Creativity can be healing (1)

[My series of posts about the history of treating pyloric stenosis
will continue after a short break.]

The internet includes a small number of sites created by people who share or explore their scars from surgery or an accident.  To do this they use one or more media such as narrative, poetry, art, movie or photography, and each of these in a creative variety of ways.

Some people are repelled and others are fascinated when they see a scar, but it usually arouses a mix of feelings, sometimes very complex and often conflicting emotions.  Think of it: when we see something that touches our emotions or curiosity, how typical is it to avert our eyes whilst finding some sneak peeks impossible to resist?

On the surface, many of those who carry a eye-catching scar (and surely that’s many of us) don’t seem to have deep feelings about it, judging by what people say and the relatively small number of websites involved.

However, if I take as a guide the scarred people I know fairly well, a large number of damaged people hate their scar, will avoid showing it if they can, and have conflicting thoughts and feelings about it.  A notable scar is very much part of our body and life story and usually marks our having survived a major crisis; our feelings around it are typically powerful, complex and deep-seated, repressed if not suppressed.

On the available evidence, it is a small number of scarred people who have gone public on the web (and some in print), and this for a range of reasons:

  • To gather the varied accounts of a list of people who would otherwise not have gone public about an eye-catching scar in order to support an academic, artistic or personal goal.  The person running such a project is usually somebody personally interested in discovering and assessing others’ and their own stories.
  • To share their scar story from a range of motives.  Some want to break out of a feeling of being quite alone in their pain and imperfection; others are raising their hand on a social media site in a simple “me tooism”; others seek to raise the public’s awareness of matters related to their scarring, e.g., a medical or physical disability, the attitudes and practice of parents or the medical establishment.
  • To explore and come to terms with their own experience of imperfection, illness, accident, trauma and healing and to offer the benefits of their journey to the interested public.

A fellow-blogger and pyloric stenosis survivor who has become a good friend is Wendy P Williams, whose weekly (or more) blogs now extend over almost three years.  Her blogsite, boldly titled My Incision, consists mostly of the narratives about her story, the resulting PTSD, and her long road towards healing, but it also includes some of her drawings and poems, and she even shares some of her photos to chronicle her life.

In her most recent post, about undiagnosed PTSD, Wendy wrote that her students found the narratives of the medical humanities part of the course their favourite.

Students seemed to find relief and clarity from writing about an act of self-harming, an encounter with an uncaring doctor, the death of a loved one, or a relative who is critically ill.  I think they find this type of self-exploration and writing healing.  It eases stress and encourages self-awareness.

In the next post I will include links to some of the other internet sites which offer those affected by scars support towards self-understanding, self-acceptance and healing.

2 thoughts on “Creativity can be healing (1)

  1. wendy williams

    Ironically, I just finished a blogpost draft giving a shout out to you, Fred, for your astounding blog and, in particular, your latest rounds of posts about the history of anesthesia with regard to pyloric stenosis infant surgery. Thank you for mentioning my blog on yours. I am excited to see the web resources that you will list on an upcoming post about scars and the ways people handle them. I am hoping more readers discover your blog in 2012 because I know that many would receive hope, understanding, knowledge, and courage in order to deal with what they are going through. Interfacing with medical institutions can be overwhelming and terrifying, especially for babies, their parents, and other family members. SIS is a place to go for heart-centered support and level-headed wisdom. Here’s to a productive and creative 2012!

  2. Fred Vanderbom Post author

    Thank you, Wendy, for that enthusiastic encouragement and recommendation! It is so good that your and my rich and varied material on the effects of infant surgery is being posted week after week, month after month, and in your case for almost 3 years now.
    Our experiences and messages have enough in common for our readers and us to know that our posts not deranged rages, and the posts are different enough for readers to be able to benefit from our distinctive voices in harmony.
    I and grateful to those readers have added their comments and even their personal contributions, and would love more folk to do this!


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