I am continually surprised and delighted by the articles and "press" on art and creativity and the positive influences on the healing process.
Huffington Post's Arts reporter Priscilla Frank recently wrote about her own experience with disease: her father's brain surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where the hospital walls are adorned with museum-quality art (including pieces by Klee, Chagall, Frankenthaler, Rauschenberg.) The art gave her "space to breathe" by breaking the fatigue, nausea and depression she was experiencing during her father's journey with illness.
Intuitively, most of us know that creativity and art changes our perspectives and makes us feel better. I always tell the patients I work with that creativity gets you out of your head and into your heart where the healing process begins. Now, research is finally catching up to intuition and experiential knowledge. A recent study conducted by U.C. Berkeley determined that experiencing art may lower inflammation in the body, the type of inflammation that leads to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
In the experiment, 200 young adults detailed how much they experienced wonder and amazement in a given day. Researchers then obtained samples of gum and cheek tissue (oral mucosal transudate), finding that those who claimed to have experienced greater levels of wonder and amazement had the lowest levels of cytokine interleukin 6 -- a marker of inflammation. Cytokine is necessary to the body for fighting infection, but in large quantities, it can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and even Alzheimer's.
For the full research pdf, Positive Emotions, Positive Health, please click here.