No prescription needed

I’m not really an ‘artsy’ kind of person, until a few years ago I never enjoyed looking at paintings or art in particular. I could sort of judge whether the figures depicted looked like they were supposed to be (figurative art), but abstract art? I never saw the point and the idea of enjoying looking at something that might or might not mean something was foreign to me.

My first ‘real’ encounter with art was during a clinic with one of the oncologists at the hospital where I was doing my sub-internship. He had two tiny wooden statues in his window sill and somehow, I couldn’t stop looking at them. They reflected a kind of hope, some humanity in this room full of bad news conversations. I don’t even remember anymore what they looked like, I only remember the emotion of being ‘touched’ by seeing these two pieces of art. I had never experienced that before.

The second time I was stopped in my tracks by a piece of art was in the Louvre. We were in the room where the Mona Lisa was displayed and there was this huge crowd around the Mona Lisa so you could barely get a visual on it. On the wall next to it, there was this painting (The Deposition by dal Ponte/Bassano). At first sight on a computer screen it’s just another of those pictures with a dead Jesus. In real life, the full sized version in the Louvre really draws your attention due to the big contrast between light and dark. I was reminded of acute care settings, of hopelessness – and yet there was this light, hinting at a possibility of a new beginning.

Yesterday, I found another piece of art that really did something. It started with this facebook post:

Without thinking about it too deeply, I proceeded to feel a bit offended. The suggestion that somehow prescriptions for ‘anxious people’ are a bad thing can really set me off.  Patients often tell me ‘I don’t want to change myself with pills’ or ‘I don’t want to rely on a crutch’. So is taking iron tablets or chemotherapy or whatever ‘somatic drug’ a crutch? Medication for anxiety is just as justified as taking iron tablets for anemia.

However, when I calmed down I decided to check out the music and I was very pleasantly surprised. This music was kind, embracing, caring. The soundscape succeeded where the written word failed for me – this track was clearly not meant to criticize medication, it’s meant to provide another option, to show a way to make people feel like someone cares. It’s hope in audible form.




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