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The role of paintings in suicide treatment and prevention 

The role of paintings in suicide treatment and prevention
Chapter:
The role of paintings in suicide treatment and prevention
Author(s):

Thomas Bronisch

and Flora von Spreti

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198570059.003.0060
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date: 15 September 2019

The theme ‘suicide’ in paintings mirror social, cultural, religious and philosophical stances to suicide. However, behind these more public aspects of the artist’s work there is often a personal meaning for the artist as well. The motives and interests of the artists go beyond the theme of suicide. An important factor in suicidal behaviour is a depressive mood or a depressive disorder. However, the depressive mood as well as the underlying manic-depressive illness of some artists may also be seen as an important prerequisite for their creativity. Despite the importance of suicidality in art and that art therapy is well-established for treating patients in psychiatry and psychotherapy, only a small body of empirical literature about the role of art therapy in depressed and suicidal patients exists today. In paintings and sculptures of art therapy, done by patients primarily reflect the inner experiences of their illness and biography. Art therapy can help the patient to alleviate self-destructive ways of acting.

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