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Alternative Complimentary Therapies

Chapter 4 Part 2

Thus, the schizophrenics art experience, again can help them become better aware and understand their illness.
Pictures created by the patient can piece together their inner and outer worlds. The use of self-figure drawings with a schizophrenic can help to distinguish their different feelings, anxieties and confusion that may make up their self image at that present time. Dalley, Rifkind and Terry (1993) This in turn may lead the patient to an understanding of their disturbed thinking, perception and behaviour.

Boundary violation is expressed by a schizophrenic sufferer called Craig, "I felt as though this E.T. being had entered my body." Craig as cited in Emmons et al (1984, pp131-132)

This symptom of having no boundary between yourself and others could be recognised as hindering the internal search for identity, that is prevalent in many schizophrenics. A self-portrait used in this incidence could help make the patient feel real.

An article found in the Schizophrenia Digest, May/June 2001 explores art experiences by individuals who have schizophrenia. Three male sufferers offer accounts of how artistic expression helps them cope with feelings and experiences related to their illness. Moreau (2001, p17) writes about one of the boys called, Bob, eighteen years old, "Drawing has often been a way to cope with feelings and experiences related to his illness." Greg, twenty eight years old also a schizophrenic, as cited in Moreau (2001, p18) discusses how drawing helps him express ideas and thoughts that words can not, "The pictures are great for getting information out,..."

Although not specific to self-portraits these comments highlight the importance and the need to engage in drawings in order for schizophrenic individuals to gain an understanding for themselves and for others what is happening to them and how it is effecting their perception of the outside world.

Dalley, T, Rifkind, G, and Terry, K (1993, p103) write a therapist's interpretation to a patient who was feeling crowded and who drew himself in the middle of a large crowd of people. "When demands are so pressing, thinking and feeling merge and act to create internal confusion and anxiety... The external world becomes a frightening place since it deprives you of the possibility of feeling in some control." Gaining control over their lives is one important factor that the patient needs to feel they have. When identifying the advantages of art therapy for long term sufferers Liebmann (1990, p76) supports the importance for the individual gaining control, noting, "It allows for the possibility of the individual being more in control and of being able to influence the direction of their own life more independently."

There are a great number of benefits for the schizophrenic sufferer. To gain an understanding and some form of control over the illness would indeed change the individuals perception of who they are and how they see themselves within the real world that surrounds them.

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