On Intersections of Trauma and Creativity

I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Tanner Wallace, @thisiscandykiss, last Friday. The inspiration for the discussion was her work on trauma, relationships, and intersections with artist dilemmas. I hope you will check out the wealth of output from that interview at Youtube, snipits via InstaTV, and via podcast format.

Since the discussion, my own clinical problem solving and imagination has creatively benefited. There was a moment, and it felt like the eye of the storm regarding the flow of our trauma discussion, when we discussed how to care for and what it tends to be like at that moment – retraumatized, flashbacked; as artist, as partner, as well intentioned isolated human – we feel utterly alone, hopeless, and re-aroused as if it’s the first or fiftieth time of our mistreatment.

The wise doctor gave some brilliant suggestions on shifting the self-talk. And, we discussed interpretations and minced experienced of mindfulness applications, and its sometimes severe ineptitude, at that hour.

And then I pitched and began to wonder, as she began to do the same, in the absence of a healing voice, an image of a healing other – might our imaginations, the stories we could tell ourselves (sometimes less based on this supposed 21st century the better), might we find a compatriot?

In my own aloneness, an in between of mixed ethnicity, mixed states of being between fitting in and so-far-out-there, I know this state. It has crept into my conscience, taken over and pulled me as far down as almost grave at times.

And then, I told the wise doctor – last Friday, I have experienced for myself, as I notice in clients with such damaged early life attachments in the shelters of Boston (that they prefer street or shelter to shelter life to any human proximity) I told her, art is usually there for me, no matter what.

It is, often, an inkling, a poetic line, that builds into a structure when I come to. Come to, my friends, what I refer to as moving out from under the heavy cloud of re-arousal and depression that follows. It used to be a gesture, that would build into a dance. And for many artists that I work with – it is a color, a brushstroke, that becomes a painting or beat, a lyric that becomes a song. When there is nor has there been any other safe introjects, as we call it in the psychology world; none of those things we can conjure from within nor our support network, maybe – for some of us, artistry remains.

I am neither art therapist nor a trauma specialist, acute trauma that is. I am a mindfulish human, artist, and psychotherapist. However, my lived experience of recurrent relational and system traumas – now coined either Complex Trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Complex – and the bearing witness of similar experiences of clients, I wonder if artistry does more, at times, for the artist than simply being that thing we do.

I wonder, as well, what sort of research does or could exist regarding art as the introject to save the wounded soul. I already see how it saves the world, and my own world, specifically.