Actor and Singer/songwriter Melora Hardin said in our interview: “Anger is the best propeller for any kind of action, it really gets you moving. It’s a good thing. A healthy thing.
“But I also think a lot of people — like some songwriters I interact with — get really caught in the trap of feeling like if they’re not sad, or their heart’s not aching, or they haven’t just gone through a major breakup, or they’re not mad or angry about something, they can’t write in an inspired way.”
From Melora Hardin interview [a few years ago] by Douglas Eby.
[Also listen to our audio interview: Melora Hardin on acting, directing, singing.]
But anger can also get out of control.
Christian Bale‘s tantrums
Acclaimed for his dynamic performance as Batman – such as in the film “The Dark Knight” – Christian Bale gained the nickname “Tandy” because he was always throwing tantrums.
How does anger relate to creativity?
There have been a number of actors like Christian Bale who’ve shown a dark and violent side in both their acting and real life, including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Daniel Day Lewis, among others.
Artists with access to their rage
Stephen A. Diamond, PhD is a clinical and forensic psychologist and author of the book Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity. He comments about these talented actors in our recent podcast interview.
Dr. Diamond notes, “Well, I don’t know any of these actors personally. But, clearly these are passionate people – passionate men in this case – who have access to their own rage.
“I have studied creative artists, and one of the things that I’ve found in looking at their lives, in almost every case – prominent artist Jackson Pollack, Beethoven, we’ll talk about a little bit more, novelist Richard Wright, Picasso – in almost every case, these are angry individuals.
Channeling the energy
“They have a great deal of anger and rage for various reasons based on the kinds of things that have happened to them in life, or didn’t happen to them in life. And yet, they were able to utilize their rage, and to some extent – and some more successfully than others – really channel it into their creative work.”
He adds, “But, it sounds like with Christian Bale, his anger often gets the best of him, and comes out sometimes in inappropriate or immature ways. But, that may also be what gives him an edge as an actor, or one of the things that gives him an edge.”
He explains that the concept of the ‘daimonic’ is that “anger and rage and creativity come from exactly the same place, the same source in the human psyche. Actually Rollo May cited that source as being simply human potentiality.”
From transcript On Anger and Creativity.
Listen to the audio interview at Inner Talent Interviews.
A clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. Diamond works with many talented individuals committed to becoming more creative.
“Creativity is one of humankind’s healthiest inclinations, one of our greatest attributes,” he notes.
As he explains in his book Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic, our impulse to be creative “can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict.”
He says that most mature artists “realize the relationship between rage and creativity. It is their rage that, when redirected and channeled into their work, gives it the intensity and passion that performing artists such as actors and actresses seek.
“Al Pacino’s, Robert DeNiro’s, Jack Nicholson’s and Jessica Lange’s work are good examples.
“These artists have learned how to harness the power and intensity of their own rage (among other daimonic emotions), deliberately tapping into their personal demons to animate and intensify their acting.
From my interview with Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.: The Psychology of Creativity: redeeming our inner demons.
[Photo: Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) in TV series "American Horror Story" from Facebook page.]
In his chapter “Redeeming Our Devils and Demons” in the book Meeting the Shadow, Dr. Diamond says that when we bravely give voice to our inner “demons” which symbolize “those tendencies in us that we most fear, flee from, and hence, are obsessed or haunted by” then we can “transmute them into helpful allies, in the form of newly liberated, life-giving psychic energy, for use in constructive activity.
“During this process, we come to discover the paradox that many artists perceive: That which we had previously run from and rejected turns out to be the redemptive source of vitality, creativity, and authentic spirituality.”
Quotes also used in my book
The Creative Mind: Identity and Confidence
How to Control Your Anger by Morty Lefkoe