Editor’s Note

The Age of Creativity

Stanley Siegel

With a good many of this issue’s writers and artists hailing from Europe — Italy, Holland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — this issue of Psychology Tomorrow Magazine gives a global perspective to what’s happening in the worlds of psychology and art. These artists, from cultures with equal ties to the East and West as well as to classical and contemporary traditions, are transgressing categorical borders and creating individualized pathways and paradigms that are representative of the way the world is turning now.

The American artists and writers presented in this issue possess the pioneering spirit of our ancestors, but without the pride or prejudice that clouded the horizon. Whatever can be said said against it, the cross-cultural fertilization of ideas facilitated by the Internet has brought the world into what is undeniably, The Age of Creativity.

Crossing academic borders in their poetic essay, Melancholy, Nostalgia and Depression, Italian Psychiatrist Claudio Mencacci and Pasquale Campajola discuss the the difference between these states of feeling and show how ways of speaking about depression—poetic, psychological and medical—have all contributed to a new understanding of depression and its treatment.

In my essay, Thinking Beyond Sexual Identity, I discuss how categories of sexual identity, once necessary in the battle for human and legal rights, is giving way to sexual practices that are based more on individual desires than on sexual orientation. Strict definitions of “gay” or “straight” are less relevant to many young people today who approach sex with new sophistication and knowledge, honoring their deepest erotic desires with partners regardless of their gender.

In March of 2012, PTM columnist Jeff Warren and twenty other “adept” meditators participated in an experiment at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Over a period of one week, all twenty meditated inside a functional imaging laboratory. On a couple of the afternoons, they completed various behavioral and psychological tests. Every few hours, a meditator was selected from the larger group and taken to the hospital’s MRI facility to have their brain scanned both functionally and anatomically. The surprising results of this rare collaboration between neuroscientists and buddhists are reported by Warren in his Inscapes column, How Understanding the Process of Enlightenment Could Change Science.

Many clients come to counseling expecting therapists to give them the answer—to tell them what to do about a particular problem or symptom. They often want to know what’s “normal.” In her column, The Dance of Therapy, Alyssa Siegel suggests that “a wise therapist will know what questions to ask to help a client discover the most meaningful course of action for the dilemma he or she presents. A less experienced one will tell a client what behavior is considered normal.” For Siegel, the magic of therapy occurs when clients determine their own path rather than following experts advice, in Learning to Think for Ourselves.

In this month’s Patient’s Room, an Anonymous contributor writes in her deeply moving essay, The Old Country, about her grandmother’s emotional legacy and how generations of family habits have been hard to change. “Cycles move through us and are passed down; we all carry our own portion of psychological damage, the inherited limitations that shape our existence. Our individual share of what Buddhists call samsara: the realm of perpetual illusions, our parents’ terrors, your dream of freedom.”

Today, women are entering the field of pornography as filmmakers and entrepreneurs. Anne Sabo Ph.D., in an excerpt from her book, After Pornified, writes about this new group of “pornographers”—educated women with high ideals and intriguing visions, women who object to the discriminating portrayal of their sex in porn and popular media, and who speak up for women sexually and politically, in Women Making Pornography.

As an actor, Clayton Drinko’s years performing improv theater taught him to be a better self, free of anxiety and living more in the moment. In his essay Improv-ing Your Life, he shows us how to apply the benefits of improv to everyday life, unlocking our potential to improve our interactions with people through careful listening and observing. Drinko also reports scientific evidence that supports how improv strategies even alter our brains.

Steve Turtell’s poems move through us with surgical precision, cutting right to the heart of our ambivalence toward ourselves and the significant relationships in our lives. They are lyrical, sometimes painful, but always honest and direct.

After the suicide of his brother, Italian artist/photographer Luca Artioli descended into a severe depression. In his poetry and images from his book Beyond the Dark, Artioli, in poems and images, retraces his journey back to light with extraordinary insight, sensitivity, and emotion.

Nothing represents The Age of Creativity more obviously than contemporary dance theater. Combining movement, music, spoken word, performance and the visual arts, Pavel Zustiak’s company Palissimo has the cutting edge answer to how dance has evolved since Modern dance came on the scene with such luminaries as Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. Dance editor Velleda C Ceccoli PhD profiles the work of the widely imaginative Czech choreographer who offers a “veritable playground for the senses- a space where we can be in touch with multiple narratives of self and self in relation, and where emotional and intellectual currents interweave—sometimes fluidly and sometimes rigidly—loosely framing the human experience.”

Mixing the elegant and avant-garde, Czech designer Petra Pluhackova’s sculptural fashion also transgresses traditional boundaries, creating unexpected beauty with surprising shapes and fabrics such as a short fur dress with a high-collar, or a clear plastic jacket. Pluhackova redefines the relationship between fashion and art with daring European sophistication, in Fashion in the Balance.

Miami Beach is an art piece in and of itself; a fitting backdrop for all the art that happens there each December during the renowned Art Basel convention. Matthew Ortiz takes us on an extended tour of SELECT Fair, one of the 20 cutting edge alternative fairs to the more commercial main tent. In A Celebration of Art & Humanity: Art Basel/Miami, Ortiz’s piece stands as testimony to the kind of creativity that goes far beyond simply hanging something on a wall and calling it art.

Most of us, enter the month of January seriously considering the past and imagining the future. In Michael Schellenberg’s column, Out of the Woods, in thinking about the new year, he asks “How can we make life’s march forward one of delight and discovery instead of the management of the indignity of past choices and recriminating pangs of uncertainty at what the future will hold?” His deeply personal answer calls for Foolish Faith.

As you look backward and move forward, we hope that you will take inspiration in the art and essays in the January issue to help you frame your experience. Think for yourself, create your own traditions in the new year and enter The Age of Creativity.

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