From a world of threat to a world at which to wonder: Self-transcendent emotions through the creative experience of holocaust survivor artists

Shira Diamond, Natti Ronel, Amit Shrira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The present study aimed to explore the lived experience of the spontaneous creation in art by Holocaust survivor artists, and to gain new insight into the way creative engagement may relate to survivors' traumatic past. Method: Following the phenomenological paradigm of qualitative research, semistructured interviews were conducted with 30 Holocaust survivor visual artists residing in Israel (Mage = 80.6, SD = 5.5). Data were analyzed enabling the capture of various "lived experiences, " aiming to establish an insider's conceptualization, understanding the essence of the phenomenon and identification of multiple meanings. Results: Expressions clustered around two major themes. The first-Turning outward: from a world of threat to a world at which to wonder-that describes how, beyond the enduring inner world of abandonment and threat, enhanced through art is a realm of wonderment at the world beyond the self. The second-Connecting with the world and others through creative experience-relating to modes of moving outward in art toward an emotional experience of connection. Conclusions: Discussion of these themes pointed to the emotional state of self-transcendence as fundamental to survivors' artistic experience, and suggests how this may relate to their enduring struggle with trauma; thus, shedding new light on the redeeming potential of art in the face of trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-618
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Creative engagement
  • Holocaust survivor artists
  • Self-transcendence
  • Trauma

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