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Some Doctors Encourage Those Suffering From Anxiety, Stress To Embrace The Power Of Poetry

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's an unlikely source of comfort and therapy with proven results for anyone dealing with issues like anxiety or stress.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reports, more doctors are writing a prescription for poetry for calm and clarity.

Amanda Gorman's inaugural words and presence inspired a collective poetry awakening.

"She showed that the right words at the right time can really make a difference," psychiatrist Dr. Norman Rosenthal told CBS2's Hazel Sanchez.

Rosenthal agrees words can help heal.

"One of the things I prescribe is a poem when it can be helpful," he said.

He says he's used poems to help quarrelling couples, adding it can be a voice they'll both listen to.

"There's a wonderful poem by Rumi called 'Out Beyond Ideas of Wrongdoing and Right-Doing,'" Rosenthal said.

Another poem he's prescribed to help someone battling drug addiction -- "We Real Cool."

"We Jazz June, we die soon," Rosenthal read.

It shows, he says, how quickly things can spiral out of control.

There's a poem he recommends for this past year of pandemic turmoil called "Invictus."

"A poem that Mandela used when he was imprisoned for many years as a way of fortifying his spirit and giving him strength," Rosenthal said.

The poem reads, "I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul."

Rosenthal collected these and others in a book called "Poetry Rx," but he adds there's also physical proof about the power of poetry.

"When they image the brain when people are listening to poetry, they see changes in the reward circuitry," he said.

Serena Yang is the New York City youth poet laureate.

"I think poetry is great medicine on a personal level but also on a societal level," she said.

She adds she reads poetry every day on apps like "Poem A Day."

"There's a poem out there for everyone," she said.

"It helps to support people who are desperate for having a voice," psychotherapist Dawn Thurman said.

Thurman says she's had poetic success with people who are challenged with issues like low self-esteem and not feeling fulfilled in life.

"It can be simple, if it's something that they connect with," she said.

She adds one of her favorites is "Return to Love."

It reads, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."


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