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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Psychopathology and the Arts

Psychopathology and the Arts-Introduction
Creativity and art play a significant role in healing process of human body as well as the mind. However the process of healing through art as got a number of challenges. In this regard, Morgan, Pawson, Schofield, Fenner, and Lith, (2008)asserts that,” recovery from mental illness as a difficult process of personal growth through which one develops purpose in one’s life, beyond the symptoms, disability and stigma of mental illness”. In particular, Smith, (2000) highlights the idea that “recovery is a journey rather than an end destination, a transformative process in which the old self is gradually let go of and a new sense of self emerges”.

Although there is growing literature on the recovery concept, its definition and applicability in service delivery remains ambiguous (Twyla, 1999). This is partly because lived experience accounts, although rich in detail, focus on a process orientation, which can seen to be at odds with the goal and outcome orientation expected from services (Shaun,2004).

Famous People and Mental Illnesses recovery through creativity

Isaac Newton, “most famous mathematician of the 17th Century was responsible for many scientific discoveries we take for granted today such as the "corrected" Gregorian calendar date” (Smith, 2000).Newton was extremely creative despite the fect that he was mentally ill. Due to creativity and active participation in research, he was seen to just normal in the society.

Ludwig van Beethoven, “composer, had bipolar disorder which some have said gave him such creative power that his compositions broke the mold for classical music forever” (Smith, 2000).He depicted a great sense of creativity and derived pleasure in it. This in turn helped him recover partially from mental illness.

Virginia Woolf, “the British novelist, born of privilege, experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder her entire life. She wrote to make sense out of her mental chaos and gain control of madness; and was greatly admired for her creative insight into human nature” (Smith, 2000)and (Shaun, 2007).Virginia did not sit back and wait for situation to take effect but she actively participated in research and her love for nature was a great source of happiness to her. This self esteem and self realization helps in her recovery from mental illness.

Smith, (2000) illustrates “that an examination of personal information of mentally ill patients about their journey recovery and identified a number of common aspects”. First, the patience recovery was a great awakening of hope after despair. This involves breaking through self denial and achieving understanding and acceptance in the society. Secondly, It needs active participation and coping with the ones life and the environment.
Creativity, the arts and art therapy in mental health recovery is a key and a paradigm shift to ensure that mental health problem is put at bay. For instance, Smith (2000) suggests that “the turning point in recovery starts with the individual’s strong desire to change his or her life, but it can often take between ten to fifteen years to reach this starting point for recovery”.

 “Recovery from mental health issues does not mean the complete absence of symptoms, but rather a learning to live with and manage symptoms” (Smith, 2000). The recovery process therefore, includes transformation of an individual behavior as well as general attitude towards life and self esteem.

The Different Areas of Mental Health Recovery process requires a specific approach. For instance, total mental health recovery journey comprise of Social change and connectedness.
Creativity and Art making is as old as man kind and it takes different perspective in many societies across the globe (Shaun, 2001).

“Human being desire to confirm a socially shared worldview but also to leave a memory of our time on earth” (Spandler, Secker, Kent, Hacking, & Shenton, 2007)

Art to Maintain General Health
There is an enormous interest in the benefit of creativity and art in health care. “The move to incorporate the arts into health care was informed by a view that the creative act of art enhance health through strengthening self-esteem and worth, contributing to a feeling of being valued, and developing interpersonal relationships and widening social networks”(Smith, 2000). When human braun is put to task of creativity an individual derive pleasure, enjoyment and happiness. This goes a long way in reducing tension hence speeds up healing process in people with mental illness.

Spandler, Secker, Kent, Hacking, & Shenton, (2007) illustrates that,”Creativity and art making are regarded as benefiting all areas of the mind, body and spirit.” This promotes the development of people’s cognitive growth by engaging the brain positively and this process activates the imagination and assisting in acquiring or improving cognitive skills (Smith, 2000). Creativity also comprise of enhanced physical fitness and sound body functioning, emotional steadiness and expression of an individual.

In addition, creativity and are making helps in developing the capacity to formulate and express political views (Carson, 2010). Additionally, by inducing feelings of transformation and renewal akin to spiritual enhancement, art making can be experienced as a subjective but life altering activity Others suggest that art making helps to develop an understanding of community as well fostering social connection Developing and  

Strengthening Social Relationships

Social exclusion which is normally experienced by mentally ill individuals is detrimental to healing process. This is because the stigma and mental stress associated with mental illness hinder the affected population towards achieving their dreams. In the United Kingdom, researchers have argued for the importance of maintaining and improving art-based community services as a solution to social exclusion

Investigating the relationship between community arts activities and their impact on social and psychological well-being for adults with chronic mental health problems is seen as a way to focus on strengths-based attributes. study focused on how art plays an important role in developing social relationships and identity beyond that of the ‘mentally ill person’.

Thus, art making is perceived as an important ‘stepping stone’ for reintegrating into wider social relationships and situations outside project spaces. Not only was art seen as a way to work through everyday difficulties, but the art making was seen as a form of self validation whereby consumers felt free to express without feeling the risk of interpretation.

The Importance of Context

Research suggests that it is not the art alone that supports gains in health and wellbeing; rather it is how the program is delivered, the program environment, and the development of relationships and communication during planning and implementation stages that predict success. Psychosocial services provide a range of art making contexts from community art based programs and studio art making settings, to art therapy (both individual and group based).

Creativity, the arts and art therapy in mental health recovery: Developing a research agenda Art therapist accounts provide a rich source of information on the importance of considering the context in art making (Malchiodi, 2003). Carson, (2010) emphasize the point that, “the studio setting enables artistic expression in a safe, comfortable and empathetic surrounding, which is contained by well-trained and supportive staff”.

This environment of creativity allows for a culture of openness, empowerment and experimentation to develop within a given group (Smith, 200). Carson, (2010) notes that, “art making can fulfill the goals of psychosocial rehabilitation such as strengthening clients’ abilities, as well as increasing expression and communication, by facilitating psychological insight and support”. They emphasize it is the process, not the product, that is important in supporting and assisting a client’s personal development.

It is noted that, “the role of the facilitator is highly regarded in the journey of mental health recovery through art and this role can vary between educator, artist, art therapist, and counselor” (Morgan, Pawson, Schofield, Fenner, and Lith, 2008).Creativity and  Art healing process  experts who do research  on this field, explain that, “art making in these settings involves engaging the participant in a process of knowing the self” (Morgan, Pawson, Schofield, Fenner, and Lith, 2008).

The facilitator’s responsibility is not to change, fix, cure or interpret the art, but to witness the flow of expression in the images that arrive and to learn from them (Morgan, Pawson, Schofield, Fenner, and Lith, 2008). Thus, healing takes palce through self-direction as a natural unfolding of the artist’s reality is expressed through the images (Smith, 2000).

During this process the more each participant fully embrace the concept of art, they tend to discover themselves and the more they are able to actively participate in life and community projects. This has positive consequences for the participants’ motivation towards ongoing recovery; Available literature emphasizes three crucial components of the facilitator role with art in mental health settings for speedy recovery. These include:
  • Authenticity – A good and warm relationships between facilitator and mentally ill patient is needed and can become a model for each patient’s relationships with one another beyond the context of art making.
  • Creativity – involves the mentally ill patient participation in the arts under the guidance of facilitator’s awareness of the special role that creativity can play in the lives of people with mental illness.
  • Recovery – “represents the therapist’s belief that people with mental illness can build lives full of meaning and purpose despite their illnesses” (Smith, 2000).
Reduction of Mental Health Symptoms
According to Spandler, Secker, Kent, Hacking, Shenton, (2007)”An active Participation in community arts by individuals with mental health problem has been shown to result in fewer hospital re-admissions” This actually shows how effective art and creativity is in the process of recovery.

Creativity is the greatest determinant of a successful corporate manager. It is upon creativity that personalities of CEOs are judged and bestowed with the responsibilities of running businesses and turn results in favorable book values. According to Sternberg and Lumbart (1999) “creativity is the ability to produce work that is both novel (i.e. original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e., useful, adaptive concerning task constrains).”

It involves finding amicable solutions to problems surrounding business operations. New goods and services brought about by product diversification create new jobs to individuals and increase a company’s competitive edge. Historically, psychologists paid little attention to how the corporate creativity is affected by psychological state of the mind. Guilford as quoted by Sternberg and Lumbart (1999) reported that, “less than 0.2% of the entries in Psychological Abstracts up to 1950 focused on creativity.”

Scientist of great stature like Einstein is remembered for their absolute creativity that redefined scientific concepts but very little if any is documented about their psychology. However, creativity is easy to study on daily basis and in all disciplines given advances in psychometrics. Divergent-thinking is one of the methods suggested to study how creative professionals are. Upon completion of the tests, results are compared against universal scale of measuring creativity. Conventional ways of measuring creativity in the olden days had both positive and negative consequences.

On the pros, psychometrics methods used then were facilitated via easy to-administer-procedures. In addition, the process was now being carried on to all people without biasness on basis of academic achievement. The disadvantages of the methods; however, was that they were not detailed enough to be trusted with accuracy. Another negative result of the processes was that, “critics suggested that fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration scores failed to capture the concept of creativity,” (Sternberg and Lumbart, 1999).

The conventional ways of measuring creativity among professionals has been developed given that the procedures now focus on ways of encoding mental representations. These modern methods of psychometrics are referred to as cognitive approaches. They involve the use of computer simulation to monitor has creative individuals are. One of the methods developed is Geneplore model that was created by Finke, Ward, and Smith. The model has two main sub phases: exploratory and generative phases. In the generative phase, a candidate is build representations of their mental states while in the exploratory phase, the representations are further analyzed to come up with a creative idea.

Another avenue used in psychometrics is referred to as confluence approach based on the idea that multiple mental mechanisms converge at some point before a creative idea is formed. Amabile as quoted by Sternberg and Lumbart (1999) observes that “creativity as the confluence of intrinsic motivation, domain-relevant knowledge and abilities, and creativity-relevant skills.” These skills include: cognitive systems that provoke one’s ability to solve problems, heuristics prowess of generating original ideas, and a high level concentration that is not disrupted by problems.

Generally speaking, confluence approaches to creativity open avenues. Scientists, artists, concepts have been analyzed and the results reveal that “median creativity of work in domain tends to fall towards the lower end of the distribution and the upper (high-creativity) tail extends quite far,” (Sternberg and Lumbart, 1999). Assimilation of a number of components simultaneously is vital in achieving high level creativity and it is due to this fact that a number of companies, private and public require the post of CEO be given to an experienced professional. Creativity can also be attained through knowledge gaining, individual character traits and other aspects that are generally classifies as domain-specific.

How Artists Can Overcome Mental Illness Though Creativity (Shally carson)
Artists have been compelled by some aspects of thought necessitating them to pull some highly skilled and energetic stances in their works. On the other hand, restless and moody occasions lead to some degree of failed attempts which affect creativity. “These opposite moods and energies, often interlaced, can appear to be the world as mercurial, intemperate, volatile, blooding, troubled, or stormy,” (Jamison,1994). These forces make artists to develop artistic temperament and a basis upon which manic-depressive temperament is created. The healing derived from art is gaining ground in not only health practices but also other professions in general. According to McNiff, (2004) “No profession can confine the archetypal way that art heals to its own bailiwicks…Our work is too powerful and too important to be available only to a small segment of society.”                                                      

Creativity is cannot be avoided for those who run institutions and corporate business as it is the masterpiece used to build and maintain that competitive edge.  Institutional leaders and the society in general had earlier neglected the psychology of creativity but its importance necessitated its development. The earlier method were a bit inferior but in modern time cognitive approach, congruence approach and the modern art therapy have changed the manner in which creativity and psychology have to bring niche ideas.

Professionals have embraced to idea of psychometrics to boost their creativity but the whole society needs to take advantage of the process if meaningful development is to be achieved. In addition, creativity and art play an integral part in healing process of mental disease. In this regard, it is prudent for people with mental problem to actively take part in art making as well as embrace creativity for speedy recovery and realization of high self esteem. Parents are therefore advised to encourage their children to actively participate in art so as to boost their creativity and as well as well being. This will go along way in controlling and mitigating the menace of mental health illness in the society.

  • Carson, S. (2010). Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons
  •  Jamison, K. R. (1994). “Touched with fire: manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament.” Free press paperbacks. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
  • Malchiodi, C.A. (2003). Handbook of art therapy. New York: Guilford Press 
  • McNiff, S. (2004). Art heals: how creativity cures the soul. Boston: Shambhala Publications
  • Morgan, M., Pawson, Q., Schofield, M., Fenner, p. and Lith, Van- T. (2008).Creativity, the arts and art therapy in mental health recovery: Developing a research agenda. Melbourne, Victoria: La Trobe University,
  • Richardson, P., Jones, K., Evans, C., Stevens, P., & Rowe, A. (2002). Exploratory RCT of art therapy as an adjunctive treatment in schizophrenia. Journal of Mental Health, 16(4), 483-491.
  • Shaun, M (2001) .How Creativity Cures the Soul. Boston: Shambhala Publications
  • Shaun, M. (2004) .Art as Medicine, Art Heals and How Creativity Cures the Soul. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
  • Shaun, M. (2007) .The Arts and Psychotherapy. Boston: Shambhala Publications
  • Smith, M. (2000). Recovery from a severe psychiatric disability: Findings from a qualitative study. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 24(2), 149-158.
  • Spandler, H., Secker, J., Kent, L., Hacking, S., & Shenton, J. (2007). Catching life: The contribution of arts initiatives to recovery approaches in mental health. Journal of Psychiatric and mental health nursing. 14, 791-799.
  •  Sternberg, R. J. (1999). Handbook of creativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999  
  • Twyla, T. (1999) .The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it For Life. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster

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