Category: Creative Arts

Online Therapy: The Use Of Art In Achieving Mental Health

There are times when an individual has a mental illness is not aware of it. He sometimes assumes that his condition is only stress-associated. He somehow doesn’t even bother to consider seeking professional help. Not only does he believe asking for an expert’s advice is a waste of money; a person often feels they can handle their psychological state on their own. But some are dedicated enough to consider online therapy for that matter.

Online therapy is something that takes away the stigma of asking for mental health advice. Since it is easy, accessible, and affordable, it becomes part of the system that caters to the individuals’ psychological evaluation. There are a lot of types to choose from that fits every person’s needs. And that includes the utilization of art which supports the achievement of mental health wellness.


Art Therapy

The process of art therapy breaks the mold of treatment because it doesn’t require answering specific questions. It is a cheap and safe alternative to cope and recover from a significant mental health condition. That’s because it doesn’t compromise physiological health factors. It comes in many forms and all of which appears to have a role in different situations.

According to Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT, “Art, music, dance, drama, and poetry therapies are referred to as ‘creative arts therapies’ because of their roots in the arts and theories of creativity.” “Expressive arts therapies are defined as the use of art, music, drama, dance/movement, poetry/creative writing, bibliotherapy, play, and sandplay within the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation, or medicine.”

Types Of Art Therapy


According to Michael Karson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Denver, “Theater refers to communication that is shown rather than told to the therapist. It’s often a form of projective identification, where the patient shows the therapist what they’re feeling by getting the therapist to feel it instead.”

There’s an improvised game in theatrical therapy that allows the therapist to have a better understanding of what their patients are experiencing. The process supports the expression of more than one underlying issues hidden within the patient’s subconscious. It helps in venting out emotions so a person can act happy and start to feel better throughout a course of time. Since theatrical therapy allows a person to communicate and interact with other individuals, it creates a friendly atmosphere that supports better social engagement.



Dance therapy works similarly to exercise. It allows a bodily movement that supports the proper circulation of the blood and boosts brain development. The process of free-style dancing aids the therapist to analyze and evaluate the patient’s subconscious through his physical movements. It becomes useful in venting out or telling a story of life experiences and struggles. There are specific dancing styles that shape a person’s mind to assist in mental health stability.


“Music therapy is a well-recognized clinical intervention that uses music within a therapeutic process to assist the patient in identifying and dealing with social, cognitive, emotional, or physical concerns,” wrote Wayne Jonas, M.D.

Musical therapy is one the advantageous type of art therapy. It gets broken down to three particular ways such as listening, performing, and creating. But while it helps in aiding mental health issues, it is important to note that different genres affect various people and their conditions as well. Listening to certain classical and slow music can become useful for other individuals, but it doesn’t guarantee to work the same to others. Therefore, there should be a collection of information on what type of genre best fits an individual. Creating, on the other hand, allows a person to express himself with the use of his emotions. It doesn’t necessarily require him to have potential in the specific type of art. As long as he can manage to share his stories through his creation, it is already enough. Lastly, performing is a beautiful activity that guarantees stress relief. It boosts self-confidence, and it allows comfortability in one’s self.

Visual Art

Visual art takes a broad category due to its different kinds of medium. These include sketching, writing, painting, and sculpting. With the help of these particular visual art creations, the therapist can assist an individual’s subconscious by going through an analysis. The patient’s production along with its specific shapes and colors reveals a lot about him. From there, it becomes identifiable as to how his mental health can proceed to recovery from such degenerative issues. Visual art supports less stressful procedure of mental health treatment. That’s the reason why it is often one of the best ways that get administered by an online therapist.


Art therapy can be different for a lot of people. Aside from its focus to support self-realization, it also allows a buildup of skills in communication. It helps in better development of emotions and memory. Since it ranges from theatre, music, dancing, and visual arts, it can sustain the different needs of every individual that has a common goal of mental health recovery. There are no known adverse side-effects to art therapy, so it is a beautiful way to uncover the underlying issues of an individual’s subconscious.

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Mental Health And Art – How Are They Related?

There are a lot of twisted structures, washed colors, slow motions, and some other part of most rhetorical resources that are commonly used by some painters, filmmakers, writers, and artist in general. It is where they try to express mental conditions in a different way. These resources aim to interpret what it feels like to have a disorder. In art, the portrayal does not only focus on a specification but rather count every detail as a whole.

The Paintings

Most people with several mental conditions don’t usually understand a painting at one glance. Viewers are not aware that the masterpieces carry the message of pain. Edvard Munch created one of the most controversial pieces called “The Scream” in an attempt to explain and express the condition of having shattered nerves. It becomes one of the most significant paintings in the history of expressionism. It is where Munch describe his feelings are terrifying and unexplainable. That the place he once visited seems to be extraordinarily depressing that he had to put in into a visual representation. The Scream affects both literature and film. That is why near in the mid-twentieth century, a writer named Virginia Woolf also attempted to express her struggle with severe depression. The writer, unfortunately, can’t snap out from the mental condition, and eventually committed suicide. However, even though Woolf is dead, her effort in finishing the novel “Mrs. Dalloway” is worth it even though she’s battling with mental illness. The novel became a resource for the movie “The Hours” in 2002.


Nevertheless, art becomes a useful medium of expression to those people who can’t express themselves. It’s not that they don’t want to, but some of them are comfortable in creating a different communicative language such as painting.  That is because creating art seems to address most mental conditions that’s why it becomes a highly important part of significant psychological treatment. Let’s say for example the masterpiece of Van Gogh. The painter gets diagnosed with manic-depression. It somehow hinders him to represent his condition through painting. But even though that’s the case, Gogh still managed to create valuable other masterpieces while he was interned in an asylum at Saint Paul’s. He was able to resume better mental health through painting where he comfortable finds solace.

The Movies

“Cinema therapy can be a powerful catalyst for healing and growth for anybody who is open to learning how movies affect us and to watching certain films with conscious awareness,” shared Birgit Wolz, PhD, MFT, a cinema therapy group facilitator. “Cinema therapy allows us to use the effect of imagery, plot, music, etc. in films on our psyche for insight, inspiration, emotional release or relief and natural change.”

The writer Virginia Woolf suffered from a condition that was unknown back then. Fortunately, critics nowadays recognize the mental state as bipolar disorder. In the film, the other two characters are also dealing with the same psychological health issues. It was transmitted to the movie as Virginia writes the plot. The story from the novel appears beautifully portrayed through visual metaphoric representation. Since mental disorders are mostly entitled to stimulating expression of creativity, it leads to a surreal portrayal and imagery. However, a lot of times, mentally ill people seem wrongly represented in films. Usually, they are always violent, and that becomes a generalized depiction of all the majority of patients under such conditions.


In the movie “Science Of Lambs” for example, there’s a portrayal of a volatile man who happens to be extremely violent due to schizophrenia. It contains almost the same plot as the movie “Psycho” and “Halloween” as well. With these portrayals, the National Institute of Mental health stated that schizophrenic people do not commit the most violent actions.

Another movie inspired by real people and a real case of mental disorder is “Frida.” Frida Khalo’s diagnosis with depression is a minor case. However, Frida suffered from two major depressive episodes that push her to attempt multiple suicides during her lifetime. The termination of all three of her pregnancy caused a significant amount of grief. Aside from that, Frida’s depression becomes consistent due to her stormy marriage. All of the details of her struggle are visible in her paintings as well.

The Books

“Books are an invaluable but underutilized resource that can increase empathy, enhance recovery and inspire those with mental health difficulties. As such, reading should be encouraged for everybody, but particularly those with mental illness—whether through formal bibliotherapy groups or individual prompting from family, friends or clinicians,” revealed Rob Whitley, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and a principal investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center.

Robert Loius Stevenson caught a patient with split-personality disorder. It was his inspiration in developing the novella of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hide. The story impacts a lot of people because of the different moral character that handles one situation towards the other. The novella becomes an interpretation of the best examples of the duality of human nature. It develops into the expression of the inner struggle between the good and evil usually seen in human and animal comparison.


It is common to assume that people’s emotion interferes with rational thinking. That’s perhaps the reason why there is always a discussion about how art cannot become “art” without feelings. And along with this condition, the domain of psychological explanation explains the purpose of artistic expression. “Creativity of all types is a premier form of psychological adaptation, the effect of a healthy muse, because it involves the ability to change and improve all features of the environment,” wrote Albert Rothenberg, MD.

With the paintings, books, and movie portrayals, one is sure on them all. It is the mental condition of people that put a ton of turn of phrase in every masterpiece that seems very important for diagnosis and treatment as of today.


The Creative Arts And Mental Illness

Just last week, I read a classic novel by a favorite author of mine, and this was about someone who experienced a mental disorder. I got into profound contemplation about how mental illness has been part of the olden times, and how the arts have played a role in recovery.

The novel was a masterpiece, the author sharing insights about life, love, and death. It also featured an artist, much like the popular icons Vincent Van Gogh and Virginia Woolf, who lived with a chronic illness but kept on because of his creativity.



Indeed, science has discovered much connection between creative arts and mental illness recovery. Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Schumann were thought to be mentally ill but continuously lived and worked their way towards success through their creations. These three famed artists, amidst their complex minds, created beautiful poems, music, and stories.

Berit Brogaard, D.M.Sci., Ph.D., says that this connection may be because, “[f]irst, depressed people have more negative emotions to express in artistic ways than people who are not depressed; and second, owing to their difficulties processing affect, artistic expression is one of the only ways for them to deal with these emotions.”

How They Differ – And How They Are The Same

The diagnoses of psychiatric disorders long ago were not supported so much by clinical evidence but from the artists’ biographies that showed physical, emotional and mental abnormalities. These were also proven through pathography, wherein psychological and literary analysts explained the relationship of the artists’ psychological and pathological aspects. Others were also found to have above average or excellent scores in their writing or art classes.


I was a bit confused with the findings but I did agree that there was something similar about mental disorder and creativity – and it was how these two deviated from the normal ways of thought. Someone with a mental illness did not think and behave normally, to be creative is to do something that is extraordinary. However, the effects of not being normal differed. For mental illness, it was depression, panic, and delusions. For being creative, it was beautiful poems and stories, magnificent paintings, and award-winning music. A finding once showed that intense euphoria and productivity are both characters of bipolar disorder and creative work.

Susan Biali Haas, M.D., explains, “…though creatives experience higher rates of mood disorders than the general population, the extremes of highs and lows tend to be brief, balanced by long periods of normal affect, or euthymia. During these respite periods, creatives frequently reflect upon and draw from memories and experiences of their darker times to create their best art.”

The number of mentally ill artists who flourished in their field of art should instill hope to those who have mental health issues, but not the urge to resist treatment. The list of ill creators included Jane Austen, Anton Chekhov, Sigrid Undset, Sebastian Bach, George Elliot, John Million, and last but not the least, William Shakespeare.

Yes, Shakespeare’s in the list, and here’s the catch question: Was Shakespeare depressed, considering the words he wrote from Hamlet? Perhaps he was – or not.

With this Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D., LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT, urges people to “…make a resolution to stop the pathology-driven analysis of the art of artists who happen to have mental illness. Instead, let’s celebrate artists who have struggled, for whatever reason including physical health, addictions, mental illness, socioeconomics, culture, or gender by instead reflecting on the power of the art they have created and meaning of creativity in their lives.”


Final Thoughts

I guess I am elaborating on this book that I read and re-read because I want to emphasize the importance of seeking the help of a mental health professional if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness. No doubt, creative art is among the most effective therapies, but only in conjunction with counseling and the proper treatment plan that has been carefully examined and prepared for you.

There are a variety of therapies for the mentally ill, and art therapy is only one of them. Ask a psychiatrist or a therapist about these and get the help you need.


How Women Can Improve Mental Wellness

Do you constantly feel sad about something in your life? Are you feeling down most of the time because of reasons that you could not identify? Is it your goal to improve your life to something better? If you answered yes to all these questions, then consider yourself lucky because you came to the right article. In this write-up, some of our expert writers are going to discuss how a woman like you can have an improved mental wellness. Here are the ideas to keep in mind:


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The Underpinnings Of DID In The Movie “Psycho”




Hollywood’s fascination with mental health issues is depicted at the end of the spectrum. Mentally ill individuals are often categorized as individuals who are murderers or a lonely but lovable guy who needs a love of a good woman to make the blues and addiction go away. Movies do not always give the real-life depiction of mental illnesses because after all, in general, these issues are annoying.  Who would want to invest in a story plot with countless therapy sessions, long hours spent sleeping and doing nothing and endless trial and error on medications? Cinema is vital in shaping the societal perception and awareness of the world around us; however, it can also bring exciting information and inaccurate characterization to draw controversy and publicity to the story which might lead to profit.




People are fond of scaring themselves and what is scarier than monsters, the idea that ordinary people around us are capable of doing heinous crimes without any apparent motivations; thus, the prolific releases of suspense thrillers with serial killers’ plot. One of the most iconic films with a serial killer as the central theme is the movie, “Psycho.” Psycho was released in 1960. It is a Phoenix office clerk named Marion Crane who is tired of her life. Her dilemma is that she can’t marry her lover, Sam because most of his money is spent on alimony. One day, when Marion’s employer trusted her to bank 40, 000 dollars, she took the chance to embezzle the funds to start a new life. While driving to Sam’s store, she got lost and decided to stay in a motel. A motel is run by a depressed manager, Norman Bates who is also a serial killer with multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder.

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a severe condition wherein a person’s identity is fragmented into two or more personality states or distinct characters which alternately controls an individual.

“DID is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process that produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of their identity. This ranges from temporary amnesia to complex alternate identities,” said Dr. Ilene S. Cohen, PhD.

Dr. Phil Mollon, PhD, from the British Pyschoanalytical Society added, “[T]o the observer, the DID patient seems to have several ‘people’ living within one body, each with different personalities, memories, life histories, ages and even gender. Occasionally, these ‘alters’ have no
knowledge of one another despite their close proximity, with each living under the illusion that they are the sole personality.”

Some individuals describe the disorder as an experience similar to possession. According to Arnold Lieber, MD, DID was first discovered in 1880. It was then called “hystero-epilepsy.” “The symptoms when the disease was first discovered were contortions, convulsions, fainting, and impaired consciousness,” Lieber said further.

Some individuals describe the disorder as an experience similar to possession. Despite the movie Psycho being released before the modern classifications of the disorder, the director, Hitchcock did showcase the classical symptoms and elements in the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder.




DID stems out from traumatic events or childhood. It is believed by experts as some coping mechanism of the psyche: considering that the traumatic events happened to someone else. The psychiatrist in the movie pointed out two events in Norman Bates’ life: the death of his father and committing matricide. Another symptom displayed as DID in the movie is social impairment. He lived in isolation and didn’t mainly have any friends or a reliable support system. Also, his illness showed a disturbance in the day to day life; however, one aspect of Mr. Bates that doesn’t fit the DID diagnosis is having conversations with his mother, which more appropriate to be classified as hallucinations or delusions which is often seen in schizophrenia patients. In the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V), it states that there are recurrent gaps in the recall of everyday events, relevant personal information and traumatic events that are inconsistent with ordinary forgetting. Through this movie, the general public is made aware of rare mental illnesses. It is also essential to learn more about this condition and dispel misconceptions that having the disease will lead to being a serial killer.

A Beautiful Mind: Hollywood’s Best Rendition On Schizophrenia


The movie industry often has a bad reputation for creating biography movies. Oftentimes, the storyline is sensationalized to the point of deviance from reality. Majority of the producers’ concern is the number of the tickets sold justifying such acts as giving the public what they paid for.

In general, people watched movies to be entertained and to see something out of the ordinary or unusual. Mundane and routine theme stories aren’t so popular in the general arena. Despite these perceptions of the movie industry, mental health experts recognized the movie, “A Beautiful Mind” for creating awareness of schizophrenia to moviegoers and the society as a whole.

“Psychologists have often written about movies to make observation about different aspects of psychology—social behavior, psychological disorders, psychotherapy, etc.,” wrote Stephen “Skip” Dine Young, PhD. “The medium is vibrant, emotionally powerful and accessible.”




“A Beautiful Mind” is an Oscar-winning film released in 2001. It depicted a brilliant mathematician named John Nash who was played by Russell Crowe.  Nash developed symptoms of schizophrenia when he was around 30 years old after he made significant contributions in the field of mathematics, an extension of game theory and math of decision making. As the disease progresses so does his symptoms, he had hallucinations and bizarre behaviors. Over the course of several decades, he was off and on anti-psychotic medications and in and out of hospitals. Later in his life, Nash claimed recovery from the disease without any medications. He attests these improvements to natural hormonal changes of aging.  Research, done before medications for schizophrenia was available, revealed that about 20 percent of schizophrenic patients recovered on their own while the remaining 80 percent did not. Latest studies show better prognosis in the management of Schizophrenia when accompanied with antipsychotic medications.




Schizophrenia is a disturbance in thought processes further characterized by an inability to grasp reality accompanied by abnormal social behavior. The common symptoms identified with the condition are false beliefs, hearing or seeing things, decrease in social interaction, and emotional expression as well as lack of motivation.

“When non-normative experience is digested by an individual who is both creative and intelligent, a circumstance that is rare, the individual may emerge with a “beautiful mind” or an anomalous mind, at any rate, in terms of the fruition of new ideas,” wrote Ann Olson, PsyD. “However, it is a fact that thought may be useless when it is not associated with a genuine and strong respect for tradition, or the basic ideas and cultural climate from which and in which this thought emerges.”

According to studies, schizophrenia affects about 1% of the population. Oftentimes, individuals with schizophrenia have other mental disorder co-morbidity such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse disorders. The onset of the condition comes gradually beginning in young adulthood and may progress throughout one’s lifetime; however, there are also accounts of children with schizophrenia although considered as a rare occurrence. Despite many efforts to pinpoint the cause of the disorder, like any other mental illness, it is believed to be caused by numerous factors such as environmental living conditions, genetic predisposition, brain chemistry and structure, history of cannabis usage, certain infections, parental age and poor nutrition during pregnancy. The diagnosis of schizophrenia is based on observations on his behaviors, reported experiences of people around him and the patient’s personal experiences. There is no exact cause of the mental illness; the treatment goal is to focus on elimination of the symptoms of the disease.




“Lack of awareness of negative symptoms […] is common in individuals with schizophrenia,” wrote Dawn I. Velligan, PhD, and Larry D. Alphs, PhD. “Patients and relatives are often unaware of the extent of these symptoms and seldom communicate them to the clinician.”

Enduring chronic disorders such Schizophrenia can be heartbreaking not only to the patient but also to the family. It can be debilitating and frustrating to the point of seeking assistance in doing simple daily tasks such as taking a bath or eating. Having awareness on these topics might encourage everyone to focus on their mental health.

Passion For Creativity Leads To A Healthier Mental And Emotional State




Art is the expression of one’s soul; any form of expression is therapeutic.

Whoever said art does not benefit the mind and the soul clearly doesn’t know how to create nor appreciate one. For art is a way to allow the brain to articulate the tragedies and victories of a person’s life. Granting creativity access to one’s being is like letting the rain wash away all the sorrowful and disappointing fragments of the day.

While others are not so convinced with the healthy perks of art, construed by the negative misconceptions and beliefs towards the discipline, there are numerous studies that support the thought of creativity as a form of therapy for various ages and genders.

“While some think the idea of “intervention” is not part of the art therapeutic relationship, intervention is the necessary specific, focused action that is taken to achieve or support change within any therapy of any kind,” Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D., LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT, says. She explains further, “Applying interventions is a central component of any helping professional’s role and is predicated on the second aspect– relationship.”

Art is universal. The creativity of the mind is not merely contained by what others can perceive.

Art goes beyond the superficial factoids of a person’s emotions. It conveys multiple hidden elements about somebody that can only be revealed through a stroke of a brush; a strum of a note; sculpt of an angle; the eloquence of the mind. Which is why, if you really want to know someone hand them a piece of paper and a set of coloring materials or a musical instrument or whatever it is that a person prefers to let the creativity flow from the system.

Robert Gray, M.A. (Art Therapy), explains,”Images represent an alternative medium for expression and communication. Once experiences are externalised as images, it is easier to talk about them by describing the artwork or talking about the art-making process.”




Art’s beneficial contributions

  1. Reduction of stress

Any artistic activity is calming. It takes the mind off of the world for a period of time, blocking out any forms of stressors. Being exposed to aggravations and nuisances can bruise a person’s emotional well-being and drain the mental state to the point of losing all composure and just screaming all frustrations out to the void. Art can take you away from that dire moment of your life and just let you reconnect with yourself. This then promotes healing of the soul.


  1. Boosts self-esteem

In life, there are things that you can’t win. And it’s quite frustrating that, no matter how hard you put your mind, body, and soul into something that you do, the outcome is still disappointing. But with art, there is a promise of creation, a bit of a struggle, and result. Art provides a sense of accomplishment which then boosts a person’s ego and self-worth.




  1. Increased concentration and motivation.

Creativity does not require skill or experience. However, in constant practice, a person can achieve improvement. Art is sometimes overwhelming for it does not pledge favorable conclusions; you may not like what you’ve made. Still, the person has gained something out of it. The process of creativity can increase a person’s focus, motivation, and ardor in performing different kinds of tasks.


  1. Enhances innovative thinking

When engaging in art, designing things and writing a piece, part of the brain is triggered; that part that is not normally utilized for most of the day. By way of thinking creatively, you tap into the brain’s mechanism to produce chemicals that can spur and inspire innovation.

“One of the many therapeutic benefits of art, which is already considered one form of therapeutic treatment, is that it allows you to express yourself without speaking,” according to Constance Scharff, Ph.D. “When you’re not worried about using the right words or how others will judge what you’re saying, you are free to be more genuine in your expressions and even delve into feelings you may otherwise avoid or ignore.”

People who are adept at thinking creatively can easily suggest alternative solutions to various forms of predicaments within the workplace or in the community.




  1. Resilience to changes

The repercussions for the passing of time do not exclude anyone; therefore, it is the mind’s objective to adapt to the changes. A person’s life depends on the ability of the mind to become resilient to whatever it may encounter, most especially with unfamiliar territories and circumstances. When a person was engaged in addiction or has experienced trauma, the brain should reroute itself. Art can be therapeutic in a way that it lets a person recover from forms of negative occurrences, depending entirely on creating improved thought processes. By doing so, art creates a new pathway of knowledge and skills that can lead a person to become smarter in dealing with crises they might encounter.

While art can just be a form of past time or hobby to some people, to others, it is an escape.  Creativity has shown significant beneficence not only to children who have mental disorders but also to adults who are going through a rough time. So to say, art incorporated into life is highly advantageous.


Mental Illness Behind The Jane Eyre Novel




Literature is said to be the written reflection of the society, culture and its issues based on a particular time.

Jane Eyre was a novel written by Charlotte Bronte about a heroine finding her way and place in the society. It challenges the cultural and religious norm of that time. Also, it tackles gender and social class issues and places the main characters in the position to examine their moral and spiritual sensitivities. The element of suspense in the novel was the existence of a ‘lunatic’ first wife who was described as, “what it was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, tell: it groveled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as mane, hid its head and face.”

Bertha Mason, the first wife, of Mr. Rochester was of Creole descent and has a family history of madness. Due to the insanity and the animalistic behavior of his wife, Mr. Rochester opted to imprison his wife in the attic under the care of a nurse. In the Victorian era, locking away or domesticated attention of mentally ill individuals are considered less harsh then taking them in the asylums. The ‘madness of Bertha’ has influenced society’s perception and awareness of mental illness.




Due to the popularity of Jane Eyre, some experts and academics even studied and compared the condition of Bertha Mason to an individual diagnosed with Huntington ’s disease (HD). “Simply put, HD is caused when one gene (or allele) of a usually healthy gene pair we all carry is abnormally elongated. This HD gene mutation is dominant, so that anyone who carries it will develop HD,” wrote Jenni Ogden, PhD. Huntington ’s disease also called as Huntington’s chorea is a hereditary disorder which leads to the death of brain cells.

Early symptoms show subtle problems with mood and mental ability. Next, overall lack of coordination and unsteady gait is observed. As the disease develops, jerky and uncoordinated body movements become noticeable. Physical ability slowly worsens until coordinated movements become difficult and the person is unable to talk. Mental abilities are also affected which causes cognitive and psychiatric disorders. Similar to Huntington’s tenets, Bertha Mason depicted a disorder with a strong family history which is suggestive of an autosomal dominant inherited condition with adult onset and culminating in suicide.

Many criticize Bronte on her depiction of Bertha’s Creole heritage and her complexion along with her madness as evidence to be identified as savage but at the same time also seen as a doppelganger for Jane. The doppelganger takes on the novel may not be too far-fetched since Jane Eyre is even imprisoned by the red room as a child and abstract sense of confinement as a woman of low social class. During those times, women suffer too many restraints and rules. “Even if they belonged to higher social classes, most women throughout history have been enslaved by men. Until recent times, women throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia were unable to have any influence over the politics, religion or culture,” wrote Steve Taylor, PhD.

Thankfully, the rigid social level, the limitations of women and stigma of mental illness are improving and far better as compared before; however, the issues remain and despite countless efforts from advocacy groups and healthcare sector. Feminists groups, female initiative campaigns, call for gender equality and reports of sexual assaults stay as problems that are yet to eliminate. After all, the feelings of entrapment of Jane Eyre and Bertha Mason might still be the same confines we face today.




With the present situation, a lot has changed since research, science and digital technology have intertwined and allowed the discovery of treatments and innovations on how to treat and handle mental illness. “Going back to a bit of history, World War II put a big spotlight on mental health as the war had serious mental health impacts on soldiers (war impacts EVERYONE and it has a trickle down effect through the generations),” wrote Kimberly Key, PhD. “Slowly, a shift in perceptions occurred where people could safely seek treatment for adjustment, transitions, and relational issues without feeling stigmatized.”

There has been a lot of promising changes, however, we still need more human involvement and understanding in relation to our attitude and behavior with persons suffering from mental illness.

The Evolution Of Mental Illness




Despite many improvements in treatment and research of mental illnesses, there are still existing social stigmas that hinder the society from addressing the issue of increasing incidence. In the prehistoric times, mental illness was seen in a mystical perspective. Without division between magic, religion and health care, without any real understanding of the cause of the occurrence of the disease, the abnormal behavior is attributed to the supernatural. Treatment would include casting of spells by Shaman and exorcists. From 500 BC to 500 AC, various mental disorders were pinpointed as melancholia, mania, hysteria, delusions, and hallucinations. Then, in the 15th century, the ideas and opinions on mental illness surrounds in arguments of the existence of witches, finding basis and proofs that witches-oftentimes women-do exist, how to identify a witch such as deviant behaviors, insanity caused by possession of the devil, salvation of the soul was given more importance than the physical body and physical punishments.

According to Neel Burton, MD, “In antiquity, people did not think of ‘madness’ (a term that they used indiscriminately for all forms of psychosis) in terms of mental disorder but of divine punishment or demonic possession.”




The 16th century was a time when mentally ill individuals were dangerous and were locked up in order to protect society. Mental illness was a topic tackled in literature. This was evident in the Shakespeare’s plays, but it was most apparent in the play “Hamlet.” Several characters in Hamlet might be identified as mad. Most notable are Hamlet and Ophelia. Deaths of their fathers drove the madness showcase in this game. Hamlet’s behaviors suggested a mental disorder. For instances, seeing the ghost of his father and the ghost urging him to seek revenge is an example of hallucinations. Visual and auditory hallucinations are one of the symptoms seen in individuals with some form of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Many people with anxiety, depression and panic attacks also encounter hallucinations. At some point, Hamlet questions his insanity whether it is, in fact, the ghost of his father or rather the devil itself who is betraying his soul.  In the end, his madness and quest for revenge resulted in the most tragic of the story: Death to himself and his loved ones. Another major character who also exhibited symptoms of mental illness is Ophelia. Ophelia showed signs of depression over the death of his father. The death of her father also destroyed her self-identify and it too bloomed the feelings of helplessness regarding her own life. The subject of mental health during these times may not have prompted dramatic action towards the treatment and management of mental illness, at least it became a vehicle of awareness regarding the fact that mental illness exists and can happen to anyone.

In the 17th century, the general belief was that if “mad” people behave like animals, they would be treated as one. A neuroanatomist and doctor, Thomas Willis advocated treatments such as curative discipline, fetters, blows and medical treatment.  The law decree that a mentally ill individual lacked the ability to reason so his affairs are handed over to someone else – nearest friend – who will not substantially benefit from his death. The care of the ill was a domestic manner and cared at home or private mental institution.

The 18th century was a dark age for the mentally ill. They were classified as prisons who are oftentimes, neglected. During this period, there was the development of asylums usually away from the public. The 19th century was a breakthrough and become a pivotal point in what mental illness is today. The mentally ill were treated in a specialized facility resembling a homey environment. Decent beds replaced the prison room with pictures of nature and loved ones and other decorative objects. A structured schedule was implemented, and inappropriate behaviors were tackled with the goal of restoring sanity and become a productive member of society.

In the 1960s, there was something referred to as “antipsychiatry.” Mark L. Ruffalo, DPsa, LCSW, wrote, “Perhaps the most pervasive — and harmful — claim made by antipsychiatry is that mental illness doesn’t really exist, and that the treatments for mental illness are merely concealed attempts to exert social control over the population.”

“There were many others who joined in on the attack on asylums, including Thomas Szasz, R. D. Laing, and Franco Basaglia, and using history to do so,” wrote Matthew Smith, PhD. “Political beliefs, personal turmoil, and the spirit of the 1960s—not to mention the beginning of deinstitutionalization—all played a role in shaping their arguments, as such factors usually do, even in the most “scientific” areas of medicine.”




With the present situation, a lot has changed since research, science and digital technology have intertwined and allowed the discovery of treatments and innovations on how to treat and handle mental illness. There has been a lot of promising changes, however, we still need more human involvement and understanding in relation to our attitude and behavior with persons suffering from mental illness.