I bought the book 'Healing without Freud or Prozac' earlier this year when I was looking into alternative treatments for depression, i.e. those which don't involve drugs or therapy. I was fascinated by the chapters on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which the author, Dr David Servan-Schreiber, calls 'the mind's own healing mechanism'. It's a relatively simple technique which simulates the rapid eye movements that take place during dreams.
So when Charlie sent me a link to a BBC Radio Four programme (How to Knit a Poem) this week, which was about the therapeutic effect of knitting, I wondered whether knitting might also be a way of imitating REM.
In this 15 minutes programme, the poet, Gwyneth Lewis, interviews Jeni Hewlett (referred to incorrectly as Jeni Green in the interview), a research assistant in the School of Psychology at Cardiff University , who is undertaking a research study to demonstrate scientifically whether or not knitting can help people get out of a cycle of negative thinking that accompanies depression.
Betsan Corkhill, who runs Stitchlinks, believes that cross-stitching and crochet have a similar effect. It seems it's all to do with the repetitive nature of the activity; the beneficial effect it has on physical and mental health might be due to eye-scanning, or the release of the chemical serotonin in the brain.
So now I'm thinking of taking up knitting in 2007; I doubt it will transform me into a serene earth-mother, but I could do with a few more scarves...
PS I'm amazed at how many knitters are also bloggers ...see for example: