A little about history…
The term “art-therapy” came into the lexicon of the European psychologists at the mid – 20th century. It includes the descriptions of some methods, which treat psychological unbalance by means of art. However, the essence of the method, namely, the influence of art on the psychological condition of the person goes deeply back to the cultures of the ancient civilizations. For example, in the epoch of Antiquity and in the Middle Ages the belief in the curative properties of music was great. Some literary and medical works give the evidence for the abolition of Saint Vitus’ dance by means of music.
Which diseases did the Japanese “Gardens of Stones” treat? How did the Egyptian pyramids influence a person? How did the Greek Parthenon and many other masterpieces of the world culture – architecture, painting, sculpture or theatre treat the people? We do not know this statistics but studying the feelings caused by creation and perception of art the people revealed such phenomenon as catharsis already in the antique period.
Aristotle used the term “catharsis” in his concept of tragedy. According to Aristotle, the tragedy, provoking fear, anger, sympathy …, etc., forces the spectator to empathize, so “clearing” his spirit.
The phenomenon of catharsis allowed:
Firstly, to separate the usual, daily feelings from the emotional excitements due to the dialogue with a piece of art;
Secondly, to reveal own empathy to the product of the creator’s inspiration, the work of art;
Thirdly, to indicate that influence of art works on the person occurs not only in the aspect of artistic comprehension of the reality, but also in the aspect of transformation of the person psychologically, morally and socially.
All these conclusions are obviously true. The Aristotle’s opinion of the curative force of art represents the instruction to the psychotherapists: “Take art and cure!”
However, the questions arise:
What is the art? How to treat by means of art? How to learn the language of art? Does any universal and fundamental principle of this rather specific language exist? Finally, is this the language or not? These and many other questions have drawn my attention for twenty years. The answers came, as the award for hard work. The majority of them were found at the interface of art practice, philosophy, culturology and psychology.
Here are some of them:
- The contemporary person owns the vocabulary of all existed signs and symbols about the universe at the genetic level. He lives in some kind of the huge library, which saves the collective spiritual experience of humanity.
- The language of fine arts has the universal fundamental principle, namely: gesture and intonation. The union of gesture and intonation. Otherwise, “Intoned gesture” brings forth the sense.
- Creativity, or creation of “New reality” is the phenomenon, which turned the man into the Individual.The conclusion follows: any suppression of the general aspiration to create forms the reasons for a neurosis in any person.
These and other conclusions were put at the foundation of some original techniques under the general name “Design of Spirit”. All techniques represent the product of synthesized theory and practice. Basing on the phenomenon of creativity, they
a) show the ways and methods: visualization of own feelings;
b) help the person to self-actualize as a part of the socio-cultural space;
c) help to awake as Individual creating.
Before to represent some of my techniques, it is necessary to note some issues:
Art-therapy as the method has three aspects:
- Creative.The suggestive aspect (from Latin “suqqestio” – suggestion) is the most ancient. All the developed religious systems quite effectively used the expressive means of art to achieve the major purpose – to influence the souls of believers. It should be noted that all suggestive methods demand full responsibility for results of such influence of the art-therapist.
The diagnostic aspect stimulated the development of “projective tests” as the methods of art-therapy. Their essence is that the patient, reacting to the number of visual stimuli (a sign, symbol, silhouette, colored spot), creates, in effect, his psychological self-portrait. The purpose of the art-therapist is to distinguish (using the certain algorithms) the disharmony of the patient’s mind. Swedish psychiatrist Herman Rorshah (1884 – 1984) is considered as the founder of this direction.
The creative aspect (from Latin “creatura” – creating) seems more attractive to me since I have the opportunity to enjoy the creation of “New reality”, working as an artist for 35 years. So, the creative methods provide that the patient is involved in the process of art creativity. One of my techniques is “Painting theatre of the desires expedited”. The patient becomes the director of this “performance” and his suppressed desires form the dramaturgy. This method recovers the inner harmony of the person and removes the conflict between “I desire” and “I must”.
Owing to the transfer of personal tragedy from the psychopathological and usually uncontrolled sphere to the aesthetically controlled sphere, the negative experience is sublimated through catharsis and the problem is solved.
The creation of this “special performance” has four stages:
I. I suggest the patient (according to the certain algorithm) to create the scenario of the future “theatre project”. The theme and plot develop from the answers and the questions (according to the certain algorithm).
II. “Finding of the adequate expressive means to realize the plot found at Stage I”.
III. “Development of the project” (it is one of the most delicate and difficult stages). We should remember that the patient or the person, wishing to solve the psychological problem, usually has no experience in painting. You can guess how important can be the role of the art-therapist at this stage.
The miracle of translation from one language to another – from the language of unshaped feelings to the language of fine arts, where the form represents the existence of feelings happens at this stage on the way towards comprehension of the patient’s soul.
IV. This is very important and decisive stage of the work.
This stage is called “Admiring the result of art practice”.
At this stage, the person has the opportunity to self-actualize and to comprehend the language of fine arts.
This method extends the borders of aesthetics as a category and promotes to satisfy the eternal need of the person:“To create – means to self-actualize oneself”.