Psychiatrists at Brugmann University Hospital in Brussels, Belgium will be able to write a “museum prescription” that encourages patients and their friends and family to visit one or more of Brussels’ cultural institutions.
The initiative is a six-month pilot program starting in September, 2022 to evaluate the impact of cultural institutions on mental health and well-being. This is the latest in a number of studies and initiatives that correlate mental health with the experience of art.
“Art museums have great potential to positively impact people, including reducing their stress, enhancing positive emotional experiences, and helping people to feel less lonely and more connected,” said Katherine Cotter, Postdoctoral Fellow, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
What Is Art?
Art is a word which summarizes the quality of communication. If art speaks to you, it has achieved its purpose in communicating a message. What does art say? In the first place art produces an emotional impact.
Art is not just observed. The observer contributes back to the art — one contributes one’s own interpretations, emotions, or motions; one discusses it with others. Thus art is a curative for loneliness, which is simply a lack of communication.
The Psychiatric Connection
The highest level of spiritual sensation is aesthetics, and beauty is a consideration of aesthetics. Unfortunately, psychiatry denies the beauty in all of us.
Psychiatry and psychology have a long history of attacking creativity and artists. For years, psychiatrists and psychologists have labeled the creative mind as a mental “disorder,” mischaracterizing an artist’s “feverish brilliance” as a manic phase of craziness, or melancholic performances as depression. Vision was redefined as hallucination.
Psychiatrists notoriously and falsely “diagnosed” the creative mind as a “mental disorder,” invalidating the artist’s abilities as “neurosis.” They lectured on the supposedly thin line dividing madness and sanity.
This current effort to promote art for the rehabilitation of mental trauma is welcome indeed. One must, however, be vigilant that traditional biological psychiatry does not usurp and corrupt this healing method as they have done in the past.
People in desperate circumstances must be provided proper and effective care. Sound medical (not psychiatric) attention, good nutrition, a healthy, safe environment, and opportunities for participation in aesthetics will do far more for a troubled person than the normal psychiatric “treatments” of repeated drugging, electroshocks and other psychiatric abuses.