The Medscape Journal of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2329765/
Poetry can sharpen listening, attentiveness, observation, and analytical skills. It can refine the artistic side of medicine; poetry allows us to express ourselves, fosters creativity, and accepts ambiguity. It enhances empathy, self-awareness, and introspection. Poetry about illness addresses not only the symptoms of illness, but the experience of it, creating a space where emotions and responses are valued.
Cohen, G. D. (2006). “Research on Creativity and Aging: The Positive Impact of the Arts on Health and Illness.” Generations, 30(1), 7-15.
This article discusses creativity and aging, and the role of the arts on health and illness in the latter half of life. In the twentieth century, aging was associated with negative changes affected by the advance of time. However, the establishment of the National Institute of Mental Health and the Institute on Aging has begun to reverse that previous paradigm. According to Cohen, research on development and psychological growth in the latter half of life has resulted in an increased understanding of the capability for positive change and creative expression within this period.
Lawrence, L., Salib, C., Rivera, E., Williams, R., & Anyaegbunam, J. (n.d.). The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.theintima.org/poetry.html
The Intima is an electronic journal dedicated to promoting the theory and practice of Narrative Medicine, an interdisciplinary field aiming to enhance health care through the development of effective communication and understanding between caregivers and their patients. By providing an online venue for the expression of personal experience within the medical arena, The Intima creates a space for caregivers, professionals, patients, and families to share their narratives in a format that fosters empathy, reflection, and a deeper understanding of the diversity inherent in effective delivery of care.
Malchiodi, C. (2013, September 9). Creative Art Therapy and Attachment Work. Arts and Health. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201309/creative-art-therapy-and-attachment-work
There is a growing understanding in the field of art therapy about the neurobiology of how early sensory intervention supports positive and successful attachment between a caregiver and child. In Creative Arts and Play Therapy with Attachment Problems, Dr. David Crenshaw, along with a group of experts, examines the broader topic of just how play, art, music, dance/movement, and drama therapies are effective approaches to enhance attachment.
Noelker, P. (2013, June 11). How the Arts Can Improve Your Health. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-s-noelker-phd/how-the-arts-can-improve-_b_3423249.html
An increasing body of research shows that participating in creative and performing arts programs has beneficial effects on your health and well-being across the lifespan. Research scientists and professional artists convened by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., in March, 2011, showcased their research findings and state-of-the-art programs with proven positive effects on cognitive health, physical health, and social well-being.
Stuckey, H., & Nobel, J. (n.d.). The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/
The idea that creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process has been embraced in many different cultures. Throughout recorded history, people have used pictures, stories, dances, and chants as healing rituals.