Over the years the New York Times, a newspaper celebrated by intelligentsia the world over, has introduced a surprisingly intelligent discussion about mental health and psychotherapy. So it was fascinating to read of a case vignette in which poetry was a central prop in the dynamic between healer and client. You can read the article here.
To be sure, the management of the case was problematic. The comments, when you look past the snideness and the rage so common to comment sections, raise some very valid questions. While there is no doubt that the client’s poetry and the discussions that revolved around it played a major role in this case, it’s seems that the central axis here was the client’s wounded narcissism and the therapist’s valiant and impotent efforts to ‘domesticate it’.
What this write up triggered for me was a reflection on the integration of artistic expression into treatment. I am not by any means an art therapist. However I’ve long believed that one enormous value of artistic expression is that it allows us to become rulers and gods of the crazy universes that we inhabit. For one beautiful expressive moment we ‘own’ whatever threatens to destroy us or we hold the reins of an otherwise fleeting mysterious dream. Whether it’s our own creations or the visions and words of others, we are no longer unwanted visitors in this world; we are the kings and queens.
And what could be better than that?