Home » Blogs » The Creative Mind » “Art Saved My Life”

“Art Saved My Life”

“I learned that an artist is someone who makes art to save her life.” Marlene Azoulai

Creative expression can transform our painful reactions to traumatic situations, providing renewed strength of our identity and a way to give voice to difficult feelings.

Art that we create – or even made by others – can remodel our inner realities.

Charlize Theron as a teen saw her mother shoot her father in self defense.

She said in a 2004 interview that her work has helped her deal with it: “I think acting has healed me. I get to let it out. I get to say it and feel it in my work and I think that’s why I don’t go through my life walking with this thing, and suffering.”

In a later newspaper interview she added more perspectives: “People want to think that I am this tortured soul, that my work is drawn only from this one well.

“And though I would never sit here and say that it didn’t mark me, or mould me into the person that I am, my life has had many painful journeys and heartbreaks since my father died, many of which I draw on for my work.”

Art therapy

Artist Marlene Azoulai writes, “I was first introduced to Art Therapy while in a psychiatric institution. There, I learned that when there are no words, there can be pictures.

“I learned that an artist is not necessarily someone who has studied art, but one who has something to say, and the courage to say it. I learned that an artist is someone who makes art to save her life.”

She goes on to explain that she has Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, and is also bipolar.

But, she adds, “I do not consider my being a multiple to be a disorder. I see it as an elaborate system that my/our psyche devised, in order to deal with severe trauma.”

She says, “I do a lot of what I call ‘shadow-work’, both in my writing and art-making. I find my self/ves identifying and owning my demons. Creating my/our mythos, out of the icons we have un-earthed from within our selves.”

In her article Giving Life to Carl Rogers Theory of Creativity, therapist Natalie Rogers writes that “using the expressive arts gives people a safe place to explore their shadow side…The shadow is the part we have repressed in our lives. Some people have denied their anger and rage for a lifetime.”

Referring to expressive arts therapy, she says “The creative process is a life force energy. If offered in a safe, empathic, non-judgmental environment, it is a transformative process for constructive change…Using movement, sound, color and drama offer opportunities to first become aware of one’s shadow, and then to explore it fully through many media.”

Continued in my much longer article The Alchemy of Art: Creative Expression and Healing.

Do you use art for healing?

~ ~

“Art Saved My Life”

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.]
~ ~
Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
~ ~

Emotional Health Resources - Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.

5 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Eby, D. (2012). “Art Saved My Life”. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Oct 2012
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.