Reaching Out by Steve Snodgrass (creative commons)
haywire by porsche brosseau (creative commons)
photo by SLR Jester (creative commons)
Nor have fans of Pollock ever had any illusions about the artist’s state of mental instability. An abuser of alcohol all his adult life, he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1938 while still living and working in lower Manhattan and was briefly hospitalised for depression. Thereafter, however, there were signs that Pollock’s personal and professional life might achieve some equilibrium. In 1943, Guggenheim gave him his first solo show at her Art of this Century gallery. In 1944, he married Krasner, who was already his long-time lover, and they bought the Springs house together. He was also undergoing intensive psychotherapy at the time – a process that many believe influenced the work of his most productive period in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
all of the otherwise vital forces that make us human, leaving instead a bleak, despairing, desperate, and deadened state. . . Life is bloodless, pulseless, and yet present enough to allow a suffocating horror and pain. All bearings are lost; all things are dark and drained of feeling. The slippage into futility is first gradual, then utter. Thought, which is as pervasively affected by depression as mood, is morbid, confused, and stuporous. It is also vacillating, ruminative, indecisive, and self-castigating. The body is bone-weary; there is no will; nothing is that is not an effort, and nothing at all seems worth it. Sleep is fragmented, elusive, or all-consuming. Like an unstable, gas, an irritable exhaustion seeps into every crevice of thought and action.”
― Kay Redfield Jamison
Interesting piece here by Richard A. Friedman, MD, that appeared in the New York Times in January. Uncharacteristically for a psychiatrist, Friedman looks at which kinds of depression respond more to medication v. which ones respond to talk therapy. The article is titled “To Treat Depression, Drugs or Therapy?”
Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University, recently published a study in JAMA Psychiatry that identified a potential biomarker in the brain that could predict whether a depressed patient would respond better to psychotherapy or antidepressant medication.
Using PET scans, she randomized a group of depressed patients to either 12 weeks of treatment with the S.S.R.I. antidepressant Lexapro or to cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches patients to correct their negative and distorted thinking.
One’s person trauma can be shrugged off, perhaps with some effort, but shrugged off nevertheless. Why is that? Robert Stolorow, well known within the psychoanalytic community offers this:
It cannot be overemphasized that injurious childhood experiences in and of themselves need not be traumatic (or at least not lastingly so) or pathogenic provided that they occur within a responsive milieu. Pain is not pathology. It is the absence of adequate attunement and responsiveness to the child’s painful emotional reaction that renders them unendurable and thus a source of traumatic states and psychopathology.
So, what exactly does that mean? If someone is there for the child during or after a traumatic experience, and can demonstrate empathy and respond appropriately – then the child has a chance of processing the experience without it becoming traumatic.
Everything I’ve read by Darryl Cunningham so far has been unbelievably good, and “Schizophrenia” is no exception. By turns informative, empathic, and educational, this is another winner from the UK artist. Highly recommended.