Week 10 Question: Beauty and the Arts

We began this week’s classes with a reference to the Haitian myth of Anacaona, the Golden Flower. At the end of the recent Candler concert dedicated to this great goddess, a member of the audience rose to address the musician and the poet on stage. She introduced herself as a Grady trauma ward nurse, and thanked the artists for sharing their art, stating that immersing herself in the beauty of music and poetry was her way of coming to terms with the death of her patients when sadly that happened. She said that the arts allowed her to hold their hands and to be with them when medicine could go no further. Reflect on this as you analyze the echoes of sorrow and pain that we  experienced this week in art, hymn, poetry, music, theater, and class performance.

Do not forget to go back to your initial group work in class, many weeks ago, when you reacted to the question “what does sorrow look like?” that I scanned and placed in the same “Class Teaching Tools” conference on Google. Besides the multiple exemplifications of the Stabat Mater theme, also include the poem by Emily Dickinson. If feasible, you are welcome to incorporate the last sculpture we touched upon: the ancient Roman sculpture illustrating an old woman, an alcoholic.

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16 Responses to Week 10 Question: Beauty and the Arts

  1. Matthew Brandon Fine says:

    The arts bring about an emotional state that is often not seen or even disallowed in the medical field. The story of the trauma nurse reminds me of a picture that went viral recently of an ER doctor collapsing outside of his hospital after he lost a young patient, and it was refreshing to see someone in the medical profession expressing sorrow or some sort of emotion for his patients.This entire course we have spoken about the physician and the patient being two separate entities which can hinder the sharing of sorrow. While I know little of the Haitian legend of Anacaona the other examples of sorrow play well with this theme.

    I think the Dickinson poem is one of the greatest examples of the all consuming nature of sorrow. As we discussed, she fought her own battle with mental health in a time where those issues were much less understood and often disregarded. Those that are in sorrow can not think of a time were they weren’t feeling that pain nor can they think of a future without it. This is something that many doctors are not prepared to confront or are incapable of confronting. But when we confront it in a medium such as literature or poetry, it allows us to imagine such a life and connect to it and meet patients on a common ground rather than the power struggle that we have discussed all semester.

    And hearing others sorrow, such as in Stabat Mater or Anacaona I feel this would give us a stronger response than reading about sorrow. Hearing is one of our most important senses in respects to making a connection with others. So when we listen to Stabat Mater we get to assume Mary’s point of view and feel the pain of losing a son. Then we were presented with the performance where the language was mixed with gibberish, her tones and inflections were enough to elicit an emotional response; however, we were also aided with her body language and the visual cues of sorrow we had discussed earlier in the week, though in my opinion her language was much more effective at bringing me into the scene.

  2. Courtni Alexis Andrews says:

    “Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” – John Lubbock

    I’d like to believe the art, in its various forms, is a way to touch upon a part of the human experience that is hard to describe at times. It transcends categories, ages and periods of time because a single piece of art can be related to. It can evoke emotions that connect us to each other while connecting us back to our own humanity, by tracing our memories back to our past, present and future. And by doing so, we sometimes remove old wounds by closing the chapter on an event in our life, or we are finally allowed to grieve once we acknowledge what has happened, rather than subconsciously placing the memories on a shelf to be dealt with later in our minds. For the Grady trauma nurse, experiencing art through the concert was a way for her to heal and also connect to her patients, possibly in ways she never thought she could find possible. And that’s the beauty of art.

    Like life, sorrow has different meanings and connections to it that vary depending on the person. I imagine sorrow as a feeling of emptiness in someone – a feeling of hysteria that wants to be extinguished, but with the circumstances that have befallen that person, there is no way to go forward, without certain people, places or things they have loved to be lost. However, as Emily Dickinson’s poem on pain illustrated, sorrow is an entity that takes a life of pain, suffering and agony once it becomes part of our stories that is similar in feelings for many, but different in how it is revisited and created for others. However, as we carry pain and sorrow with us, we are enlightened and challenged by it – we also become more emphatic with the world around us by understanding how it feels to hurt and feel that without meaning, our life may not be what it is meant to be or how it should be. We are “enlightened to perceive new periods of pain” by experiencing sorrow in its forms for us.

    And it’s not an easy feat to be able to see our sorrows and pains are a part of life. As the ancient Roman sculpture illustrating an old woman as an alcoholic evokes, sometimes finding the answer is not because we don’t know how to solve the problem, but because solving it may have challenges that come with it. There are several studies in psychology that illustrate that many patients know what’s wrong with them after their diagnosis is given by their doctors and healthcare providers, but their behavior, in regards to how they’ll treat their symptoms, only changes when the life is in danger. And even then, sometimes behavior won’t change. Therefore, sometimes to heal, we must be in the midst of our greatest downfall while knowingly aware of why.

    However, I think life is meant to be in balance – not so much that for every sense of loss or pain that we have, we gain something in a physical sense, but we are transformed to a new plane of our own existence by being able to see our own humanity in its fullest form and appreciate it for what it is. In addition, we’re able to reach out to our friends, families and communities and see people for who they are – as fellow human beings. So, if human sorrow and pain help us become more human, then it is something we need, even we don’t want it. And the arts helps facilitates that.

  3. Kayleigh Jo Moss says:

    We tend to think of sorrow and pain as the low points in our lives. They are the ugly moments when we are at our worst. This week I was reminded of how beautiful the human condition is. It is a condition laden with sorrow, but it is infinitely beautiful. The beauty that lies in sorrow is not the suffering or pain. The beauty in sorrow is that it knows no language. Sorrow is a universal human emotion. I may never know the pain of losing a child, but when I read “Mary Under the Cross” I will still succumb to the sorrow the play evokes within me. I don’t have to know why the woman in the sculpture is an alcoholic because I understand Emily Dickinson’s words about pain and the hopelessness that we have all felt at times. I hurt for the woman in this statue because I can imagine the suffering and sorrow that drove her to where she is now. However, at the same time it is so easy to dismiss her as a drunken old woman. I am reminded of Judy’s story earlier in the semester of an Italian play in which an older woman was dressed almost clown-like in clothes that did not fit and wearing poorly, yet overdone make-up. At first, the image was comedic, but as the story progressed we saw the sorrow of old age that drove the woman to this point. I feel like our natural instinct is to block out sorrow. We don’t want to feel pain, so we often try to stifle our feelings or dismiss the pain of others. Doing this, however, takes away a core part of what makes us human – our ability to empathize.

    I feel that in bringing various themes together to analyze the patient/healthcare provider relationship throughout this semester, we have done a very good job at bringing awareness to problems in healthcare in regard to how the patient receives care. I have been forming these quilt pieces in my mind of things a healthcare provider should be privy to. This weeks’ lecture sewed all of the pieces together for me. None of the things we have talked about matter if we don’t care. Sorrow is something that binds us all, yet is something we often overlook in others. So easily, we dismiss other people’s sorrow. Likewise, we try to hide our own sorrows from others, yet yearn for them to be discovered. We want people to feel our pain, but don’t want to be a burden. Understanding this is essential to working in healthcare. The healthcare provider must be able to empathize with their patients in the midst of a bad diagnosis. They should be able to listen to the sorrows of the patients and serve as a comforter when they can do nothing else. Yet, at the same time they must be able to release their own sorrows and find ways to cope. For many, like the nurse at Grady, this may be through the arts and understanding the beauty that lies in sorrow. Doctors have the highest rates of suicide by profession and I feel this is directly linked to taking in so much pain and suffering without an outlet.

    Throughout the semester, we have discussed many facets of communication in medicine and public health. This weeks’ topic is just as important to communication. In our current healthcare model, the patient and healthcare provider know little about each other’s lives. Still, there is a commonality in each of us that supersedes every formality and communication barrier in the doctor’s office: sorrow. Yet, unless we open ourselves up to truly feel and express sorrow, we risk losing that commonality which makes us human and stifling our emotions and those of others.

  4. Olha Seredyuk says:

    I think the Candler concert experience helped the Grady nurse prolong the experience she had with her patients, and gave her the time she needed to sit with memories of them, to revel in the connection she made, and accept that the care she gave them was enough (I imagine healthcare professionals bear a lot of guilt). I think every act of love does survive, even if the people we act on behalf of may not survive in the end; perhaps that is what comes with the responsibility of caring for them. While mainstream culture tells us to hurry, the arts tell us to take our time. I love going to the Symphony, because I have to sit in one place with myself. Music, just like poetry, theatre, or a painting can wash over you if you let it and just as Courtni has said – heal (healing takes time). Sometimes I cry during parts of the concert, but the time I have there is preciously mine. To connect this to the doctor-patient relationship, I think doctors should inquire about the personal life of patient. What does the patient enjoy doing, what calms them, what gives them the perception of more time? The doctor should encourage the patient to spend time in nature or a particular place, for example, or if it’s necessary ideally “bring” that place to the patient via photos. Acknowledging that contemporary medicine has strict limits on time, the doctor should encourage these kinds of activities, besides following the treatment plan or taking prescribed medication, realizing that the human patient is also able to heal outside the four walls of their hospital room.

    A few weeks ago, during my commute home, I think I figured out for myself what sorrow is associated with – love. As a class, we agreed that sorrow was much deeper than sadness. If you have a bad day, you might be sad, but that is temporary. If you lose someone you love, or think you are unlovable, however, sorrow is most likely to follow you. Dickinson’s poems reflect this for me, because her mental state was misunderstood and I feel that she often felt terribly unloved. Sorrow is what I saw in my mother’s eyes when she lost her mother, my grandmother, recently – even though she was thousands of miles away from her childhood home. Sorrow is what I heard in my friend’s voice when his wife collapsed in a Starbucks and died on the spot in January. During the eulogy at her funeral, I did not hear words; I do not remember his words. I heard tears and sighs and wailing – it was a kind of melody. Perhaps it was very much like Mother Mary’s, standing at the foot of the Cross, seeing her only Son dying. I agree with Matt that it’s much more powerful and gripping to hear sorrow, rather than read about it. That is why a crucial component of the doctor-patient relationship is communication of feelings beyond the medical record and the ability to listen in order to hear emotions and empathize with them. Health is, after all, the physical, social and MENTAL (i.e. emotional, spiritual) well being combined (WHO definition paraphrased, 1948).

    • Olha Seredyuk says:

      *Please note at the end of the first paragraph, when I mention using photos to “bring” a feeling of time or memory of a place (i.e.”happy place”) to a patient – that is just one example I thought of and used. Sounds, people, and other objects work just as well to make that association. The idea is that when a healthcare professional (doctor, nurse, other) cares deeply and long enough for a patient, they are willing humanize care and accept that while they might be treating a physical condition, it exists in tandem with an emotional/mental/spiritual one as well.

  5. Amelia Elizabeth Van Pelt says:

    In “Stabat Matar Dolorosa”, Pergolisi writes, “Through her heart, His sorrow sharing”. The hymn illustrates Mary’s compassion for Christ, for she feels in the suffering of her son. This idea exists in the patient-physician relationship as well, because physicians learn that they ought to practice compassionate medicine. For example, studies conclude that compassionate care results in greater patient satisfaction and better health outcomes. We have discussed this idea of caring for an individual rather than just treating an individual, in which the physician overcomes the dehumanizing nature of medicine on the patients. Unfortunately, however, physicians often refrain from expressing emotion due to cultural norms of professionalism.

    As a result of withholding immense amounts of sadness or grief, physicians often become overwhelmed with pain. The overwhelming sense of pain often leads to an emotional breakdown. As Matthew alluded to, an incredibly powerful photograph of an Emergency Room physician bent down outside of the hospital surfaced on the internet. To begin with, the viewer can only see the back of the doctor. Thus, the image conveys pain through body language, as discussed in class with the photograph of the sculpture of the drunk woman. In addition, the position of the physician on the sidewalk outside of the hospital makes a strong statement as well; the physician had to leave the hospital in order to express his emotions. Moreover, if individuals do not have the ability to relieve their emotions, then a feeling of numbness can occur. In Emily Dickinson’s poem, she states, “Pain has an element of blank”. Intense pain overwhelms a soul, thus producing emotional numbness, and this emotional numbness can lead to sorrow.

    Arts provide an opportunity to express the aforementioned emotions and sorrow. For example, the Grady nurse connected with the musical production, because she could “come to terms” with the deaths of her patients. The arts gave her with the socially acceptable space to deal with her pain. Furthermore, she articulated, “Arts allowed her to hold their [the patients’] hands and to be with them when medicine could go no further.” Thus, the arts fill gaps that medicine, either technical for the patients or professional for the physicians, creates.

  6. Kristine Rosenberger says:

    In medicine it is a commonly held belief that one must develop a hard exterior in order to cope with the psychological demands of dealing with patients on the verge of death. It seems that if a physician allows himself to become too attached to a patient and forms a connection beyond that expected of the patient-physician relationship he risks putting himself through great pain should the patient under go any sort of harm. However regardless of the fact that medicine is ultimately a profession with great associated and some patients cannot be revived it is human nature to become attached. Thus one cannot blame the physician while he crumbles seeing the demise of a civilian whose fate rested in his hands; instead of criticizing the physician for failing to maintain a cool façade in emotionally charged times we must supply him the tools necessary to heal and to rejoin humanity. The arts present an ineffable quality of wonder that allows the tormented physician to once again see beauty in a world filled with death and destruction. Art provides mankind a medium to express emotion that cannot be relayed through spoken word alone
    Art can aid sufferers in seeing the beauty in tragedy; beauty and death are both magnificent processes in life. By appreciating the beauty in something one is better able to come to terms with the cold reality of death.

    Michelangelo referred to beauty as “the purgation of superfluities.” He asserts that there is beauty in the ordinary. Similarly there is a certain sense of poetic beauty in regards to the notion of sorrow. Sorrow is more than just sadness; it is characterized by great feelings of loss. It is not merely a physical sensation but rather something that engulfs a person’s entire being. It is fundamentally different from sadness in that an event must occur to bring about feelings of sorrow – sorrow runs parallel to grief, and one does not grieve without reason. Though in addition to not being able to grieve without reason, once cannot feel sorrow without having a standard state of being to compare it to. However as is mentioned by Emily Dickinson once a person begins to experience feelings of sorrow it means nothing that he used to live in happier times; the feelings of sorrow become all-encompassing and dictate the way in which the affected individual lives his life. Sorrow follows no sequence of time; there is no precise beginning nor is there an end. Often the person cannot pinpoint when they were stricken with sorrow nor can they predict the day they will return to normal. When attempting to aid one consumed with sorrow it is therefore crucial not to fix but to comfort.

    Understanding implications of both the arts and sorrow are critical foundations for the humanistic approach to public health. Different cultures experience different expressions of sorrow, and the classification and creation of art can vary greatly from one culture to the next. As these are both fundamental elements in the understanding of human pain it is critical to apply cultural principles to both healing and grieving practices.

  7. Emily Pieper says:

    Our discussions of various art forms this past week have opened my eyes to the power art offers for practicing humanistic health. While we were introduced to the idea of using art to aid our understanding of health and medicine when we reacted to the question “what does sorrow look like?”, my understanding of the connection between art and health was not very concrete until the class discussions this week.

    Art forms such as paintings, hymns, poetry, theater, and music have the ability to completely immerse an individual’s senses in ways plain language can only brush upon. After simply reading through the English translation of Sabat Mater Dolorosa, the hymn certainly conveyed a sense of pain and sorrow. However, listening to the musical performance of Sabat Mater elevated my understanding on the theme as it engaged my sense of hearing in addition to sight. Music, theater, and performances possess the ability to enrich one’s experience of an idea and therefore increase their understanding of that theme. As the Grady trauma nurse explained, listening to the various musical and poetic pieces allowed her to come to terms with the death of her patients by expanding her emotional capacity and connecting with the echoes of sorrow and pain in the artistic works.

    Sorrow takes on many different forms, and as Emily Dickinson so beautifully wrote in her poem, sorrow “has no future but itself”. Sorrow is fluid, constantly changing and evolving as the places where it is found change. As art illustrates, pain and sorrow have been experienced throughout history in many different forms by every human being. Sorrow is universal. Even in the most unlikely places, sorrow can exist. As the Emily Dickinson poem suggests, once sorrow and pain are experienced by someone they are forever a part of that person, cemented as a place in memory. Sometimes language and cultural barriers impede doctors’ abilities to understand the effects of these painful experiences and memories on their patients’ health. The arts offer a way to bypass these barriers and understand how culture impacts the ways in which people experience and cope with emotional experiences. Integrating artistic works into the practice of medicine allows doctors to provide more holistic and compassionate care since they are able to more fully understand the impacts of patients’ experiences on their health.

  8. Lucky Khambouneheuang says:

    From our first in-class exercise that explored sorrow, I noticed how almost every group approach defining sorrow with specific keywords, such as “isolation, melancholy, and hopelessness.” Although these descriptions are in essence very abstract, art provides a concrete and tangible medium where people can understand complex emotions. I also noted how it was by nature easier for people to identify sorrow than to describe it. The example used last class was the Great Depression woman whose sorrow was encaptured in a photograph. We instantly empathized and connected with her sorrow once the image was projected on the screen.

    The most memorable aspect of our discussion in class this week was how Judy challenged us to think of sorrow as a timeless. Sorrow is a human condition and part of the cycle of life. People often forget this fact in which this finite moment of sorrow ultimately is part of a bigger infinite picture. Hence, sorrow is often follow with a sense of numbness. For example, in Emily Dickinson’s poem, sorrow was characterized as a blank, where there was no recollection of a beginning nor end. Moreover, Drunken Old Woman sculpture captures an old woman drowning and numbing her sorrow with alcohol.

    Relating back to the theme of sorrow as one finite moment of time being part of a bigger picture, I find this message very important in the practice of medicine and communication. Every patient’s life is a narrative story. Humanities are important in medicine because they transcend barriers and allow for healthcare providers to enter the patient’s space. In this light, humanities foster compassion and empathy when people embrace the arts as bridging connection to others.

  9. Kyle Arbuckle says:

    One thing I ponder when we talk about sorrow is the balance out with happiness. Because my first thought when we discuss any emotion is how they interplay off each other. We know sorrow because we know happiness and joy. We know happiness and joy because we know sorrow. However, I do know how much easier it is for sorrow to consume us for longer periods of time, rather than happiness. Yet, at the same time just as being sorrowful all the time is not good, neither is being happy as you would be a manic person. I say all this because I think of how Dickinson’s poem could be reverted to happiness instead of sorrow, and think of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Shakespeare’s love for whomever was his subject brought him overwhelming joy and he wrote 154 sonnets to express this. Most of the sonnets about love and beauty, while some about mortality which ties back into my point about how we need both.

    I say all this to demonstrate the connect between the humanities and the world around us. They say art is the expression of how people felt. Much of Renaissance art is a perversion of religious subjects (reclining nudes, Mona Lisa smiling, Michelangelo’s perceived homosexual themes in the Sistine Chapel painting, etc). Much of South American art in the 20th century has a tinge of populism to express disdain for the corrupt governments that existed at the time. This is where the Grady nurse comes in. She found solace in the art that someone expressed the same feelings as her. I know for me and I believe most people, they like art that they can connect with. However, what I am grappling with is how one might not always connect with Dickinson’s poem because it describes an emotional state.

    What I am attempting to get at is that, do we enjoy art for the state we are in at the time? Or are there truly timeless classics? Our emotions change, and I am sure that the nurses emotions change working in an ER. This is not to diminish the power of art to affect humanity, because I have honestly and truly connected with various artworks and musical pieces. One way you could say it is timeless is that the art can force you to look back on a time when you felt an emotion described by the artist, an emotion that is bound to be repeated (sorrow), and describe something as timeless.

    As I said though, the arts are nothing to scoff at when it comes to applicability, particularly medicine. Medicine is the most human centric study I can think of, however doctors can be considered the most distant people. As someone pointed out the photo of the doctor crying went viral, because it was almost unbelievable. Yet, just as art affects the Grady nurse, a picture like that can alter how we view doctors as well. Just another example of how art/visuals do have true value in something as delicate as medicine.

  10. MacKenzie Jill Brosnahan says:

    As Easter approaches, the timing couldn’t have been better for our class reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion. We had previously discussed what sorrow looked like, and after participating in the performance, I believe I have a better idea of how sorrow feels. I can imagine how the nurse must feel when she cannot save all of her patients. I can imagine how Emily Dickinson must have felt when she wrote that poem. We cannot fully understand the extent of others’ suffering and sorrows, but with compassion and calling upon our own experience of pain and suffering, I believe we can come close to putting ourselves in others’ experiences of pain and sorrow. Isn’t that what compassion is all about?

    Turning to the sculpture we discussed in the last few minutes of class, I began to think of an analogy that we could use to better understand the woman in the sculpture’s experience with pain and sorrow. I came up with this: just as the nurse turned to music to cope with the sorrow and pain she faced when her patients died, the woman in the sculpture turned to alcohol to help dull the pain of her sorrows. So, for the woman, alcohol was her means by which she coped with some sorrow or pain in her life. The nurse turned to music and art as her outlet for processing the pain and sorrow she feels on a daily basis of being unable to save all of her patients.

    When I thought about how medicine incorporates arts outside of the examples we talked about in class, I thought about various art therapies. Many times art is not considered a scientific way to cure a disease or fix something that is broken, but I do believe that through art, some people can find true healing – just like the nurse found healing in the music and poetry. Other forms of art therapy include music therapy, drawing/painting therapy, and therapies where patients come up with their own prose and lyrics to help express their feelings. In all of these cases, the art is allowing the patients to have a healthy outlet to express their fear, pain, sorrow, joy, frustration, and all of their other feelings they experience while they are unwell.

  11. Lauren Maryse McNaughton says:

    Matthew brought up the important point that there is a certain level of emotion that seems to not be allowed in the medical setting from healthcare providers. There seems to be this expectation of a very calculating, emotionless individual as the healthcare provider. I believe this takes us back to the conversation regarding the human nature of healthcare providers often being overlooked. There is the expectation that healthcare providers will not be influenced by emotions as they do their job. This unfortunately could lead to the suggestion that they should be lacking one of the main things that make us human.

    Due to this expectation, it makes sense why the nurse from Grady made this comment regarding the concert. I find it interesting that she felt the arts “allowed” her to express the emotions she wanted to express with her patients and to go somewhere that medicine could not go. Though it almost sounds bleak, to me it sounds as if the arts break her out of this cage that forces her to be less human. The arts allowed her to feel and experience the emotions of a human that maybe the health field was not allowing her to do. This is an area where medicine cannot touch and cannot interfere. As beautiful as I find this, I also find it quite sad that medicine seems to have created an environment where one has to escape to be human again.

    In relation to the discussions on sorrow, not having an outlet to feel human can definitely become detrimental. If healthcare providers are expected to leave emotions at the door, it may lead to providers attempting to ignore that eternal blankness we discussed in class last week in the Dickinson poem. In Stabat Mater, there was an emphasis on the sharing of the pain and sorrow of Jesus and Mary. The section I found to be the most interesting of these was the following:

    “Can the human heart refrain
    From partaking in her pain
    In that Mother’s pain untold?”

    I found this to be incredible profound because it almost seems to be suggesting that a human heart cannot help but feel the pain of another human; to take part in their sorrow (hopefully I am interpreting this correctly!). Therefore, what does this do to the human heart when it is suggested that you should resist this natural human urge?

  12. Akanksha Samal says:

    The experience of the Grady trauma ward nurse, the subjects and emotions captured in the works we have talked about this week, and our discussion of sorrow earlier, all address the universality of pain and sorrow. Empathy and understanding of human suffering transcends the bounds of all traditions: culture, gender, religion, and place. In our analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poem, we acknowledged that pain surpasses even the bounds of time. By transcending these bounds, art serves as a medium by which people can communicate and experience empathy on a human-to-human level.

    Our discussion of the sorrow a mother feels at the loss of her child through the various renditions of Stabat Mater Dolorosa really conveyed this universality of pain and sorrow. My classmates, without the same experience of loss as Mary, managed to capture her sorrow and the conflicting emotions of her bystanders beautifully in their performance of Mary Under the Cross. Another example of how emotions are capable of transcending culture and language was the performance we watched of the woman playing all parts of Mary Under the Cross. Despite the language barrier, I could see the exact moment Mary gazed upon Christ, and the moment she realizes that he would die. What made these performances so powerful was that other people were able to recognize, and even feel, the emotions that were being conveyed.

    I think my classmates and I were able to describe sorrow as both an internal and external experience when we discussed the question “What does sorrow look like?”. The only hint of the magnitude of the internal experience is what we see externally on the eyes and face. As Dr. Moore said in class, it requires time and experience to be able to pick up on these cues, but once we recognize it, it is difficult to miss the signs. To relate art to medicine and public health, the experience of the Grady nurse proves that people have the capacity, even in the high stress environment of the healthcare field, to feel, and to feel deeply. When people desensitize themselves to human emotions, as many tend to do in medicine, people lose the qualities patients seek in a healthcare provider when they are at their most vulnerable. People like the Grady nurse, who have not desensitized themselves to the experience of pain, loss, and sorrow, are able to appreciate art for what it captures. She was aware that even in sorrow and pain, just as in the sculpture of the elderly alcoholic woman, there is beauty. I believe the arts are absolutely critical for the practice of medicine and public health. By recognizing the beauty of art, in not only the physical human body, but also in the emotions people feel, we are able to remind ourselves of the qualities that make us human.

  13. Jennifer Becerra says:

    art, music, poetry, and dance are all a form of communication that can express what simple words cannot. It all depends on how deep you are willing to connect with the piece that you are seeing/hearing/reading. In the painting we were looking at this week, there was a lot of sorrow that was seen. I have seen similar paints like them before but I hadn’t really analyzed them. This week while Judy was explaining the different scenes that were going on within the painting, I began to sort of feel the agony and sadness that was being depicted. At first I was unaware of what the sculpture was about, but once explained it was almost as though I was sucked into the pain that the alcoholic woman was feeling.

    Many times in dance, choreographers want to tell a story or show an emotion in a dance. During high school, there was a dance in particular that was focused on human hunger. This dance didn’t have any music so it was more about hearing and watching the movement being done. It was interesting to see how the dancers were still able to strongly express emotions of sorrow and despair without the music to help them “get into the mood”. While watching the piece, many people were greatly impacted and they “felt” the emotions being depicted.

    In many cases when we see or feel strongly about a piece, we take it in and interpret it with our own experience with that feeling. For example, I feel that since the Grady nurse is in situations where her sorrow is mainly involving the pain she feels when patients pass away. Then when she sees a performance that involves sorrow, she interprets it back to what sorrow means to her. And maybe because of this, such pieces are strongly influential to her and she can almost find a sort of “peace” or even an understanding that can lead her to reach peace. It is interesting to see how different forms of art are able to personally capture a person but it varies with each person.

  14. Aisha Omolola Morafa says:

    I find it wonderful to include the arts as a method of healing and dealing with emotions. Sometimes we cannot explicitly state how we feel about things, and that’s where the arts fill the void. Whether its singing, dancing, artwork, or writing the expression can take anyone to a new sense of emotion. Including art-based interventions reduces mental and physiological symptoms and allows the patient to find a means to self heal.

    We try to understand our emotions, but we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to feel them fully, especially with the darker emotions such as sorrow or depression. It’s seen as wrong and we try to fight them, which can cause more harm than good at times. I believe sometimes in medicine and treatments, we rely on things that we believe to work for many, rather than what can work for the individual. Such avenues such as song, reading, or performances already can touch “regular” people in a way that’s indescribable, and for someone who could be lost in a dark place, like the nurse discussed for her patients it connects them and heals them in a way that is intangible.

    Throughout this semester, we have discussed not only beautiful perspectives of the humanities, but continually connect it back to healthcare as a means to heal and treat people. Not only does it expand our horizons, it helps make new avenues we as aspiring healthcare providers can aid in healing. It humanizes the workers and the patients they help, because the culture has changed to viewing the patient as a vessel of illness that needs to be fixed, like a math problem, rather than a means to help the human, the soul, dealing with illness. The emotional turmoil of sorrow and pain can manifest as physical symptoms, so simply treating the surface isn’t enough. So if artwork can be used as a tool for treatment or self-healing, that should definitely be considered.

  15. Farida says:

    Thinking back to the first time we discussed sorrow in class, we all mentioned sorrow as an emotion of pain, sadness, numbness, and a reaction to that which is negative. Sorrow was the face of the woman from the Great Depression. Sorrow, depicted in art and through art, is easier comprehend than defining sorrow. It an emotion that is brought about by different stimuli to different people. Yet, we all as humans experience sorrow. It was a really great experience to watch the musical and theatrical performances of “Stabat Mater.” Despite our inability to understand the language, we witnessed sorrow and experienced sorrow through the performance. Such is the nature of art.

    For physicians and nurses, sorrow is witness every day in the eyes of their patients and family members. It is not a surprise that in the arts, this Grady nurse finds solace. In an environment that requires one to swallow pain daily, immersing in the positive – the beauty of music and poetry – allows one to share this pain, let go of this pain, and accept life as infinite. Life is everything. Life is nothing. It’s temporal and the sorrow and suffering we experience is nothing in comparison to the universe, but everything in the present. Last week was Tibet Week. The monks worked diligently on a mandala, and carefully sanded a beautiful design. They created this work only to be destroyed by nature’s elements – the wind, earth, water, and heat – afterwards. This work of art also symbolizes the Buddhist idea of ephemerality in the cycle of life.

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