Psychologist and Jungian analyst in Barcelona and online.

27 December, 2021

Art and the body in depression and anxiety

Psychological problems are sometimes treated with a mixture of medication and guidelines. If the mind does not react, one or both parts are changed. Nothing to say.

But there are other ways of approaching mental health, perhaps less direct but more holistic.

Art, whether as spectators or creators, and the body in its sensorial component, are two factors to take into account, as the former stimulates the right hemisphere of our brain and the latter is susceptible to produce, through affective contact, emotions of peace, serenity or bonding, among others.

If art allows our unconscious to find channels of expression or symbols in which to recognise itself, the body is the most primitive, basic essence of our being in the world.
If it is “psychologically inert”, abandoned in emotional-affective paralysis, or on the contrary, compulsive, anxious, satisfaction-seeking, or used exclusively as a showcase without being worthy of affection, there is something wrong and that can also prevent the overcoming of a psychological problem.

-When we pet a dog or cat, and we do it because we love it and it relaxes us, the animal can fall into a deep sleep. On the other hand, we find it very difficult to “caress” a person, especially in Western societies where loneliness and lack of affection, at all ages, not only in the elderly, is one of the most serious problems today, and the forecasts for the future are even worse.

What are we if we only count when we are perceived or perceive ourselves as functional? That is to say, as efficient in some sense, even in psychology we do not allow the tiredness of the body and mind, which sometimes need to rest, to stop, to be treated with delicacy. Psychic exhaustion, emptiness, exhaustion are diagnosed and medicated but, on some occasions, a human bond is required, closeness, even that closeness of animals that wrap themselves up and support each other, without words.

Creativity, through painting, writing, music, theatre or dance, among others, allows us to leave rational thought behind and immerse ourselves in sometimes unknown spheres, proper, as I have already mentioned, to the right hemisphere.

In some films, novels, contemplating paintings, we can find answers to what is happening to us. It is even better if we decide to express what we feel, what we carry inside, and we channel it through creativity.

And the body, beyond sex (which is the only thing it is used for in our societies and, some also, for sport), requires physical contact, affective interaction, to feel loved, calm, connected,… Some groups of monkeys simply rest on each other, delouse, groom, cuddle, do we think we are so different? It is not about creating silly societies of lazy people, but of strong, determined, enterprising and courageous people who also, through their courage, dare to express their feelings and their need for physical connection, and not only with their partner. Because affection, in its full extent, goes far beyond a partner, and far beyond sex.

Almost everyone can, in spite of the circumstances experienced and the problems diagnosed, find inner balance through a progressive repair of the deficiencies. And, obviously, therapeutic words and perhaps medication will be necessary, but if we are able to integrate the artistic, either as receivers or creators, in our life and body through the senses, we can advance a lot in our improvement and integration as people, and in our mental health.

Damián Ruiz
Barcelona, December 23rd, 2021


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