Just read an excellent article on the website theconversation.com about how creativity is a natural way for the brain to help process trauma. Trauma by its nature is overwhelming – so the brain cannot deal with and store what is happening in the usual way. With normal events, memories are stored using words:
“This makes it easy to recall and describe memories from the past. However, because traumatic events are processed when under extreme distress they cannot be properly assembled together and remembered as a coherent narrative, and so are stored in non-declarative memory, which operates unconsciously and is not processed in words.”
Creative arts have been observed to be helpful in particular situations: creative writing with refugees, drama with soldiers and photography with mental health of HIV/Aids affected women.
What do the creative arts offer?
- help to people to remember and process the events
- help the recaller distance himself/herself a little from the trauma to creatively share the experience with others
- may help reconnect cultures divided by violence (e.g. drama)
- it is often nonverbal, so aids those who struggle to find words for their emotional reactions
- help without drugs and medicinal side-effects
- an accompaniment to word-based listening, where appropriate
The article I read was mostly about the works/writings of Professor Bessel Van der Volk and his book “The Body keeps the Score”. Catch the article, written bySenior Lecturer in Abnormal/Clinical Psychology, Bath Spa University at: