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Alternative Therapies Picture

Alternative Complimentary Therapies

Introduction

This dissertation will consider the question, How do self-drawings in art therapy help people with schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is characterised most commonly by thought disorder, delusions and hallucinations. Thought disorder is the diminished ability to think clearly and logically. Language that makes no sense and is disconnected makes the individual incapable of participating in conversation. This contributes to their alienation from family, friends and society as a whole.
Delusions are also common. The individual may believe that they are being conspired against and think their thoughts can be heard and controlled by others.
Hallucinations can be heard, seen and felt. Most often they take the form of internal voices not heard by others. The voices can direct and describe the actions of the individual and tell them of danger. More than one voice at one time can be heard. The individual can also lack emotional expression, resulting in apathy and social withdrawal. These characteristics can leave the individual fearful and withdrawn. A patient with schizophrenia, quoted in (Henry R. Rollin), as cited in Torrey (2001, p32) gives an inside view,

What does schizophrenia mean to me? It means fatigue and confusion, it means trying to separate every experience into the real and the unreal and not sometimes being aware of where the edges overlap. It means trying to think straight when there is a maze of experiences getting in the way, and when thoughts are continually being sucked out of your head so that you become embarrassed to speak at meetings. It means feeling sometimes that you are inside your head and visualising yourself walking over your brain, or watching another girl wearing your clothes and carrying out actions as you think them. It means knowing that you are continually "watched," that you can never succeed in life because the laws are all against you and knowing that your ultimate destruction is never far away.

This dissertation will make reference to the schizophrenic symptoms and personal accounts of sufferers, including narratives from patients who have experienced engaging in artwork, in particular, drawings of the self.
Art therapy can help the individual with their schizophrenic illness. A basic definition of art therapy taken from Dalley (1984, ppxi-xii) describes art therapy as, ",.. the use of art and other visual media in a therapeutic or treatment setting." More complex definitions include work from Liebmann (1990, p13) here she states, ",..art therapy may be described as 'the use of art in the service of change on the part of the person who created the artwork'.. the willing to use art materials in an exploratory way."
A third broader definition taken from the American Art Therapy Association Newsletter as cited in (Anon, 1998, p1) suggests that,

Art therapy is a human service profession that utilizes art media, images, the creative process, and patient/client responses to the created products as reflection's of an individuals development, abilities, personality, interests, concerns, and conflicts. Art therapy practice is based on knowledge of human development and psychological theories ...