Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas

Mandalas: Alexey Kljatov’s snowflakes

Snow_Flower_600x600.jpg
“Snow Flower” by Alexey Kljatov. Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Mandalas: Alexey Kljatov’s snowflakes

Copyright 2013, David J. Bookbinder
Just a quick note to let you know about the fascinating, mandala-like snowflake photographs of Alexey Kljatov. Using simple, inexpensive equipment (a Canon point-and-shoot camera and a standard SLR lens reverse-mounted to the Canon), he has assembled a spectacular collection of photographs taken from his balcony.

Here’s a link to his gallery on Flickr: Alexey Kljatov on Flickr

Here’s one to his website, where he describes how he creates these images: Snowflakes, night city and other things

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

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Text © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
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Part II: Art and ‘Madness’

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Yayoi Kusama – Ascension of Polkadots on the Trees at the Singapore Biennale 2006. Taken by Terence Ong in September 2006.

Part II: Art and ‘Madness’

Copyright 2013, David J. Bookbinder

I only know that summer sang in me a little while, that in me sings no more.
“Sonnet XLII,” Edna St. Vincent Millay

Many of the studies psychologists have conducted on the link between creativity and mental illness weigh in on the side of a probable connection between the two. This probable connection was first documented in a clinical study that began in 1974. Nancy Andreasen, at the time a prominent researcher in schizophrenia, studied 15 writers at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and compared them to 15 non-writers who had the same educational level as the Iowa writers but didn’t have talent or interest in creative writing. Her results: nearly 43% of the creative writers met the diagnostic criteria for Bipolar disorder, one-third had experienced an episode of depression, two-thirds of the bipolar or depressed writers had received psychiatric treatment, and five of the 15 committed suicide before the study was completed in 1987.

Johns Hopkins University psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, who herself has bipolar disorder, found a similar pattern when she examined biographical studies. For example, Jamison found that British poets were 30 times more likely than the general population to have bipolar disorder, five times more likely to commit suicide, and 20 times more likely to be committed to an asylum. She popularized the connection between mood disorders and artistic creativity in her book, Touched With Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.

Researchers who believe there is a strong connection between mood disorders and creativity have theorized that the repeated cycling between positive and negative mood typical of bipolar disorder might create a more complex mental organization, and that the a mildly manic state is conducive to the type of focus, thinking, and energy associated with creative thought.

But other researchers believe the connection between psychopathology and creativity is dubious. Some criticize the methodologies of studies conducted by Jamison and Andreasen and have come to the opposite conclusion. Albert Rothenberg, a psychiatrist at Harvard University who specializes in the creative process, had conducted a historical study of past creative geniuses, interviewed artists and scientists extensively, and conducted experiments with some 1000 research subjects. He notes that what he calls “translogical thinking” is present in both creative people and psychotics.

But creativity, Rothenberg maintains, is not pathological. Although he agrees that there is a similarity between psychotic and creative processes, there is also a boundary between them that makes all the difference.

Canadian psychiatrists A-M. Ghadirian, P. Gregoire, and H. Hosmidis (2001) reviewed the work of Jamison, Andreasen, Ludwig, and others who had claimed to find a high correlation between creativity and mood disorders, and they conducted their own studies to test prior researchers’ conclusions. They sought to compare the level of creativity of bipolar patients with that of patients with other psychopathologies (schizophrenia, depression, and personality disorder). They divided their subjects into subgroups of severely ill, moderately ill, mildly ill, and recovered subjects. They hypothesized that their results would confirm prior studies and that their bipolar subjects would prove to be more creative than the other subjects of their study. Instead, they found little difference with regard to creativity between the bipolar and other patients. However, they did find that subjects identified as moderately ill demonstrated the most creativity, regardless of their illness.

George Becker, a professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, disputed the modern interpretation of the quotations from the Greeks and Romans connecting madness and art. He pointed out that when Plato and Aristotle spoke of “divine madness,” this quality was distinct from what we think of as mental illness. Instead, in Plato’s Phaedrus, it was regarded as a diving gift given to only a select few. When Aristotle, in his Poetics, asserted that those possessed of great talent were also of a melancholic temperament, he did not believe that all melancholic people were insane. Instead, in Aristotle’s time, the melancholic could be either a madman or a person of distinction depending on the balance of his bodily humors.

Becker argued that the association between mental illness and creativity does not predate the 1830s. He traced the modern-day connection of madness and art to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the Romantics appropriated the sayings of Plato, Aristotle, and others as a way of distinguishing themselves as uniquely talented individuals. “It was the aura of mania,” Becker argued, “that endowed the genius with a mystical and inexplicable quality that differentiated him from the typical man, the bourgeois, the philistine, and the merely talented.” By adopting this “aura of mania,” the Romantics could distinguish themselves from the common man. Artists defined creative genius as necessarily containing elements of mental anguish and madness. He believes that this association by artists continues into the present.

Also supporting the idea that artists are no more mad — or at least not much more mad — than other people is a study of the symptoms art students seeking therapy presented at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This study of 162 undergraduate and graduate students who came to counseling services during a one-year period found that these emerging artists had psychological disturbances comparable to those of other college students.

A 2003 study at Harvard University provides one possible causal clue to the art/madness link. The study showed that both high-functioning creative people and psychotic people seem to take in, at a sensory level, much more than most other people do. In test subjects whose IQ scores were lower than 120, this characteristic, called “decreased latent inhibition,” correlated with more mental illness. In test subjects whose IQ scores were greater than 120, however, decreased latent inhibition seemed to be associated with increased creative ability. Creative achievers in the study were seven times as likely to have low latent inhibition scores when compared to a control group of students with normal levels of latent inhibition. The researchers concluded that in people who have higher innate intelligence, what might otherwise lead to psychopathology can become an advantage. The authors hypothesized that having access to a greater range and quantity of stimuli at a later stage in mental processing can facilitate creative potential in people whose intelligence enables them to process the extra information.

The Harvard study is undoubtedly not the last word in the mad artist argument.

To be continued….

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

Buy Flower Mandala prints and cards: Flower Mandala prints
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Text and images © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
Permission required for publication. Images available for licensing.
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Mandalas: Daniel Poyel Crystal Art

DanielPoyelMandala

Image © Daniel Poyel

Daniel Poyel Crystal Art

Occasionally, an unusual mandala artist comes across my Facebook Flower Mandalas page. Today, it was Daniel Poyel, who makes beautiful mandalas from Swarovski crystals. Here is his Facebook gallery page: Daniel Poyel Crystal Art Gallery

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays: WattPad
Discussion: Facebook Flower Mandalas page
Subscribe to the Flower Mandalas mailing list
Phototransformations blog: Phototransformations
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Text © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
Permission required for publication. Images available for licensing.
flowermandalas.org

Part I: Art and ‘Madness’

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Melencolia I, Albrecht Dürer

Part I: Art and ‘Madness’

Copyright 2013, David J. Bookbinder

As both an artist and a therapist, I tend to attract, as clients, people who identify themselves as artists, either professionally or as an avocation. This is the first of a series of posts about doing psychotherapy with artists.

Artists, and their mental health, have been the subjects of study in Western culture since the age of Plato and Aristotle. Writers and researchers have avidly conjectured about a possible relationship between art and madness, and artists themselves have exhibited an inventive variety of aberrant behaviors. Since Freud, the psychological community has tried to define creativity, and in the past fifty years, psychotherapies that make use of drawing and painting, dance, music, writing, theater, and other arts have become full-fledged professions. But in all this time, little attention has been paid to the process of healing the wounded artist.

Are artists ‘mad’?

Have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but the overacuteness of the senses?
- Edgar Allen Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Researchers have associated creativity with atypical brain organization, increased right-brain activity, left-handedness, language-related disorders such as dyslexia and, since ancient times, with what has variously been called madness, insanity, and mental illness. The list of books and films devoted to the madness of artists is long and varied.

The debate goes back at least as far as the ancient Greeks and Romans. Plato, in his Phaedrus, wrote of “an inspired madness” which is “a noble thing.” Aristotle wrote, in his Poetics, “Poetry implies either a happy gift of nature or a strain of madness.” Seneca — Roman statesman, tragic poet, and Stoic philosopher — wrote: “There is no great genius without a tincture of madness.”

Artists, from Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I (1514), through the idiosyncratic Renaissance artists and the moody Romantic poets, and on to the surrealists and the postmodernists, have also explored the relationship between madness and creativity. Beneath the engraving Melancholy, by Jacob de Gheyn, is a Latin inscription which, in English, translates as: “Melancholy, the most calamitous affliction of soul and mind / Often oppresses men of talent and genius.” Shakespeare, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wrote: “The lunatic, the lover, and the poet / Are of imagination all compact.” Dryden observed: “Great wits are sure to madness near allied / And thin partitions do their bounds divide.” And Wordsworth wrote: “We Poets in our youth begin in gladness / But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.”

In the field of psychology, the alleged relationship between madness and artistic creativity has been seriously investigated since Freud wrote about creative writers, daydreaming, and Leonardo da Vinci. Recently, it has become the subject of hot debate among psychological researchers.

Is it true that there is a link between madness and art? Or is that a social construction which is of no real help either to the culture at large or to individual artists themselves? What are your thoughts on this question?

To be continued…

More anon,
- David
David J. Bookbinder, LMHC

Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas essays: WattPad
Discussion: Facebook Flower Mandalas page
Subscribe to the Flower Mandalas mailing list
Request the 15 Flower Mandalas screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas

Text and images © 2013, David J. Bookbinder. All rights reserved.
Permission required for publication. Images available for licensing.
flowermandalas.org

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Part III: Art and 'Madness' - Schizophrenic art
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Mandalas: Alexey Kljatov's snowflakes
"Snow Flower" by Alexey Kljatov. Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved. Mandalas: Alexey Kljatov's snowflakes Copyright 2013, David J. Bookbinder Just a quick note to let you know about the fascinating, mandala-like snowflake photographs of Alexey Kljatov. Using simple, inexpensive equ

posted 10:10:13am Dec. 02, 2013 | read full post »


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