Illness and the Art of Creative Self Expression

Illness and the Art of Creative Self Expression

John Graham-Pole


John Graham-Pole, MD, is professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. He is also medical director of the Shands Holistic Arts in Medicine Program at the University of Florida.

Foreword writer Patch Adams, MD, is a nationally known, speaker on wellness, laughter, humor and life as well as on the subjects of healthcare and healthcare systems.

Book Description
As patients and practitioners challenge the very nature of Western medicine, unconventional doctors like the well-known Patch Adams become American heroes. Dr. John Graham-Pole, who has a conventional medical degree and specializes in chronic and terminal illness, is such a doctor. He has sought to humanize the care of patients by introducing the arts – music, dance, painting, theater, writing, puppetry, clowning, and magic – into the hospital setting. In this volume, inspiring stories illustrate how patients engaging in the arts respond better to physical setbacks, are more adept at expressing their emotions, and find more spiritual peace in the midst of their illness.

Available on Amazon

A Few Reviews

Reviewer: Helen G. Orem (Chevy Chase, MD USA)

We are using John Graham-Pole’s book in the adult art therapy classes at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC. Patients and staff participants alike have found inspiration and encouragement from the practical – and cheerful – application of creative self-expression to increase patient-staff communication and to reduce stress. I recommend it highly.

Reviewer: Diane Willis (Oklahoma)

This is a unique, easy to read, well written self-help book that teaches the reader practical ways to use “art-making” to achieve greater health and happiness. It is written primarily for the person with a serious health problem, but it is useful reading for professionals caring for seriously or chronically ill persons. It teaches both groups of people how to bring art and self-expression into their lives.
The author has developed exercises to bring out the creative self-exppression each person possesses and to teach people to live for the moment, let go of negative thoughts or the pressure to achieve, and to enjoy the hidden artist within. The author’s writing style is appealing because it is so rhythmic, flowing, and conversational that one feels as though one is sitting across from him and conversing. His style is direct and warm,and as one becomes engaged with the text and its exercises for self-expression, one comes away with a deeper understanding of,and a renewed appreciation of, the creative self-expression we all have hidden within us.

The author’s writing is optimistic, hopeful, sensitive, and empathic. It is as if he has crawled into the skin of the person with an illness and is able to feel or think what he or she feels and thinks. He presents a holistic, integrated approach (using artistic or self-expression exercises) to help people take hold of their lives, and in the face of serious illness, to feel in command. It is a moving and absorbing book with special insights into the world of people with serious illness.

Reviewer: Shirley Haas (DeLand, FL)

John Graham-Pole, M.D. is authentic. His writing will be most beneficial for those (and their families) who are just now or will or perhaps already have learned what it is to be “ill”. Listen, Read, Believe.
I believe everyone can benefit from this book because during our lives we will experience pain and grief in many and different ways. This book takes me back about 13 years. I recognize much of what I learned then, and (now) understand more fully some of what I didn’t. G-P’s subject is real. Understanding allows Peace, Thankfulness, and Blessings. God is Good.

When going through dread disease; chronic/acute;life-threatening, devastating illness; and/or depression, we often feel totally alone. We feel that others simply don’t understand what we’re thinking, experiencing, or feeling. Dr. G-P’s authenticity shows he does understand. We are also shown another choice: Creativeness from within (and we all do have something to “say”).

G-P listens and learns, observes and acts. I personally know he cares very much for his patients and his work, and I’m grateful every day of my life that Dr. G-P was our daughter’s attending physician some 13 years ago. Today, I’m grateful for learning of this book and having the opportunity to read it, to share this book with others who want to be a creative, self-expressed person regardless of the circumstances of their lives or the lives of those they hold dear. This book is authentically written, gratefully received, and will be beneficial to all who read it.

Reviewer: Don Lutz (Gainesville, Fl)

Dr. John Graham-Pole’s new book, “Illness & the Art of Self-Expression” is a long-needed primer on self-help for both the healthy and those receiving medical care. The author summarizes nicely the benefits of art in healing, whether it be visual art, music, dance or writing, and goes on to make the process easy for those who are new to the concept. He stresses the importance of relaxation, playtime and laughter. Whether enjoying the art of others, or expressing emotions through one’s own creative art, the rewards are endless. This book can be of great value to those facing serious health problems, health professionals, or anyone with an interest in health and healing. It would be a valuable addition to every table in every waiting room in any health facility.