An Analysis of The Relationship Between Art and Mental Health

To understand how art is utilized in mental health you’ll have to think of art as a constitutive subject, an essential element in interpersonal communications. Art doesn’t exist for the sake of its own existence, but for the sake of interpersonal communication. In art, both artist and observer are participants. Although it is the artist that originally imbues their work with meaning, it is the observer who discovers its meaning. It’s the observer who must break the artist’s work down into its disparate parts, decipher its hidden code and piece that code together into a coherent sentence or paragraph which the arts reason for existing is stated. Consciously and unconsciously, it’s through art that those dealing with mental illness create insight into their existence.

It is through their art, that qualified art therapists are able to determine what underlying issues are at the root of an individual’s mental illness. Thus; their art acts as an indicator/confirmation of which mental illness they may be suffering from due to certain mental illnesses’ ability to affect an individual’s perception and expression. Thus, the art of a mentally ill individual is capable of being utilized as a road map which assist art therapists in determining which physiological and psycho-emotive issues need to be dealt with in order to return an individual to wellness.

Most individuals dealing with mental illness experience some form of impairment in their ability to intentionally communicate their instinctual desires through repressed thinking. This is because individuals suffering from mental illness may lack the ego integrity ( strength of mind and connection with reality) necessary to censor and harness the energy of their instinctual desires (emotions and sensations) while transforming them into coherent thought/spoken concepts or ideas. However, artistic expression allows individuals possessing mental illnesses to express their instinctual desires in a constructive manner without being forced to censor their thoughts, feelings, or instincts in a non-restrictive pattern of expression.

This is important because censoring can cause an individual to shut down and become incapable of communicating with others due to their frustration with being unable to convey their thoughts as quickly as they emerge.

Thus; for those that are mentally ill, art or the act of art becomes a non-threatening means of communications for the mentally ill and their artistic observer/therapist. This allows a mentally ill individual to communicate freely without reservation and feel comfortable with expressing their mental landscape thoughts, feelings and dreams to the art therapist who interprets the meaning of these phenomena into a meaningful representation of their clients’ inner-world; this further assist the art therapist in determining underlying issues responsible for their clients’ conditions and what issues may be agitating or preventing them from returning to health.

Thus, it’s after the creation of art as a finished product that an observer/art therapist becomes a participant in the client’s artistic process through attempting to discover both its latent and manifest meaning. It’s through joint participation of artist/client and observer/therapist that both are brought together in developing its meaning. It’s through this process that the artist/client is given value or validation by the participating observer/therapist and that both process and observer are internalized by the artist; the client takes the therapist and their reaction to their art into themselves and is either positively or negatively affected by it. Thus; the therapist’s reaction to their art will either assist in returning the client to health or delay it. In short, a therapist reaction to their client’s art and their ability to praise and/or critique appropriately will assist their client in developing insight, self-esteem and connection to reality.

Without this interpersonal process between client and therapist, art in and of itself possesses no innate value associated with a client’s healing unless it is to release the instinctual energy pent-up within the psyche of those who are mentally ill through various creative outlets that de-energize the unsatisfied instinctual impulses responsible for the agitation of a client’s concomitant emotional states. So to the artist/client without the involvement of process and observer/therapist, art and its creation lacks value and is discarded by the client. Without process and observer it becomes another expression of unmet instinctual desires that the artist desires to alleviate, but unable to do so becomes even more frustrated. In short, without a voice and a listener those suffering from mental illness become shut off from others and reality while experiencing frustration, and anxiety. It is through art, its process of creation and the presence of an interested observer that this is prevented and remedied.

Because art and the creation of art gains value through collective participation by both artist and observer; it becomes a constitutive subject which is internalized by both artist and observer, and then possesses the power to heal through the internalization of process and observer. It’s this process that is invaluable to individuals dealing with mental illness, and brings about healing much in the same way as rationalized therapy, therapy in which disciplined rationale thought is applied, otherwise known as talk therapy where the observer/therapist and client develop insight and alleviate the client’s anxieties through developing cognitive behavioral procedures that deal with the client’s internalized conflicts or unanswered instinctual desires. The difference is that through art and the process of art there is an ability to create a public record of the psycho- emotive state in which both therapist and client engaged in during their time together. Thus; structured art therapy has the potential to assist the mentally ill in returning wellness as it assists them in understanding their underlying problems.

Expressing Thoughts and Emotions is Good For Your Health

All too often, people (especially children) are not taught to properly express their thoughts and emotions. “Children should be seen and not heard” is an all too famous (infamous) motto that has been used for a long time. However, if humans are not supposed to express their thoughts, what happens? We learn to stuff our emotions down and repression becomes second nature after a while. The problem is that thoughts and emotions are meant to be expressed, not repressed. A baby cries, and it does not judge why it is crying or does not think that it should not be crying, it just lets it all out and a moment later, it is happy again. If we could just learn at a young age that every emotion is worthy of being properly expressed, (after all, they are emotions within us that we naturally have) then we would all much more likely grow up to be well adjusted adults even in the face of highly stressful events and situations.

Take this into consideration, many health practitioners are starting to realize that at least 80% of health issues are highly related to stress and other emotional baggage. It is not only unnatural to repress our feelings, but it is also a risk to our health! Obviously, one does not want to go around and rant like a raving lunatic over every thought or feeling which he/she haves, but things must be put into balance in order to live as a well adjusted adult. Instead of bursting with anger over something someone else did or said in which you felt angry about, it is better to have a strong sense of communication about these feelings and assertively tell the other person how you feel instead of bursting out at this person.

It may not seem easy at first, but with practice it will become a more natural response. No matter how bad one is with dealing with emotions, he/she can learn how to deal with emotions in a much healthier manner. Sometimes, just allowing yourself to fully feel an emotion can be enough to take the weight of it off you. The only reason why emotions become a problem and cause erratic behavior and health issues is because they are not properly dealt with. They become repressed and can turn into guilt, sadness, even rage. There is nothing shameful about any emotion anyone has. I will say that again…THERE IS NOTHING SHAMEFUL ABOUT ANY EMOTION THAT ANYONE HAS! The only “shameful” part of it is that we may have been programmed to think that we should not even have certain emotions, so they become repressed and turn into problems for mental stability and/or physical health.

There are a number of ways to deal with thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. First of all, feelings are a result of the thoughts we have. If we think that we should not have certain feelings, that causes us to repress them and feel guilty over them. Like I stated earlier, really allow yourself to feel whatever feeling you are having. If you are feeling sadness, really allow yourself to feel this sadness. If you are feeling angry, really allow yourself to feel angry. It can cause us to feel overwhelmed at first until we really get used to this new way of dealing with our emotions, especially if they have been repressed for so long. So it may appear we are getting even more neurotic, but no worries, this is a natural part of the process that will fade as time goes on. It is by repressing our feelings that sadness can turn into depression, and anger can turn into rage. Allowing yourself to really feel these feelings can allow them to dissipate and release once we get a handle on it. Also, even allow yourself to feel insecure if that feeling arises.

It is due to many of our insecurities that make us feel weak for having certain emotions in the first place, which can cause us to “explode” from holding them in for so long. There is nothing “weak” about any emotion. The only “weakness” is from not allowing yourself to have these emotions and trying to stuff them down due to how you were raised, how you perceive others might think if they knew about these thoughts and feelings, etc. One other method you may wish to try is to keep a journal of your feelings. This may sound silly, but it can be a highly effective way in getting more in touch with yourself and why these emotions are coming out. Since no one else has to know about this, it can be your safe haven for expressing yourself. Sometimes seeing it come out on paper can be very therapeutic. It can lead you to see why you were having these emotions in the first place and let go of them. You can also write angry letters or any other type of letter to someone describing exactly how you feel about something in particular, then just shred it up and never mail it. It can be a form of release to get out this tension, and the other person does not have to know about it if you so desire. Meditation can be highly beneficial into getting us more in touch with ourselves and our feelings as well.

Another thing I would like to discuss is sex. For too many of us, sex is an unnecessary stigma that is considered “bad”. Sexual feelings are just as natural and normal as any other feeling human beings experience. There is nothing shameful or repulsive about it at all. Thinking that it is shameful is what causes mental distress. How can something so natural and beautiful be so shameful? This topic may make some people feel uncomfortable, but it is time we really delved into this subject. The only “problem” with sex is when it is done as a compulsion or done against someone else’s will. But think about this, if one views sex in a healthy perspective and not feel any shame attached to it, then less sexual addictions would result, less rape would happen, etc. This is not about trying to have sex with anyone you feel attracted to, because that would be a compulsion. Rather, it is about fully allowing yourself to be free of any guilt attached to the subject and allowing it to freely flow through you. Addictions are usually the result of feeling shameful about it, then feeling mad for feeling shameful about it, and before you know it, it becomes an addictive behavior. It can also be used as an addiction to escape from other repressed emotions.

This is why it is so important to allow yourself to experience any emotions that arise, for this will seriously knock out the need for any addictive behaviors, including sex. When sex is viewed in a healthier manner, as well as any other emotion, you may not even wish to seek it out as much as you once did, but you would enjoy it 10 times more than you ever did. And you will have more respect for it as the beautiful expression that it really is. Even loveless sex is OK as long as it is done with 2 consenting partners. But once sex is put into better balance, you will naturally gravitate to experiencing it fully and with someone you really care about. I know that sounds ironic and doubtful, it appears that if you allow yourself to fully experience sexual feelings then you may become a raving sex maniac. However, that comes from false preconceptions and beliefs. It is the other way around meaning that compulsive sexual behavior is the direct result from either sexual feelings being repressed until they can no longer be repressed, and/or from other repressed emotions in which sex becomes an addiction to escape from other distresses.

Once everything is put in balance, even sex, then your true loving nature starts to emerge more and more. For that is our most true nature, that of love. Once we clear out our emotional baggage, we naturally gravitate towards more love for ourselves and others. Take it from me, someone who used to have severe problems with anxiety and depression, and now I am much more at peace with myself and others. I would like to end with this thought….we are not our thoughts and emotions, they simply pass through us. By allowing them to really pass through us instead of repressing them or holding onto them is when we get more in touch with the deeper aspects of ourselves such as true love. Many blessings to all of you!

The author of this article has been becoming more self aware and wishes to share his knowledge and insights with others. Be sure to check out his profile for more information about him and his products.

There is Actually Only One Way to Express True Love – Mental Health Research

What is the purpose of life? The only purpose that makes rational sense is to express love to all living entities. All other purposes are bound to be selfish, with a “getting” motive attached. The experience of true love seems to happen rarely on our planet, as indicated by the negative conditions of people and situations worldwide. The quality of our well-being and mental health depends on our willingness to express love to the life around us.

Many may be shocked to discover that true love is not a personal resource. I have no love of my own, nor do you, or anyone else. There is only one way we can express true love to the life around us, that is by consistently acting on what is truly right.

Here is another shocker; to act rightly a person cannot be acting selfishly. That means that he or she cannot be acting from a selfish or self-seeking intention. It means that a person cannot be in a selfish controlling or manipulative mode, and cannot be acting to get something for self.

The expression of true love requires that our intentions be pure; that we be sincerely will to give with no strings attached. We must also be willing to act in lovingly responsible ways, which includes being willing to express truth as we know it in appropriate ways. In a selfish environment, the expression of truth can sometimes be dangerous so discretion is in order.

At the heart of the process of expressing true love is a sincere willingness to express love. Without that willingness, whatever comes forth shall be some form of selfish action.

Here is an analogy:

Think of a human being as a “garden hose,” and his or her will as the “faucet” attached to the side of a house. The “water” is love.

In order for us to experience or express love, we must open our personal “faucet” (will) and be willing to allow water to flow (express love). When we are willing to express love, “water” flows through us and we feel good (we experience love). In addition, those around us get “wet” (are loved).

On the other hand, when we selfishly and defiantly refuse to express love, we keep our personal “faucet” shut so that no “water” can flow through us. Like an unused garden hose left out in the sun, it soon dries out and begins to decay.

The expression of love is vital to every person’s well-being. []

Neil Mastellone, working with his co-researcher Jean Mastellone, has been actively investigating the causes of negative human behavior.