Mental Health Articles

Pushed to Excel

Friday, October 17th, 2014

“I push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that is an absolute necessity.”

Whiplash-movieHow much does forceful mentoring help students achieve excellence, and when does it become abusive?

Those issues are part of the movie Whiplash, apparently named after the jazz standard by Hank Levy.

The quote above is by acclaimed teacher Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) at a music school reputed to be “one of the best in the country,” explaining his teaching approach to one of his star pupils, Andrew (Miles Teller), who idolizes jazz drummer Buddy Rich, and has aspirations to also be “one of the greats.”


Multitalented: So Many Choices

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

college-majorsOne of the myths of creative and multitalented people may be that they can choose whatever personal and career paths they want.

Having many interests and abilities can make for a rich and satisfying life, but also be a source of stress, especially at crossroads like choosing college majors.

Gifted education specialist Tamara Fisher quotes Bryant (a pseudonym), a graduating senior who lists his possible future careers as “applied psychologist, scientific psychologist, college teacher, philosophy, mathematics, architect, engineer.”


Chaos and Creative Expression

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Dylan Thomas-word-network“The very impulse to write, I think, springs from an inner chaos crying for order, for meaning, and that meaning must be discovered in the process of writing or the work lies dead as it is finished.” Arthur Miller

Creative people and writers about the creative process often say creative work is a way to release or make use of inner chaos; what is this turmoil?

Psychologist Stephen Diamond declares in his book that our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict.”


Being Happy As An Artist

Friday, September 5th, 2014

“I’ve suffered enough. When does my artwork improve?” Refrigerator magnet

StingThe tortured artist mythology is an ancient and enduring one: The idea that art depends on suffering, and artists need to be suffering with dark emotions, and need their pain to create.

But that is a wrong and destructive idea.

For example, in his appearance as a guest on The Ellen Show, Colin Farrell said he is more creative being sober and happy.

“I ascribed to the notion that to express yourself as an artist, you have to live in perpetual pain. And that’s nonsense.”

Musician Sting also said he bought into this myth for a long time:


Robin Williams: Intensity Is Not Pathology – Part 2

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

[Continued from Part 1]

Robin WilliamsAs Dr. Webb explains “Existential depression is a depression that arises when an individual confronts certain basic issues of existence… (or ‘ultimate concerns’) – death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness.”

[Gifted, Sensitive, In Need Of Meaning: Existential Depression.]

His related book: Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope.

Webb has written extensively about how characteristics of giftedness that are a part of so many people – including well-known artists such as Robin Williams – are often misdiagnosed.


Robin Williams: Intensity Is Not Pathology

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Robin Williams in What Dreams May ComeThe tone of a number of responses to the suicide of Robin Williams seem based in the insidious “Crazy Artist” mythology: that artistic creativity depends on mental disorder.

A number of people have expressed the idea that his brilliance and creative comic energy were fueled by his “demons” including addiction and bipolar depression.

One example was columnist Meghan Daum, who wrote: “As an actor and a comic, his emotional pendulum swung in a wide arc between manic ebullience and almost Zen-like sincerity.

“And the ease with which he occupied both realms…must surely be a kind of bipolar magic.”


Photography: Art and Healing

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

A Story of a Girl and a HorsePhotographic images can be a powerful form of expression for creative people, and also a tool for therapists and anyone to help explore our inner selves.

This image by artist Jennifer Moon is titled “A Story of a Girl and a Horse: The Search for Courage.”

A news article about an installation of her photographs, sculpture and text-based works at UCLA Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A. 2014″ biennial, describes the piece as a “self-portrait, a chromogenic digital photo [that] depicts Moon on a chocolate brown horse, leaping over a bed of clouds shot through with electricity, as if she were riding a flying Unicorn.”


Feeling Pressured To Create

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Chuck CloseOne kind of pressure is feeling an intense urge to create; it is probably an inherent part of being a creative person.

But other pressures can lead to stress and overwhelm, and being pulled away from the joys of creating.

Annemarie Roeper (founder of the Roeper School and The Roeper Review, a professional journal on the gifted) wrote about this intense inner pressure to create as a characteristic of high ability people – but you may experience this even if you are not “technically” gifted:

“Gifted adults may be overwhelmed by the pressure of their own creativity. The gifted derive enormous satisfaction from the creative process.


Can People With ADHD Be More Creative?

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

A number of psychologists note that many personality traits connected with ADD and ADHD are also associated with highly creative people.

Lisa Ling - brain-graphicThis is a topic I have addressed in previous Creative Mind posts, but here are some new perspectives, inspired by a documentary by Lisa Ling who was diagnosed with ADD during the course of her research for the project.

She commented, “As a journalist, when I’m immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I’m not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it’s supposed to go. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.”


Patrick Stewart, Trauma and Creative Work

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Most of us experience some kind of trauma in life.

Patrick StewartHow does it impact creative people, and how can creative expression help?

Acclaimed actor Patrick Stewart is one of many artists who have been deeply impacted by trauma in early life.

An interview article notes he “was for decades a man plagued by fear and stifled by rage. The roots of his struggle go back to a difficult childhood, marked by poverty and abuse that took him years to understand.”


 

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Recent Comments
  • Upsie_Daisy: I dont agree with her premise. I live in Los Angeles, where the movie industry regularly creates and...
  • Upsie_Daisy: Beautifully stated and a pleasure to read. I’ve absorbed this old thinking of the “mad...
  • Faller: I’m actually both but it depends on the situation. When I’m at home I prefer to be alone and do...
  • Elekra: It is hard to carry genius and a medically diagnosed mental illness. The insight and empathy that genius...
  • squatch: I agree. Its obvious that artists are usually creative types, but what about the mechanic who invents a new...
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