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On The Couch for More Creativity – Part 2

{ Continued from Part 1 }

Releasing psychic tension

In their book The Psychology of Creative Writing, Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD and James C. Kaufman, PhD write, “Artists may not be aware of what is troubling them.

“Csikszentmihalyi put it this way: ‘The impressions artists work with come from many sources. One that is very prevalent among contemporary painters contains memories of childhood.

“Whether the viewer realizes it or not, and often also unbeknown to the artist, the images that form the core of a great number of modern works represent the rage or the ecstasy of childhood which the artist tries to recapture in order to integrate it into current experience…

[Csikszentmihalyi continues,] ‘Such works occasionally achieve a magical synthesis of past and present, an abolition of objective time, a healing through the reactivation of former pain which can now be tolerated by the mature person. We might call such an achievement “abreactive originality,” borrowing a term from psychoanalysis to describe the successful release of psychic tension through the symbolic reordering of repressed traumatic experiences.'”

[From Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). The dangers of originality: Creativity and the artistic process. In M. M. Gedo (Ed.), Psychoanalytic perspectives on art (pp. 213–224).]

[Photo: The Artist’s Hand – by The odd Note.]

Using therapy as an actor

‘Psychoanalysis allowed John Malkovich to “have ideas about why I responded in certain ways and why I wouldn’t put myself in certain situations again.” He says of psychoanalysis, which he went through for many years: “To me, it certainly beats religion, which is only less expensive in the short term.”‘ [The Observer (UK) Sept 30, 2001]

Many paths to self-understanding and health

Memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher Diana Raab refers to the Psychology Today article in her post The New Psychoanalysis, and comments, “Talking about childhood experiences (in moderation) can lead to a greater understanding of the adult self, helping us figure out why we do what we do and how we can be a better person as a result.

“Remember that we are a complex and multi-layered species. Chances are a single perspective or therapy will not provide enough information or ideas to foster significant change. In the end it is a combination of modalities which can help us become our best selves.”

In his post Beauty, God, Death: What is Real Psychotherapy?, Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D. writes about the “point” of therapy: “One of my former mentors, existential psychoanalyst Dr. Rollo May (1909 -1994), passionately argued that psychotherapy should be less about technique or what he pejoratively called ‘gimmicks’ designed to subdue symptoms than about enhancing the patient’s capacity to feel, experience, create, find meaning, and in general to become more receptive and accepting to life and love in both their positive and negative aspects.”

In our interview – The Psychology of Creativity: redeeming our inner demons, Dr. Diamond declares, that all true artists at times function “in a state of daimonic possession to some extent.

“In Steven Spielberg’s classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss gives us an incredibly compelling, dynamic and utterly convincing view into the daimonic drivenness of the artist.

“He actually is compelled, against all convention, to become an artist, a sculptor, in order to find some way to realize and give meaning to the vision in his head — in that story, a vision implanted by extraterrestrial visitors.”

Self-help information

While personal interaction with a counselor or therapist is probably the “best” or most intense form of therapy for positive change, you can do a lot for yourself in other ways as well – such as listening to interviews with therapists and other psychologists, such as presented at Shrink Rap Radio.


Stephen A. Diamond is author of Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil and Creativity.

Therese Borchard is the author of hit daily blog “Beyond Blue” on and on The Huffington Post. She is author of The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit based on her journals and twelve years of therapy sessions.

Also see my page of quotes, articles and books on Counseling / therapy resources.

Also see guest articles on my sites by therapists, including:

Affect Regulation and the Creative Artist, By Cheryl Arutt, Psy.D. — “Creating art has always been a way to channel emotional intensity. In a world where destructive acting out is all too frequent…sublimating painful feelings by expressing them in the form of artistic expression allows the artist to choose to “act out” in a way that is constructive.”

Beyond the Chaos or Void in my Life?, By Edith Johnston, PhD LPC — “I have lots of ideas.  I am intelligent and inquisitive with lots of interests.  Yet, I am insecure and everything seems incongruent as I move through life. Does this sound like something you experience?”

Are you drowning in a sea of sensitivity? It’s time to walk on water, By Ane Axford, MS, LFMT — “I have often heard an analogy in the psychology field that creative geniuses and those who experience mental disorder are in the same water. The difference is that one is swimming and the other is drowning.”

The Special Challenges of Highly Intelligent and Talented Women Who Are Moms, By Belinda Seiger, PhD — “I have known many gifted women who seem to possess what I refer to as the ‘rage to achieve.’ They are constantly driven to learn, to create and to be intellectually productive even while raising young children.”

Highly Sensitive Personality and Creativity, By Lisa A. Riley, LMFT — “Creatives often feel and perceive more intensely, dramatically, and with a wildly vivid color palate to draw from, which can only be described as looking at the world through a much larger lens.”

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See list of Counselors and Therapists specializing in gifted, high ability, creative people (on my High Ability site)


On The Couch for More Creativity – Part 2

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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Emotional Health Resources - Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.

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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). On The Couch for More Creativity – Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 May 2013
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