Sublimating Anger and Personal Art Making: A Case Study

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Cook, Lynsey
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This study took an art-based approach to examining the role of personal art making, as a method for sublimating stress, and ultimately anger. Sublimation is discussed as it first appears in literature by Sigmund Freud and Heinz Kohut. This study asked the question, can self-guided glass breaking and subsequent mosaic art lower stress and anger levels? The researcher sought to experience liberation by channeling aggression from past and present experiences while under the supervision of a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) who observed the process, a “smash session,” via telehealth. Processing the smash session by way of journaling enabled the researcher to enter a state of calm reflection. Artmaking, and the sublimation of “brokenness” as utilized in the ancient technique of Kintsugi was emphasized as a model for this work. This study sought to provide evidence to support a physically focused approach to decreasing anger resulting from increased societal stressors. Data collection was obtained via results of the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), journaling, and artistic expression in mosaic form. The research results illuminated that art can be a useful method for sublimating anger, especially via the unconventional method this study identifies as “smash therapy.”