Artistic disassociation

Психологија уметности
17 Nov 2020

Artistic disassociation: The connection between the artist and his work

We have art so that we shall not die of reality – Friedrich Nietzsche

Using his psychology knowledge and his sense for psychological problems, the artist was more often than not, unintentionally, the predecessor of psychology as a scientific field and its ground-breaking revelations. Creating a bond between relevant social circumstances and their inner vision and state of mind, a person seeks to build a bridge that will connect them to the world which surrounds them. But, why is only a person who reveals their work to the public eye called an artist? In that sense, the difference between an artist and a dreamer would be that the dreamers only contemplate the topic of artistic creativity, whereas the artists realize their dreams.

Other domains of psychology have also dealt with this problem, such as the psychology of art, which only emphasizes the importance and the unbreakable bond between the two of them. Considering that bond, Freud once wrote that artists are “precious allies”, whose works of art depict a subject which science even now can’t reach. Psychology has always been tightly connected to artistic creativity, because art is a psychological fact par excellence, as Carl Gustav Jung once pointed out.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep – Scott Adams

It is clear that creativity is one of the main factors of art, which is an undoubtedly important form of human activity and one of the most appreciated and most desirable personality traits. Different authors have pointed out different characteristics of creativity, and while there are some disagreements, it has been established that the basic features of creativity are: a certain sensibility to deal with a problem, non-conformism, originality, independence, imagination, tendency to contemplate, curiosity…

From ancient times, through the evolution

From ancient times, through evolution, while learning about his surroundings, the man wanted to both adapt to the world according to his needs, and give something in return. In order to overcome everyday hardships, ancient man used creativity as a way of surviving (tools, weapons, clothes, building primitive structures…), but parallel with that existed the need for the creator and his work to be joined in a higher sense, by satisfying higher psychological and sociological motives, such as the need for progress, knowledge, and aesthetics.

Since ancient times, interest was shown for man as a being capable of creating. Mimesis, the ability to reflect nature, was one of the first explanations of human creativity. Throughout history, various explanations were given, which, although seemingly different, all led to the same conclusion. Biller once said that art comes from hard physical labor, with a task to emotionally soften hard work or its monotony. The need to confront unpleasant emotions, which also exists in similar theories, has remained a permanent feature of art, and that’s why, after becoming independent, it had to look inside itself and create painful emotions.

Psychoanalysis considers art as tightly related to man’s unconsciousness, and that the consciousness is simply a way of interpreting, after creating a work of art

Freud saw the artist as a neurotic, who, through his creative impulses, fights his own psychological pressure and conflicts. He believed that, by creating a work of art, artists simultaneously prevent their own nervous breakdown, on one hand, whereas that contributes to their complete recovery, on the other hand. Melanie Klein, one of the first psychoanalysts, presented the idea that sadness can be the source of creativity. Doctor Knafo further developed this idea, tying it to the capacity to symbolize.

There, sadness represents a positive process, which doesn’t leave a person feeling empty. Contradictory to that, according to Abraham Moles, the man who uses art to express happiness, often produces trash. Art as a human action comes from the consciousness and unconsciousness of the creator. Art includes a series of experiences of an artist, the things he goes through in life. Otto Rank believes that the making of a work of art is a type of immortality formula and an attempt to overcome “finiteness“.

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time – Thomas Merton

According to contemporary beliefs, it’s not neurosis that lies at the basis of art, as psychoanalysis claims, nor is an inner conflict necessary to create a work of art, as it was thought earlier. When analyzing artistic creation, the emphasis is shifted from the artist to the work itself, because an artist’s personality is, during the creation process, reflected in his creation. Even Leonardo da Vinci said that man always painted himself, and the great artist Frida Kahlo stated that she often painted self-portraits, precisely because she believed she was the one who knew herself best.

Frequent are the needs of psychologists to explain an artist’s mental health through his art

Artistic expressions are used for the sake of diagnosis, considering there is a possibility that a certain kind of psychopathology is manifested through works of art.

According to an overview of the biographical data of artists, it was noted that the process of creation is often followed by critical behavior and mental illnesses, such as depression, alcoholism, and suicide. Manic depression is also frequent, in which case researchers claim that hypomania, a condition opposite of depression, is important for the creative process, because it enables speed and a broader range of imagination, as well as for providing energy to continue working, while depression offers a more realistic estimation of the results.

Recently, stigmatization has been noted

Recently, stigmatization has been noted, which depicts artists as people who use their art as a way to break through the barriers of society and the frames of reality. In the same manner, people have tried to seemingly mimic the life of an artist, in it finding an excuse for their critical behavior, as well as for many other aspects of life. This quasi-identification with an artist’s way of life is mainly noticeable in adolescents. Is living an unhealthy life really necessary to create masterpieces?

The latest book by Haruki Murakami,What do I talk about when I talk about running?’’

The latest book by Haruki Murakami, What do I talk about when I talk about running?’’, presents us with a writer, who, unlike his colleagues, such as Balzac, who was rumored to have drunk 50 cups of coffee a day, or Hemingway, who was a passionate smoker and enjoyed drinking, actually runs every day. Murakami says: “The act of art, at the core of its structure, combines the elements of the unhealthy and the antisocial. If we wish to be writers for a long time, I think we need to build a natural immune system, which would be able to resist this dangerous poison in ourselves. That way, we would succeed in adequately confronting an even stronger poison. To put it differently, we would be able to create a more powerful story”.

In the end, we could say that art is what makes our lives more beautiful. This can be considered its main purpose, but it also stabilizes, critically supplements, changes, and expands man’s possibilities. Besides that, it opens our eyes, and according to Hauser, it’s what prevents us from opening them again after it. The artist, even today, as well as in the past, does great favors to psychology.  The two of them have an important role in each other’s progress.

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