Traumatic experiences can deeply impact us as children and as adults – how can creative expression help us deal with those impacts?
“I think I’ve spent my adult life dealing with the sense of low self-esteem that sort of implanted in me. Somehow I felt not worthy.”
Halle Berry was commenting in an interview about what motivates her to support and work with an organization that helps women who escape violent homes.
She recalls being terrified that her violent father, who physically abused her mother, would turn on her.
One of the consequences for many people who suffer abuse and trauma is a corrosion of their self esteem. Recovering can be a long, even ongoing process.
Berry explained, “Before I’m ‘Halle Berry,’ I’m little Halle…a little girl growing in this environment that damaged me…I’ve spent my adult life trying to really heal from that.”
She commented about acting in her intense movie “Gothika” (2003):
“Although physically I would feel exhausted and tired, my back would hurt, my arms would hurt and my feet would be raw from running through all the stuff, there was still something about it that felt good, like I had a cathartic experience. I got a lot of stuff out of me that was pent up in little corners of myself, so I felt good at the same time.”
From my article The Alchemy of Art: Creative Expression and Healing, which includes comments by a number of artists including Charlize Theron, Charles Dutton, Director Allison Anders, Native American painter Roxanne Chinook, Rosanne Cash and others.
Photo is from post: Halle Berry on depression, esteem and growth.
The entertainment business can be an arena of abuse and trauma.
Psychologist Mihaela Ivan Holtz works with creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She also writes about the emotional and creative pleasures and challenges of their inner lives on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is an excerpt from one of her related articles:
If you’re an artist or performer, you were drawn to this life for a reason. You yearn to be seen, heard, valued.
Perhaps you want to make a positive impact on the world. You want to connect with your audience through your art and you want to be rewarded for your work.
These are all very human aspirations—healthy yearnings to live the life you feel you were meant to live.
But how will you get there from here?
Maybe you’ve just started out. Or perhaps you’ve already gotten great success but still have not achieved what you’re longing for.
Maybe you are uniquely talented but just haven’t met the right people. As we all know, the right connections can make a difference.
No matter how talented you are as an artist, you don’t achieve success in a vacuum. You need those people who can see you, believe in you, and help you rise to your potential.
Who will those people be? Producers, casting directors, agents, managers, production company owners? And what will they ask of you to help you succeed?
As we’ve seen recently, all over the news, many talented artists feel torn apart between choosing their career or their emotional integrity.
Continued in the article:
Say Yes to Yourself! Say No to Abuse!
In her Psych Central post Transforming Trauma: From No Words To Your Words, Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP writes, “Trauma defies language; it resists being communicated… Central to healing in the aftermath of a traumatic event is the transformation of trauma’s unspeakable imprint to a story that can be told without reliving it.”
Maybe that is one way that creative expression helps heal.
As a child, Andrea Ashworth and her sisters suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse from two stepfathers.
Her memoir, Once in a House on Fire, recounts her experiences. She went on to become one of the youngest research Fellows at Oxford University, where she earned her doctorate.
In our interview, she talked about how writing the memoir was “a real sanity-saving exercise” and a way to deal with her past, and then be able to move on to writing fiction.
See my post Writer Andrea Ashworth on Developing Creativity.
Another post on this topic: Art Saved My Life – Creative expression can transform our painful reactions to traumatic situations, providing renewed strength of our identity and a way to give voice to difficult feelings.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Many therapists are using EMDR to help people.
Clinical psychologist Cheryl Arutt says it is one of the most powerful ways to reprocess trauma, and explains more about it in my post Dealing with trauma and abuse to live a bigger, more creative life.
Also in the post, I write briefly about my own very positive experience with her counseling and this form of therapy.
Host Sounds True summarizes:
“Explore the most effective new and proven approaches to healing and growing in the wake of trauma.
“Whether you’re a therapist, supporting a loved one, or in the recovery process yourself — join us in our Healing Trauma Summit to learn evidence-based techniques that you can immediately put into practice.”
Learn more in article:
The Healing Trauma Summit