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The Health Humanities: Need and The Distinction with The Medical Humanities

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The health humanities emerged constructively in the first half of the 21st century. In 1972 Prof Joanne Trautmann was appointed as the first professor to teach literature in an American medical school. Anne Hudson Jones played a key role in introducing the transdisciplinary course i.e. literature and medicine as a subspecialty within medical humanities. The interdisciplinary discipline was apperceived in 2009 by the University of Nottingham. Prof. Paul Crawford dedicated his intellectual knowledge to the field of Health Humanities. Ahlzen recorded the magnification and impact of humanities in the healthcare discipline as a mature discipline. Many educators and medical professional bodies inspirited a special curriculum that included humanities along with arts, social science, and literature. Some exponents who engendered such opportunities and paved the way for the development of health humanities were Christakis, Enarson and Burg, Schwarz, and Wojtczak. Application of ingeniousness in fine arts and humanities discipline functions as a key perception in health humanities. This field of study is not a substitute for medical inculcation rather it is a pattern and authentic approach that avails in the promotion of health wellness and compliments health sciences. The skills required for a good health practitioner are observation, pay attention, elucidation, understanding, and self-manifestation. Arts and Humanities motivate the practitioner to develop these fundamental skills to treat the ill sufferers. This present study represents the role of stage show/ play and theatre forms as Performance Medicine to treat healthcare issues. Fox’s Playback Theatre is a method that has therapeutic effects in the revitalization process. Playback theatre in drama therapy and narrative therapy is an innovative synthesis that provides a new composed design used in the health restoration process.

Need for Humanities in Health Management

In the viewpoint of Farmer, health humanities aim to use humanities as a tool to reduce and avert the suffering of the victim. The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965 amended “the term ‘humanities’ includes,(but is not limited to), the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism, and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life”.

In recent years there has been renewed interest in action-oriented therapy to treat psychological disorders. Drama therapy and narrative therapy play an essential role in treating trauma-related illnesses. Narrative therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aspires to split the character from the trouble, permitting the person to exteriorize their problem rather than interiorize them. It depends on the individual’s ability and sagacity of rationale to steer them through a complex period. Drama therapy is a kind of psychosomatic method that enables individuals in exploring their dark life experiences to transform their social and personal life optimistically. It is an indirect approach that eases and improves the manifestation of sentiments, confessing someone’s personal story with intense trust and care, enacts issues and problems to find resolutions, assists to acquire relief, integrates psychological and physical relationships within self and others, catharsis, deepens internal understanding, enhances self-confidence, improves self-esteem, develops sense in presence of mind, builds up faith and trust, deals with relationship problems, enriches social or interpersonal skills, expands individual responsibilities and amplifies litheness in living.

Costa et al. declare that the intervention of humanities in health wellbeing results in respecting the epistemic values of individuals. Clarke et al. argue with reference to the humanities and social sciences in the science of health that it is time to care for this multifaceted discipline. It states that socio-psychological-cultural factors are responsible for the source of good physical condition. Hence a deep-seated integrative study is required to condition the wellness of being both physically and mentally.

The terms Medical Humanities and Health Humanities are more often confusing. Crawford, Brown, Baker, Tischler, and Adams rightly distinguish the difference between these terminologies. The former term denotes the conventional method of collaborating medicine and humanities well as the latter focuses on the application method of humanities in treatment. Its focal point was devised on the wellness of the patients with the help of medical practitioners, nurses, caretakers, etc. The term Health Humanities denotes a superordinate term. Apart from hospitals, the right ambiance to treat optimistic health can also be educational institutions, prison cells, houses, and community houses. The materials of Arts and Humanities can be applied in these informal settings. The ultimate goal is to provide, maintain, care and treat physical and mental wellbeing.

Health humanities endorse co-design, co-creativity, and co-learning rather than the expertise approach. It renders to deliver better communal and civilizing prospects. Expressive therapy results in transporting the real hurt to restoring health without remorse. Through real or fictional stories, healthcare opportunists recognize the influence of illness, death, disability, endurance, and wellbeing. It provides them with an opportunity to understand that the victim is not just an object or body with symptoms, syndrome, or disease but as an autonomous and active partner to be taken care of. The patients are external and afar from the biomedical branch. Narrative therapy is an ancient method that helps the wounded soul to get healed. It helped in lessening the effect of trauma.

Performance Arts in Health Humanities

The Harvard Medical School in 2017 published an article The healing of art that stated creative actions aid in relieving trauma, building communiqué, and arresting mental rejection. There are numerous studies that demonstrated and stated that communicating through craftsmanship or theatre can help individuals with sorrow tension or even malignant tumors are connected to enhanced reminiscence, thinking as well as flexibility in solid more healthy individuals. The advantageous impacts of making aren’t reliant on an individual’s expertise or talents. Hankir et al. discuss that art therapy acquires healing power in psychosomatic injury. A study with 25,522 populations was conducted by Prof Dinesh Bhugra in the UK that concluded psychotropic medication alone could improve the psychological health of the entire country. Patterson suggested that empowering the impact of psychogenic ailment to be investigated in a secure sphere for example theatre can consider reflection and compassion to create with potential for constructive effect on mindfulness conception and humiliation.

There is a strong correlation proven between art, wellbeing, and health restoration. Neuroaesthetics is a new science that intended to merge psychological research with aesthetics. This field of study investigates the perspicacity, productivity, and reaction in nerve impulse to art which involves in interaction with objects, events, episodes, happenings, moments, or incidents. This reciprocal influence elicits a deep feeling that mostly resulted in contentment. The participants in any type of art creation get their reward systems activated that results in the release of some good brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. These feel-good chemicals in the brain stimulate feelings of gratification and positive emotions. According to Magsamen, when the observer experiences or creates art, there happens interplay among the brain cells. These changes in the brain cells affect the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the individual.

Torrissen acclaimed that participatory theatre brought participants together with a sense of belonging which improved their mental health. The narrative analysis resulted in a transformation of their self-identity, life-changing experience, and life-supporting assert. Leadbetter O Connor discussed a research exploration of the Scottish government that indicated the individuals who took an interest in an ingenious or artistic movement were 38% bound to report great well-being contrasted with the persons who did not participate in any of the performance events. Participants engaged in dancing the figure announcing great wellbeing jumped to 62%. Macneill acknowledges that the intervention of performance art material must not be considered as a picturesque artifact of concerns that are behind the times but it viaducts art and medicine in mental health care.

Evans argues that a feeling of style, of spontaneous creation, receptiveness, and immediacy even music notes in the clinical experience can be a significant segment of gaining the patients’ assurance and support even trust. Case et al. describe that performance studies make the physician choose the words and gesticulations carefully while communicating with the patients. They feel responsible to be humanistic, considerate, and solicitous. In the mid-1970s the medical students of the United States denote that studying medicine along with art studies initiated them to deeply understand the illness of the sufferers.

Performance Medicine in Mental Healthcare

Performance medicine is a sub-claim of clinical and indicative medication that is focused on the streamlining of passionate mental and enthusiastic prosperity and execution. It is a new-fangled and inventive clinical claim to prominence that combines the objectives of internal medication, hostile to maturing medication, functional medication, sports medication, and healthcare prerequisites. It assists to enhance the stability of emotional, mental, and psychological wellbeing. The major goals to introduce performance medicine in therapy are as follows:

  • To sustain and augment an individual’s adaptive ability
  • To maximize an individual’s metabolic pathway effectiveness
  • To adapt to strategies that increase an individual’s resistance to emotional and psychosomatic trauma (acute, chronic, or complex)

In the viewpoint of Willson Suzy performing medicine has a rigorous balance in the observational skill of the actors and audience, the receptiveness of each person, and sensitivity to cultural context. Effective involvement in theatric acts supports an individual to deconstruct and reconstruct oneself for better living. It endorses energetic commitment, compliance, suppleness, self-awareness, and self-care. Bulter identified that performatives influence gender or queer studies. She points out the uses of performativity as it tries to counter a specific sort of positivism concerning gender or the state, it might counter a specific metaphysical assumption about culturally built categories and to cause us to notice diverse mechanism development and it is additionally valuable in starting to explain the procedures that produce ontological impacts or the naturalized presumptions of what establishes reality. Walby also supports that performativity aids in connecting large-scale progression of dissimilar variety into an overarching system i.e. social change. Uncovering and pointing out that theatric activity through performance can help with reimaging how bodies (individuals) identify with each other.

McKinley- Hicks’s study proved that theatre performance helped middle school children to accept science as a human-centered and significant enterprise in which youngsters can get committed in their day-to-day lives. It led to a process of re-examination, complication, and interrogation of oneself to introspect for excellent mental health. Willson states that the physician’s presence, as a superficial facade during treatment along with the theatre art method, would aid the individual to cope with the physical strategies, for instance, unavoidable stage trepidation, the anxiety of tight target times, and high sensations.

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The Health Humanities: Need and the Distinction with the Medical Humanities. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
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