Third Tuesday of the month, September through June, 7:30 PM
3715 Alton Place, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Our group views creativity as a capacity that is integral to being human, although the ability to express that creativity may be developed to differing degrees. Our readings have built up a body of thinking about creativity that draws on classical, self psychological, and relational theories. The group shares some responsibility for suggesting topics and readings related to these issues, and collaborates in inviting researchers and artists to join us to discuss their process.

Members who attend this study group will be able to:

1.) After viewing two simultaneous exhibits (at the Phillips Gallery and the Hirshhorn), of artwork by Markus Lupertz, born in Czechoslovakia in 1941 but emigrating to Germany early in life:

  1. Discuss the ways Lupertz used his creative process to deal with the lingering effects of the trauma of war.
  2. Compare the effect on the viewer of the intentionally different ways each exhibit is mounted, using insights from Hagman’s self-psychologically oriented theory about the effect of an artwork on the viewer.

2.) After reading G. Willow Wilson’s memoir, The Butterfly Mosque, in which she describes marrying a Muslim man, converting to Islam, and living in Egypt:

  1. Describe how the author’s sense of self was affected as she encountered social and moral expectations that were different from those with which she had been raised.
  2. Identify the particular ways a therapist’s assumptions about Islam could complicate being able to co-create a relationship with a Muslim patient.

3) After viewing A Quiet Passion and reading some of Emily Dickinson’s poems:

  1. Explore the function of Dickinson’s creative process in developing and maintaining her sense of self, given that she was largely unpublished in her lifetime.
  2. Discuss cases in which the therapist’s unrecognized basic assumptions about success or a well-lived life may have obscured his or her understanding of the patient’s view of him or herself.

4) After reading two books of poetry (by Stephen Dunn and Layli Long Soldier) with the same title — Whereas — published in 2017:

  1. Analyze the effects of differing life circumstances (age, gender, cultural heritage) on the content and viewpoint of the poems.
  2. Compare self-psychological and Jungian perspectives on creativity and apply these insights to each author’s poetic voice (and, by implication, to each poet’s sense of self).

5) After reading Painting Life, My Creative Journey through Trauma by Carol Walsh and hearing her discuss the book:

  1. Describe Walsh’s theory of how her creative process – especially painting – helped her deal with both childhood trauma and the current loss of an intimate partner.
  2. Compare Walsh’s approach with that of Barbara Young in Young’s Rebirth at 40: Photographs as Transitional Objects.

6) After hearing a presentation by Wendy Miller, who, with her late husband, Dr. Gene Cohen, co-authored Sky about Clouds, and reading one of Cohen’s articles on the topic of creativity and aging:

  1. List the key concepts in Cohen’s work on development, focusing on brain plasticity, changes in the aging brain, and the role of creativity in mastery, sense of control, and social engagement.
  2. Identify creative aging directives to use as therapeutic interventions with clients and caregivers, rethinking the paradigm of aging towards its potential for meaning-making in our older years.

7) After viewing I Am Not Your Negro and reading selections from James Baldwin’s work:

  1. Assess the ways in which the poverty, prejudice, and familial dysfunction in his youth influenced his creative expression.
  2. Apply insights from J.V. Jordan’s work on mutual empathy in relational/cultural therapy to Baldwin’s capacity to speak to both blacks and whites during the Civil Rights era.

8) After attending a concert in which Mozart’s Requiem is paired with Lauridson’s Lux Aeterna, described as “a non-liturgical requiem”:

  1. Compare the experience of hearing both pieces, focusing on the significance of the listener’s belief in the liturgy for which the piece was written.
  2. Discuss clinical material relating to working with patients whose belief system is different from the therapist’s.

9) After attending Hold These Truths, Jeanne Sakata’s play based on the life of Gordon Hirabayashi, American born son of Japanese immigrants:

  1. Analyze the factors and influences in Hirabayshi’s life that seemed to lead to his ability to “defy an unjust court order in order to uphold the values on which America was founded”.
  2. Apply insights from reading 2007 article Civil courage: Implicit theories, related concepts, and measurement by Greitmeyer, Osswald, Fischer, and Frey.

10) After viewing the German movie Toni Erdmann about a father/daughter relationship:

  1. Analyze the attachment patterns of both father and daughter and describe the relationship between them through the portrayal of the subjective experience of each of them.
  2. Discuss family therapy case material in which father/daughter relationships are the focus, using theories found in selections of Daniel Hughes’s 2007 book, Attachment Focused Family Therapy.