Mended by the Muse: Creative Transformations of Trauma is an in-depth exploration of the relationship between trauma and creativity. It is about art in the service of healing, mourning, and memorialization. This book addresses the questions of how artistic expression facilitates the healing process; what the therapeutic action of art is, and if there is a relationship between mental instability and creativity. It also asks how self-analysis through art-making can be integrated with psychoanalytic work in order to enrich and facilitate emotional growth.
Drawing on four decades of clinical practice and a critical reading of creativity literature, Sophia Richman presents a new theory of the creative process whose core components are relational conceptualizations of dissociation and witnessing. This is an interdisciplinary book which draws inspiration from life histories, clinical case material, neuroscience, and interviews with creators, as well as from various art forms such as film, literature, paintings, and music. Some areas of discussion include: art born of genocide, confrontation with mortality in illness and aging, and the clinical implications of memoirs written by psychoanalysts. Visual images are interspersed throughout the text that illustrate the reverberations of trauma and its creative transformation in the work of featured artists.
Mended by the Muse: Creative Transformations of Trauma powerfully articulates how creative action is one of the most effective ways of coping with trauma and its aftershocks - it is in art, in all its forms, that sorrow is given shape and meaning. Here, Sophia Richman shows how art helps to master the chaos that follows in the wake of tragedy, how it restores continuity, connection and the will for a more fully lived life. This book is written for psychoanalysts as well as for other mental health professionals who practice and teach in academic settings. It will also be of interest to graduate and post-graduate students and will be relevant for artists who seek a better understanding of the creative process.
"In this profound, novel, and moving account of the role of creativity in healing trauma—that is, in the very process of developing her ideas--Sophia Richman offers us a living example of being "mended by the muse." But that is the least of what we learn here. We readers, too, have suffered trauma and dissociation. If we allow ourselves to dwell in Richman’s sense of what creative action can do, we too are mended in reading these pages, and we emerge from them better able than we were before to mend ourselves, and to assist in the mending of others. A stirring and beautiful book."- Donnel Stern, Ph.D.
"With this extraordinary book Dr. Richman not only offers a contemporary theoretical explanation of creativity but she also takes the reader into the minds of artists as they experience this enlivening and restorative process. The emphasis on experience makes the book invaluable for clinicians whose work is guided by recognizing the healing power residing in interacting subjectivities. With its breadth and depth, the book is also highly recommended to those who wish to embark on a most satisfying journey that penetrates the mystery of creativity." - Anna Ornstein, M.D. Professor Emerita, University of Cincinnati; Lecturer in Psychiatry Harvard Medical School
"The relationship between creativity and mental illness has been one of the most debated issues in psychology. In this heavily researched volume, Sophia Richman reviews the insights psychoanalysis has contributed to this issue, through the lens of the tragic turmoils of the last century and of her personal experience. In the process, she convincingly argues that as the pearl that forms inside the oyster's shell to protect it from abrasive sand, creativity is formed to protect us from otherwise intolerable aspects of life." – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University, CA, USA
Richman, Introduction. Out of Darkness. Understanding Creativity: The Theoretical Landscape. Inspiration, Insanity and the Paradox of Dissociation. The Survivor and the Muse. Art Born of Genocide. Conversations with Artists. Orfanos, Music and the Great Wound. When the Analyst Writes a Memoir. Jung’s Memoirs. Confrontation with Mortality.
When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.
The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.
But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.