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No Secret

Art as Therapy

Yin <em>(left)</em>, Yu <em>(right)</em>

IT IS NO SECRET THAT happiness and health are directly related. A consistently happy person gets a much bolstered immune system which, better than an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.

Modern neuroscience has demonstrated that beautiful pictures and melodious music stimulate the orbitofrontal cortex, sending messages to the mesencephalon (midbrain) to release dopamine, giving rise to feelings of excitement and encouragement. Art’s therapeutic value has a firm scientific footing.

While waiting to see a doctor at the University clinic, it’s not hard to see oil paintings of various campus scenes hanging on the walls. The paintings were gifts from the painter, Mr. Chen Keng. The colours and the sceneries are pleasing to the eyes and reassuring to the minds of the patients waiting in front of them.

At a small but warm ceremony held at Sir Run Run Shaw Hall on 24 May, Dr. Xie Chunling, famed calligrapher and an authority on oracle bone inscriptions, donated 12 of her oracle bone calligraphies to the University Health Service (UHS). Dr. Xie also took the guests on a tour of the structures and meanings of the inscriptions.

The calligraphies given to UHS for permanent display include inscriptions of good bodings: ‘peace’, ‘happiness (also music)’, ‘health’, ‘tranquillity’, ‘dragon’ and ‘horse’. Some are related to health care, such as yin and yu. In the former pictograph (left), one can see a primitive form of treatment, as a person is holding an instrument to the abdomen of another. In the latter (right), a child is born, head down, from a mother. This pictograph is the rudimentary form of the word yu meaning both ‘to give birth’ and ‘to educate’.

Dr. Scotty Luk, director of UHS, stressed the importance of the therapeutic environment in modern medicine and pointed out that the healthcare personnel need such an environment as much as the patients. He believed that the aesthetic and intellectual appeal of the oracle bone inscriptions bestowed by Dr. Xie will be a much welcome boon to his team in providing quality services to the University community.

This article was originally published in No. 520, Newsletter in Jun 2018.

Art paintings therapy University Health Service healthcare Xie Chunling Scotty Luk