My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

my brain: circa 2002

A few years ago I came across the art and story of Elizabeth Jameson and was so very moved and inspired by her work, research, and interpretation of taking her own medical imaging and brain scans as a personal expression and inquiry to understanding and coping with her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, as well as to help others with the disease and educate the medical community through her art.

It was 10 years ago this month that my life changed forever when my own central nervous system, myelin, and brain wiring first started to misbehave.  In recognition of this year’s 10th anniversary, I think I’m finally up to the challenge of reflecting on my experience of living with a chronic illness and to make some art using the MRI films my neurologist handed to me in 2002.

Jameson’s call for people living with brain inflicted illnesses to “feel how ugly it is and how beautiful it is”, really speaks to me to explore this dichotomy further through art-making with my own beautiful, but altered brain scans. I need to think more about what I want to make or how (perhaps an altered book?), but I do know it is really important that I create something.  This year’s milestone and re-visiting Jameson’s work gives me the motivation (and courage) to finally get started on something I have always wanted to do.

I even included this intention as part of my 2012 revo’lution as something to pay attention to this year.

You can check out more of Jameson’s art and research available online through the Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, The Beautiful Brain, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society if you are interested in seeing/learning more about her amazing work.


Published by

Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC

Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, ACTP: Registered Board Certified Art Therapist, TLC Certified Trauma Practitioner, Art Therapy Community Organizer, Artist...

13 thoughts on “My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain”

  1. That is so amazing that you’re trying to educate, and help people, about MS! Good luck and I look forward to sharing more with you:)

  2. Thanks for sharing Elizabeth’s story. I am going to pass it onto other people who have MS!

  3. It’s one thing to read about a chronic illness and it’s another thing altogether to take it into your own hands (literally)!
    Bravo for you Gretchen–it takes a lot of courage and you have it.

  4. Gretchen- thank you for sharing this, and in this way. I will really look forward to following whatever you share about your work- sending good energy your way…

  5. Gretchen, you know because you put it in your Revo-lution book when the time is right for you it will happen, that’s how the revolution works. What ever you create will be full of meaning and poignancy. Thank you for sharing this, it was a courageous thing to do.
    Sending you big love and warm thoughts

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