Tag Archives: therapy

On Loss and Mourning….

Kew gardens

Excellent read…well worth the time to absorb…

EXCERPT:  In The Long Goodbye(public library), her magnificent memoir of grieving her mother’s death, Meghan O’Rourke crafts a masterwork of remembrance and reflection woven of extraordinary emotional intelligence. A poet, essayist, literary critic, and one of the youngest editors the New Yorker has ever had, she tells a story that is deeply personal in its details yet richly resonant in its larger humanity, making tangible the messy and often ineffable complexities that anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows all too intimately, all too anguishingly. What makes her writing — her mind, really — particularly enchanting is that she brings to this paralyzingly difficult subject a poet’s emotional precision, an essayist’s intellectual expansiveness, and a voracious reader’s gift for apt, exquisitely placed allusions to such luminaries of language and life as Whitman, Longfellow, Tennyson, Swift, and Dickinson (“the supreme poet of grief”).

LINK:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/06/09/meghan-o-rourke-the-long-goodbye/

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On the Capacity to be Alone In the Presence of Another…

I’ve written about this concept by DW Winnicott on past posts – ‘the capacity to be alone in the presence of another’ –  one that underlies many aspects of our developmental journey – our capacity for solitude, for good reading and attention, love in relationships, and self respect, inter alia…

   This excerpt is from a write up that details an interview with Adam Phillips on this topic. Both links are included below: 

PHILLIPS: That idea was one of Winnicott’s most radical, because what he was saying was that solitude was prior to the wish to transgress. That there’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed. In order to be absorbed one has to feel sufficiently safe, as though there is some shield, or somebody guarding you against dangers such that you can “forget yourself ” and absorb yourself, in a book, say. Or, for the child, in a game. It must be one of the precursors of reading, I suppose. I think for Winnicott it would be the definition of a good relationship if, in the relationship, you would be free to be absorbed in something else.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/06/09/adam-phillips-paul-holdengraber-interview/

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6286/the-art-of-nonfiction-no-7-adam-phillips

Enjoy.

 

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Is Depression Just Bad Chemistry?

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“Much of the general public seems to have accepted the chemical imbalance hypothesis uncritically. For example, in a 2007 survey of 262 undergraduates, psychologist Christopher M. France of Cleveland State University and his colleagues found that 84.7 percent of participants found it “likely” that chemical imbalances cause depression. In reality, however, depression cannot be boiled down to an excess or deficit of any particular chemical or even a suite of chemicals. “Chemical imbalance is sort of last-century thinking. It’s much more complicated than that,” neuroscientist Joseph Coyle of Harvard Medical School was quoted as saying in a blog by National Public Radio’s Alix Spiegel.”

See link: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-depression-just-bad-chemistry/

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The GEEL Question…treating the mentally ill…

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A fascinating article, well worth the read – looking at an alternative approach to our thinking about mental health and therapeutics…

“Half an hour on the slow train from Antwerp, surrounded by flat, sparsely populated farmlands, Geel (pronounced, roughly, ‘Hyale’) strikes the visitor as a quiet, tidy but otherwise unremarkable Belgian market town. Yet its story is unique. For more than 700 years its inhabitants have taken the mentally ill and disabled into their homes as guests or ‘boarders’. At times, these guests have numbered in the thousands, and arrived from all over Europe. There are several hundred in residence today, sharing their lives with their host families for years, decades or even a lifetime. One boarder recently celebrated 50 years in the Flemish town, arranging a surprise party at the family home. Friends and neighbours were joined by the mayor and a full brass band.”

See the link: 

http://aeon.co/magazine/living-together/the-town-where-the-mentally-ill-get-a-warm-welcome/?utm_source=Aeon+newsletter&utm_campaign=adfefb7e37-Weekly_Newsletter_January_10_20141_10_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-adfefb7e37-64036721

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ART AS THERAPY

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Philosophical and psychological look at art – its meanings, its uses…excerpts:

“Like other tools, art has the power to extend our capacities beyond those that nature has originally endowed us with. Art  compensates us for certain inborn weaknesses, in this case of the mind rather than the body, weaknesses that we can refer to as psychological frailties.”

“Few of us are entirely well balanced. Our psychological histories, relationships and working routines mean that our emotions can incline grievously in one direction or another. We may, for example, have a tendency to be too complacent, or too insecure; too trusting, or too suspicious; too serious, or too light-hearted.  Art can put us in touch with concentrated doses of our missing dispositions, and thereby restore a measure of equilibrium to our listing inner selves.”

“The task for artists, therefore, is to find new ways of prying open our eyes to tiresomely familiar, but critically important, ideas about how to lead a balanced and good life.”

Despite our best efforts at self-awareness, we’re all too often partial or complete mysteries to ourselves.  Art, de Botton and Armstrong suggest, can help shed light on those least explored nooks of our psyche and make palpable the hunches of intuition we can only sense but not articulate:

“We are not transparent to ourselves. We have intuitions, suspicions, hunches, vague musings, and strangely mixed emotions, all of which resist simple definition. We have moods, but we don’t really know them. Then, from time to time, we encounter works of art that seem to latch on to something we have felt but never recognized clearly before. Alexander Pope identified a central function of poetry as taking thoughts we experience half-formed and giving them clear expression: “what was often thought, but ne’er so well expressed.” In other words, a fugitive and elusive part of our own thinking, our own experience, is taken up, edited, and returned to us better than it was before, so that we feel, at last, that we know ourselves more clearly.”

More than that, they argue, the self-knowledge art bequeaths gives us a language for communicating that to others — something that explains why we are so particular about the kinds of art with which we surround ourselves publicly, a sort of self-packaging we all practice as much on the walls of our homes as we do on our Facebook walls and art Tumblrs. While the cynic might interpret this as mere showing off, however, de Botton and Armstrong peel away this superficial interpretation to reveal the deeper psychological motive — our desire to communicate to others the subtleties of who we are and what we believe in a way that words might never fully capture.

Art as Therapy: Alain de Botton on the 7 Psychological Functions of Art

by Maria Popova 

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/10/25/art-as-therapy-alain-de-botton-john-armstrong/

 

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Turning Adversity into Creative Growth

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There’s little doubt that trauma can be immensely painful, often leaving deep emotional and psychological scars long after the stressful experience has passed. But can there be a silver lining?

“In recent years, psychologists have become increasingly interested in the positive life changes that accompany highly stressful life events, such as being diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness, losing a loved one, or sexual assault. This phenomenon has been referred to as posttraumatic growth…” See link below

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/05/06/turning-adversity-into-creative-growth/  

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