inside art therapy

Putting art therapy ramblings to paper…

Brains and caterpillar Art February 1, 2012

Filed under: Art Therapy,Creativity,The Neuroscience of Art and Therapy,Uncategorized — insidearttherapy @ 5:20 pm

One of the most amazing things that our bodies do, is move.  Think about it like this.  We take fuel, or nutrients, convert it into chemicals and then use it to create a mechanical movement. No need to plug in or turn it on or even think about it. We want to move, and we just do it.  What is even more amazing is how we regulate movement.  We go to grab a mug of coffee that we expect to be full but it’s not, and, as we pick it up, we nearly throw it over our shoulder because it’s so light.  On the other hand, we pick up a mug we expect to be empty and it’s not, it’s so heavy for a millisecond that we almost drop it. Somehow, our brain had determined that as this cup is full and will weigh (how much more?) that we will need to engage just a few more muscle fibres in the task of picking it up.  Just those few extra fibres that weren’t necessary make for a mighty forceful lift.  Or the full cup, bum, we didn’t engage enough, so on initial pickup the mug tilts wildly as our muscle and brain recalculates and gets enough lifting bits into action to lift it evenly.  And then we manage to carry a full cup, without it spilling, up a flight of stairs in the semi darkness. All fine, and we don’t spill a drop, until you think about it. Then the wobbles set in.

In my very first muscle physiology lecture, whilst I was listening to talk of myosin, actin and myofibrils and  I drew this:

Muscles it seems,contain millions of tiny critters, nibbling at the actin molecule with a tasty binding site to which the myosin cross-bridges (hereinafter referred to as caterpillars) can attach thus forming a contraction of the muscle as the darling things nibble and let go, nibble and let go.  The strength of the muscle pull just depends on how many caterpillars are recruited for the job.  The caterpillars are of course, clever creatures, and very obedient. If the brain says stop. the caterpillars, or just those instructed, stop immediately. Not like your average household pooch that can take 3 good yells and a schmako to make it stop.

I guess I want to make two points here.

ONE:  Every single movement, every single breath we take is truly a miraculous event.  Making art is wow, just so wow.

TWO:  This silly sketch, and a wonderful metaphor has helped me remember more about muscle physiology than I will ever have use for.

Finally, I’d like to point out that this highly automated system sometimes works too well.  I had my glass behind me on the bedhead and managed to pick it up, with my little finger to the rim of the glass instead of the usual pointer and thumb (try it behind your head!). Of course my brain decided once the glass made it almost over the top of my head, that something was terribly wrong and my hand did an auto correction, bringing my pointer and thumb to the upper position and pouring the entire contents over my head.  Mid-way through this spectacle, I attempted a reverse correction, but just slowed the pour enough for my husband to look up. Seeing me gently pouring iced tea over my head, he thought I’d finally flipped my lid.   At the conclusion of the incident, and my pithy explanation,  he fell out of bed laughing!


Angry elephants in Feather boas January 15, 2012

Filed under: Art Therapy,Creativity,The Neuroscience of Art and Therapy,The Unconscious — insidearttherapy @ 1:39 pm

Ok. So it is now 1.45pm and it is time to wash the coffee mugs and pack away the laptop ready for our family photo shoot.  What did I achieve today?

I got through a lot of information about Mandala.  Mmm. Not something I am terribly enthralled by and that makes it hard work. Not because I don’t like Mandala as such, but because so much is already written about it.

Then came the fun bit.  Dreams.

  • Dream Work

    Dreams lend themselves beautifully to art therapy processes.  Once we fully accept that a dream is of our own making, then we can find value in examining how it came to be.  Whether the dream is a divine intervention, a message from the cosmos or an invention of an overactive imagination is irrelevant in this approach.  A dream has taken just some of the millions of possible storylines floating around in our unconscious, connected the dots (perhaps in a very haphazard way) and created a story. It’s out story.  We authored it ourselves. There may not be a predetermined meaning for this dream, but our efforts to understand it, will be insightful.  Just what we believe the feather boa wearing elephant to represent in our lives will say something about you and your world.  And it will probably be different to someone else.  Freud and Jung certainly postulated many sexual and archetypal meanings for the material in our dreams. (Freud, 2010) We may or may not find this information useful, but the searching will be. The testing of hypothesis: Could this feather boa wearing elephant’s trunk have some sexual relevance according to Freud’s theories?  Does the elephant speak of some Indian mystical  knowledge?  Or perhaps the feathers are representative of a tribal headdress? Actually, listening to a hilarious rendition of the song ‘Ellie the Elephant’ has probably gotten snagged in my dream state!  A dream has a foot in both worlds and may well reflect some of the action of our day.


    So there we are. I did it.  Several more pages and numerous cups of coffee down.

    Another update tomorrow!   Smile for the camera now.  Glenda