NEW Art Therapy For Child Abuse Survivors:
Don't Paint The Problem, Paint The Solution
by Dr Silvia Hartmann
I once knew an artist who had suffered from significant sexual abuse from an early age. This had caused major disturbances in his mind/body systems and as a result, he had nightmares, strange visions, problems of all kinds with his thinking and feeling. As a result he found himself, as so many child abuse survivors do, being far more "creative" than his peers and as is often the case, this led him to pursue a career in the arts.
However, there was a problem with his creativity. He painted the same picture, the same story, over and over again ...
After a couple of decades, this afforded no longer any satisfaction or release; the way he was dealing with his unconsciously generated materials was not working for him, and he was truly desperate, even talking about giving up on art altogether.
I saw his paintings and they were indeed, all the same story, over and over again; they were just getting more extreme and desperate in their expression, like a pathway into deeper and deeper disturbance, a wound that was going septic and getting worse and worse.
And this where I had a flash of insight and I asked him, "What would happen if instead of the problem, you started to paint the solution?"
Thus, Art Solutions was born.
There are two parts to understanding how this works. The first is that what used to be called the subconscious or unconscious mind is in fact, the head of the energy body every person has; and when this energy head or energy mind sends disturbed visions of pain and suffering, it is trying to tell us consciously something - here is an injury that needs repairing.
And I guess it is fine to take this communication, this vision (which includes scent, taste, touch, feeling, hearing and sensing as well as seeing!) and paint it - ONCE.
Now we know what the injury looks like; we most likely know where it came from as well, in a vision which is a stream of pure data from the energy mind and which we then translate into shapes and colours, sounds and feelings so we can consciously understand it, in a vision there is a lot of information.
That's however where my artist friend got himself stuck. And as time went on, and the messages from the energy mind became more and more urgent, he just kept painting the messages - but he did not RESPOND TO THEM.
That's the second part we have to understand when we are using art to heal anything, especially child abuse and child sex abuse injuries which are still raw and painful in the energy body. We - our conscious selves - are supposed to do something, to answer those message, to take the next step to evolve this communication.
That's the same as when our body tells us, "You've trodden on a rusty nail." It sends pain signals from the foot to attract our conscious attention, and we're supposed to do something with that message - pull out the nail, clean the foot, wrap a bandage around it, walk with care. That's the response, and thus it is that when you start to add your response to the messages of pain and suffering, the "pain paintings," you get an evolution.
On that day when I asked the artist, "What would happen if instead of the problem, you painted the solution?" he was astonished, and he asked, "But how do I do that? All I know is the pain."
And that's right, that's completely correct - at this time, all we know consciously is that there is a huge injury and there is lots of (mental, physical, emotional) pain. We need to turn to our partner, the energy mind, to suggest the solution.
Now I have been working with the energy mind for many years, decades, and I knew that you could just ask it, find out what happens next, so I suggested to the artist, "Just ask your energy mind, "Give me something new, something to start healing this thing."
He was very nervous and unsure, but he did get a sense immediately it would have to be something flowing, long flowing lines of green, shading into darker green ... He was up and running. The painting thus produced looked nothing whatsoever like all the others which had only re-stated the pain. It was vibrant, fascinating, full of movement, but most of all, he got an answer when he asked his own energy mind for an evolution. He was actually now engaged in a communication which would eventually evolve that problem and open the door to new things, new experiences and new art as well.
Now, people who are used to "painting their pain" which is a metaphor for all artistic modalities, be it composing poetry or music, making sculptures and installations, movies and plays, novels and fashion design, all art, they sometimes worry whether going for the solution or evolution of their problems and injuries is the right thing to do. Won't they start painting happy bunny rabbits now and won't their art lose that dark intensity which probably made them stand out and be famous?
I shrug my shoulders at that and tend to say, "It's your art, your life. Do what you want with it. But do bear in mind that creating works of pain art, like The Scream, which has hung on the bedroom wall of thousands of people by now who ended up committing suicide when their pain and the artist's pain entered a feedback loop that made it all worse and worse, causes no healing for your own pain, and you add even more pain to a world of men who already have more than they can handle."
I would also say for those who want to use art to bring about a personal evolution, out of pain and into joy and ecstasy, a real flowering of artistic ideas and learning to communicate successfully with the energy mind, which is so priceless and precious, just have a go.
Bring up your blank canvas and ask to be given something that will heal you instead of writing another report on your pain. We've been there, done that, and now it's time to move on. Try it. Working with Art Solutions for art therapy and personal healing is awesome. It's exciting and powerful and you'll be blown away by what awesome things you can create.
And it's not an either or. At any time you want to paint your pain again, you are perfectly free to do so. You can paint anything you like, in its widest metaphorical sense. But I would say from personal experience that there is nothing quite like taking your own incarnation back into your own hands and to ask that question of,
"What would happen if instead of the problem, I painted the solution?"
Asked & Answered by SFX 2004
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