Tim Samuels meets veterans of recent British conflicts as he examines the role of art therapy in the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Tonight we are looking at the unlikely story of some
extraordinary men. Men who answered the country's call for service, but
decades after they fought in our name, are still fighting their own
personal battles. I hated the army so much when I got out. So there
you were cast adrift. With nothing. -- suddenly you laugh. The military
was my family. But it caused me quite a lot of damage. It is not
just physical scars they bear but the physical wounds of war, combat-
related post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, a condition which
has existed as long as men have been asked to fight. Sleepless
nights, inability to relax, continuous fear about the
approaching night. I suffer with intrusive thoughts from my time in
the Falklands. It does not go away. Invisible wounds they are trying to
heal using art. For me, it is not a canvas, but a life. It is the most
powerful of the therapies I have tried. Are you saying that without
that therapy you might not be here? Positive MACRO. Definitely. But can
the power of art really help rebuild the lives of those who have
been damaged years after swearing an oath to Queen and country?
swore by Almighty God that I would be faithful and bear true
allegiance. The to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her
heirs and successors... And that I will honestly and faithfully...
Defender Majesty, her heirs and successors... In person, Crown and
dignity against all enemies... well-observed and obey orders of
Her Majesty, her heirs and successors... And of the generals
Just as it seems inevitable that countries will always go to war, so
it seems inescapable that there will always be haunting human
consequences. During the First World War the condition we now know
as post-traumatic stress disorder was labelled a lack of moral fibre.
Or more simply, shell-shock. Often viewed as a kind of emotional
weakness, or even cowardice, it is a disorder where the memories of
traumatic events are frozen in the brain and can be triggered by the
slightest thing, meaning people with PTSD still feel the same
intense Vere, even years after the It seems one enduring constant
among the ever changing face of war is the damaging psychological
legacy amongst those asked to fight. The condition finally gained
official recognition after Vietnam. 1.5 million US troops fought active
combat during the conflict and many returned traumatised. The effects
experienced high suicide rates and criminal convictions, many
developed drug and alcohol problems, they began demanding answers. The
condition that had been so easily dismissed for generations was
finally given a medical diagnosis, post-traumatic stress disorder. The
turning point for recognising PTSD in the UK was the Falklands war. A
conflict where it is believed more troops have since taken their own
lives. After the Falklands it only became gradually acknowledged
within military psychiatric circles that this was a real issue.
modern face of Battle related trauma, men who have served in
Belfast, Bosnia and beyond, each What might seem like an every day
trip to the Tate Modern in London is actually a challenging mission,
How do you feel being in a public space? It is not too crowded. I
know one of the lads is keeping an eye on me. D'you like it? I do. I
feel like I want to walk up the steps. Some of it is so weird.
These men must be mental! Is this your favourite piece? In looks very
beautiful. It is an aspiration to me, it is like you want to go
somewhere but it is not possible to get there. I only come here with
Combat Stress because I feel safe with them. I would not come here on
my own but I would like to be here a my own to have that confidence.
Could you give that a go next time? I don't know. For the present time
I count my blessings. They were brought to the Tate Modern for
therapeutic reasons by a Combat Stress, a charity at the forefront
of fighting the mental health effects of conflict. The mind tries
to represent the material for filing so you get nightmares,
flashbacks and intrusive memories. You become up tight, you get
anxiety symptoms with panic attacks, irritability, anger outbursts,
difficulty sleeping, poor concentration. In the military
people perceive themselves as being invincible and fairly macho, for
the vast majority it takes a long time before they ask for help. In
fact, the average is around 13 It took Frank and Bones way it more
than 13 years before they got help. -- Wayne Moores. I have joined them
for my first go at fishing. -- way more. You will need one of these.
Flick it forward and let go with your finger. Where has it gone?
the air. I think I caught a plant! You are not going away empty-
handed! Frank joined the Paras when he was 18 and served for eight
years in Northern Ireland, as it turned from a peacekeeping mission
into one of the bloodiest periods in UK history. The day he left he
threw all his medals into the dustbin. In some ways it was closer
than a family, then all of a sudden, there you are, cast adrift, where
do I go? What do we do? When do you think you're PTSD kicked in?
goes back to 1971. In Northern Ireland. That is a little bite, we
have something interested in debate. How many years was that after you
left the army that you were diagnosed with PTSD? Nearly 30
years after leaving the forces. years of going around undiagnosed.
Correct. How would your life have been different if there was
diagnosed 30 years ago? I probably would not have got into the trouble
I got into. I would probably be married to my first wife. The
alcoholism, drug abuse is part and parcel of PTSD. So where would my
life be? I do not know. When you get flashbacks, are they like
daydreams, or like being back there? Depending on what has caused
it, it can be back in the event. For example, the other week I
stopped at a little cafe and I was sat there and suddenly the sash
window across the other side came up six inches and the net curtain
blew out and I dived for the floor, under the table. People were going
what the hell...? To explain to them that that was -- I explained
to them it was a sniper. That was I can see the attraction of fishing
Bones's PTSD stems from his time on HMS Sheffield during the Falklands,
he went undiagnosed for 17 years. 20 crewmen died during the attack.
The heat generated by fires in the ship was so intense that
eyewitnesses said the whole blistered and felt like snow. --
hull. After the initial impact they asked for a volunteer, I
volunteered, that is why I am like I am. Inside it is a mess some days.
Complete and utter carnage. There was a photograph in the papers at
the time of you coming off the boat saying you're war was over. Yes,
but as you can see, my war is not over. It's like that for other guys
as well. Alex Coker also left the Army but combat-related PTSD and
now gets treatment at Combat Stress. He joined at 18 and was a Corporal
in the Royal Engineers. He survived constant missile attacks in the
first Gulf war, and was would be UN in Rwanda. What other jobs have you
done since you left the forces? worked as a sheet metal places.
Since he left, he has struggled with feelings of aggression and
anxiety, for which he is now one medication to keep in check. I am
alert all the time. If somebody claps a jump out of my skin,
sweating and night, my head is racing all the time. What goes
through your mind? I don't know really. It is like a constant noise
in my head. I did nothing there was anything wrong with me, I thought I
was like anybody else. I hated the army so much when I got out I did
not know what to think. That is a lot of what goes on in my head, I
am confused. Sometimes I hate it so much a have to sit down and go to
sleep, it is too much noise going on. Alex was also a witness to the
circus of horrors that was the peacekeeping mission in the Balkans.
It was there, while still in the army, that his condition began to
surface. We would do what ever we But then I could not see the point
of it. We were there for a long time. We did loads of jobs, one
bloke got his head blown off, the engineers were out there shovelling
up bodies. I was in turmoil, remember going to sit outside in
the middle of a mortar attack, thinking they were going to blow my
head off. I was just fed up. If you knew what it would be like after,
would you have still joined the army? I suppose so. Why do you say
that? We all do our bit. I would have liked to have stayed in but I
just could not stand it any longer, the utter chaos. All the military
hospitals in the UK have been closed. Now veterans to come
forward for help are treated within the NHS, or by charities. Outside
the NHS, Combat Stress is the biggest provider of support. This
is their Surrey headquarters where veterans come and stay for two week
stints of treatment. It feels very militaristic, the flags are up, it
is spick and span, a lot of order. But there is something going on in
here which you would not really expect people who have served in
This is art therapy. Used here alongside the more mainstream
psychiatric and psychological treatments and medication.
They employ the country's only art therapist dedicated to working with
veterans. They have got loads of symptoms,
they might have been trying to ignore for years. When they come
here, they are looking for answers. They are looking for for things
that are going to help and they're willing to try. It is not like a
lesson, you don't need to be good at art.
This is a recognised branch of psychotherapy which uses the art to
bring out a flow of images which afterwards, can then be decoded and
doing so, helping the brain to reprocess the traumatic memories..
I pick up the art materials and it is as though the drawing starts
making itself. It is not really me controlling the process. If I'm
trying to draw properly gets in the way. It is surprising what it it
actually brings out. It is amazing what's actually in there that you
don't bloody realise. It is disorder information storing
and retrieval that the memories aren't stored as normal memories so
being able to express them, a little bit at a time symbolically
and to give them sense and meaning through art therapy can help them
to process it. To put it into words. Although some of the art created in
therapy can seem primitive and deliberately so, whilst they are
here, there is time and space for veterans to enjoy making more
poppished pieces which are on display everywhere.
-- polished pieces which are on display everywhere.
It is good stuff, frank. Well, thanks. That's only the
second painting I've ever done. You get some of the visitors coming
round and saying, "I like that. I like the effect." Yeah, you get the
shug -- shrug of the shoulders that somebody appreciates. It is It is
nice to hear work work about your work.
It wakes up a new sense in you if you like.
I went to Combat Stress for five years, I can't draw. I couldn't
paint. I thought, "That's sissy stuff." One day I decided I'll give
it a go. I get a lot out of it. It is camming. I can -- calming. I can
put things on paper that I couldn't actually say. I couldn't explain it,
but I can put it on to paper so it It is called The Demise of Cornwall.
When I came out of the Forces, it was about what I saw in Cornwall,
the mining and the fishing it pretty much dried up and the
poppies which I put in, it is a little bit of a dig for me because
most of the help that goes into the veterans is charity.
It feels like there is a real camaraderie? There is a real
camaraderie and lots of people who have got the same sort of thing
wrong with them and they just get together and help each other and
Did this start off from one of the therapy sessions? Yeah, normally it
is weird actually, but when you turn up here, you have got no
expectations of what is going to go on, but something might happen
during the day and it triggers off an episode in the night. Most of my
stuff comes from what happens when I sleep. Another piece I have done
is a from a dream which I had on Saturday which is a hanging tree.
High hung myself in my -- I had hung myself in my dream and I
couldn't get that out of my head until I put that image down as a
model. It is like taking some of the
poison out of the emotions that drive you? Yeah, I finished the
dream off. I drew a line under it and that was it, gone.
Steve Woods joined the army in 1979, but left after developing PTSD. His
went undiagnosed for 17 years. Why did you join the Army in the
first place? Truthfully, to get away from home.
I don't want to go into too much detail, but I had a very abusive
childhood. How old were you when you joined? 16. 16.
When I joined, "Are you sure you want to join the Light Infantry."
The military was my family. When actual in fact, it caused me a lot
of damage, you know. I'm getting help and the art is pushing me in
the right direction. I'm really thankful for that.
How would the art and the therapy lift you from that? It was the
flashbacks and the thoughts that put me into that state. When I'm
painting, I get lost in it and thoughts don't come in.
In terms of the things which have helped you, you have been diagnosed
and going on medication... Yeah. How significant is the art therapy?
I think without it, there has been points in the last three years
where I just wanted to go - well, do away with myself. I think
without the art and the support of my wife and people like Jan, I
wouldn't be here. It has been fundamental. It really has.
Are you really saying without the art therapy, you might not be here?
It might not be mainstream, but art therapy has a rich tradition rooted
in familiar territory. I've come to the Impeer War mew -- Imperial War
Museum to see the work of a painter whose work makes him fundamental to
the story of art therapy. This is some of the art of the
artist Adrian Hill, a man with a remarkable story who is seen as the
godfather of art therapy, aged just 22 in 1917, he was sent by the
Imperial War Museum out to capture what life was like in the First
World War and these are some of the extraordinary, powerful, evocative
pieces that he brought back from the Western Front. What really
makes Adrian Hill relevant for us is that in 1938, he contracted
tuberculosis and was sen to the san -- sent to the sanatorium and he
screchd and -- sketched and drew and in 1939 some soldiers who were
the first casualties where brought there and he extended his use of
art to them to lift their spirits. He had a revelation that he could
help those soldiers who had trauma related to war. What is really
fascinate something that art therapy, since its birth, has been
entwined with conflict and all of these years later we have different
soldiers, different conflicts, but the pioneering approach of Adrian
Hill is given respite to those suffering from their service.
More evidence of the potential therapeutic power of art comes from
the fringes of the Artic Circle. We've come to Northern Finland to a
small place right up against the Swedish border to meet a guy who
has been on an amazing journey. His life has been transformed by art
since he left the SAS. Steve Pratt joined the Army as a
boy soldier at the age of 14, he stayed for 17 years and fought in
conflict zones all over the world. Hi, Steve.
Thanks for coming. He was decorated for his service in
the SAS, but left in 1981 when he began to develop the symptoms of
PTSD. He moved to Finland seeking
solitude and distance from his past. Steve has reinvented himself as an
acclaimed practising artist who has comibt -- exhibited across Europe.
This is the main room then? Yeah, we start over here really. This is
his latest exhibition. His work seems to draw heavily from
his military background. This really shows the size of the
problem in my head. If you look at the size of this painting and the
figures in this painting, what's going on in this painting was in my
head and it really frightens me. It is the actual canvas that you
use, goes through a violent process? Yeah. So that is being
chainsawed? That's because I have been to pieces and I was really mad.
If you are full of rage and hate, you can express those things, but
when you express them on a canvas, they become an expression in
painting so you are actually, they change and then you can see them
for what they are and then you can be, you know, separated from that.
I started working in Northern Ireland, you know, in an
intelligence gathering role. It was a very different kind of war war to
what they have now, it wasn't lots of bombs flying around. It was a
lot of anxiety, a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty. One of my
colleagues was abducted, tortured, killed, body never found and I was,
you know, going out then to talk to people who might know about this
and that was a bit of a problem well, quite a big problem for me.
That's where I started to feel the weight of the job I was doing, you
know. Then it was just like something snapped inside me and I
thought, "I can't do this anymore." When I left my military service, I
was told at my final medical that, "I will give you a year before you
kill yourself.". How irresponsible can you get?
To say that to somebody in distress? That sentence rang in my
ears for the next 19 years. After leaving the Army, Steve suffered
from severe depression. He was prescribed medication, but it was
after starting a fine art degree, he found the feelings start to
dissipate. Art enabled me to move on and to
continue continue move on. It has been the only way I could achieve
closure. I wouldn't have been able to achieve it by thinking about it
because by thinking about it, you just spin around the problem. Art
enables unconscious activity to come out on to a canvas and then to
look back and say, "That's how it was." Not, "That is is how it is
now. "I feel I am in a better place now
and in a place where I can possibly help others.
Convinced that creativity helped him deal with past traumas, Steve
made a decision. He is coming back to the country he once served, but
fled from. I have enrolled at Goldsmith's
doing the MA art scibg owe therapy so you can -- psychotherapy so you
can work with people using psychotherapy. I see that as a
purpose in my life. I have got to use this to enable other people to
see the journey and help them move Art therapy has been around for
decades and therapists report impressive anecdotal evidence.
Something seems to be going on, but there is little little scientific
research into what is going on in the brain. I have come to Chicago
to meet one of the few guys in the world who can shed light on what
the potential potential neurological impact might be.
As Director of Clinical neuroscience at one of America's
largest ved large veterans hospitals, Dr Lukasz Konopka worked
with Vietnam vets suffering with PTSD. He is one of the few nure
roll gists who have -- nure roll gists to have done research into
art therapy and its impact on the Kenny Show or happens when somebody
suffers trauma? This structure is important, it is involved in memory
consultation. If there is chronic stress the volume of this
hippocampus increases, this is what you would expect to see in somebody
suffering from PTSD. With the decrease in hippocampus, one's
function is decreased because it is involved in memories. What role
does art therapy have been somebody -- in treating somebody with PTSD?
It is essential because it taps into the very primitive networks of
the brain. Brain function changed through art therapy could be long-
lasting, so by being able to alter brain function we can establish new
pathways, and buy it doing that you allow the patient to begin to live
a different life. Are you saying prolonged use of art therapy can
actually result in the brain being rewired? I am absolutely convinced
It was remarkable to hear what Lukasz Konopka had to say, art
therapy is not just about painting, for him, it is an integral part of
the healing process for people who really need all the help they can
get. Whatever is happening on a new a logical level, the art does seem
to unleash brawl and private memories. Memories which the
veterans are willing to share with each other, and for the first ever
time for a therapy session, with the camera. The first part today, I
was going to suggest the theme of the invisible wound. Then, after
one hour, we will gather together and come back into this space to
Invisible wounds. The analogy is wandering down the road in the dark
at night, a red light hit me, hit the wall, I see a shadow on the
wall. I see the shadow of what I was when I was a soldier, and we
have a swift connection, that is those two red lines. It is me
saying what is the matter, you don't feel well? The other one says
I wish I could have the confidence and the ability you had then. I am
a shadow of myself, I hide in the shadows of my home. I wish I did
not have these invisible wounds, I could be like him. I used to look
after these guys, and now they look Does that strike a chord with
others? Yes. Thank you. Through the imagery they give me a sense of
what it might be like but I do not think anybody could understand
unless they had been there, that is why they so respect being together
because they know the other person understands. It was very much when
one and it said about -- Jan said about a won't, I felt a tightening
in my chest and I felt straps being pulled tightly, sort of a pain, and
you do not know what you want to tear the straps of, or hold on to
it. Whether to hold on to it and keeping deep inside, because it is
yours, you do not want anybody else to know. You want to rip it off but
it is protected. You're not getting out. I had two it failed marriages,
endless failed relationships and it was getting worse and worse. In the
end, I was at a stage where I tried to commit suicide. All those people
that see are so big ex soldiers and think look at that fat man! Wasting
away on a pension. He is not wasting away, he is fighting like
It is not a mainstream form of therapy, certainly at the moment,
and I guess some would be sceptical, but you do not look like the sort
of bunch of people that are easily taken for a ride. You were
definitively say there is something in this? At silly. You guess. It do
you feel it almost connects to a part of the brain that other
therapies do not touch? Absolutely. You're all nodding. This is a
primary one, it gets things... is the one that opens the doors.
You yes, very quickly. It pulls things out so fast and deep that
I'd think it is the most powerful therapy I have tried. Having seen a
session I am blown away by how powerful it can be as an instrument
to unlock some pretty deep, hidden emotions. I was struck by how much
people's lives are still so impacted by conflicts which have
happened in some cases decades ago, and they are still carrying of --
carrying that suffering around. It Combat stress has seen its caseload
got 70 per cent in the past five years, and now helps 4500 veterans
a year, but there is a big waiting list. One thing which has come to
light whilst filming is the defence review which will see troops over
the next decade demobilised, many of whom will have seen a frontline
action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and will have been exposed to trauma.
With combats stress already creaking under the strain of
waiting lists, I just wonder whether we will be able to provide
the level of help and support that many of these people need. Some
people close to the Armed Forces are naturally concerned about this.
As a result of the Post 9/11 walls, there is a huge consequence, people
have had limbs blown off, blinded, people with brain injuries, but by
far the biggest problem we will have is the tidal wave of those
with mental scars, unseen scars, which will increasingly manifest
themselves. We have to be sympathetic and help those people
deal with them because we owe them that. In terms of who is out in
Afghanistan now, we have a nursing team of three out there looking
after a population of up to 10,000 people. Is that enough? Yes, it is.
Not everybody who sees a traumatic event is going to get ill. So the
main burden of mental health problems arising from Operations is
going to be after the operation. With the cuts coming, thousands
will leave the forces, will that make it harder to try to look after
their psychological well-being? is likely to be limited to those
who have been in combat. And we know how to follow people up. And
routine medicals members of the Armed Forces undergo now contain
Ayres -- contains assessment of mental health, that is important at
discharge where we are trying to pick people up. There is such a
human consequence when troops are committed, there is such a
responsibility for them, their families and the repercussions be
on that. I have long campaigned on mental health issues and we must
recognise that while we treat the visible injuries off a wall, --
injuries from war, I think the invisible wounds are less well
treated. It would be great to find money for servicemen and women but
defence is not a vote-winner and because we live in a democracy
politicians focus on the things that will win them popular support.
Looking after servicemen and women is not one of them. The direct
funding would be helpful. More direct funding. It would be nice to
have an automatic service for veterans that does not rely on
Unlike Britain, the US has hospitals across the country
dedicated to treating veterans. This is the main one in the centre
of Chicago. These veterans are using art therapy in much the same
way our men do back home. Years and years I did not know what was wrong.
I thought I was just crazy. uncontrollable rage, nightmares, I
did not know what it was. RC Hardy has been using art therapy for four
Muntz, he is an ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran with PTSD. There
are nights I do not sleep at all. Sometimes I get frightened, I Wyke
-- I wake up frightened for no reason. His art work expresses
emotions and experiences which seemed timeless and universal too
many a veteran of conflict. This indicates what goes on with a young
person who goes to war, or combat, and you see people with skin blown
away, their face off, you know. Cut one time I dug up dead bodies in
Vietnam. -- at one time. This bothers him, he dreams of it, it is
in his mind forever. Inside the mask you can see... Drugs,
cigarettes... Drugs, dope, everything that is in there,
everything they used to hide behind if they're not taking medication.
How much of a fight with you put up if I said I was going to take away
your brushes and you cannot paint? I can't paint no more? I would put
up a big fight. You were telling me I can't express myself. I express
myself through my art. You telling me I can't express myself? It is
like taking away my freedom of speech. What if you can't talk any
more? I would try to fight to! -- you. It was the terrible human
fall-out from America's time in Vietnam which led to PTSD being
diagnosed. It also fuelled a new symbiosis between art and the
experience of war, creating something quite special. In
downtown Chicago there is a building I have heard about for
ages at which I just have to go and This is the National Veterans Art
Museum in Chicago, originally founded by some Vietnam veterans.
What makes this place unique is that every piece here has been
created by somebody who has witnessed war. Although established
my Vietnam veterans, the museum now includes works reflecting a more
recent American conflict. This piece is called Sand Angel, it was
made by an American serviceman who was out Iraq in the first Gulf war.
He came across an injured Iraqi serviceman who was dying and his
arms were flailing out. What makes this piece so haunting is that it
is not a piece of make believe, you know that the artist was a soldier
who had this image a running through his head for years, from
something he had actually seen, which he felt compelled to get out.
This is the result. One of the founders of the museum is the a
numb veteran Joe Fornelli, he was a crew chief on a Huey helicopter,
one of the most dangerous jobs in the war. In the field he felt
compelled to capture the chaos around him using whatever he could
lay his hands on. He created this delicate image using split bamboo
and dried coffee. Maybe subconsciously I was making notes
because I did want people to know what I witnessed. I did it with my
hard work. What role do you think art can have been helping somebody
who has been in conflict to heal It opens up things that are closed
and should not be closed off inside these individuals. There are the
people like them. That helps. -- other people. Another artist on
display is Bill Crist. A fellow Vietnam veteran. I love this museum.
I know I am not alone. I used to think I was the lone ranger out
there. I couldn't talk about anything, you know. Bill was con
conscripted into the infantry and developed severe PTST after the
conflict. You come home and everything is
going to be fine, it is not that way.
It is not that way at all. His works were created using art
therapy during time spent in a psychiatric ward. They depict the
memories which still haunt him. was unconscious, that's how
powerful that explosion was. I told the people in charge, I will draw
these because a picture is worth 1,000 words and I won't have to
talk about it anymore. Wrong. The more I drew, the more I talked.
Avr got out the the -- after I I out of the infantry, I became a
medic. The tail rot ar was going full speed and it went into his
head and ripped the top of his head off. His brains were all over the
ground. I am ashamed to say I was crying and throwing up at the same
time. That was an extremely traumatic experience for me. Very
traumatic. The art is where the power is and
the art is what created the museum. Is it worth more than life? I think
what we all want, the survivors want, we all want to make sure that
the ones that didn't make it... Are always remembered.
One of the most striking exhibits here, perhaps the centrepiece of
the whole museum, is this. It is a monument to every American soldier
who died in Vietnam and it is a replica of of every single soldier
who died starting in that corner in 1957 and working its way in
chronological order to that way corner to 1975.
On each dog tag, the name of a service person who died in Vietnam,
over 58,000. An incredible amount of effort has gone into making this.
It has taken two years to individually punch each dog tag.
What is truly extraordinary is what each one represents.
I just thought of something - that memorial was never really a part of
this exhibit or design in the beginning, but they are the ones
that didn't make it. I just thought of it now.
It is incredibly powerful. Yeah. Yeah. We all know somebody on that.
Looking around at this stuff, on the one hand, I am in awe of it and
on the other han other hand I am jealous, thinking we should have
something like this in the UK. You know, what, it is natural. If
somebody planted the seed and nurtured in. It is natural that
this should happen to me. It does seem natural and such a
positive and public way to channel experiences which most of us would
find unimaginable. Surely our guys back home deserve a similar
platform. A public exhibition might be a good start. But would our
veterans be up for an exhibition? Something which could bring their
stories to a wider public and encourage other ex-soldiers not to
suffer in silence and what form should it take? We have we have got
this idea that it would be great to push this on to a wider stage and
have an exhibition or something to bring it to the wider public.
It is important to get that message across to the decision makers that
send us to war. I am at the stage now where I would
like to push it forward. To let other people see what I'm doing.
It would be interesting to compare some of the work we've done.
A mixture of the art and art therapy and create a balance so
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 64 seconds
Steve Pratt has been measuring up the gallery. He has met with bomber
macro at Combat Stress to select some work to display. -- Jan.
Speech bubbles. What is going on? Our guys have been hard at it.
glad I achieved it but I do not think I will do this again in a
hurry. It takes you to a dark place where you do not want to go. I have
not done anything at home for a long time. It was nice to get back
into something. It was a painful exercise to work this are but very
valuable. I feel it is really helping me. Sometimes I cry when I
am doing it, having a good paint. Some weird stuff comes out but it
is all good. It is all hell for. Hopefully we can get more people
who can understand because they will be a lot of lads coming back
he will need help. Hell of a lot of them. Steve Pratt is also creating
a challenging new work which incorporates past memories. He is
using some interesting techniques. A star from the point of view of a
traumatic destruction -- I start. Then some kind of rebuilding. That
destruction is also we creation and . We decided to call the exhibition
Invisible Wounds. The work on display features art made join
therapy sessions, specially created pieces by our guys.
Artwork that we brought back from America. And a series by Steve
This is a hell of a piece of work. It looks really good with the light
What does the piece symbolise? That's how a lot of us feel a lot
of the time. The distance, I wanted to bring in from us into reality
and and how we feel smaller than everyone else and insignificant. I
was a bit apprehensive about how it was going to turn out. It does look
good. Is that a smile from you? little bit, yeah.
I feel something has been achieved tonight. So if people look at this,
what do you want them to take away from it? If you are willing to
allow others to help you then even though it seems that there is no
future for you at the time, life can transform.
This is by a chap called Bones. is superb. The rest of the guys
have worked superb. You can be sur surrounded by millions of people,
but you can still be alone. That's what this painting is about.
It is every bit as valid an injury as a visible wound
It is a fine piece of work this. Thank you.
Are you proud of it? I feel I'm giving part of me away, if you know
what I mean. I'm giving part of my secret. This is what the people
don't see. This is a representation of the brain. I'm pleased to have
done it and I'm pleased it is here. There are exhibitions that contend
with so much meaning. It caught the imagination of everybody who has
been here. There has been artists here and people from the MoD here.
It as been awe inspiring. It has been a shock, but a really positive
coming together of people and works. This is a piece which has come out
of an art therapy session. That's right.
You have taken the content and turned it into a fine piece of work.
It has taken a long time to do this one. The more I looked at the
drawings and the more I looked at it as the painting was was
developing, it started to bring me down a bit. I finished the picture
and I'm happy with it. I'm only doing it because someone else might
get some help from it and think, "I tried art therapy.". Everyone,
thank you very much for coming. It is an excellent turnout. A
fantastic turnout. Thank you once again really to the guys who have
put this exhibition together. Incredible, powerful, emotional,
bloody good pieces of work which I hope you're proud of.
What's the overarching thing that you want somebody who has not
served and comes in and sees this? Just because they see see someone
and it looks hunky-dory, this is what is going on underneath their
skin. This is horrific. It brought Combat Stress into the public eye.
Job done. You have done yourselves proud. You
have done everyone proud and you have sent a strong, positive
message. So if if we can give a I guess I found the veterans aren't
both shocking, but inspirational to know the individual journeys of
people who have all given so much for the country and hope that their
paintings means that some of the people coming back from Iraq and
Afghanistan don't go through five, ten, 15, 20 years before getting
help and go through what some of these guys have been through
An examination of the role of art therapy in the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Tim Samuels meets veterans of recent British conflicts in the Falklands, the Persian Gulf and Northern Ireland, who reveal their personal battle with PTSD as a result of their military career. They are now using an unlikely weapon to help fight the psychological wounds of war - art.
Visiting art therapy sessions, Samuels discovers how drawing, sculpting and painting are helping the veterans manage the symptoms of PTSD. Dr Lukas Konopka, a professor of neurology in Chicago, has investigated the effects of art therapy on the brain in the treatment of PTSD. The results provide strong evidence of art's potential to heal.