Sunday, May 18, 2008

Recovery as Art

I remember seeing a film of Pablo Picasso creating a painting. It was a time-lapse of, I believe, the 36 hours that it took to create the painting. I expected him to create a rough outline, major painting of the rough areas, and tweaking. Instead, he tried one kind of painting, then painted over it, then tried another kind of painting, then was satisfied with part of it, then over-painted another section, etc. It was obvious that he had a particular outcome in mind, but that outcome was not a photograph that he was trying to duplicate in his painting. It was more like something he would recognize when he saw it, or an amorphous intuition that he wouldn't be sure of until it was complete, all at once, on the canvas.

I also have a friend (Terry Gillespie) who has the broadest artistic talent of anyone I knew (music, instruments, graphics, poetry, etc.. I've known him since junior highschool. His father was a research physicist at Dow Chemical, and the conversations that I had with each were wildly different. This led to interesting interchanges when all three of us were engaged in the "same" conversation.

Interactions between me and his father were framed in the scientific and experimental framework we shared. This meant, among other things, that we could each anticipate where the other was headed from early in the comments.

Interactions with Terry were different. He would begin a response with a statement or two that had some connection to what we had said, but his final point would escape me until the last sentence of his utterance, when his point would suddenly gell, and I could see here he was headed, but only in retrospect.

I believe that the Recovery process for persons with mental illness is much more like the artistic processes described above than like the techniques or logical processes of the scientific and medical realm. I think this has real implications for how systems and people support recovery activity by any particular person, and I think an artistic sensibility provides a real straegy for navigating the many choices, backtracks, and off road efforts that actually comprise the Recovery Journey.

More next time.....

Norman DeLisle, MDRC
"With Liberty and Access for All!"
GrandCentral: 517-589-4081
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