Relations with objects
My background in Fine Art & Design and a masters in Art Psychotherapy aids in the conduct of the research project, facilitating object handling, interview sessions with patients undergoing treatment for cancer. The study ‘Developing holistic-participatory interventions to enhance well-being and recovery’, is a four-part, qualitative, ethnographic study that explores heritage objects as a means of supporting the well-being of individuals affected by cancer.
The title ‘Relations with objects’ identifies the core research concerns and is inspired by psychodynamic theory i.e. object relations theory. The project is informed by the research of Lanceley (2011), Butler (2017) and Rowlands (2016), examining both collective heritage (museum objects) and personal heritage objects (heirlooms, personal and lucky objects) as a means through which patients can express and explore their own narratives. People with cancer may often feel vulnerable and experience many dficult emotions, including fear and anxiety. Different ways to support the emotional and mental health of patients are needed.
Previous research with heritage objects has taken place in hospital settings where the objects were museum objects with age value. Patients found that handling these objects and talking with a profes- sional about them provided a welcome distraction from the routines of hospital and also helped them talk about the personal impact of their cancer illness. The objects utilized may stand in stark contrast to the ‘object world’ of the chemotherapy treatment suite with its intravenous uid stands, metal treatment trolleys and medical equipment.
The study is exploring participants’ relationship to these ‘object worlds’ and investigating if and how the heritage and personal objects may therapeutically breach the day-by-day ow of time during chemotherapy administration along the patients’ 6–8 month chemotherapy treatment trajectory. Results from the study will inform the development of a supportive treatment, which may utilize both heritage and personal objects, to enhance well-being and resilience during chemotherapy treatment.
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