Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An exploration of experiences and expressions of artistic creativity during adversity and resilient recovery
by Jones, Glenda Claire, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2013, 397; 3594258
Abstract (Summary)

What is the experience of being artistically creative, undergoing a major interruption in creativity and, finally, transitioning through that interruption to return to being creative? There is important literature on resilience, yet little mention of creativity.

This qualitative multiple case study explored the roles creativity played in resilient coping, wellness, and actualizing human potential by revealing experiences and life changes preceding, during, and following adversity. An intentional sampling yielded six adults, two males and four females, who experienced prolonged disruption lasting at least six months that impeded ordinary creative activity. Possible factors pertaining to people, conditions, and events were assessed.

Research data included: (a) participant essay response to specific questions about experiences before/during/after disruption; (b) a semi-structured qualitative interview expanding on the essay; (c) artwork relating to the three periods examined, and (d) a follow-up phone interview. Artistic expressions included poetry, writing, paintings, music, and design. Tape-recorded interviews were transcribed for thematic content analysis to identify major themes for the individual participants for the three periods that were investigated, as well as a cross-case comparison.

Seventeen major areas of importance, found in one or more of the three periods, involved: 1) creative environment; 2) creative output; 3) emotions; 4) financial status; 5) healing modalities; 6) insight/self-discovery; 7) loss; 8) perception; 9) perseverance; 10) productivity; 11) renewed passion for creativity; 12) self-esteem; 13) skill/training/talent; 14) "something higher"; 15) support; 16) time/space; and 17) utilizing creativity. Five themes, reflecting an overall pattern for participants' process, were: 1) support; 2) self-esteem; 3) perception; 4) perseverance, and 5) insight and self-discovery.

Results showed that using one's creativity was not only vital for overcoming adversity, but that creative activity itself evolved to meet the circumstances. As they persevered, the participants reported finding more universal meaning in their creations. They also gained greater self-confidence, renewed optimism, and found increased compassion and respect for self and others. Unfortunately, not everyone with adversity will recover, and by studying survivors such as these, we can learn what nurtures resilient responses.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Richards, Ruth
Commitee: Krippner, Stanley, Pritzker, Steven
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 75/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Adversity, Creativity, Healing modalities, Mental health, Resilience
Publication Number: 3594258
ISBN: 9781303379628
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