Editor’s Note

Stanley Siegel

It was the summer of 1968. As an aspiring artist, fresh out of college with a portfolio heavy on hard-edge abstract paintings, I took a space in an artist loft on the corner of Mulberry and Grand Streets in New York City. The loft, on the fourth floor of a red brick tenement, was sandwiched between the bustling salon of Red and Mimi Grooms and the zen-like studio of Robert Morris where he quietly developed his drawings for Land Art.

Fired up with the enthusiasm of youth, a desire to become a fully engaged participant of the art world which then seemed filled with possibilities, I roamed the galleries, museums and studios in search of mentors from whom I could learn to improve my craft. I continued to spend countless hours painting the stark, abstract, brightly hued forms that I had first discovered under the influence of my teacher, Pearl Fine, an under-recognized member of the first generation of abstract expressionists. As an adolescent, I had spent many hours painting in my parents’ basement or sitting in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art trying to make sense of what I had seen. Now I had joined the ranks of a generation of hopeful artists challenging ideas about what art actually meant.

But after several years of what seemed like failure, I abandoned my efforts as a painter, disillusioned by my own lack of talent or originality. I traded my sketchbooks for spiral notebooks and returned to graduate school to study psychotherapy, a form of self-expression that proved far more sympathetic with my abilities and personality.

Today, after nearly four decades of practice, as I look back on those years that I wanted to be a painter, I realize that they formed the foundation for the way I look at and see the world. My experiences as an artist served as the paradigm from which I came to practice psychotherapy and develop my personal signature. It enabled me to see things that perhaps no one else saw. Unconventional and deeply poetic, the work took an independent route. In contrast to the prevailing psychoanalytic theories of that time, my therapeutic aesthetic relied more heavily on the values of art than science.

During my years as a painter , Andy Warhol and his coterie of Factory Workers, including Edie Sedgwick, were coming into notoriety.

As a lifetime New Yorker, I had heard of the Sedgwick Family, members of the American aristocracy with a long legacy of contributions to society and with their share of personal hardships and misfortunes, their signature on the Declaration of Independence and a string of family suicides.

In his memoir, excerpted in this issue, Rob Sedgwick tells of his own descent  from golden child to failure including a federal drug bust, alcoholism, troubled relationships and a failed career, while his sister, actress Kyra Sedgwick, marries Kevin Bacon and goes on to win the family crown. Bob Goes to Jail tells a story that is harrowing, truthful, entertaining and finally, redemptive.  Many readers will relate to it on different levels. Central to his story is his beloved dog Tybalt whose memory he wears in Bill Hayward’s stunning portrait of Sedgwick that accompanies the excerpt.

Jeff Warren takes us deeper into the world of dreaming. In Outside-In: Making Art in Dream Space, he summarizes the early history of dream research and brings us into the future by showing how incorporating external stimuli during dream states can alter the direction of the dream’s narrative.

We recount our lives in fragmented bits on Facebook, in text and instant messages. But our sense of well being depends on placing difficult events in context of a longer view. Michael Schellenberg suggests in his article Putting in Together: Telling the Story Whole, we return to reading novels and non-fiction books to learn how to reorient ourselves.

Ballet choreographer, dancer and teacher Joey R. Smith heals from the death of his brother by creating a ballet in his memory, converting his grief into steps that tell the story of the joys and sorrows of his brother Kervin’s life. In Dancer in the Dark: Steps From Grief, Smith takes us through the creative process as it relates to the movements of Kervin’s life from wonder and joy to adversity and release.

Is therapeutic neutrality possible or even desirable? In Another Side of Therapy: When Love and Loss Strikes a Therapist, Alyssa Siegel writes about her experiences in counseling clients at highly emotional moments in her own life — falling in love, navigating  a divorce and mourning the death of a significant family member

Nearly 87 percent of men and 76 percent of women reportedly visit adult entertainment sites. Despite this truth, we are a pornophobic culture that speaks only to its negative influence. In my column, What Your Favorite Porn Says About You, I turn this notion on its head by teaching how we can use pornography to understand and appreciate the subtleties and nuances of what we truly eroticize and how those desires and fantasy emerge from our family histories.

Have you ever wondered why someone would pursue a career as a stand-up comic? Kyle Downing writes about the courage and strength it takes to get on stage and create humor that unmasks both the comic’s and audience’s deepest vulnerabilities. Well-known comics share their insights in Stand-Up Psychology: What’s Makes Comics Funny.

In “The Patient’s Room” Susan Slotnick shares the sad story of a brother who sacrificed his life’s potential in  deference his loyalty to their mother. in When A Son’s Vows to Love, Honor and Obey Go Awry, therapy gives Slotnick the resolve to make a difficult choice which changes the course of her life .

Over the course of her extraordinary career that spans decades and genres, it has been said of the acclaimed writer Honor Moore that her voice is elegant, eloquent, musical, exquisitely visual and sublime. As great is its range from her fearlessness and courage in taking on complex family issues, to  writing about expressions of erotic and romantic love as well social topics such as AIDS and date rape.  In her poems “Snow White” and “Psyche in Autumn,” Honor portrays this virtuosity.

The world out of context best describes the art of Marc Reigelman — a small cabin suspended on the side of a San Francisco building or flock of porcelain bluebirds perched throughout the garden of the Norwood Arts Club in New York. Matthew Ortiz profiles artist Reigelman and discovers what makes his world topsy-turvy.

Can creativity save the world? Psychotherapist Jackie Fabrick reviews The Age of Insight in which Nobel prize winner Eric Kendal investigates the relationship between psychology and art through the lens of Viennese culture at the beginning of the twentieth century.

What happens when an artist turns his skills from creating sculpture  to making functional, wearable objects like backpacks and hats? Nick Pattakos follows the trail of Kyle Mosholder in Full Circle, from his sewing machine at age six to his new company “d’emploi” through which he produces handmade, waxed canvas functional accessories

Perhaps because I was born with no vision in one eye, unable to see the world as other do, a conventional outlook was impossible. Instead, mine was exquisitely shaped by my own point of view. The artists and writers who contributed to this issue of Psychology Tomorrow  share their unique vision. Hopefully, their ideas will encourage you to define your own.

Stanley Siegel,

» Read Stanley’s Editor’s Note from Issue 1, July 2012