It is a common belief that artists are gifted people. They are gifted by God, by the Universe, by nature, basically anything that is not human but intrinsically responsible for human existence. Just like some people are more beautiful or more intelligent, and become sex-symbols or philosophers, others can be more gifted with something called talent and become artists.
But what are artists given with? Beauty is something we see. Intelligence can even be measured with IQ tests. We all possess beauty and intelligence similarities so that we can acknowledge them in others by comparison.
But what about talent? Can we see it? Can we measure it? Or is it that we can only feel it? And if so, how can we think something we are not? Or are we all talented? What is it that we have in common?
Psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott described artists as people caught in the middle of two strong conflictual desires, the desire to communicate, and the even stronger desire to hide. The minute they choose one or the other, they stop being artists. It is a labor of gargantuan dimensions, and only a few choose not to accept and live that torment.
This can explain the conclusions of a new study, saying that artists are the small fraction of the population with above-average psychological vulnerabilities and resources.
The psychological vulnerabilities are common ones such as stress and anxiety. The strengths are hope and ego resiliency. The study concludes that artists have too much of both. Their psychological mechanism isn’t working correctly. Usually, people struggling with high levels of stress and anxiety are also confronting low levels of hope. Under this burden, the resiliency of the ego collides.
What did the author mean?
Why don’t artists react the same? What is it that makes them overcome stress and anxiety? They don’t. They feed with those emotional nuclear radiations. They transform pain into something meaningful, and this is why most of them don’t even want to let go of the psychological distress.
This is why they don’t choose between the two extremes. They communicate, but not everything. They keep secrets, and they live traces of those secrets in their art. And most of the time, those secrets are themselves.
“What did the author mean?” is the way artists communicate with the world. They like hiding inside their work and let people play with them, trying to figure them out. They aren’t supposed to be there in person to answer the question. Most of them hate being asked that question directly because it ruins the game. It forces them to choose communication over hiding.
The psychology behind artists
The psychological well-being of an artist resides form the game they are playing. When they don’t play it, they become miserable. So, no test can be performed on an artist when he isn’t playing the game.
When you invite an artist to be part of a research, if the artist accepts to be part of that research, he does it because he considers that place a good playground. So, you won’t have access to that place inside him where hope is gone, and the ego collides. That can only happen in solitude and when no one wants to play his hide-and-seek game.
So, artists are more resilient and hopeful because their anxiety and stress have meaning. When there is no place left to hide, the purpose is gone so, and everything else must be gone. We have 27 Club to testify for that.