The Need for Others
By Anne Paris, PhD
“For not only young children...but human beings of all ages are found to be at their happiest and to be able to deploy their talents to best advantage when they are confident that, standing behind them, there are one or more trusted persons who will come to their aid should difficulties arise.
"The person trusted provides a secure base from which his (or her) companion can operate. And the more trustworthy the base the more it is taken for granted; and the more it is taken for granted, unfortunately, the more likely is its importance to be overlooked and forgotten.”
— J. Bowlby, MD, Separation: Anxiety and Anger
thinks that I am so laid-back and relaxed. But my wife will tell you
that I am actually quite intense when it comes to my work.”
not an artist, but she has great taste. I run everything by her,
sometimes daily as I’m working on a project. She is my first level of
screening. If she likes it, then I feel the confidence to proceed.
they don’t, my self-doubts come to the surface. You know, like I’m not
living up to the grand fantasies I have about myself or about what my
work should look like. Although I generally have a pretty good sense
about the quality of my work, if the publishers don’t like it,
sometimes I feel like I have been found out. Like the show is over;
others have finally realized that I am not so good.
wife and children are very important to me. I have artist friends who
either are single or devote all of their time to their art and miss out
on good relationships with their families. They are much more
productive than me — more prolific — they put out a lot of work.
didn’t want to be an absent husband or father. My dad was always there
for me — that’s how I was raised. I am careful to prioritize time with
my wife and kids. They make me feel good and they keep me grounded.
when I got the deal to do the Madonna illustrations. It is hard to get
too carried away with yourself as a big-time artist when you’re picking
up dog poop in the backyard.
dream about being the greatest. It gives me motivation to keep on
swinging, but I keep myself in check by living a normal lifestyle. I
remind myself that I am a working artist — like a blue-collar artist
—and that keeps me grounded and more able to handle the frustrations
that come up.
are too frightened of intimacy. I view your lifestyle as a sign of your
strength, and I believe that your relationships with your wife and
children support and enrich your ongoing capacity to create.”
relationships can bolster our courage to take the plunge into
creativity. And likewise, not-so-good relationships, or a lack of
relationships, can inhibit our dive.
kinds of relationships do you need to sustain your creativity? And how
do you develop these kinds of relationships? This section will address
this dimension of the creative process, which has been woefully ignored.
fact, many, many people I see for psychotherapy live with the illusion
of self-sufficiency. Our Western culture has placed so much emphasis
and value on independence and autonomy that many people feel ashamed
and weak when they are not able to handle everything by themselves.
should be able to do it by myself,” “I shouldn’t be so reliant on
others for my self-esteem,” and “I should be able to help myself” are
typical statements by the majority of people I see in my office (and
that I know personally!).
epidemic of self-sufficiency is so widespread that it has infiltrated
our marriages, our schools, our friendships, and our psyches. Not all
cultures share this perspective.
Japan, the concept of the self-with-other is at the opposite extreme.
In that culture, independence and individuality are viewed as negative
traits. Japanese culture, instead, views connection and belonging to
the group (family, marriage, collective society) as the highest state
addition, relationships are the fertile ground in which our uniqueness
and strength grow. From this perspective, we can begin to appreciate
how relationships with others are a critical part of initiating and
sustaining the creative process.
will go even further to argue that our creative activity is undertaken
in the first place in the hopes of generating certain kinds of
Therefore, I believe that our experience of self-in-connection-with-others is so vital that it lies at the heart of most of what we do.
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Anne Paris is a clinical psychologist who has helped artists along in
their creative processes for over 20 years. Her approach, which is
based on cutting-edge psychological understandings and research,
appreciates the inner world of the artist in a new way and points to
the importance of connections with others throughout the creative
this revolutionary approach, she has helped famous, professional, and
hobby artists start and sustain their creative process so they could
complete a work of art.
the author of "Standing at Water’s Edge.." You can visit her
online at www.anneparis.com.
excerpted from her book
2008 by Anne Paris. Printed with permission of New World Library,
Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com
or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.
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