What am I going to do to put out a house fire of schizophrenia when all I’m talking about is the chemistry of paint?
I saw that question posted on a Twitter page. The question was certainly not directed at me. However, it does seem to fit the shoes I am wearing as I write blogs every day praising what the arts can do for brain health and recovery from brain diseases.
Here is my answer to the question. After a person “on fire” is brought to a place of safety, ask the person to write you a poem. No matter how deep, disturbing or outlandish the words may appear, take the time to read the poem. Ask the person to read the poem to you out loud and explain parts you do not understand. I guarantee the two of you will find a connection and a real possibility for a bond to develop between the two of you.
I have a bit of experience at such an approach. About 10-12 years ago I taught a creative writing class at Room in the Inn, a facility for homeless people in Nashville. I taught the class over the winter months
Several times I had my class write group poems. One student would write a line, and the next student would write the next line.
Other times I had my students write essays and short stories based on weird news items. I think the most popular news item was when Elvis Presley’s favorite roller coaster was sold and shipped cross country. Such writing prompts and assignments brought about a dozen homeless people together into a community.
In my blogging work, I have previously stated that the arts are not a cure-all. A multitude of approaches must be taken for brain health recovery to occur. That includes developing support networks, and relying on medical, psychological and spiritual approaches as well as the arts.
No one approach will put out the “fire.” Firefighting requires a team effort, after all.