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
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
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.