After reading 'The Child In The World" by Eva M. Simms, the question of why do we retain negative and damaging memories occured to me. She looks at the case of Gabby (Gil 1991, a young girl who was sexually abused. This abuse "undermined her experience of being well and safe... her present was contaminated by the past and she regressed to a less capable, more infantile girl who scanned the future with mistrust and suspicion" (p153). Simms then describes the play scenario where Gabby placed fences around a central toy (that represented herself) and then surrounded this enclosure with monsters and other such threatening toys. This link between an enclosure and an unforgettable trauma is something that I depict in my art; this process of trauma that begins from an early age and continues into adulthood.
The reenactment is not about accurate recollection, but the emotion that was felt at that time, "the trauma returns as a mood or 'intentional feeling'” (p156).
Although this situation is not related to my own experience it is an indication of a psychological disturbance, and the idea of post-traumatic stress through memory that "restructures the person's experience of the present and the future" (p153).
The therapist encourages the "reclaiming" of her life, through ethical action and psychotherapy.
I have also been drawn to Ignacio Martin Baro and Boris Cyrulnik’s approaches and social solutions in treating individual trauma.
I am interested in Freud’s idea of traumatic memories being pathogenic, the mind affecting the physical process of the body and the idea that abreaction
(effective release of repressed traumas) can alleviate and cure the person who is mentally troubled.
Freud's body mind relationship and search for a cure and resolution is echoed in the findings of Baro and Cyrulnik too.
Ignacio Martin Baro pioneered 'Liberation Psychology' and wanted to improve the lives of the marginalised and oppressed. He had a humane perspective and stated that trauma must be understood in terms of the relationship with the individual and society. He thought that the socio-political environment of the each subject held the solutions for helping them.
My work is very much about this relationship of the individual and their surroundings. As a transperson I realise how being alienated is also to be segregated mentally and socially.
Baro believed that people should help society to transcend oppression. He linked mental health with the struggle against injustice and said that it is a normal reaction to ‘abnormal circumstances’. He believes that improving community psychology and social attitude is the key to resolving these psychological issues.
Boris Cyrulnik also believed that trauma is something that can be overcome. He said history does not determine our destiny and that resilience comes from building human relations, and strength comes from using hardships to move forward in life. This makes me think about the suffering within art as something that helps me with my difficulties.
The psychologist Carl Rogers studied the idea of the self image, linking it to self-worth. He states that outside factors affect the individual's view of themselves, which is determined by parents, friends, media etc. The basic human need of wanting to belong and to reconnect with our own values can be conflicting.
I enjoy and feel comfort from being self-analytical, and also intuitive and this lends itself to the study of psychoanalysis. It is clear to me why my work has a tendency to catharticism, which is inevitable. To air out pent up emotions has shown me that our everyday mental make-up is vital to the healthy individual. Also our own views are influenced so much by our surroundings and community.