Sunday, October 5, 2014

Health Issue Week 6 - Mind over Matter

Recently, I found a colleague crying in the break room. After trying to console her for a few minutes, she opened up and shared that her aunt has schizophrenia.  I had a friend from church who claimed that she healed her uncle from this mental illness by taking him on what she calls, “Heavenly Visits”. Though she may call it what she wants, she was actually practicing Guided Imagery.  I have known her for over 9 years, and I and I have to admit that her uncle J has healed. He is as normal as can be. He now responses to you when you call his name, he isn’t violent when I try to share his hand because he thought I had fire that Satan. He doesn’t constantly scream because he saw demons in his room. Her doctor even declared that J no longer has mental illness.

With my colleague in distress, I tried to find articles that will help her aunt. Her aunt is now admitted to a hospital and they are using electrical shock therapy. I wondered if there was anything else that could help her without the invasive treatment. Since the aunt used to love dancing, I was able to find an article written by Emma J. Barton on movement and mindfulness programs.  For 20 weeks, they used formative evaluation to monitor participants with severe mental illness. The results were positive in pro-social behaviors, stress management, and communication skills.
“Practicing yoga enables some people with schizophrenia to begin to articulate the confusing experiences of their inner worlds, the first step toward mastery over them” (Visceglia, 2007, p. 97)

“Yoga assists by building a strong, flexible body and mind capable of attuning to the surrounding environment, while simultaneously regulating the internal state of the body.   These skills both develop and sustain mental and physical wellbeing. Equally, dance/movement therapy offers both insight and lifestyle changes as one becomes aware of one’s own difficulties in relating to others, and learns to express or accept oneself. Therefore, it seems natural to combine the two modalities, offering myriad possibilities for healing with a variety of client populations.” (Barton, 2011)

The dance/movement therapy helped improved coping skills for participants with physical and mental tension, difficulty sleeping, poor interpretation and nonverbal communication. One lady with schizophrenia stated that she learned to put her emotions into movements and then put them into music to relax and feel positive. My colleague was vague about her aunt's schizophrenia. All I know is that she is in the psychic ward with electricity pumping into her brain. Barton’s study is formative evaluation; she didn’t use any tools to record the brain activities. This would be an interesting study to do with my colleague’s aunt to see if dance/movement therapy would truly be more beneficial than the electric shock therapy.

Barton, E. J. (2011). Movement and Mindfulness: A Formative Evaluation of a Dance/Movement and Yoga Therapy Program with Participants Experiencing Severe Mental Illness, American Journal of Dance Therapy, 30:1   DOI: 10.1007/s10465-011-9121-7

Visceglia, E. (2007). Healing mind and body: Using therapeutic yoga in the treatment of schizophrenia. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 17, 95-103

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