By: Christine LaFrancesca, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
Donald Kuspit, an American art critic, poet and professor emeritus at Stony Brook University, presented a lecture on art and psychoanalysis as a part of this year’s 8th Geo-Aesthetics Conference at Towson University. The three-day conference covered topics from Freud’s studies on how to interpret dreams, to art as an effective and constructive form of therapy.
“Art is integrative and healing,” Kuspit said. “Art is a way of containing what is un-containable. Something that is ugly and destructive inside can be manipulated and formed into a form of beauty.”
Kuspit has published three books of poetry, “Self-Refraction,” “Apocalypse with Jewels in the Distance” and “On the Gathering Emptiness.”
“Festive Sensuousness,” which was the theme of this year’s conference, tied perfectly into Kuspit’s explanation on psychosexuality and its influence on expression. Kuspit discussed how poetry and other art forms could act as a catalyst for positive mental and physical health.
“Addressing Freud’s psychoanalytic id, ego and super-ego theory, the libido is a function of the ego,” Kuspit said. “Narcissism is described as an investment of libido in the ego. It is important to know the difference between “popular” ideas of “sexual interest,” one connected to romantic love and sexual activities, and the psychoanalyitic sense of “libido,” which Freud describes as an energy that can be directed to human beings or, sublimated and directed toward non-human objects such as God, nature or art.”
Kuspit explained how art could be used as a transitional object, or a “security blanket” of sorts. Art can be used to provide psychological comfort, especially in abnormal or unusual circumstances.
“Imagination is a way of dealing with reality, a method to the madness,” Kuspit said.
What is considered “art” may vary from person to person, especially in how it’s perceived and interpreted.
“We are all artists because we all feel,” Kuspit said. It’s the art of living. Everyone experiences negative feelings, feelings such as paranoia or depression. Artists just present these feelings in a socially acceptable way.”
Appreciating the importance and technique to not only produce art, but also create it is imperative to understanding its therapeutic purposes.
During the last ten minutes, Kuspit addressed applying art as a form of psychotherapy and how patience and a keen sense of self-awareness is key.