Will Creativity and Madness be your Magic Carpet?

Creativity and Madness has been like a magic carpet for many. We have flown not only to exciting, inspirational and educational places, but we have gained so much more: an appreciation of other people and cultures; a deepening of our appreciation of the sacrifices and achievements of great artists; an understanding of their struggles with internal emotional conflicts and their attempts to overcome them through their art; a greater understanding of ourselves and our internal issues and possible paths to growing through them.

In my last blog I wrote about how Creativity and Madness got to be. Here is another strand woven into this magic carpet. When I was studying to become a psychoanalyst, I analyzed a young woman who was an artist. She was a student at UCLA. During the 3 years of her psychoanalysis she brought several dozen of her paintings for me to see. Most were self-portraits. She said, “I want you to see them, but I don’t want to talk about them and I don’t want you to discuss them.

She was telling me her dreams. She was freely associating to them. In her words she was telling me what was going on in her mind. Allowing me to see her self-portraits was an extraordinary education for me in understanding art. I saw on the canvas, what was going on in her mind. Her emotional issues, her pain, her attempts to resolve these issues – all of this was there on the canvas. I am so grateful to her for allowing me to peer into her mind and for teaching me so much about art. One of the requirements for the psychoanalytic institute was to write a thesis. The thesis I wrote was about her “Portraitts of a Psyche”. A friend at the institute read it and asked me to participate in a course at UCLA extension on The Psychopathology of the Artist.

“I can’t give that paper because of confidentiality, but I’d like to put together a talk on Vincent Van Gogh- a Study of Creativity and Madness.”

More to follow,


Hannah Hageman