The creative unconscious
The origins of creativity are often associated with positive aspects of human consciousness. But is that really true? A closer analysis may suggest otherwise. Assuming the essential nature of a human being is good, then from what source can the actor or artist draw upon when the role demanded of them represents a darker side of human consciousness? Personal experience and research undoubtedly provide some substance the artist can utilize, but are they sufficient enough to give real credence to their performance?
In the early 1900s, Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung developed the idea of the Shadow self which he interpreted as largely negative elements of our personality that are hidden from public view and buried deep in the unconscious mind. Rather than surpressing those elements, Jung suggested we reconcile them with our conscious self to enable the individual to become whole in a process he termed individuation. He believed integration of the self could make the individual stronger and increase self awareness. Jung further explained ‘in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness, the shadow is the seat of creativity’. As if to validate his theory, the ancient Greek concept of Daimonic considered creativity and anger as coming from the same source – human potential.
Using this hypothesis, we can speculate the negative source from which the artist exploits for the purpose of performance might, in fact, originate from his own unconscious. If the artist can harness the light and dark duality of the self, then the potential to create a piece of art replete with passion, intensity and drama becomes magnified.