Are You Censoring Yourself?
by Eric Maisel, PhD
I want to resume chatting about the idea of “engaged creativity” and
the artist’s relationship to society.
reality, artists do a lot of measuring, somewhere just out of conscious
awareness, about what is safe or seemly to reveal and what is unsafe or
paint lively abstractions or cheerful landscapes because they fear what
Goya-esque horrors might escape from their brush in a narrative
nonfiction idea begins to percolate in their brain, an idea that if
published might cause the government to retaliate, they find reasons to
dismiss the project.
do these sorts of things.
One aspect of this self-censorship is the way we bite our
tongue at our day job and, in a corollary safety measure, skip making
art that reveals what our corporation, institution, or agency is up to.
don’t tell tales out of school about the school where we work; we don’t
reveal the dirt about the police department that employs us; we don’t
portray our madcap board of directors in our novel or paint a
Kafka-esque likeness of our governmental agency.
writes from England:
I was younger I could have never imagined becoming part of the Mental
Health system, as I always thought there was something intrinsically
wrong and bad about the psychiatric system, a system that still depends
so strongly on the medical model.
found myself with a job within a flourishing and lively arts therapies
department and for years I was quite happy there, seeing that good work
could be done WITHIN this system.
scary issue for me has been to see how I have felt silenced, just like
my clients, by a system that in the end really only cares about
economics and personal power.
German and only when I moved to Britain twelve years ago did I start to
slowly find a voice about the shame and guilt that I brought with me
because of my German heritage.
twelve years later, I have Jewish friends and I am taking a performance
piece on tour in which I honestly, humorously, courageously and deeply
speak about my experiences of being German here and about my outrage,
shame, and deep sadness about the wounds of history.
this has finally found a voice. And I have a feeling that my next piece
will be very much about my journey within the Mental Health system, my
strange position within this.
it’s always easier to speak from the perspective of an outsider; to
speak from inside a system is much more difficult, as one is so much
think I am only beginning to understand what it takes to speak from
inside a huge system. I have a lot more to reflect upon about how and
why people censor themselves when they find themselves inside some
will he invariably be punished and exiled if he tells uncomfortable
truths? The matter is as complex as matters get.
publishers during a certain epoch are too frightened to publish books
about atheism; then, a mere decade later, because some atheism books
have appeared and become bestsellers, these same publishers start
beating the bushes looking for books on atheism.
museum puts on a well-attended show of Goya prints that point out the
sins of capitalism; and yet no gallery within miles of that museum will
touch contemporary prints on the very same subject.
artist is right to feel confused and uncertain as to what will happen
if and when he decides to censor himself less.
have your experiences been like when you made a conscious effort to
create with a more pointed pen or brush?
you had some successes and some defeats—or only defeats? Have you felt
better—or worse? Have you been made to pay or have you escaped
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Maisel, Ph.D. holds Master's
degrees in Creative Writing and Counseling, and a Doctorate in
Counseling Psychology. He is a
California licensed marriage and family
therapist, a creativity
coach and trainer of
creativity coaches, and teaches through lectures, workshops, and
Dr. Maisel is widely regarded as America's foremost creativity coach and has taught thousands of creative and performing artists how to incorporate Ten Zen Second mindfulness techniques into their creativity practice. See his site EricMaisel.com for ebooks and more information on his work.
Eric Maisel, Ph.D., is the author of more than thirty
books - some titles at right >
Also see more articles by Eric Maisel.
Related Talent Development Resources pages:
Censorship 2 quotes sites books
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