In the minds of many psychotherapists out there, as they try to make sense of the narratives they have heard in their work and in their lives, sometimes an overarching theme takes form. It is meta-explanation for all the dark material their patients and clients have expressed to them in the near-sacred space of the therapy room.
For some, it is biological : dysfunction of brain chemistry. Or it could be social : illness resulting from poverty, social exclusion, unemployment, often generational. This series of paintings is about Trauma as the overarching and central concept of mental illness and it’s cause. This is not limited to post traumatic stress disorder. This is the use of Trauma as an explanatory and descriptive concept covering most illness of the mind, from anxiety disorders, depression and even psychotic illness.
Most experienced psychiatrists use the bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of mental illness, which covers the concept of trauma as well as social factors as well as biological dysfunction of the brain. What I am painting here is Trauma as a concept that overlaps with philosophical traditions which are premised on the ubiquity of suffering and pain : Buddhism, Existentialism, Pessimism, Realism and others. These paintings are about the personification of trauma in these wraith-like figures that crowd the canvas, ready to impart their pain and suffering. To state the profoundly obvious, humans often traumatise one another. We live in cycles of trauma. Our workplaces are platforms upon which trauma is generated and imposed. Life is trauma-filled.
I must do a series on the Kindly Ones or the “better angels of our nature” that oppose the power of trauma.