Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

Do We Have to Have a Stroke to Become Creative?

Welcome to Art and Healing Wednesday…

I found an article in the New York Daily News that talks about Tommy McHugh, a sixty year old handyman and street fighter who had a massive brain hemorrhage.  Upon emerging from his coma, McHugh got this creative streak.  This creative streak had led him to begin transforming everything he can into works of art.  It seems the hemorrhage unleashed his creativity. 

McHugh not only pains, but writes poetry, sculpts and carves.  So what happened?  Neuroscientists are thinking that the changes in his temporal lobe unleashed this streak of creativity.  It’s giving these scientists some clues into where creativity resides in the brain.  The real news, for me, is that McHugh has embraced his artistic side and lives in it like a pig in mud.  It’s an opportunity for him to express his deepest emotions following the hemorrhage.  This new view of life is not only prettier, but it is freeing.  There’s a new purpose in his life and it gets expressed through his art.

Why is this important?  It’s clear that one of the ways we unleash ourselves from the shackles of a health challenge is ultimate self-expression.  It doesn’t matter the form of the creative expression, but the feelings and experiences need to be expressed.  Sharing your story with the world is empowering, uplifting, and promotes wellness.  It provides the body with positive feedback reducing stress and allowing the body to devote its resources to health and healing.

The other aspect of art as a healing force is that it’s enveloping.  It provides a safe haven for body, mind, and spirit to express those parts of oneself that may be too painful or not yet conscious.  When you unearth the junk you make room for the healing energy to emerge and work on the bodies healing mechanisms.

McHugh’s life has changed drastically.  He is opening a free gallery for amateur artists to show their work.  Let’s hope he encourages those who emerge from an illness or injury to follow in his footsteps and express, express, express!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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